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Enterprises prize traditional business analytics tools

While cognitive computing and the internet of things generate a lot of buzz in today's analytics world, surveyed businesses still give priority to traditional BI reporting tools.

Even as advanced business analytics tools, such as cognitive computing, machine learning and internet of things analytics, grow in prominence, businesses still derive the most value from good, old-fashioned BI reporting, according to a new report from Dresner Advisory Services.

The report, the 2016 Wisdom of Crowds Business Intelligence Market Study, ranked reporting, dashboards and self-service as the top three functions businesses look for in BI and analytics tools. Hotter topics, like internet of things (IoT), social media analysis, cognitive BI and edge computing, all ranked in the bottom five on the list of functions businesses most want. Hot big data tools, like Hadoop and streaming data analysis, were in the bottom third.

The responses are based on a survey of 1,524 business users.

"[Reporting] is boring, but people need to do it," said Howard Dresner, chief research officer. "Go out and build yourself a data lake; knock yourself out. But you still need to stage the data somewhere. You still need to report the data."

He added that enterprises are still figuring out where things like machine learning and IoT analytics can fit into their businesses. It's not to say these things can't deliver value to businesses. But without a clear use case in mind, businesses would be better off focusing on more traditional applications, with proven value propositions, Dresner said.

On cognitive and machine learning applications, in particular, Dresner said hype has recently outpaced actual use cases.

"If you read all the marketing stuff out there, it would suggest that this is broadly applicable," he said. "But it sure seems like overkill. The marketing hype has gotten a little ahead of the actual applications."  

The report also looked at gains organizations are making with analytics. A total of 88% of respondents said they are currently successful with BI and analytics, leaving just 12% who consider themselves unsuccessful.

One reason for high success numbers is the percentage of employees within an organization who use BI and analytics tools. The number of respondents who reported penetration rates lower than 60% dropped from last year, while the number reporting usage above 61% grew. High penetration rates were correlated with respondents who said they were successful with BI.

Fewer than 15% of respondents said their organizations currently employ a chief data officer or chief analytics officer -- two positions that are fairly new to enterprises, but have generated a lot of buzz in the last couple years. But respondents who said they do have a CDO or CAO in their office were more likely to report being successful with BI and analytics.

Dresner said this highlights the degree to which organizations need to be intentional about implementing data analysis tools. A lot of cultural factors need to be considered, such as which use cases make sense and which employees should be involved. He said simply installing software is unlikely to lead to gains for the business.

"It's not to say implementing BI and analytics is easy," Dresner said. "You have to have a lot in place. It's about the organization and the skills and the commitment."

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