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From the Editors: Achieving, and not achieving, the benefits of BI

The business intelligence market grew 13.4% in 2010, Gartner says. But are companies putting the BI software they’re buying to effective use? Gartner and MIT have thoughts on that.

During the worldwide recession and the ongoing slow recovery from it, the business intelligence (BI) market has been less affected by the economic problems than other enterprise software categories have been. Total revenues from sales of BI, analytics and corporate performance management software grew a respectable 4.2% in 2009, according to Gartner Inc. And Gartner recently said that BI business increased 13.4% last year, reaching the $10.5 billion mark.

That's great for BI vendors, of course. A good question, though, is whether all that software costing all those dollars is being put to effective use. From Gartner's perspective, the answer is, "Not so much." At the Gartner Business Intelligence Summit in Los Angeles this month, Gartner analyst Bill Hostmann said end users typically rate their satisfaction with BI systems at about 4.5 on a scale of 1 to 10. He called that "phenomenal" – but not in a good way.

Hostmann's prescription for improving those satisfaction rates includes developing a well-orchestrated BI strategy and combining various tools to build a "performance metrics framework." That echoes what Gartner has recommended at previous BI Summits – but perhaps it bears repeating.

The MIT Center for Digital Business also weighed in on the topic of achieving BI success, releasing the results of a study that sought to measure how using BI and analytics tools affects the corporate bottom line. But the tools themselves aren't the key factor, according to the survey results, which pointed to the importance of creating data-driven decision making processes. Companies describing themselves as data-driven had 4% higher productivity rates and 6% higher profits than other businesses did, the center said.

What's your take on what it takes to be successful on BI projects? Feel free to email me with your thoughts on that and other BI and analytics topics.


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