How you access your data can determine the speed and efficacy you can achieve in your financial reporting processes.  This article will discuss data warehouse and OLAP cube based reporting.

Data is driving decision-making at all levels because data continues to grow in size and significance.  Logging, storing, and evaluating data has become a big part of the business culture today.  In order to produce rich, helpful financial reports for an analysis of a company’s opportunities and challenges, you will have to routinely store, access, and manage your data.  Because of this reality, you might feel overwhelmed your technology options for storing your data.  You have a few options, but they vary in functionality, and one might be better for your company than another, depending on what analysis goals you are trying to achieve.  This article will explore data warehouse and OLAP cube based reporting.
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Collaboration is great, collaboration in real-time is better. Think of the time people in your organization spend “getting back to you” on answers, “following up with so-and-so,” or even getting on someone’s schedule just to set up a meeting!
The fact is, real-time collaboration is a must-have for any nimble business.  Real-time collaboration enables every user in your organization to attend every meeting, weigh in on every decision, share valuable insights, whether they are in-person or not. And it happens NOW.
Tools like BI360 Collaboration not only facilitate real-time collaboration, they work the same way that many of today’s leading open social platforms work. Features like user profiles, discussion forums, “follow” buttons (for leaders in your organization), all facilitate sharing ideas and innovating on the fly.

But BI360 doesn’t just enable real-time collaboration, features like its social report library serve as a literal digital timeline and viewing of every report, and related discussions and decisions, as far back as your company implemented the solution. Until now, pulling a report out of an archive or a report writer was doable enough, but with BI360 Collaboration, you can read the conversations and glean insights into the decisions that went into that report, helping you understand how your team arrived where it did.
Learn more about BI360 Collaboration here.

Collaborative decision-making is a big trend in business intelligence (BI) with the rise of social and BI software. As much as we hear about it, I believe it’s just the beginning. The popularity and quality of the BI tools that facilitate collaborative decision-making will only continue to improve and evolve, reshaping the way organizations think and operate.
Not long ago, a collaborative decision-making tool was little more than cc’ing people in an email chain. Now, we have collaboration portals with social personal dashboards, alerts, workflow, discussions, resource tracking, project and idea management, all of which enable immediate, iterative decisions. Look for more of these tools to foster open and dynamic BI collaboration in 2013 and beyond.
Here’s a webinar I plan on attending January 8, 2013. It will cover research revealed in three key opportunities for business users to leverage the combined benefits of collaboration and business intelligence: collaborative interactions, information enhancement, and collaborative decision-making. You can register here.

We all know about the enterprise collaboration tools that have been introduced over the past couple of years, and the accompanying issues that come with them. While there still may be a perception that enterprise collaboration tools are merely a Facebook-type of experience tweaked for the business world, the right tools—with proper usage of the right features—can significantly increase your efficiency.
But there’s more than just better efficiency and productivity at stake. Yes, a good collaboration tool will probably result in fewer emails and email trails, less time spent in planning and attending meetings, and make it easier to search and find information such as people with specific expertise that may apply to a project. I believe, however, that one of the biggest gains from an enterprise collaboration tool, especially as it applies to business intelligence, is better retention of your discussions from:
1)    The strategy formulation
2)    The budget process
3)    Monthly reports and dashboards
4)    General or specific improvement ideas and projects
Enterprise collaboration tools such as BI360 Collaboration organize and store all information (discussions, ideas, attachments, employee profiles, etc.) in a central repository. So, your company’s knowledge database isn’t just protected, it continues to grow and add value over time. Things like meeting notes that never get recorded, or conversations that are quickly forgotten are all captured and securely stored for future use, with Google-like search tools to find and retrieve the information, even if it’s years later.
Let’s say your team wants to review a report from three years ago, but the finance manager has long since left the company. With enterprise collaboration, you can access the archived information in seconds, plus leverage social media technologies with @mentions and #tags within live discussions, automatically cross-linking that information so others can view it at the same time. It’s like having a virtual water cooler that can serve up every discussion, from every meeting, on any project—throughout the history of your company. #goodstuff.
See more features of BI360 Collaboration here.

I was never completely sold on the social enterprise platform idea. The business case for replicating popular social networking functionality in a corporate environment seemed dubious at best. Would there ever be a return on investment?
That was until I actually talk to some users. Admittedly success depends heavily on the implementation strategy, but every company I interviewed claimed measurable gains from these tools in a variety of areas. Here are six ways they derive value from social enterprise applications.

1. Find Experts Faster

One of the most mentioned advantages of these products is the ability to quickly find internal experts. In fact, Jive Software surveys show sales win rates increasing an average of 23 percent, and time to find experts falls 34 percent. This is more than a glorified intranet. Search functions are powered by advanced social intelligence algorithms that allow users to quickly recall experts by subject, experience or geographic relevance.

2. Augment Transparency, Accountability and Communications Efficiency

Also, mentioned repeatedly, users touted the unparalleled level of transparency with socialized business. Conversations aren’t trapped in someone’s inbox, so management has continuous insight into the team’s progress. This prevents work duplication and redundancies because everyone is literally on the same page. In groups for project management, someone can enter the group and immediately have context into the situation just by scanning the discussion thread and checking attached documents — without ever sending an email.

3. Streamline Project Management

Social enterprise networks utilize all kinds of shortcuts to streamline workflow. One software developer told me they used social enterprise network shortcuts to facilitate scrum meetings, a key component of the agile software development methodology. Rather than hold their daily morning standup meetings in person, each member of the 37-person team posts “what I did yesterday,” “what I will do today” and “barriers to moving forward” using the hashtag #scrum. The tag allows users to quickly see what everyone is working on and chime in when appropriate. The poster can also delegate tasks to others with the “@” symbol. With some social collaboration tools, users can also employ shortcuts such as an “!” to pull information into the thread from CRM and other enterprise systems.

4. Better Leverage Information and Insights

The before mentioned social and adaptive intelligence can also suggest articles, files and experts based on the user’s position, connections, group memberships and resources they’ve previously accessed. (Think of Amazon when they say “those who’ve purchased this book also liked this one.”)  Imagine you have 10,000 people in an enterprise. Sales materials, RFPs are constantly flowing through system. Social enterprise apps make the most of this information by channeling it to the right people.

5. Generate More, Better Ideas

These platforms provide several means for employees to contribute ideas–from responding to queries and surveys (crowdsourcing), to posting ideas in a group discussion threads. Users receive gratification when co-workers and leadership “like” their contribution. Then, they are continually rewarded as they watch project teams bring the idea to fruition.

6. Boost Employee Recognition and Engagement

Some executives mentioned using social enterprise apps to pull reports that identify employees with high engagement and positive feedback. The more a user interacts with groups, downloads articles and responds to queries with the same keywords, the more they are distinguished as thought leaders on a subject.
The social collaboration software category is a quickly growing market space with a number of existing players like Jive, Yammer and Chatter, as well as new solutions such as BI360.
Research for this article was provided by Software Advice.

There is no doubt that a new generation of Enterprise Collaboration tools are coming full steam to the corporate marketplace. As the Facebook generation(s) starts demanding modern collaboration tools and interfaces at the workplace, this new breed of “social” business tools are here to stay. Early adopters are already using one or more enterprise collaboration tools, while late adopters might take two or more years to get on-board.
Yes, we have had collaboration tools available for a long time, just look at how much time we spend with e-mails, desktop sharing tools and sharing of files on the good old intranet every day. The question that every executive who believes technology is the way to make a real impact on their organization should be asking themselves is; if e-mails, meetings, conference calls, employee surveys, HR-managed resource and phone lists are the best use of everyone’s time for the next 10 years or if a good amount of this communication could have a better home in a modern enterprise collaboration tool.
A successfully implemented (including executive sponsorship and cultural adaptation) enterprise collaboration tool could with ONE single web-based interface (not with logging in to 5 different tools) that works on any device help with the following:
1. Idea generation and nurturing
2. Finding and networking with key resources (people directory)
3. Facilitating and storing of important business discussions of any kind (that does not include communication like: “Hey Joe, do you want to go to lunch at Noon today?”). E-mails and instant messaging do a fine job handling that today.
4. Facilitating and storing of key information through built-in micro-blogs and wikis
5. Facilitating and storing employee (and partner/customer) surveys
5. Searching and finding historical information from all of the above processes
6. Cross-linking of information from all of the above, so when you are doing one task, key words in your text start finding related items in the collaboration repository and serving it up real-time.
I think it is just a matter of time before modern enterprise collaboration tools are at a maturity stage and there are enough success stories that the technology becomes more important to growth and productivity than for example the company’s ERP system. This will not happen in 2012, but my guess would be by around 2014 or 2015.