Study Finds Most Companies Believe They Underutilize BI Tools

In addition, the research done on behalf of business intelligence vendor Noetix found that if companies could do better ROI studies, then it would be easier to get BI projects approved.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

January 27, 2008

2 Min Read

A vendor-sponsored study has found that most companies believe they fail to make the best use of their business intelligence infrastructure.

The research conducted on behalf of BI-software maker Noetix also found that if corporations had the tools to do return on investment studies more efficiently, then it would be easier to get BI projects approved, justify the cost of hardware and software and support the rollout of BI applications to a larger number of employees.

In conducting the survey, Unisphere Research found several reasons why companies believed they were not making the most out of their BI infrastructure. A lack of training was the biggest obstacle, followed by limited staffing resources.

In addition, custom reports were difficult to create, drawing on two to 10 data sources and typically taking several hours to up to five days to build. IT staffs create most BI reports, followed by business analysts.

The study, released last week, also found a general dissatisfaction with BI technology among all user groups, particularly among IT staff. Only 46% of IT respondents were satisfied with their organization's BI infrastructure. Finally, the idea that BI software can create more work was also listed as a reason why corporations failed to take full advantage of the technology.

In previous surveys, Unisphere found that 89% of all companies conduct ROI studies for technology implementations. The latest study, however, found that when it comes to BI, fewer thatn 45% conducted similar studies, and only 23% had ever conducted a total-cost-of-ownership study.

In general, respondents agreed that companies should conduct ROI studies for BI implementations costing more than $50,000, but there were a number of problems in doing this. For one, neither IT nor financial staffs had the skills to conduct an ROI analysis for BI investments.

In addition, respondents found it difficult to measure and track the costs of a BI implementation, including updates of the software, consulting fees, service and support, hardware maintenance and licenses. Finally, companies had difficulty aggregating and quantifying the direct benefits of BI investments.

Companies see effective ROI analyses as critical in getting BI projects approved, justifying the cost of hardware and software and supporting the rollout of BI tools to larger user communities, the study found. Respondents said that better metrics were needed to show how much BI tools were being used, the time saved through the use of custom reports, and that a particular technology took up fewer IT resources.

"For several years now, BI projects have been at the top of the IT priority list," Elliot King, research director at Unisphere, said in a statement. "If companies could better measure the benefits they derive from BI as well as better ascertain the costs, they would invest more aggressively in this area."

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