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“According to recent global research by the Aberdeen Group, 57% of business intelligence (BI) projects are delivered late.”itweb.co.za article.

57%! That is incredible, and not in a good way. The article goes on to explain a bit more, saying that:

“64% of business managers have seen their decision window shrink in the past 12 months, while analytic data volumes have grown by 40%. Moreover, 70% of organisations need to provide information about business events within the day of them occurring for managers to make timely decisions.”

This just means that while data is getting bigger, businesses have less and less time to sift through it. Thus, there are two takeaways from this statistic: 1) If your company is behind on BI analysis, you’re definitely not alone; and 2) If your company could deliver BI analytics on time, or even sooner, you will have an edge over your competition.

That second point sounds pretty good. Let’s explore it further.

What’s Your Bottleneck?

Snail & TurtleIf your BI projects are consistently late, then there has to be a reason. Your goal is to figure out what your bottlenecks are and see what you can do to resolve them.

What are some of the most common bottlenecks to BI? Here are a few we have come across in our research:

  • Misunderstanding the complexity of data. Businesses often tend to underestimate just how complicated data analytics can be, especially in the era of “big data.” Predictive modeling, sales forecasting, trending with cohorted vs non-cohorted numbers, normalization, tracking leads from first contact to close: these are not simple arithmetic problems. We regularly come across companies that grossly misjudge how much time it takes to actually do the math or carefully track their data. Solution: Invest in a statistical analyst who knows his/her stuff, as well as a data architect. Often this isn’t realistic for smaller companies with limited resources, which leads to…
  • Lack of skilled analysts. Following from the previous point, many SMBs might not have the man-power to analyze all the data that comes in. In fact, analytics is predicted to be one of the hardest jobs to fill in 2012, and Gartner has warned that analytics skills needs to be a bigger investment for businesses to effectively use their data. Solution: Many companies, as the cited article states, are utilizing cloud BI to off-load analytics as well. The numbers are crunched for you and returned in easy-to-read charts and graphs. This is a highly attractive option for small businesses, and more are taking this approach each day.
  • Aging data warehousing platforms. A recent survey showed that 45% of IT workers were not happy with their query performance from their servers. This bottleneck also speaks to cost, of course. If money were no object, your company would have the fastest hardware this side of Google. Solution: Know that costs for blazingly fast components are quickly dropping, and there are other low-cost solutions for great performance. Cloud BI off-loads the querying from your company, and delivers high speed performance at a low cost. (And yes, you caught us, that’s our thing!)
  • Ad hoc reporting. One-off reports is tough for many small businesses to do, and it’s understandable. 66% of a recent survey by MorganFranklin said MS Excel or Access is a part of their BI solutions. Ad hoc reporting on these platforms is inefficient precisely because of their ad hoc nature: you need to update or generate a report every time. Solution: Build or buy a BI solution that automatically maintains the reports you’ll need on a daily basis, and is also flexible enough to drill down when you need to for one-off reports. A sample:
Employee Dashboard

Screenshot of InsightSquared's Employee Dashboard

 

This Employee Dashboard is automatically updated and maintained for easy at-a-glance reporting, but additionally, any item in blue can be drilled down upon for in-depth look whenever you want. Each of those reports are always also automatically updated and maintained. How does this compare to what you can do on Excel?

There are many other possible bottlenecks to delivering BI on time, so take the time to figure out what yours are and fix them once and for all. There’s no reason to lag behind, especially when today’s business is a “speed wins” atmosphere. Get an edge on your competition by resolving your BI latency issues and getting ahead of the pack.

Want to learn more about our cloud BI solution that can fix your bottleneck problems?

Get Started with a FREE 2-week Trial!

Samuel Clemens
Sam is founder and chief of product & marketing for InsightSquared. Previously, Sam was VP Product at HubSpot, VP Product at BzzAgent, and on the founding team at Elance.com. His background also includes venture capital with Greylock Partners, the Algorithms group at Amazon.com, and management consulting with Booz Allen Hamilton. Sam has an MBA from Harvard Business School and a B.S. in Applied Math from Yale. In his off time he dives shipwrecks in the New England area.
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