Gartner Trends Report Paints a Bright Future for BI

December 27, 2011
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In November, 2011 Gartner published a report, “Business Intelligence Adoption Trends, 2011” (Gartner subscription required for access). During the four years from 2008 through 2011, Gartner surveyed attendees at its BI summits to track adoption of BI tools by business users.

In November, 2011 Gartner published a report, “Business Intelligence Adoption Trends, 2011” (Gartner subscription required for access). During the four years from 2008 through 2011, Gartner surveyed attendees at its BI summits to track adoption of BI tools by business users. (See the related blog post about the 2011 Gartner BI summit in London, “The Rebirth of BI: The Future Is about Discovery.”) The total number of people who filled out the survey was just shy of 700, with 189 people taking the survey in 2011.

Here are my thoughts about some of the Gartner findings:

  • Self-service BI is the answer to low BI penetration. Gartner is finding that adoption of BI tools by business users has remained static since 2008, with fewer than 30% of potential users within an organization making use of BI. My take: the main reason for this is that most BI tools available to business users are not meeting those users’ needs for exploring data and asking and answering their own streams of questions. In a world of empowered consumers, self-service BI―with a focus on ease of acquisition, ease of use, and ease of creation―is critical to mainstream adoption of BI within an organization.
  • IT and other parts of the business partner closely for best success. Gartner posits that when the business leads the requirement decisions, BI adoption is better compared to when the IT department leads. I’d say that IT support and buy-in is critical for mass adoption of BI tools within an organization—and this is even truer in larger organizations. Widespread adoption of BI tools isn’t about IT versus the business. It’s about the IT part of the business enabling other people in the business with self-service BI. IT can focus on data preparation and governance, security, scalability, while enabling business users to create their own interactive discovery apps.
  • Value is more obvious when adoption is higher. Gartner has found that the higher the adoption of BI within an organization, the more money that organization plans to spend on BI. Organizations reporting strong adoption (>61% of potential users have adopted BI) said they planned to spend 19% of their IT budget on BI software in the coming fiscal year. In contrast, organizations with the weakest adoption (<21% of potential users having adopted BI) said they are planning to spend only 7% of their IT budget in this way. To me, this speaks to the business value organizations get from widespread adoption of BI tools. As more people within an organization use BI software to explore data, derive insights, and make decisions, the ROI (formal or informal) improves and it becomes a no-brainer to continue investments in this area.

While BI software was originally used for core financial analysis, it has moved way beyond that. Easy-to-use, self-service BI software can be used to support an endless array of business decisions, large and small. We have customers who have recently used QlikView to improve customer service, optimize product mixes . . . even to optimize commercial fishing locations and sales points, and catch a serial killer. And we’ve only just begun. It makes me happy to know that 70% of potential users of BI tools still have ahead of them the delightful “a-ha” moment that comes with making their own business discoveries.  It’s a green field ahead!