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A Renaissance for Business Intelligence?

July 2, 2012 – Old and new uses of business intelligence are on the rise, and enterprises of all sizes are juggling with the complexity of taking on more tools, users and advanced capabilities, according to a new BI market survey.

In the 2012 edition of its annual “Wisdom of Crowds: Business Intelligence Market Study,” Dresner Advisory Services gauged survey responses from 859 IT officials and business users across a range of industries, about half of which were based in North America. Based on the swath of responses in the survey, the market has the foundation in place and potential for success that equate to a “BI Renaissance,” says Howard Dresner, chief research officer at the research and advisory firm. Some of Dresner’s sentiment is due to the “increased interest and awareness of BI by the business community.”

”We’re in the midst of the rising tide, so the whole market feels like it’s growing, and we haven’t had that in a while,” Dresner says.

The vast majority of those surveyed (89 percent) either completely or somewhat agree that their BI initiatives have been a success, with the remainder stating they disagreed somewhat or wholly on the success of BI. As far as the number of business intelligence users, 63 percent of those surveyed had 100 or fewer users in their organization, 18 percent had 100 to 500 users, 6 percent had 501 to 1,000, and 13 percent had more than 1,000 users, according to the Dresner survey. Two or three BI tools in were reported in use by 47 percent of enterprises, the same level from last year’s survey, and 25 percent reported four or more BI tools in use, down only slightly from 2011.

As far as technology plans related to business intelligence, nearly 80 percent of respondents put dashboards as “critical” or “very important,” followed closely in both responses by end user self-service. At the low end of priority BI tech initiatives, one-third of respondents pegged open source software as “not important,” and approximately 29 percent found social media BI to be unimportant to their plans.

The survey also looked at BI’s place in three hot trends in the enterprise IT space: mobile devices, cloud and as-a-service deployments, and advanced analytics. Seventy-four percent of respondents ranked mobile BI implementation as at least “important,” with retail and IT firms coming in as the top interested industries. Cloud and SaaS interest varied – finance and IT were reluctant toward deployments, especially to public clouds – though Dresner expects more virtual BI environments to take hold in the coming years with the maturation of infrastructure services.

For advanced analytics, interest registered as very high for about one-fifth of industries across the survey. But Dresner’s survey also found little traction in actual implementations of these high-level analytics systems for data mining, predictive models and big data.

“Things like predictive analytics are clearly valuable, but we have to remember that these are predictions and not facts. You can’t do anything without historical data, but something may change,” Dresner says, later adding, “With big data, too, you need to walk before you run. The big data isn’t going to help you if you’re not already doing a good job with the stuff that’s closer to the reservation.”

Click here for a blog by Howard on the results and for access to the study.

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