Agile BI: Driven by time & data vol, synonymous with pervasiveness

A new research study by the Aberdeen GroupAgile BI: Three Steps to Analytic Heaven – has found that top performing organizations are realizing the power of Agile Business Intelligence (BI) by enabling managerial decision-makers with self-service access to business-critical information in shorter timeframes, directly running BI reports and charts against operational data stores, and by establishing a formal review process to assess project success.

The study, based on responses from 170 BI using organizations between February and March 2011, found that organizations were moving towards Agile BI implementations, driven by the twin pressures of growing data volumes and the need to make critical fact-based decisions in shorter timeframes.

Definition of an Agile Business Intelligence program

The research report divides respondent organizations into three categories based on the agility of their BI rollout:

  • Best-in-Class (Top 20% of aggregate performance scorers)
  • Industry Average (Middle 50% of aggregate performance scorers)
  • Laggard (Bottom 30% of aggregate performance scorers)

The Best-in-Class are distinguished from Industry Average and Laggard companies by three main performance criteria:

  • The availability of timely information to managerial decision-makers
  • The average time taken to add a column to an existing report
  • The average time needed to create a new dashboard

Agile Business Intelligence synonymous with pervasive Business Intelligence

The study also revealed that those organizations experiencing greater BI agility, also had a larger percentage of employees utilizing BI:

  • Best-in-Class (38%)
  • Industry Average (32%)
  • Laggards (23%)


Survey respondents identified the top three strategic enablers for successfully delivering Agile BI as:

  • Empowering end-users with greater self-service (64%)
  • Creating a repeatable process-oriented approach to BI projects and their ongoing assessment (50%)
  • Empowering IT with the ability to react to BI demands with greater responsiveness (24%)

Additionally, 74% of Best-in-Class organizations had an “executive level champion” to drive their BI projects, compared to 53% of Industry Average companies, and 47% of Laggards.


Survey respondents identified the top three inhibitors to BI adoption, and the realization of an Agile BI deployment, as:

  • A lack end-user understanding regarding the potential benefits of BI (49%)
  • Inadequate IT resources to underpin a successful BI implementation and address ongoing technological and user demands (47%)
  • Poorly defined end-user requirements (43%)

Benefits of Agile Business Intelligence implementations

The report identified several significant benefits of Agile BI programs, including:

  • Faster data access: Managers at 36% of Best-in-Class companies can always access the management information they need in the timeframe they need it in order to make decisions, compared to 24% of all other survey respondents.
  • Faster report building: Best-in-Class organizations take an average of 4.3 hours to add a column to an existing report, compared to 5.8 days for Industry Average organizations and 6.9 days for Laggard companies.
  • Faster dashboard creation: Best-in-Class organizations take an average of 3.8 days to create a new dashboard, compared to 26 days for Industry Average companies and 51 days for Laggards.
  • Widespread business-user self-sufficiency: On average, forty-two percent of users in Best-in-Class organizations can use BI independently of IT assistance, compared to 30 percent of users in Industry Average companies and 30 percent in Laggard organizations.

The 31 page Aberdeen Group report can be downloaded here.

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