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Cindi Howson

From the BI Scorecard Blog: BI Finally Becomes More Pervasive

Previous surveys found BI adoption limited and business impact moderate. This year, analyst Cindi Howson predicts BI will be more pervasive. What else will this year’s survey reveal?

After years -- decades even -- of BI being adopted by only about 25 percent of employees and mainly power users, I’m predicting that one of the findings of this year’s Successful BI Survey is that BI adoption has increased. At last! It may not be mainstream yet, but it’s well on its way and gaining momentum.

I first ran the Successful BI Survey in 2007 as research for my book, Successful Business Intelligence: Secrets to Making BI a Killer App. It confirmed some of what we already knew: you have to have executive-level sponsorship, for example. The survey also held some surprises: CIOs often sponsor BI projects but bring less impactful BI than any other executive. The difference is in how well the CIO understands the business and is a member of the business team versus being simply the data gatekeeper.

In the 2009 survey, we learned that agile development and the role of the hybrid BI leader who understands both business and IT were critical to success (you can access free highlights here). While the world was reeling from a recession, the silver lining from a BI perspective is that the importance of business intelligence increased. Companies realized that it was not enough to have clean data and good BI tools; efforts had to be aligned to the goals of the business.

The last few years continue to be evidence that it is the survival of the smartest. In our 2009 survey, we added some perspectives on which BI tools were used and how. There was little surprise that IBM Cognos and SAP BusinessObjects were the predominant BI standards, but that SAS and MicroStrategy had the biggest contribution to business performance was an interesting finding.

What will the 2011 survey reveal? Share your successes and reasons for failure here. I am predicting that BI adoption will have finally increased. The reasons are multi-faceted. From a macro level, all the mega vendor acquisitions in 2007 and 2008 certainly raised awareness about the importance of BI. The recession forced people to think more analytically and operate more efficiently, supported by fact-based decision making. BI vendors have innovated to make BI more appealing and engaging to the masses. The simplicity of search makes BI accessible to novices. Mobile BI makes business intelligence more relevant for front-line workers. Those eye-catching dashboards have helped managers and executives rise above the noise and data deluge to focus on what matters most in the business.

That’s what I anticipate, anyway, but maybe you’ll tell me that IT and the business hate each other more than ever or that lack of common business definitions means nobody trusts the data. Is impactful BI still more pipedream than reality? Have commercial tensions with your BI vendor sabotaged your best laid plans?

I’ll share the high-level findings from this year’s survey in a couple of months.

Best wishes,
Cindi Howson,

Copyright © 2011 by Cindi Howson and BI Scorecard; reprinted by permission of the author

About the Author

Cindi Howson is a TDWI faculty member and the founder of BI Scorecard, a resource for in-depth BI tool evaluations based on exclusive hands-on testing. She is the author of Successful Business Intelligence: Secrets to Making BI a Killer App, SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0, The Complete Reference and is a frequent contributor to Information Week. Prior to founding BI Scorecard, Howson was a manager at Deloitte & Touche and a BI standards leader for a Fortune 500 company. She has an MBA from Rice University.

Get to Know Cindi Howson

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