Are you a Business Intelligence Avoider?

Date: 07-07-2011
Author: Bit Software

From six different studies we conclude that approximately only 5% of employees use BI tools to perform Analytics effectively*.

I think this is in part related to the fact that except for folks with backgrounds in science, engineering, economics or finance; most people across the company do not feel too comfortable around numbers, math or logic. I've seen this during many years of training corporate employees on the strategic use of Business Intelligence and Analytics.

This is how the numbers work: close to 50% of employees have access to BI tools, 20% of them actually use them, and about half of the users (5%) are in the analytical / power user categories.

If you were to plot a histogram showing only those 20% actual BI users in any organization, it would probably approach a normal distribution (bell shape curve) consisting of the following categories, where close to two thirds of the users would fall in buckets 3 and 4.

1) Non Users: Run canned reports once a quarter or less frequently. These are people who are either math averse; do not like computers, or executives that have their secretaries run and print just static reports for them.

2) Infrequent Report Users: Run canned reports about once a month.

3) Frequent Report Users: Run canned reports on a weekly or daily basis.

4) Analytic Users: Modify static reports and cube views by grouping, sorting, formatting as well as changing some dimensions and measures. These folks save their new customized reports for future use.

5) Power BI Users: Create new ad-hoc reports from scratch applying multiple dimensions, measures and filters. These users travel OLAP cubes from corner to corner using drill down, drill through, and most available custom features in search of the root causes of both: problems and opportunities.

6) Expert Analysts: Search and provide new data bases, join disparate data, design and build customized cubes and pivot tables, perform statistical, financial or marketing analyses and usually export results to MS Excel to complete the last analytical mile.

Buckets 4, 5 and 6 represent the 5% of employees that use BI tools to perform analytics effectively. But when it comes to Advanced Analytics (statistics, predictive modeling, data mining, etc.), according to Gartner, the users are 10% of that number or a staggering 0.5%.

To become a true analytic competitor, the company has to change the culture so everybody, not just the experts, thinks and acts based on facts and understands the drivers that support strategy and sustainable profitability.

While this isn’t easy, it’s possible. I’ve seen it quite a few times. It requires long term commitment from top management, adequate training, data structured to be business-intuitive and the software configured in an extremely user-friendly manner so all types of users can perform analytics with no help from IT, analysts or even spreadsheets.

In my experience, the organization improves its financial results through this implementation as people gradually advance to the next level, leaving buckets 1, 2 and 3 virtually empty.

Which buckets is your organization using?


by Bill Cabiro and Strat-Wise LLC

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