Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan
23Aug/131

Dynamic Data Visualizations

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There’s a lot of discussion happening in the BI world right now over data visualization. On the one hand, you have analysts pushing the idea that data visualization = visual data discovery = self-service BI = advanced BI. I’ve seen Gartner and Aberdeen both touting the idea that data visualization and data discovery are the same and that they’re the key to unlocking analytics for more users in your enterprise.

On the other hand, you have organizations who think data visualization = dashboards. They want to present their data graphically, have some interactive capabilities like drill-down and drill across, and use advanced features like animated graphs and motion charts.

At arcplan, we offer our customers all types of data visualization, from sophisticated desktop and mobile dashboards to visual ad-hoc reporting. Today let’s examine some of the dynamic, interactive visualizations you can employ in your BI dashboards to enhance data visibility and tell stories that are more expressive than static charts.

MotionCharts_220Motion Charts for Trend Analysis
A motion chart is a dynamic chart that shows the flow of data across a dimension – for example, time. It’s a great way to look at large amounts of data at once to discover patterns.

For example, a sales manager may want to conduct a trend analysis for the company’s product line over the course of a year to analyze profits and losses for a set of product categories. A motion chart provides a more dynamic option than a table of numbers. By simply sliding the time bar along the x-axis, the sales manager obtains a visual of the fluctuations in the product categories over time. It’s the difference between reading a book and watching a movie on the same topic: though the information is the same, a visual aid allows some users to better absorb it.

Zoom Line Chart for Dynamic Drill-Down
Don’t be fooled by this ordinary looking line chart…

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26Oct/110

Free BI Webinar – Beyond Excel for BI

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Join arcplan Wednesday, November 2nd at 2pm Eastern for Beyond Excel for BI to learn how business intelligence software can augment your analysis and planning efforts without completely abandoning spreadsheets.


Analysts and financial planners love their spreadsheets. And why not? They make it easy to tweak reports, employ formulas, and massage your data. In fact, spreadsheets are the most often used technology in 60% of organizations surveyed by Ventana Research in August 2011. They have become an indispensable tool for calculations, modeling, analysis, and planning.

But Excel is not necessarily the best choice for every scenario. If you think you’ve outgrown your spreadsheet model, or you’re encountering more and more situations where Excel is failing to meet your needs, then it’s time to think about the next step – business intelligence software.

BI that embraces Excel users is possible. If you’re considering making the move to BI software and want to know the pros and cons, this webinar is designed for you.

In this webinar, we will:

  • Discuss how BI software can augment your current analysis and planning efforts
  • Present a case study of a global organization that moved from spreadsheets to BI and show you its ROI analysis
  • Demonstrate a BI system with a familiar spreadsheet interface that allows data entry, write-back, secure distribution of reports, and more
  • Give you proven arguments you can take to a) your executives to gain support for BI and b) your team to gain the support of current Excel users

Your analytic technology needs to provide you many things: direct access to your source data, the ability to take action, the quick generation of presentations and other reports, and easy navigation and drill-down to name a few. Join us on November 2nd to learn how these (completely reasonable) requests can be fulfilled by BI, without leaving Excel completely behind.

Date: Wednesday, November 2
Time: 2:00 pm Eastern (New York City time zone)
Presenter: Mark Flyamer, Senior Solutions Manager
Register: Click here
12Oct/110

Have You Outgrown Your Old Budgeting, Planning, and Forecasting Process?

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Is your budgeting, planning, and forecasting process no longer useful to your organization? Does it take too long, involve cumbersome spreadsheets, and result in obsolete information? You’re not alone. Many of our clients came to us with these same complaints. In fact, we work with a hospital in New Jersey that used to collect 200 spreadsheets at the beginning of every budget cycle, then ended up with multiple versions of each spreadsheet by the end of the process…though now that I think about it, I’m not sure their budget cycle ever actually ended. It just merged into next year’s!

That is an obvious example of a company that had outgrown its budgeting and planning process. But some situations aren’t so obvious. You know you and your planners suffer at the end of every fiscal year, but is it so much that you should consider graduating to the next level of planning?

Here’s 5 ways to know if you’re ready to move on to a more sophisticated method of budgeting and planning:

1) You’re beyond the 6/6 spreadsheet rule.
Spreadsheets are excellent tools for individual tasks and ad-hoc reporting, but are poorly suited to repetitive, collaborative, enterprise-wide functions such as budgeting and planning. One rule of thumb that says, “If more than 6 people will use it more than 6 times, you should consider an alternative.”

2) Time constraints are limiting the amount of re-planning you can accomplish.
The best time to gain an advantage in the market is during a downturn. While your competitors may have been cutting costs during the recent economic crisis, if you had more agile planning processes in place, you would have anticipated change better and been more nimble in adjusting your business.

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