BI Has No Future? What Do Surveys Say?

by Alena SemeshkoApril 3, 2008
A survey reveals good news for business intelligence vendors. Still, industry analysts suggest a number of improvements.

(Featured image credit)


Not everyone needs classic BI

Neil Raden quite reasonably criticizes a recent article titled “Gartner: Emerging Technologies Will Help Drive Mainstream BI Adoption.”

After all, it’s true that BI software was initially designed for marketing and finance departments to gather data, analyze it, report it, and build up new development strategies based on it. But all of this is already in place and happening…As for the perspective, though, there’s still room to expand, according to Neil.

Neil Raden

“I believe there is a huge opportunity for the BI vendors to expand the reach and value of their software, but not through visualization interfaces and more powerful analyst tools. That train left the station. It’s time for BI to take its place on the porch with the big dogs and tackle the real operational processes of organizations. Classic BI is not going away, it provides a valuable function, but not everyone needs it.” —Neil Raden

Sounds reasonable, the industry should evolve. At the same time, let’s have a look at the original report.


The market is still growing!

Regardless of traditional understanding of BI becoming outdated, the spendings on BI keep rising.

Spending on business intelligence software, designed to help executives make better decisions, is seen rising 11% to $5.8 billion this year despite a U.S. economic slowdown, research firm Gartner said.

Gartner says BI hold too high of a position with CIOs and will not be affected by the economic downturn as much as other technologies.

The research firm said business intelligence had beaten all other technologies in a survey it had carried out of priorities of 1,500 chief information officers worldwide. Gartner said it expected business intelligence software sales in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and the Asia-Pacific region to outgrow those in North America this year, as they did last year. By 2012, the global business intelligence market should be worth $7.7 billion, Gartner said.

BI taking over the world, huh? That’s encouraging news for BI companies.


What’s wrong with business intelligence?

So, what else can be improved with traditional BI? Gartner’s recent statement about companies misinterpreting the concept of business intelligence is all over the news. No wonder, companies need to be confronted with this common fallacy of thinking that BI is just about technology.

Phillip Britt from DestinationCRM in his recent article chews out Gartners point and suggests nine ways (corresponding to Gartner’s nine “fatal flaws”) to consider in adjusting your approach to business intelligence.

Philipp Britt

The first thing to realize here is that developing a “BI initiative from a data-centric perspective won’t work unless there is involvement from the business side from the beginning.” He goes on criticizing the spreadsheet culture and the way companies underestimate the importance of sharing data across enterprise.

Then, oh, my favorite one: data quality.

“Data quality issues are almost ubiquitous and the impact on BI is significant—people won’t use BI applications that are founded on irrelevant, incomplete, or questionable data.”


The other fundamental problems with the way companies approach BI include “one-stop shopping” approach, “stability” (BI goals should be reevaluated and the action plan should be adjusted accordingly from year to year, actually), outsourcing BI (cost-cutting is not the primary goal of your BI practice), lack of collaboration across enterprise (no agreement on a “single truth” to aim for across different departments), etc.

Bill Hostmann

Finally, the biggest flaw is the “lack of a documented BI strategy.” This one actually holds true for each and every part of the overall enterprise strategy, it holds true for data integraion, data quality, data migration, ETL, literally EVERYTHING in the related field.

Gartner’s Bill Hostmann even “recommends creating a team tasked with writing or revising a BI strategy document, with members drawn from both the technology and the business sides.” Well said.

Do you have your own ideas about what can be improved in a BI approach? Let us know in the comments.


The post is written by Alena Semeshko, edited by Alex Khizhniak.