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Sales Forecasting Top BI Goal for SMBs Says Survey

Interest in BI is high in SMBs, nearly half of which want implementation within two months.

According to a new report by TechnologyAdvice, BI and big data are, indeed, big deals for business technologists.

The report, 2014 Business Intelligence Buying Trends, found that 61 percent of IT professionals are researching big data systems. “That interest in implementing a business intelligence solution is wide-ranging, with more than two dozen different industries registering a significant number of inquiries,” the company says.  Among the industries currently contemplating a BI purchase, technology, advertising/media, and automotive are at the top.  Financial and healthcare firms weren’t far behind.

“The major trends from this market study show that an incredibly wide variety of businesses, especially small-to-medium sized businesses, are looking to learn and experiment with big data,” said TechnologyAdvice’s Zach Watson, the report’s author. 

Although almost one in eight enterprises (14 percent) doesn’t have a firm implementation timeframe, nearly half (49 percent) expect to go live in less than two months, “indicating a segment of the buyer market that has much higher expectations about the plug and play capabilities of BI software.”  Watson also believes that respondents might “want to start realizing a return on their investment much quicker than some of their larger counterparts.”

What do these firms want to get out of their BI software?  Overwhelmingly, it’s to perform more accurate sales forecasting (22 percent), following by analysis of social media (19 percent), and logistics/operational analysis (16 percent).

The report is based on responses collected from over 1,000 IT professionals collected via the Web and telephone.  Many respondents are from small and midsize businesses -- among potential BI purchasers, 57 percent expect to have no more than 50 employees using their BI software.  Budgets are small, too: 60 percent of respondents say their budget for a BI solution should be no more than $20,000, indicating caution, Watson points out.  Budgets may also be smaller because of the “prevalence of Software as a Service offerings.”

At the top of their wish list: real-time analysis (26 percent), followed by a graphical user interface (25 percent) and data warehousing (21 percent).  “The high placing of graphic user interfaces (GUI) further indicates the growing number of business intelligence users who lack the technical expertise to work with command-line interfaces.”  Oddly, “dashboards” was only listed as a most-desired feature by 1 percent of respondents.

The report is available at

The report also includes results of informal conversations with “dedicated IT professionals” conducted by the company’s outbound marketing team.  Among the findings: 36 percent of IT professionals are worried about monitoring and managing big data.  “The concept of democratizing BI opens up numerous opportunities for encouraging innovation and increasing efficiency; however putting these tools in the hands of users who don’t have a strong technical background could open the door to inaccurate analysis due to lack of oversight,” the report explains.

Second on the list of top IT concerns is information security -- “allowing access to the proprietary information required to perform business intelligence.”  Damage to an enterprise’s image, plus the loss of competitive advantage, were cited in the report as issues.

About the Author

James E. Powell is the editorial director of the Business Intelligence Journal and BI This Week newsletter. You can contact him here.

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