Business Intelligence for Everyone? Not Yet, Says 2012 BI Scorecard Report

Courtney Bjorlin

Bi ScorecardDespite years of vendor hype, the ubiquitous nature of mobile devices, and scores of technological improvements, pervasive business intelligence remains elusive for most organizations, according to the results of the recent BI Scorecard survey.

The number of BI users within an organization has remained flat, as an industry wide average, for the last five years of the survey, standing firm at around ¼ of employees since 2007, according to the “2012 Successful BI Survey.” BI Scorecard, a resource for in-depth business intelligence tool evaluations based on exclusive hands-on testing, surveyed 634 small, medium and enterprise organizations from a variety of industries.

“With BI product innovations such as in-memory, visual data discovery and mobile deployments, particularly on iPads, I thought 2012 would finally show accelerated adoption,” writes Cindi Howson, founder of BI Scorecard, in the report. “Instead, BI adoption hasn’t budged since we first began assessing this point in 2005.”

While that’s the average industry wide, in some companies business intelligence tool adoption has continued to improve, Howson says by email. For example, at those companies that have strong business-IT partnerships, a hybrid business-IT BI leader, and appropriate resources and funding, BI adoption is about 34 percent. And at companies that have successfully deployed mobile BI, the average is higher: 39 percent adoption.

Organizational issues are the main culprit holding back wider adoption, as well as whether those already using the business intelligence tools rank their deployments as successful.

“If BI teams are not adequately funded—and a large portion are not—then they will be stuck trying to service mainly the existing power user base, back log of requests and not be able to leverage what’s new,” Howson says. “It is a combination of addressing BI budget limitations, but also about being smart about what IT must do and what the business must do.”

Why CEO Sponsorship Is Better Than the CIO’s

Most companies surveyed rank themselves as experiencing moderate BI success—the majority (73 percent) reporting slight to moderate success and business impact. Organizations that had support from the CEO or multiple sponsors of a BI effort reported having the most success with their efforts, while those whose efforts were sponsored by the CIO or IT manager had the least (Howson points out that this has much to do with the type of CIO leading the effort).

Organizations measured success as having better access to data, followed by operating efficiency and support to manage day to day business. Howson recommends that customers should measure success by both quantitative and qualitative measures. “Tracking the number of BI users is one of the easiest metrics to obtain,” she writes. “Such measures of success are necessary in ensuring continued executive support as well as increased investments in new or advanced BI deployments.”

For BI to have a more profound impact, however, BI teams need to study the business goals and analyze what information is required to improve and measure progress—then build the applications. They must be proactive in looking for places where it will make a business impact, with the goal of deploying BI tools to all personnel who make decisions.

Other interesting findings from Howson: (the full report is  available for purchase here)

Mobile Is the New Desktop? Not Yet

Only 11 percent of companies surveyed have successfully deployed mobile BI. Howson says some of this is a combination of the fact that the tools are still so new. For the SAP installed base, in particular, good SAP mobile BI capabilities really only just came out, and mobile dashboarding capabilities still need to improve.

Mad Dash to Dashboards

Customers are most looking to improve and innovate around dashboarding tools in 2013. Self-service and mobile BI were the second and third most-important priorities.

Technically Speaking

This year, those surveyed ranked the ability to combine and analyze data from different sources as the most important factor affecting BI success, followed by easy-to-use BI tools. These factors outranked last year’s victor: data quality.

Suite Success

Companies that have a predominant business intelligence standard are more likely to rank their projects as having a significant impact. But even with those companies who said they had a predominant BI standard, only 38 percent said it’s exclusive, while the majority reported using complementary tools.