Here's where business intelligence is truly delivering value in 2018

  • Executive management, operations, and sales are the three primary roles driving Business Intelligence (BI) adoption in 2018.
  • Dashboards, reporting, end-user self-service, advanced visualization, and data warehousing are the top five most important technologies and initiatives strategic to BI in 2018.
  • Small organizations with up to 100 employees have the highest rate of BI penetration or adoption in 2018.
  • Organizations successful with analytics and BI apps define success in business results, while unsuccessful organizations concentrate on adoption rate first.
  • 50% of vendors offer perpetual on-premises licensing in 2018, a notable decline over 2017. The number of vendors offering subscription licensing continues to grow for both on-premises and public cloud models.
  • Fewer than 15% of respondent organizations have a Chief Data Officer, and only about 10% have a Chief Analytics Officer today.

These and many other fascinating insights are from Dresner Advisory Service’s  2018 Wisdom of Crowds® Business Intelligence Market Study. In its ninth annual edition, the study provides a broad assessment of the business intelligence (BI) market and a comprehensive look at key user trends, attitudes, and intentions.  The latest edition of the study adds Information Technology (IT) analytics, sales planning, and GDPR, bringing the total to 36 topics under study.

“The Wisdom of Crowds BI Market Study is the cornerstone of our annual research agenda, providing the most in-depth and data-rich portrait of the state of the BI market,” said Howard Dresner, founder and chief research officer at Dresner Advisory Services. “Drawn from the first-person perspective of users throughout all industries, geographies, and organization sizes, who are involved in varying aspects of BI projects, our report provides a unique look at the drivers of and success with BI.” Survey respondents include IT (28%), followed by Executive Management (22%), and Finance (19%). Sales/Marketing (8%) and the Business Intelligence Competency Center (BICC) (7%). Please see page 15 of the study for specifics on the methodology.

Key takeaways from the study include the following:

Executive management, operations, and sales are the three primary roles driving business intelligence (BI) adoption in 2018

Executive management teams are taking more of an active ownership role in BI initiatives in 2018, as this group replaced Operations as the leading department driving BI adoption this year. The study found that the greatest percentage change in functional areas driving BI adoption includes Human Resources (7.3%), Marketing (5.9%), BICC (5.1%) and Sales (5%).

Making better decisions, improving operational efficiencies, growing revenues and increased competitive advantage are the top four BI objectives organizations have today

Additional goals include enhancing customer service and attaining greater degrees of compliance and risk management. The graph below rank orders the importance of BI objectives in 2018 compared to the percent change in BI objectives between 2017 and 2018. Enhanced customer service is the fastest growing objective enterprises adopt BI to accomplish, followed by growth in revenue (5.4%).

Dashboards, reporting, end-user self-service, advanced visualization, and data warehousing are the top five most important technologies and initiatives strategic to BI in 2018

The study found that second-tier initiatives including data discovery, data mining/advanced algorithms, data storytelling, integration with operational processes, and enterprise and sales planning are also critical or very important to enterprises participating in the survey. Technology areas being hyped heavily today including the Internet of Things, cognitive BI, and in-memory analysis are relatively low in the rankings as of today, yet are growing. Edge computing increased 32% as a priority between 2017 and 2018 for example. The results indicate the core aspect of excelling at using BI to drive better business decisions and more revenue still dominate the priorities of most businesses today.

Sales & marketing, business intelligence competency center (BICC) and executive management have the highest level of interest in dashboards and advanced visualization

Finance has the greatest interest in enterprise planning and budgeting. Operations including manufacturing, supply chain management, and services) leads interest in data mining, data storytelling, integration with operational processes, mobile device support, data catalog and several other technologies and initiatives. It’s understandable that BICC leaders most advocate end-user self-service and attach high importance to many other categories as they are internal service bureaus to all departments in an enterprise. It’s been my experience that BICCs are always looking for ways to scale BI adoption and enable every department to gain greater value from analytics and BI apps. BICCs in the best run companies are knowledge hubs that encourage and educate all departments on how to excel with analytics and BI.

Insurance companies most prioritize dashboards, reporting, end-user self-service, data warehousing, data discovery and data mining

Business Services lead the adoption of advanced visualization, data storytelling, and embedded BI. Manufacturing most prioritizes sales planning and enterprise planning but trails in other high-ranking priorities. Technology prioritizes Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) given its scale and speed advantages. The retail & wholesale industry is going through an analytics and customer experience revolution today. Retailers and wholesalers lead all others in data catalog adoption and mobile device support.

Insurance, technology and business services vertical industries have the highest rate of BI adoption today

The Insurance industry leads all others in BI adoption, followed by the Technology industry with 40% of organizations having 41% or greater adoption or penetration. Industries whose BI adoption is above average include Business Services and Retail & Wholesale. The following graphic illustrates penetration or adoption of Business Intelligence solutions today by industry.

Dashboards, reporting, advanced visualization, and data warehousing are the highest priority investment areas for companies whose budgets increased from 2017 to 2018

Additional high priority areas of investment include advanced visualization and data warehousing. The study found that less well-funded organizations are most likely to lead all others by investing in open source software to reduce costs.

Small organizations with up to 100 employees have the highest rate of BI penetration or adoption in 2018

Factors contributing to the high adoption rate for BI in small businesses include business models that need advanced analytics to function and scale, employees with the latest analytics and BI skills being hired to also scale high growth businesses and fewer barriers to adoption compared to larger enterprises. BI adoption tends to be more pervasive in small businesses as a greater percentage of employees are using analytics and BI apps daily.

Executive management is most familiar with the type and number of BI tools in use across the organization

The majority of executive management respondents say their teams are using between one or two BI tools today. Business Intelligence Competency Centers (BICC) consistently report a higher number of BI tools in use than other functional areas given their heavy involvement in all phases of analytics and BI project execution. IT, Sales & Marketing and Finance are likely to have more BI tools in use than Operations.

Enterprises rate BI application usability and product quality & reliability at an all-time high in 2018

Other areas of major improvements on the part of vendors include improving ease of implementation, online training, forums and documentation, and completeness of functionality. Dresner’s research team found between 2017 and 2018 integration of components within product dropped, in addition to scalability. The study concludes the drop in integration expertise is due to an increasing number of software company acquisitions aggregating dissimilar products together from different platforms.

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