In a recent report (registration required) the Aberdeen Group described the success rates of enterprise companies (which it groups into Best-In-Class, Average or Laggard) in Business Intelligence projects. Some of the result are very interesting to share.
For example, the report identified the four top hidden costs of Business Intelligence as:
- Year-after-year budget increases: The typical best-in-class company sees a drop in year-after-year BI budgetary costs. Average and laggard companies, however, can witness increases in BI expenses that range from 2 percent to 9 percent.
- Cost per user: Best-in-class companies lower per-user costs by 4.3 percent whereas average performers and laggards often see increases ranging from 1 percent to 7 percent.
- Time to complete projects: Best-in-class achievers complete BI projects, on average, within 14 days. Average performers take nearly three times as long (approximately 39 days) to complete a project, and the typical laggard company takes more than 12 times as long (177 days).
- Modifications to BI software: Altering a BI program takes less than a day for best-in-class companies; three days for average performers; and up to eight days for laggard organizations.
Or as author David Hatch put it:
“The overall cost of ownership is not about the costs of purchasing the software,” Hatch says. “The real cost factors are the hidden or the soft ones that have to do with indirect and ongoing factors.” Hatch contends that a justifiable fear of such factors hinders adoption. “People are finding [that] the resources the company needs to acquire to properly implement, deploy, support, and maintain a BI solution are far greater than the solution providers lead [users] to believe or that [users] assume on their own.”
Interesting, because that is what Westbury has seen over the last years in dealing with BI projects for HP Service Management. But a report of the Aberdeen Group isn’t complete without some recommendations. On what areas should companies focus in order to improve the success rate of their BI projects?
Aberdeen suggests that investments in the following areas will maximize results from a BI initiative:
- Data integration and cleansing: “Companies are finding it difficult to bring data together from multiple, disparate sources,” Hatch says. Investing in tools for data management can be of help in this regard. Best-in-class companies are twice as likely as their counterparts are to institute data integration and cleansing capabilities.
Westbury recommends: make sure the back end of your BI environment can be used by non-technical people
- End-user requirements: “You really have to stop and think about why…so many companies have deployed tools that so many aren’t able to use,” Hatch says. Companies must understand that end-users — especially nontechnical, non-data-guru types — may need different approaches. Hatch advises companies to focus on end-user needs before deploying a solution.
Westbury recommends: make sure you talk the same language as your end-users
- Training: Top performers are 37 percent more likely to invest in extensive user training on BI solutions and 40 percent are more likely to have formed formal user committees to encourage adoption. Additionally, best-in-class companies are twice as likely as laggards and average performers are to sign up for vendor-provided services.
Westbury recommends: the more accessible your BI solution is for the end-users, the better your processes should be around training
- Operational BI: Successful users of BI use the technology on an everyday basis rather than merely getting a summarized spreadsheet version of performance and high-level trends. Hatch says that operational BI seems to be gaining traction as companies look to make comparisons over shorter time spans rather than just examine large-scale trends.
Westbury recommends: integrate your BI solution with the supported applications, so it is readily accessible for your end-users
Great to see our own own experiences in working with the HP Service Management software backed up with a solid research like this one from The Aberdeen Group.