While traditional business intelligence, what Howard Dresner calls "meat and potatoes BI," has served organizations fairly well, many business users are looking for something a little tastier. They’re beginning to get it, thanks to their increased involvement in selecting and purchasing business intelligence software, said Dresner, the president of Dresner Advisory Services.
In his latest Wisdom of Crowds Business Intelligence Market Study, Dresner found that 54 percent of business intelligence deployments are primarily under the purview of lines of business (LOBs) rather than IT departments. This growing LOB participation in business intelligence initiatives is changing how organizations use BI.
Business-centric Business Intelligence
"There’s a notion of a 'new BI,' driven by line of business and not IT," Dresner said. "Business increasingly has the budget for BI and they want it to be mobile, collaborative, social and cloud-based."
Sitting atop the list of technologies rated as strategic to business intelligence initiatives are dashboards, end user self-service and data warehousing. While IT and finance departments tend to focus more on those kinds of mature business intelligence technologies, Dresner’s survey found other business units are more likely to express interest in emerging areas such as cloud-based business intelligence and social media analysis.
Eighty percent of respondents in sales and marketing functions said cloud-based BI is an important priority for business intelligence initiatives, for example, vs. 65 percent of IT departments and 55 percent of finance departments. Similarly, 83 percent of sales and marketing respondents tapped social media analysis as an important priority vs. 63 percent of IT departments and 62 percent of finance departments.
Business users are "looking for immediacy. They don’t have nine, 12, 16 months to get it done," Dresner said. "They can go to the cloud and get BI up and running in short order."
Business Intelligence in the Cloud
A survey commissioned by Host Analytics, a provider of cloud business intelligence software, found many CIOs and IT executives are also on board with cloud-based business intelligence. While 69 percent of respondents said their companies still used mostly on-premise apps, 92 percent said they believed adoption of cloud technologies would be good for business.
Sixty-seven percent of the respondents said cloud technologies helped IT departments deliver better systems at a lower cost, and 62 percent said SaaS gave business stakeholders more ownership of key applications like business intelligence. They cited benefits including easier access to data (mentioned by 54 percent), increased visibility (46 percent) and faster deployment (42 percent).
This "new BI" approach yields largely positive results for business intelligence, but with some caveats. On the positive side, organizations gain "whole new groups exploring data and acting on it with greater precision," Dresner said. Problems with metadata and semantics can arise, however, if organizations fail to develop strategies to coordinate the use of multiple business intelligence tools and technologies.
'New BI' and New Role for IT
This is a particular problem, Dresner said, when business units buy business intelligence apps with no input from IT, often making it difficult to integrate data between applications. The Host Analytics survey touched on this, with 67 percent of respondents reporting they had experienced data integration issues and 37 percent noting IT departments had been asked to assume ownership for solutions purchased without their guidance.
The "new BI" approach suggests IT departments should shift their role in business intelligence initiatives from procurement to governance, Dresner said. Rather than selecting and purchasing business intelligence tools, IT departments instead should focus on creating policies and procedures that will guide business units in making such purchases and determining how tools can work together to create a consistent view of data.
To do this well, Dresner said, IT departments "must become more engaged with the business."
Ann All is the editor of Enterprise Apps Today. Follow Enterprise Apps Today on Twitter @EntApps2Day.