Fewer BI Tools in Your Future

April 28, 2010
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According to a July 2009 survey conducted by InformationWeek Analytics and Intelligent Enterprise, organizations are continuing to reduce the number of BI tools and many are moving to a single standard.

When the survey was done in 2007, a third of the business technology professionals said that their company had standardized on one or a few BI tools deployed throughout the company. Two years later, the response to that question went up to almost half.

Here are some other findings:

  • Deploying BI tools on a project-by-project basic dropped from 22% to 19%
  • Having many BI tools scatttered through departments, operations, and locations dropped from 25% to 18%
  • Deploying BI tools as part of other technology initiatives dropped from 17% to 14%

Doug Henschen, editor in chief, says that while BI tool consolidation and standardization is not just marketing hype, no software vendor produces a single stack of technology that can meet all of the BI needs of an organization. That makes picking a single vendor’s product as a BI standard difficult.

Doug adds:

“Another key trend revealed in our survey is that businesses are forging new BI agendas. Yes, the


According to a July 2009 survey conducted by InformationWeek Analytics and Intelligent Enterprise, organizations are continuing to reduce the number of BI tools and many are moving to a single standard.

When the survey was done in 2007, a third of the business technology professionals said that their company had standardized on one or a few BI tools deployed throughout the company. Two years later, the response to that question went up to almost half.

Here are some other findings:

  • Deploying BI tools on a project-by-project basic dropped from 22% to 19%
  • Having many BI tools scatttered through departments, operations, and locations dropped from 25% to 18%
  • Deploying BI tools as part of other technology initiatives dropped from 17% to 14%

Doug Henschen, editor in chief, says that while BI tool consolidation and standardization is not just marketing hype, no software vendor produces a single stack of technology that can meet all of the BI needs of an organization. That makes picking a single vendor’s product as a BI standard difficult.

Doug adds:

“Another key trend revealed in our survey is that businesses are forging new BI agendas. Yes, the longstanding challenges of accessing data and developing reports are still there, as is the push to share BI more broadly across the enterprise. But there’s growing interest behind analytics, embedded BI, and search-style querying.

  

New business requirements and new vendor capabilities make it unlikely an organization will settle on a single BI vendor. But consolidating around two or three vendors can help meet requirements and get the resource- and time-savings of standardization.”

Of course, identifying a BI tool or two as your standard is the easy step. Actually replacing all of the existing report writers in your organization is the hard part. When you look at the amount of work, several obstacles stand in your way of actually converting to the approved technology: 
  • There are thousands of legacy programs!
  • We don’t have the resources to convert these programs! 
  • There are hundreds of users impacted!
  • There are some power users who don’t want to change!
  • There are years of work effort involved!
  • We would have to spend millions of dollars!

It is easy to argue that moving to the new standard is an “undue burden” and therefore something you should not be forced to do. Yet smart companies are doing it because reducing the number of BI tools (especially legacy ones) can: 
  • Reduce license costs
  • Reduce internal support costs  
  • Reduce human resource challenge of scarce skillsets
  • Reduce the number of vendors with whom you must work
  • Improve productivity (e.g., no disputes about or research into BI tool selection)
  • Improve BI project success (consistent usage of the approved product)
  • Modernize to web-based and Microsoft Office-integrated technology

More companies will standardize their BI products and reduce the number of reporting tools they support — it is a natural progression (like spreadsheets, word processing, e-mail packages, and databases).

For a limited time, you can get a free copy of this BI report at InformationWeek.