BI Goes Global: 4 Ways to Prepare Your Solution for International Success

Berwyn, PA / Langenfeld, Germany – May 16, 2012 – Companies that strive to grow and thrive rely on the insight gleaned from their business intelligence system. But when international growth is on the agenda, some businesses forget to prime their BI system for that change. BI innovator arcplan, whose global clients include both Fortune 500 companies and SMBs, has compiled a list of items to prepare before rolling out any international business intelligence solution. Checking these four to-do’s off your list is the first step toward a successful BI deployment that caters to a diverse set of users around the world.

1) Multi-Language Support

BI systems that will be used by employees in more than one country must be multilingual. While users in the U.S. see English or Spanish, users in France must have the option to display the system in French. Better yet, the system should be able to identify a user’s language via the operating system settings and display their native language automatically. This first point is critical to the success of your system worldwide. If a business intelligence solution hinders useage due to something as simple as language support, it will never take off. Some configuration may be required, but this extra effort will always be worth it.

2) Multi-Currency Support

Any BI system deployed globally must be able to handle multiple currencies and should default to the users’ local currency. In Mexico, users should see all values displayed as pesos; in Canada, users should see values in Canadian dollars – always with the option to convert to U.S. dollars, euros, or any other currency the company uses. Paramount here is also the ability for the BI solution to display local decimal style, i.e. commas vs. periods. In the U.S., decimals are notated with periods (2.45), whereas most of Europe uses decimal commas (2,45). Your business intelligence should comply automatically.

3) Point-of-View Settings

Global BI systems should be configured to respect users’ point-of-view (POV), meaning if an analyst is from Germany, all of her filters should default to Germany when she logs in. However, if the CEO of the same company is located in Denmark, perhaps he does not want his filters set to display only Denmark, but instead all of Europe. Changing this setting should be easy for users and administrators. If a user’s permissions allow her to see reports for all European countries but her dashboard defaults to “Albania” every time because the countries are listed alphabetically, changing this daily can become annoying and lead to resentment. Sometimes it is the little things – like POV “favorites” – that can make or break system usage.

4) Performance Considerations

Global business intelligence systems need to perform consistently around the world for them to be adopted. One arcplan client headquartered in Seattle, WA has planners 6,500 miles away in Hong Kong and arcplan has to provide consistently high performance across this divide or we risk frustrating and disappointing users. Reports taking 20 minutes load can be due to a variety of factors ranging from network issues – which can be mitigated by choosing a reliable ISP and proactively monitoring potential connectivity issues – to the geographic proximity of the data – since data can only be transferred so quickly over long distances. The IT department or BI Competency Center should set users’ expectations, giving them a baseline performance (i.e. reports take 2 minutes to load) so they avoid phone calls from impatient users who think the system is underperforming.

While ensuring system performance seems like an obvious to-do, it is often the small things that make global BI deployments successful – like enabling users to print the same reports on A4 paper or letter-sized paper depending on their location. Gartner’s 2012 global survey of CIOs revealed that business intelligence/analytics is their top-ranked technology priority this year , so this list of considerations is more important than ever to guarantee that your BI system serves users worldwide. Cater to your users and they will respond with better adoption rates.

No matter if it is multi-language and multi-currency support, point-of-view settings or performance considerations, with arcplan Enterprise organizations around the world succeed in managing their business. Read stories from arcplan’s global customer list online:

About arcplan
arcplan is a leader in innovative Business Intelligence, Dashboard, Corporate Performance and Planning software solutions for desktop and mobile use.  Since 1993, arcplan has enabled more than 3,000 customers worldwide to leverage their existing infrastructure for better decision making. Empowering all users to connect and collaborate with relevant information is crucial for improving business performance. With arcplan – it simply works.

arcplan's flagship product arcplan Enterprise® was rated the #1 3rd party tool for SAP BW, Oracle Essbase, and IBM Cognos TM1 in The BI Survey 10 (2011).

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