BI is no longer a nice-to-have back-office application that counts widgets — it is now used as a key competitive differentiator by all leading organizations. For decades, most of the BI business cases were based on intangible benefits, but these days are over — today 41% of professionals, with knowledge of their firm's business case, base their business case on tangible benefits, like an increased margin or profitability. As a result, BI is front and center of most enterprise agendas, with North American data and analytics technology decision-makers who know their firm's technology budget telling Forrester in 2014 that 15% of their technology management budget will go toward BI-related purchases, initiatives, and projects.

But taking advantage of this trend by deploying a single centralized BI platform is easier said than done at most organizations. Legacy platforms, mergers and acquisitions (M&A), BI embedded into enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications, and organizational silos are just a few reasons why no large organization out there has a single enterprise BI platform. Anecdotal evidence shows that most enterprises have three or more enterprise BI platforms and many more shadow IT BI platforms.

BI professionals spend numerous hours and resources navigating the complex BI landscape, rationalizing and selecting BI vendors. Forrester does not believe it's time well spent. While each vendor's technical architecture and user interface may be different, most leading BI vendors have been in the BI business for well over 10 years, resulting in products that are mature, robust, stable, and scalable and support very similar use cases. Forrester recommends that BI pros invest their resources more wisely in tasks that bring business value (like building industry-vertical- and business-domain-specific BI applications), not in increasingly commoditized technology selection. Follow pragmatic 10 steps defined in our report to cut to the chase and rationalize your long list of BI vendors to a more manageable, smaller portfolio.

Originally published by Forrester Research. Published with permission.