BI Adoption Flat

By Cindi Howson, BI Scorecard

The world of business intelligence has been revitalized by the buzz of big data, the promise of personalization, and the agility of visual data discovery. Yet many companies struggle with the basics of accessing data, particularly new data sources. BI has long been considered a tool for power users and for management to run the business, but easier-to-use tools, mobile BI, and visual data discovery have allowed new classes of users to exploit the value of data.

BI Scorecard’s annual survey of BI users, administrators, and directors shows success rates have remained flat since the survey was first conducted in 2006 (based on 513 respondents). Success is defined by BI’s ability to improve access to data, decision-maker’s perception of value, and impact on revenues, customer service, and operating efficiency. However, the portion of customers saying BI has delivered significant business impact declined in 2013 by six percentage points to only 28% — the lowest since the survey began. While there are some very successful and impactful BI deployments, the majority are stuck in the middle, with respondents reporting only slight to moderate success and business impact. On the bright side, few respondents (3%) reported outright failure.

BI adoption as a percentage of employees remains flat at 22%, but companies that have successfully deployed mobile BI show the highest adoption at 42% of employees. (see Figure)

Survey respondents say that if they had appropriate budget, clean data, and organizational policies that support BI, 50% of employees on average should be using BI. The gap between deployed BI and potential BI users shows that companies are not tapping BI’s full potential. While much of the industry focuses on software and technical innovations, the main barriers are organizational and cultural, according to 84% of survey respondents.

Executives can address organizational and cultural challenges, making leadership the most important organizational criterion for success. Aligning BI efforts to business goals is the second most important success factor. Alignment requires a strong business/IT partnership and ongoing dialogue, something many companies lack. BI teams that report directly to the CEO or to a line of business show the most significant business impact. However, strained BI resources make it increasingly difficult to expand the reach of BI or for companies to take advantage of new innovations. As demand for new data sources, more users, and analytic complexity increase, BI teams have to work smarter, and business users have to embrace self-service BI.

Most companies (66%) have standardized on a BI platform across the enterprise or per line of business. However, the companies that deploy tools from specialty vendors report higher success rates and business impact than companies that use one BI platform exclusively.

Big data stole most the headlines in 2013, but dashboards, new data sources, and self-service BI are the main priority for investments in 2014, followed by mobile BI, visual data discovery, and upgrading to the latest BI releases

I have long advocated that customers should evaluate the quality of customer account management and technical support. The greater the partnership between a BI vendor and a customer, the greater the likelihood that both sides will manage—and meet— expectations.

Overall, customers of specialty BI vendors such as Tableau and Qlik had higher satisfaction rates, while those of larger BI vendors Oracle and SAP were less satisfied. However, the size of the BI vendor alone does not equate with lower satisfaction, as Microsoft, for example, scored well on quality of technical support. The quality of technical support has a huge influence on success and business impact. We are talking software, and sometimes disparate components, so it’s almost a certainty that BI teams will encounter problems.

The difference among BI vendors is in how quickly and adequately those problems are resolved. And yet, the quality of technical support for some BI vendors has only gotten worse as they’ve built broader portfolios and experienced high employee turnover. How much does it matter? Customers who rate the technical support as very good to excellent, also have the highest degree of business impact, with 45% rating BI’s impact as significant, compared to the survey average of 28% rating the impact as significant.

The BI Scorecard Successful BI survey is not sponsored by vendors. The full report can be purchased here. For a free copy of the 30-page highlights, take next year’s survey. Sign up here to be notified of when the survey opens.