September 16, 2010 – Use of Software-as-a-Service business intelligence more than doubled last year – and with that, increased opportunities and reduced IT department strain – and smaller companies are more likely to adopt SaaS BI platforms because they do not share the same security and set up concerns of their larger counterparts.

Those are among the findings in a research survey entitled “Fast, Affordable, Agile – The Case for SaaS BI” published by Boston-based Aberdeen Group. Aberdeen surveyed more than 400 BI users – of various sizes and with 70 percent located in North America – in two separate questionnaires during the year to compile the information for its latest report.

Organizations using SaaS BI jumped to 15 percent in 2009 from 7 percent in the previous year. More than half of those using SaaS BI were companies of fewer than 250 employees and annual revenues of less than $50 million, though use by larger corporations is growing, the report indicated.

The research showed results for those using SaaS BI, with 59 percent able to create dashboards for all users without programming, compared to only 31 percent of organizations not using SaaS dashboards. And those using SaaS BI dashboards were able to finish first projects in about half the time as their counterparts, according to Aberdeen senior research analyst David White.

“Most SaaS BI vendors started with a clean sheet of paper and developed their solutions in the last few years using modern technologies. In a way they are helped by the browser being a relatively sparse development platform and they also don't have any legacy support requirements and compatibility issues - unlike more established BI vendors,” White said. “Because of this, they were able to build dashboards that can be configured easily within a browser environment. We've all got used to being able to configure our personal home page on Yahoo or Google and the SaaS BI vendors have continued in that spirit.”

In the study, White and Aberdeen researchers also found many corporations using both SaaS and conventional BI, and that departments in larger companies – for example, Thermo Fisher and Citrix – are increasingly turning to SaaS. White said that this was largely because, with the speed and immediate needs of business, IT departments aren’t always able to give employees using BI the solution they need in a useful timeframe.

“It was a surprise that so many SaaS deployments are in larger companies that already have some BI solutions in place,” White said. “In these situations, SaaS BI is a win-win. Business users can get the management information they need quickly and cost effectively. For their part, over-stretched IT departments can cross one more thing from their to-do list.”

Companies queried that are not using SaaS BI were largely concerned with having sensitive information beyond their corporate firewall (43 percent), or were satisfied with their current business intelligence (40 percent).

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