Friday, July 18, 2008

Pervasive BI Hurdles

I wrote previously about the Pervasive BI report from Wayne Eckerson at TDWI.

Here I want to highlight just the issues that are cited as reasons why BI has not spread more.

"The biggest impediments to BI adoption are the time and complexity to deploy BI tools followed by the cost of BI licenses, according to our survey."

So BI needs to be easier to get up and running. This is no great surprise, and recently there has been a real push by some technology providers, including ourselves, to deliver more intuitive tools.

The cost of BI licenses is an interesting one, because it seems that most vendors charge per named user. That is, if Bob sees Mary's dashboard and wants his own, they have to pay more money to the vendor. No wonder this reduces the BI adoption rate. A fiscally conservative firm will say, "Do you really need a dashboard? Can't you just use Excel?"

"Once BI tools are in-house, the biggest impediments to greater usage are poor data quality, overly complex tools, slow query response times, lack of executive backing, and the existence of other tools, according to respondents. To accelerate usage, they recommend integrating BI with Microsoft Office, implementing dashboards, embedding BI into a business process, and delivering highly interactive and self-service BI."

The old phrase of "garbage in, garbage out" holds true. In most situations, the consumers of data are in the same department or line of business as the producers of the data. If the BI user can explore the data, drill down to the detail, and fix the problems they discover, then the data quality problem will solve itself.

The BI tool needs to be easy to deploy AND easy to use. If users don't get frustrated, they may even enjoy the time they spend with the tool.

Users complain about slow performance, because they want to use BI more interactively. If they didn't, they would just schedule the necessary reports and move on.

The lack of executive support is sort of a catch-22. If an executive is behind a BI deployment, it will get resources to do it right. If not, large BI projects are doomed to failure, and executives will have their doubts confirmed. Two solutions are: convince a C-level sponsor to take a risk; or deploy a smaller BI project first to gain momentum. One of the best ways to have a successful initial implementation is to get the users participating early and often.

The existence of other tools is a chicken-egg situation. Users may be driven to using the other tools because of the other issues with traditional BI products. Also, "other tools" means desktop tools where the user is omnipotent.

It seems pretty unanimous that in order to use BI more, people want more self-service from their BI tools.

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