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TDWI Upside - Where Data Means Business

Experts and Users See Analytics Differently

Everyone agrees that data is important, but according to a new survey from Clutch, we don't all agree on the benefits of BI data analytics.

Everyone agrees that data is important. You need to collect data. You need to understand the data that your enterprise collects. You need to use data. What we don't all agree on are the benefits of BI data analytics.

Business-to-business research firm Clutch has released the results of a recent survey of business intelligence professionals. They asked 291 users of BI data analytics tools about their use of these tools: how satisfied they are, what benefits they see, etc.

Most of these respondents (86 percent) report that BI data is important to their company, and 89 percent say that the importance of BI data in their jobs has increased significantly in the past year. Respondents say that BI data benefits multiple departments; more than half of respondents agreed that operations, marketing, sales, and research/product development gain value from data analytics.

The users report that the top benefits of BI data analytics are improvements to efficiency, data management, and business strategy development. No one benefit had overwhelming support -- only 26 percent of respondents cited the most popular choice: improved efficiency.

However, Clutch also interviewed a handful of thought leaders from data solution vendors. These experts expressed surprise that efficiency and data management were cited as top benefits, saying that the greatest benefit of BI data is that it helps businesses make informed decisions.

Does this difference of opinion come from perspective? The experts might see the overall benefits for the enterprise, but the users see the everyday benefits for their work. Both are valid reasons to embrace data analytics.

Asked about challenges with BI data analytics, more users cited security concerns (35 percent), administrative delays (24 percent), and data flaws (22 percent) than any other difficulties. The thought leaders, meanwhile, said that inconsistent data is the greatest challenge.

Perhaps this discrepancy reflects the growing awareness of cybersecurity. Users are concerned about data quality, but they may be more worried about a data breach because it's a more high-profile problem.

The accessibility of BI data varied widely across the survey sample. Under half (43 percent) of the analytics users report that they can access BI data independently, and another 43 percent report that they are definitely dependent on others for access. However, 67 percent report that their BI data is simple to access! At least some respondents must not currently think it's a problem to be dependent on others.

Maybe the wide variety of responses and the differences in opinion on benefits and challenges reflect the relative youth of many of these tools and techniques. Most of the companies responding to the survey have only recently started using BI -- 71 percent began after 2012.

The most popular tool among survey respondents -- Microsoft Power BI -- has only been available under that name since 2015. (The three most popular tools among these users are Microsoft Power BI, Oracle, and IBM Cognos; these solutions account for just over half of the respondents.)

Business intelligence analytics is a rapidly changing field, and there seems to be room for different opinions on many issues, from how much data access users need to the main advantages of BI data analytics. We all agree that data is important and the importance is growing, but we will discover more benefits and challenges as the field grows.

About the Author

Lindsay Stares is a production editor at TDWI. You can contact her here.

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