The thin line between BI success and failure


The Dresner Advisory Service (DAS) continues to shed light on the Business Intelligence (BI) market and key software vendors, in 2013, releasing its fourth installment of the Wisdom of Crowds Business Intelligence Market Study.

The DAS study provides a fresh perspective on the current BI market, moving beyond the obvious haves and have-nots within the BI landscape, to what differentiates a successful BI initiative from an unsuccessful one.

Following on from 2012, the study again poses the question to participants “do you agree with the statement – Your BI initiative has been a success?” Subjects’ responses as well as the reasoning behind their answers paint a compelling picture of when to approach and when to avoid BI.

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Successful BI from 2012 – 2013

Following last year’s results, it came as no surprise that the vast majority of organisations with BI initiatives in place found them to be successful. The bulk of respondents agreed somewhat with the statement (47%), narrowly followed by those who completely agree with the statement (42%).

Given this disparity between those who agreed in favor of partial agreement suggests that there is room for improvement within the industry.

Reasons for BI success

The study delves further into BI initiatives level of success by trying to identify what exactly makes an initiative successful or unsuccessful. When companies were asked as to why their ventures had been successful some common answers emerged:

‘Senior management views BI as strategic’

‘Our organisation is stable’

‘We have an emphatic focus on critical opportunities and the requisite skills to deliver solutions’

For any BI project to be successful a strong justification for why a business requires BI must be established. The BI initiative must then be implemented strategically to address business problems. This process begins with the CEO and trickles down to all facets of the organisation.


Reasons for BI failure

While around 10% disagreed with the statement that ‘BI implementation was a success’, only 7% disagreed somewhat, hence we can infer that even in these minority cases some degree of value was obtained from the project.

Many BI projects are flawed from the outset despite having the best intentions, which deems it imperative to asses your organisations readiness to implement BI. But why do BI initiatives fail? Lack of skills? Limited resources? Are just two reoccurring responses from the survey. Other responses typically included:

‘There is a lack of management understanding or appreciation of BI’

‘We have a predominant focus upon technology vs. solving business problems’

All too often organisations do not have an adequate foundation to support BI implementations, often succumbing to the rhetoric associated with BI before assessing the realities of its application. Without a cooperative environment and clear strategic focus, BI initiatives will be adopted slowly, ultimately leading to disbandment of the entire venture.

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