What’s the Key Metric for Measuring BI Performance?

What’s the key method for measuring the success of Business Intelligence (BI) projects in any organization? Simple – The rate of end-user adoption. That is, how many people in an organization who have access to BI software, actually use that software, and access the reports it generates, on a regular basis, to help them make operational and strategic business decisions.

Why should end-user adoption be the decisive yardstick with which to measure the success of an organizations BI program? Easy – if your BI solution is useful for achieving a desired goal or satisfies a specific purpose, like any other product or service, it will be embraced by your end users. If it is perceived as awkward and unhelpful, like a one-piece bathing suit at a nudist colony, chances are it will be left to gather dust.

Industry studies over the past five years show that most BI projects fail for two main reasons – a lack of business focus and poor user adoption.

End User Adoption & Shelf-ware

According to a study by The Data Warehousing Institute in 2008, only 24 percent of the potential BI users are using BI solutions – that means that over 75% of BI software is shelf-ware!

So, what are the key drivers of end-user adoption in the BI space?

Well, there are two main areas of focus – timely access to relevant data and platform capability.

Access to data includes:

  • Report relevance – Do their reports help them to succeed
  • Exception-based reporting – help users get to the issue immediately
  • Timeliness of data delivery – agility and flexibility of your solution
  • Data quality – how accurate and clean is your data
  • Training – how well prepared are your end users to use your BI solution

Platform capability includes:

  • Ease of use – Make sure technology does not get in the way
  • Interactivity – Flexibility to explore, manipulate and analyze reports
  • Speed of report delivery – no one wants an excessive wait for their report to run.  Five seconds max is a good benchmark on the web.
  • Security – feeling confident that confidential data will be secure
  • Anywhere, anytime access – Mobile BI and Report scheduling

It’s simple. The more employees who have access to the benefits of quality BI, the better equipped any organization will be to respond to, and take advantage of, opportunities and shifts in their business environment.

And the more barriers that are removed to widespread end-user adoption, the more able an organization will be to incorporate and ingrain a BI application into its business culture.

We think there’s lots more to be said here. This might be the basis of a white paper – keep a lookout.

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