To BI or not to BI


In the fiercely competitive world of today, it might seem that every company, whether big or small, is doing everything it can to get ahead - to obtain that drop of extra unknown information that can give them the edge. And this is especially true today. We got used to information overloading. But we did not get used to information diversifying. This is why today there is more to discover in every bit of information that are generated by online sources as well as on-premise sources and the myriad of options of intersecting these. So, again, one might think that companies are diving into business data religiously through BI applications in order to discover the secrets of every market, the formula of each industry and take the lead. So, it may seem surprising that it is not yet so.


A recent study published by business intelligence reviewer Software Advice outlines that 20% of prospective BI buyers are still using Excel spreadsheets to compile and store their data. There is also the group of CRM or ERP systems’ users - amounting almost 35% of the study sample - that is looking for new solutions to better analyze the data they are collecting, tracking and reporting on. Another 20% of these buyers are using BI software applications that are either already outdated or unsatisfactory for what their business needs nowadays.

In this current state of facts, it is clear that present and close future implementations will be focused on the ease of use and the speed with which users can perform data discovery thus getting closer to the Holy Grail of information: the competitive advantage.

And this is where cloud BI enters the stage.


There is one major shift outlined by SoftwareAdvice in their market overview: over 60% of prospective BI software buyers are business professionals rather than IT professionals. People with roles such as financial officer, operations manager or marketing executive are becoming more aware and knowledgeable about what a BI software should look like, what features it should provide and what benefits it should generate. Moreover, they do not want to task the IT department to implement a software in order to get business insights. They want this process to be be fast and, more importantly, independent - they research, they test, they buy, they use. And this is - among the  deployment preferences of buyers, cloud BI has reached 31% in the last 2 years, experiencing an exponential growth in comparison to traditional on-premise implementations.

And the IT departments and users are acknowledging the essence of this trend as they are starting to synchronyze systems in the company with the ones that business users are putting forward - we may say that this is the beginning of the BYOS movement. IT users are now also working on short-cycle projects and fast deployments. More than that, they are moving from reporting to live dashboards in order to benefit from extra-time to focus on increasing efficiency and productivity of systems and infrastructures.

The healthcare and manufacturing industries - fields in which data sources and amounts of data are already threatening Big Data thresholds - make up for more than a quarter of all all prospective BI software buyers. In this context, more than 40% BI buyers come from mid-size and large organizations which comes to prove that companies are realizing that the wealth of on-premise and online data they have can convert to real wealth if analyzed through a BI tool.


Data visualization is by far the top reason why first-time buyers are evaluating BI software - and this is no longer a surprise as the world of BI is switching from static reporting to realtime analysis and collaborative data discovery due to the huge leaps enabled by cloud BI. More than 75% of prospective buyers cited customizable dashboards, user-friendly interfaces and data storage capabilities as the most desired features.

Thus, the scalability of the cloud BI model along with the interactivity it provides to data visualization dashboards is proving to be essential to capture the diversifying information sources that companies - whether big or small - need so much today to discover the breakthroughs in their own data flow.

We @ BIME believe that data visualization itself - static visuals - can only show the tip of the iceberg in data discovery - it needs cloud BI to make data alive. Data animation and data storytelling are the next BI tools that will reveal never thought before Holy Grails.