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Hurdles cited on selling benefits of business intelligence

IT and business intelligence managers describe the biggest hurdles they face in trying to convince business executives of the benefits of using BI software to drive decision making.

Self-service business intelligence tools are in the BI spotlight these days -- as evidenced by consultancy Gartner's revamping this month of its BI platform definition to emphasize self-service analytics capabilities. But in many organizations, IT and BI managers are still struggling to sell corporate executives and other end users on the benefits of business intelligence tools.

It's a conundrum that Gartner noted in its 2016 Magic Quadrant report on BI and analytics platforms, in which its analysts detailed their new thinking on what BI software should provide. The report cited "lackluster BI adoption relative to the level of investment" at companies as an ongoing problem, pointing to a lack of self-service BI functionality as the primary culprit.

In practice, though, the explanation for the resistance to embracing BI tools may not be so simple. At the 2015 BI Leadership Summit, a December conference held in New York and co-hosted by SearchBusinessAnalytics and consultancy Eckerson Group, we asked attendees about the biggest challenges they face in increasing the use of BI and analytics applications inside their organizations. Their answers included the continuing pull of Excel spreadsheets and institutional knowledge in driving business decision making, as well as the difficulty of getting users to trust BI data that they don't control.

Here's what some of the conference attendees had to say about the top roadblocks they face in convincing potential BI users of the benefits of business intelligence and the business value it can help generate:

Oana Garcia, vice president and head U.S. data steward at Allianz Global Investors: "A lack of awareness of the value that BI can bring. People are used to using Excel, and they don't know that using BI tools instead can improve their lives a lot."

David Munk, corporate vice president of service performance management for IT at New York Life Insurance Co.: "Trusting the results that are derived from data. In my business, decisions have been driven through the knowledge of a person rather than knowledge that comes from data."

Dewayne Washington, BI manager at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport: "It's making sure that we're interfacing with our [users] and understanding their business model. They're going to have needs -- the challenge is on our side, to make the bridge."

Bikram Kalra, SAP project manager and head of BI at Viacom's Media & Technology Services department: "The biggest challenge for us has been [maintaining] the trustworthiness of data. One failure can turn people off, especially in the financial domain."

Ravindra Prasad, vice president and director of IT applications at The Segal Group, an employee benefits and human resources consultancy: "Right now, it's [demonstrating] the value that can come out of BI tools. Not that many people know about these things. There also are a lot of data silos out there."

David Hayman, director of operations at financial-exchange operator trueEX Group LLC: "No. 1 is having the data available to build reports. No. 2 is getting end users to trust that data. A lot of departments were used to manually tracking data on our [trading] platform."

Craig Stedman is executive editor of SearchBusinessAnalytics. Email him at [email protected], and follow us on Twitter: @BizAnalyticsTT.

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