October 18, 2011 – An assessment of self-service business intelligence capabilities reveals a distinct gap in agile BI between best-in-class users who make up the minority of adopters and the rest of enterprises, according to a new Aberdeen report.

Aberdeen’s new report, “Agile BI: Power to the People,” by analyst/researchers David White and Nick Castellina, queried nearly 175 IT officers on their business intelligence agility and implementations. It defined the 20 percent of users as best-in-class, 50 percent as average, and the remaining as “laggards.”

Sixty-five percent of BI users across best-in-class enterprises reported that data sources were understood and documented, compared with 33 percent of other enterprises that shared that same comprehension, according to the Aberdeen report. An even wider difference was found in the development of BI skills among management, with 53 percent of best-in-class users following through on this development and only 23 percent under development from the rest of enterprises.

White and Castellina suggested that avenues toward self-service functionality show the clearest path toward agile BI. On that front, BI endeavors returned the most rewards when they moved beyond the traditional static reports and into collaboration between business and IT.

“Today, managers need more comprehensive access to information and the tools necessary to work with it interactively. Ironically, for IT to be more hands-off in the delivery of BI, IT needs to develop a better understanding of what business users actually need to assist daily decision making,” according to the researchers.

As far as software capabilities for self-service BI, functionality like drill-down menus were about the same for best-in-class users (69 percent) as the rest of organizations (61 percent). But the gap widened with deeper functionality and successful adoption. Business users can tailor BI and reports at 58 percent of best-in-class users, compared with only 34 percent of business users for the remaining organizations, according to Aberdeen. Manipulation of information and the BI display are attributes of 56 percent of best-in-class capabilities, though available to less than one-quarter of functionality for other users.

Overall, organizations are feeling the pressure to do more with an increasing amount of data, according to Aberdeen findings. Nearly half (49 percent) of respondents reported being “overwhelmed” by the growing amount of data and data sources, and 43 percent stated that their time for decisions based on that information is being compressed.

Researchers pointed to four factors that have led to success with a self-service business intelligence model. Primarily, an organization’s culture must expect management decisions to be based on a combination of rich data and management experience. Aberdeen found that 52 percent of best-in-case organizations factor changes in management culture as part of their BI project plan, compared with only 32 percent of other organizations sharing that same consideration. Other important aspects toward success include an attitude of encouragement of self-service BI, up-to-date tech with high integration capabilities, and solid training on BI tools.

Until December 2, the report is available for free. To register, click here.

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