Monday, August 10

BI only used by 8%, what is the point

It's hard to hear about the proverbial glass ceiling with the Business Intelligence (and data warehousing) industry. This ceiling acts as an invisible force stopping the industry from moving up or beyond it's current paradigm. Perhaps the holy grail is on the other side; or maybe this is the end. And really there are only two choices: assume the ceiling cannot be broken and live happily or innovate around it breaking past the barrier and into more chaos and opportunity.

Shawn Dolley mentioned Netezza's new blog, Previously Impossible. They quote a survey that shows just over 8 percent of employees actually use BI tools. And this is for BI-using organizations! The article also talks about the inflated usage statistics by BI vendors (they want to show value and sell more user licenses - usage is a must-have metric).

Many people mention the high cost of BI/DW. I wouldn't mind that so much if there was equal value in the results, the ROI. I think any MBA would be hard pressed to find positive ROI with only 8 percent of employees using such a costly system. However, companies pay for large BI/DW initiatives either out of necessity or ignorance.

Let's say it's out of necessity with the mounds of data being captured daily.

Now what. There is a need for information but there is still much pain with BI pre and post implementation. Some vendors will jump on the "low cost" wagon with starter kits, blueprints, configuration tools, cheaper hardware, etc. The problem I hope more people are looking at, the real glass ceiling problem, is addressing the question, "why are so few using BI?"

Look at how many people use Google to research or find information. Google's search success is because it's easy and quick! When my father who is 73 can find stuff that's a testimonial! Alternatively BI is still too confusing for the general employee. Dashboards. Analytical cubes. Reports. Forecasts. Anytime you need more than a few hours training (and re-training when you haven't used it for a month), it's too much. This, of course, assumes "BI for the masses".

So will BI ever get to the ease and simplicity where my father could determine the best deal of potato chips and dip mix combination near his location?


May said...

I think it is amazing to see that a lot of companies that have BI technology, but have concerns:
-feeling comfortable sharing it throughout the organization, because they are afraid that people misinterpret it.
-training is very expensive and might not have the budget for that.
-security of data is a priority, they need to be aware of the options that are out there to keep information safe.

if these crossroads are met, they will be more willing to implement BI tools more freely in companies.

Tom Hudock said...

Good point about misinterpreting the information. The business rules under the covers used to implement the report are not seen or easily explained to the business user. So BI projects rely on more "training" in the hopes to educate their users.

Just another piece of the complexity puzzle for BI.


Purohit D said...

Still some organization get to know about the importance of business intelligence application only after they get bad on paper statistics. Business intelligence software are then become necessary for them to become careful for future planning and decision making

Eraethil said...

It's just a matter of time. When analytics are as ubiquitous (for executives and business analysts) as google searching, the users will be driving the complexity of the tools/applications back up to get more use out of BI. But right now, many business folks are still intimidated by the complexity and many are not embracing it. I don't blame them. But, more and more will, because they'll experience the results.

In the meantime, though, we practitioners need to simplify the delivery/use and deal with some of the very legitimate concerns May offered, or we won't be around to see BI become ubiquitous.

Personally, I see more and more concern about security, privacy, and misinterpretation/misuse, everywhere I go.

Donald Robinson said...

Enterprise Technology Management,, and David Hatch of the Aberdeen Group recently moderated a podcast with subject matter specialists from Accenture, Netezza and SAS on how organizations are seeking to expand their capabilities to provide more staff with more relevant business information. The expansion and contraction of business intelligence (BI), specifically how organizations are seeking to expand its capabilities to provide more staff with more relevant business information while simultaneously contracting the focus of data delivery down to the individual user within shorter time frames, is a timely but complex challenge in today’s ever-changing IT environment and one which will be discussed below by some of the biggest names in analysis and the IT industry.

The full podcast and transcripts can be found on

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