Pervasive BI Still Eludes Enterprises, Survey Reveals

Only about one in ten enterprises has deployed BI to a majority of its users.

The latest installment of the BI Survey offered a mixed take on the ROI of BI. It also reinforces the idea that the goal of pervasive business intelligence (BI) -- to say nothing of "BI for the Masses" -- remains frustratingly elusive.

The Business Application Research Center (BARC) published BI Survey 9 earlier this month, which it describes as "the world's largest vendor-independent survey of Business Intelligence and Performance Management users." This year's installment of BI Survey is based on a sample size of more than 3,000 users, according to BARC.

It paints a picture of an average enterprise that's still far from enamored of BI. According to BARC, just over one in ten enterprises has managed to deploy BI to a majority (i.e., over 50 percent) of its users.

This jibes with other likewise pessimistic industry research. Back in January, for example, Cindi Howson and reported that the BI industry still hasn't licked its long-standing user-adoption problem. If anything, Howson found, user adoption had actually regressed.

BARC's data also reinforces the claim that achieving pervasive BI on a large scale -- e.g., among a user base of more than 500 -- is extremely challenging.

Small shops with fewer than 500 users were much more likely than large shops -- particularly those with between 500 and 5,000 employees -- to realize a "pervasive" BI goal of 75 percent or greater deployment. Just over eight percent of small shops have pushed BI out to 75 percent or more of their users; only three percent of shops with between 500 and 5,000 users have managed to do so.

Large enterprises (those with 5,000 or more employees) had slightly more success than did their medium-sized contemporaries: 5.4 percent of large enterprise shops say they've deployed BI to 75 percent or more of their users.

"A reasonable explanation for this is that large companies have a relatively large number of employees who are not in decision-making positions," write survey authors Barney Finucune and Melanie Mack.

This isn't to say that enterprises haven't invested enough in BI. BARC found that almost one-third (29 percent) of shops say that they already have enough BI licenses; slightly more than a third (34 percent) plan to buy additional BI licenses.

This is the lowest differential in the history of the BI Survey, according to BARC.

From the perspective of the average enterprise IT organization, throwing more licenses at the problem clearly isn't effective, which might have to do with the perceived efficacy of BI technologies once they're deployed.

According to BARC, less than one-sixth (14.5 percent) of respondents were actually able to quantify the benefits of their BI deployments. Nearly a quarter (22.8 percent) said that while they've realized "Proven" BI benefits, they haven't actually been able to quantify them.

Just over one-tenth of respondents formally claim to have realized BI benefits -- even though they haven't verified them.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a technology writer with 20 years of experience. His writing has focused on business intelligence, data warehousing, and analytics for almost 15 years. Swoyer has an abiding interest in tech, but he’s particularly intrigued by the thorny people and process problems technology vendors never, ever want to talk about. You can contact him at

Must Read Articles