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Self-Service BI Kicks Decision-Making Into High Gear

August 10, 2012 No Comments

SOURCE: arcplan

Berwyn, PA/Langenfeld, Germany – July 11, 2012 – With only 15-25% of potential users exploiting business intelligence (BI) and analytics tools, there remains an untapped pool of decision-makers struggling to answer their business questions with data – data available in their organizations but not accessible to the people who really need it. The solution is self-service BI – tools that allow users to navigate and visualize data themselves to get the answers they need to make important business decisions on their timeline. In many ways, self-service BI is synonymous with user freedom since business users need not wait for the IT department to fulfill report requests, but instead are able to generate queries on their own and tailor reports according to their requirements.

Global BI innovator arcplan, which offers two self-service BI tools (arcplan Spotlight, a Web-based ad-hoc reporting solution, and arcplan Engage, the most flexible and open Collaborative BI solution on the market), has compiled a list of three ways a self-service approach kicks decision-making into high gear.

Access to Real-time Information for Faster Decision-Making
Ad-hoc reporting, one of the tools under the self-service umbrella, allows users to create new connections between data not previously found in static reports and generate new insights on their own. According to Cindi Howson’s report, The Five Myths of Self-Service BI, executives and managers are a segment of users beyond power users and IT developers who derive value from ad-hoc reporting. If given the chance, a sales director for instance would use an easy ad-hoc solution like arcplan Spotlight to run a query of YTD product sales and compare performance across different regions, rather than wait a week or more for IT to deliver the same information to him. He could also save that query privately or publish it publicly, giving his entire team access to it for future reference. He could even select that report for automatic delivery via e-mail, where it will include the most updated data. The ability to access real-time data and create new reports on the fly means that business users get immediate answers to business questions and can make decisions based on current (versus outdated) information.

Specific User Needs Addressed for More Efficiency
Self-service tools target the specific needs of users, allowing them to glean the most value out their BI and enabling more efficient decision-making. The most sophisticated users want access to a full-fledged ad-hoc reporting system. Executives may simply want interactive dashboards with an ad-hoc component. Business users often desire ad-hoc but are not technical enough to explore data completely on their own. For those users, a “guided ad-hoc” experience may be the remedy. This means structuring ad-hoc so users have the flexibility to generate their own reports within certain parameters. For example, a guided ad-hoc tool may allow the user to build a report from a list of predetermined columns and rows via drag-and-drop, or access to an IT-approved, scrubbed set of data that meets the organization’s data governance standards. Either way, guided ad-hoc provides users with a solid foundation for creating their reports along with complete flexibility to generate the answers they need.

Search & Collaboration Aid Decision-Making
Self-service also means allowing employees to collaborate on BI and analytics to make better decisions. Going beyond e-mailing and meetings, Collaborative BI solutions enable conversation and knowledge-sharing around reports and dashboards, empowering users to take ownership of their own information access. arcplan’s Collaborative BI solution, arcplan Engage, also includes a powerful search feature that enables employees to find the information they need themselves. Building a report or dashboard from scratch may not be the forte of some business users, so the ability to search for a report that approximates what they need is a great help. They can use a colleague’s pre-existing report as a guide to create the report they need. This is, in a sense, another form of guided ad-hoc. Although search is a powerful function, collaboration does not end there; it also includes user contribution. Aside from commenting and rating, users typically have several sources of information to base their decisions on, structured and unstructured. Modern Collaborative BI solutions allow them to simply add these to the information base, making them available to other users for their decision-making.

Analysts have noted self-service as a growing trend changing the landscape of BI and organizations have responded by supplying users with flexible, easy-to-use tools that empower them to extract insights that guide decision-making. Organizations in turn achieve improved performance due to employees’ faster, more accurate decisions. As more companies see the value of self-service BI, these tools will become the primary method of expanding the BI user community in 2012 and beyond.

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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