6 Reasons Why Legacy BI Sucks

If you’re working on an older business intelligence (BI) platform, you’re probably pulling your hair out in frustration right now. Traditional BI solutions were conceived in the days of big, expensive hardware and big, expensive databases – before the internet conditioned us to expect instant results. These slow-moving legacy BI systems can torture your business team and IT team alike.

While other technologies have evolved, BI has remained static and simply can’t keep up with today’s business needs. Here are some of the biggest reasons traditional BI solutions are the worst.

1. Time to Value

Ask anyone who has attempted a BI implementation at their company and you’ll hear horror stories of waiting 3 months, 9 months or even 12 months before ever seeing a sales report. Because traditional BI software is so complex and unwieldy, it requires a specialized implementation to connect to your database. The seller may promise that it will be up and running in just a few weeks, but such projects take about 33% longer to get started than planned. Is there any other tech product on the market where this time to value is acceptable? If Amazon didn’t deliver within a week or two, you’d never order from them again. But for BI, a lengthy timetable is the accepted industry-standard.

2. Hidden Cost of Services

You may think your company is simply buying software, but with legacy BI, you’ve also unwittingly signed up for a massive consulting project. On average, large IT projects run up to 45% over budget. In order to set up your BI software, you’ll need a team of highly-skilled developers to work on your data integration and customize the BI tool to your business needs. Since this will probably take longer than expected, you’ll continue to bleed cash throughout the project. Once your BI software is set up, your company will continue to need support for bugs, modifications and more – the expenses are never-ending.

3. High Failure Rate

If most BI projects were successful and added value to your business, they might be worth the high cost and the wait. However, about 70% of BI projects are considered a complete failure for businesses, according to a report from Gartner. A traditional BI implementation may provide some interesting reports you can consider in hindsight, but the sales metrics don’t meet the real-time operational or strategic needs of your company. There is often a disconnect between what the BI vendor promises, and the reality of the solution provided.

4. Low Adoption

After investing so much to get your BI implementation running, adoption rates will remain low – as low as 8% of all potential users at your company. This is mainly a usability issue, because the UI is often complex and difficult to operate. It takes a full-time admin or data expert to drive traditional BI and build the reports management teams want to see. Unfortunately, this creates a serious bottleneck for all BI reports. And what if that admin leaves the company? If no one else on your entire team knows how to run reports, you’re getting very little value out of the investment.

5. Old-Fashioned and Slow

BI promises powerful and detailed data analysis, but this comes at the cost of speed and agility. BI software is built around the old-school idea of “running a report,” which is a slow process. With old-fashioned BI, you create a report, click run, and then wait a while for the full report to be completed. If you’d like to add any special filters onto the original report, it will take even longer to run. Today, business data needs to be instant or it becomes irrelevant to your team’s decision-making. Users expect instant data at their fingertips, and BI cannot deliver.

6. Business Users are Powerless

Even if you have a fantastic admin, the people who most need access to BI data are your sales reps, managers and C-level executives  – all of whom can’t use BI tools themselves. Even the most slick-looking BI report builder asks users to choose fields that go to the schema level, which takes technical, database knowledge. Because there’s no way for business users to create their own data models, most people end up using Excel instead of the expensive BI solution. Unfortunately, it’s also easy to make mistakes in Excel and you have no data quality or version control across the company.

Most enterprise customers are used to working around the drawbacks of BI, but it’s just not worth it. Don’t let expensive, slow, and useless BI waste your company’s time anymore.