Business intelligence is mission critical for most businesses. In a difficult economy and competitive business environment, it's survival of the smartest, often powered by BI. Demand for BI experts and software shows robust growth. Despite these positive signs, BI adoption has been flat, and most companies never tap the full potential of BI.
According to our just published 2011 Successful BI Survey, only a small minority are very successful (26%) with significant business impact (34%). The majority of BI projects though are stuck in the middle, not quite realizing the vision of improved revenues, exceptional customer service, and increased operating efficiency, all supported by business intelligence.
On the bright side, success rates and impact have improved versus the last time we ran the survey in 2009. If I look at the challenges, though, adoption has been stubbornly flat at 25% of employees. On average, customers say BI usage should be roughly double this rate. This suggests that many who would benefit from BI don’t have access, either for budget reasons, reliance on gut feel decision-making, or static spreadmarts. I thought for sure 2011 would be the break out year for pervasive BI, in part driven by more engaging, easier to use tools, lower costs, easier deployments, and of course, the iPad. I was wrong. Should I hold my breath for next year?
More successful companies do report higher BI adoption rates, so maybe adoption is a lagging indicator. Companies continue to cite untapped potential, and BI spending shows signs of improvement. But one of the biggest challenges is in constrained resources. There is more demand for BI than IT can keep pace, yet IT is slow to transition to the role of enabler versus gatekeeper. In some cases, it’s the business people who would rather fall back on the ease of a prebuilt report, ideally landing on their desk or email inbox. Old habits die slowly. Companies that have given business users a bigger role in BI, more aligned with the goals of the business, have a higher rate of BI contributing to business performance.
Of the myriad of BI tool modules that help provide self service BI, dashboards have shown the most rapid adoption, now ranked second (business query is ranked first) for the most successfully deployed BI module.
When we first starting surveying companies on how they manage their BI tool portfolio, only a few had a predominant BI standard. Today a full 69% of companies have BI standards, either across the enterprise (54%) or by department or line of business (15%). Standardization, though, should never be viewed as a one-size-fits all approach to BI. It’s about managing those investments to lower support costs and keep people focused on deriving insights via BI, not the fancy bells and whistles of BI. A sizeable portion of customers plan to increase their spending with current BI standard vendors, and a majority plan to increase the number of users. However, this year’s survey shows shifts in vendor’s customers prefer to standardize on. The survey results also dispel the notion that up and coming vendors like Tableau and QlikTech are only for SMBs or departments.
As with previous years’ surveys, this survey is not sponsored by vendors so we can ask detailed questions on tool usage and satisfaction with full objectivity. This year’s survey had over 600 respondents. The table of contents and executive summary can be previewed here.
Cindi Howson, BI Scorecard