Dresner: Business Users Happy with BI

Ann All
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Yesterday I wrote about five early insights from Howard Dresner's second Wisdom of Crowds Business Intelligence Market Study. Dresner is still collecting data but has already noted some interesting trends. So he shared them in a blog post and a recent Twitter discussion.


I thought the five insights seemed to indicate users were largely satisfied with BI, which doesn't mesh with results of other recent research. I wondered if the respondents to Dresner's survey were largely IT practitioners who might be suffering from Lake Wobegon effect, which leads folks to assume things are better than they really are.


But when I connected with Dresner, he told me just the opposite was true. The 500 folks who have responded to the survey thus far are pretty evenly divided between IT practitioners and business users. And business users tend to be more satisfied with BI than IT personnel.


That's reflected in several areas of the survey, including one which asks respondents to rate their vendors, Dresner told me. The largest vendors tend to get the lowest scores. But Dresner doesn't think it's because their products aren't as good as those of smaller vendors. Rather, he thinks it's because emerging vendors tend to focus directly on business users who aren't as worried about integration, security and other issues that keep IT awake at night.


Large vendors' products also tend to be more entrenched in the enterprise, and "when you've been using a product for five or 10 years, you tend to be more critical," Dresner said.


The areas of concern have remained largely the same as in the last survey, though there has been slight improvement across the board, Dresner said. Respondents are least satisfied with their BI products' online documentation, forums and training. They also are less than thrilled with integration with third parties, contract terms and conditions, post-sales follow-up and ability to customize or extend products.


The biggest drop in satisfaction, Dresner said, is in perceived value for price. Many BI vendors have raised their prices, which Dresner said prompted survey respondents to offer comments like "good product but price is too high." If vendors want to raise prices, they need to add more new features that customers value, he said.


Dresner asked about several emerging BI technology categories, including Big Data, in-memory processing and collaborative frameworks. These technologies are a sign the mature BI market is heating up, he said.


Many respondents expressed strong interest in operational BI. Dresner said it's tough to know exactly what this means:

Operational BI is kind of like fruit salad. It's apples, oranges and bananas. Which one do you want? Do they mean operational reporting, or do they mean complex event processing? Arguably they all fall under operational BI, but they are different architecturally.

Dresner hopes to explore the operational BI topic more fully in dedicated research later this year.


You still have time to take Dresner's Wisdom of Crowds survey. And he's having another Twitter discussion on Friday, April 1 at 1 p.m. ET. Use the hashtag #BIWisdom if you'd like to participate.

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