Posted by Karen
October 6, 2014
The ever escalating hype on “business intelligence”, “analytics” and “big data” has made it very difficult to uncover the information that is truly valuable and useful. I recently came across a survey that provides what I consider to be pragmatic information if you are looking to upgrade, supplement or replace your Business Intelligence software, or purchase it for the first time.
The survey, conducted by BI researcher Software Advice among prospective Business Intelligence software buyers, provides insight that may assist your BI purchase decision such as: What’s trending in BI software? What are other BI software buyers looking for? Why are they looking for new BI software? What tools and features are at the top of their “must have” list?
It may surprise some to learn that 63% of BI software buyers were Business Professionals with titles such as financial officer, operations manager, or marketing executive; whereas, just 37% were IT Professionals, either CIO or IT manager. This underscores the trend, revealed in an Economist Intelligence survey, that data is increasingly used in all departments in organizations and that end users rather than IT largely dictate the pace and the specific BI tools that are most relevant to the enterprise.
This is consistent with what we see as well. Business users now have access to BI tools that are user-friendly enough that they don’t need to have IT support them.
Data Visualization is Key Reason for BI Software Purchases
Buyers emphatically indicated “Data Visualization” as the primary reason for evaluating/buying business intelligence software. Nearly 40% of prospective buyers indicated they wanted a BI tool that would provide strong visualizations in dashboards from data they collected. This is the strength of tools such as Tableau and GoodData and so many other products offering superior visualization and trumps the more technical requirement of data cleansing and data warehousing.
25% of survey respondents were looking to purchase BI software to upgrade their current BI tool or to implement a BI tool for the first time. Other reasons cited for purchasing a BI tool were: need to report across multiple systems, need ways to automate data collection, for better organization or scalability.
Many users have become frustrated with legacy systems which don’t provide tools that are user-friendly enough for business people to access. The survey revealed four key motivations for buyers to be searching for a new BI solution: 33% of buyers were seeking new BI software to either Replace Or Supplement a CRM or ERP system; 20% were using Excel Spreadsheets, which failed to meet their needs; 20% deemed their current BI software to be either Out of Date or Unsatisfactory. A further 19% of buyers were Not Currently Using Any BI Software.
Most Wanted: Customizable Dashboards and User Friendly Interface
65% of BI buyers cited either Customizable Dashboards and Reporting Capability or User Friendly Interface as the most important BI software feature. 11 % of buyers ranked Data Warehousing as a top feature.
A clear majority of buyers (95%) were interested only in Integrated BI Systems that house many tools. Among these, Dashboard/Scoreboard was by far the number one tool requested by buyers. The second most highly desired tool was Query/Report Writing, followed by Data Warehousing, ETL (extract, transform and load), OLAP (Online Analytical Processing), Data Mining and Predictive Analytics.
Although 84% of BI buyers had not yet made a decision regarding a deployment method, the majority of those who had decided, 66%, stated a preference for On-Premise BI software versus a Cloud-based solution.
BI software buyers came from a wide range of industries. The two industries with the highest representation among buyers were Healthcare and Manufacturing with 13% and 12% representation respectively. 46% of buyers were from a variety of industries such as non-profit, education and distribution, each of which accounted for less than 5% of total buyers.
Although every business has their own distinct needs, when it comes to choosing BI software, some requirements are universal. Thus the 2014 BI buyer trends provide a useful guide for the evaluation process. For instance, if you haven’t made strong data visualization a top priority, then it would be a good idea to explore this aspect further. Similarly, a customizable dashboard/scorecard tool should be high up in your list of priorities.
Finally, I would like to draw your attention to the 2014 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms which is another insightful analysis for those interested in buying or upgrading their BI software.