Is BI Really for Everyone?

It’s been a long time (in this business, anyway) since the very first business intelligence (BI) solutions turned up, enabling big organizations to perform data analysis, generating reports with primitive dashboards for company execs. Since then, the BI space has become agile, operational, self-service, social, and even reactive.

When I started to prepare a BI buyer guide, I had to reconsider why any individual or organization would want to acquire, change, or upgrade a BI solution.

BI has become disruptive. But it’s also necessary. Despite its almost-too-fast evolution, invasion of new markets, and overturning of the way organizations manage their business, BI is now a basic component of the complete information cycle, in any type of organization.

But is BI really democratic, the way it was promised it would be? Is it as widely used within your organization as expected? Has BI accomplished all the goals it was meant to achieve? Certainly BI has gained broad respect, and it’s been widely adopted within all levels and types of businesses.

TEC is publishing its 2011 Business Intelligence Buyer’s Guide later this month. For organizations on a quasi-mystical quest for a magic BI bullet, this guide will help ground you. No matter how small, medium, or large you are, BI really is for almost everyone.

Selecting the Right BI Solution

Selecting a BI solution, like any other type of software, is no easy task. At TEC, we know that the software selection process requires a very precise methodology and a well-defined set of requirements, conditions, and priorities. But we also realize that the level of complexity might vary depending on the size and type of your organization. Nowadays, BI tools have become flexible enough to offer specific solutions for almost any type of organization, from small and medium-size companies with diverse needs and limited budgets to really enormous corporations that can afford dedicated and state-of-the-art BI applications. Where do you fit in?

BI for Large Organizations

For corporations that need powerful analytics and data movement—data integration, data warehousing, and more—there are full-fledged BI suites that extend the reach of common BI functionalities and incorporate high-end technologies to include real-time data handling, embedded business process management, new technologies for team collaboration, and mobile features. Also, large enterprises are often global; their systems may require localization, and other administrative concerns need to be taken into account. Considering a BI solution for a big corporation is a big deal.

BI for SMBs

Software vendors recognize small to medium businesses (SMBs) as an important market segment and are designing applications to cover their specific needs. Vendors have concentrated some of the relevant tools commonly found in traditional corporate BI suites, and are fairly accommodating with regard to pricing and licensing options. This type of solution generally includes analysis and reporting services, data movement capabilities such as extraction and transformation, as well as more proactive technologies (e.g., business performance tools).


As for other types of business software applications, an increasing number of organizations are moving to the cloud. Cloud computing and specifically software-as-a-service (SaaS) BI offerings are currently center stage in the BI space. SMBs in particular, but increasingly also larger companies, are moving to SaaS BI products to avoid the costs and challenges of deploying complex BI solutions. There are still some issues to resolve with SaaS BI, and the offerings will change as new opportunities are explored, but these types of solutions are helping make BI solutions accessible to everyone.

Is BI a Good Fit for You?

Absolutely. Nowadays, there are a lot of exceptional tools for performing BI tasks in all types of organizations. BI can be found in large companies consolidating big volumes of data from several sources; it enables data mashups and encourages dashboards and scorecards and self-service data analysis. And you’ll find BI in small organizations too, embedded in traditional front-office tools such as spreadsheets, helping small teams of business users solve their analytical problems.

BI applications are also being reinforced with capabilities to work with real-time data, and with mobile features. So BI can give you a company snapshot from any perspective—tactical, strategic, and even operational. And these apps work alongside other business software, such as business process systems and content management systems, to provide analysis services to more areas of the organization.

Has BI software reached its pinnacle? Of course not. Many areas of BI are evolving. Some may change names or shift focus, or experience fluctuations in popularity. Social media, mobile technologies, and cloud computing are just a small sample of the trends that are influencing the way we do BI. BI can only get better.

A BI buyer’s guide might not solve all your selection problems, but it will give you a solid point of reference, so you’ll know what you need to consider when selecting a BI solution. We hope you’ll find TEC’s 2011 BI Buyer’s Guide a valuable resource.

Stay tuned. TEC’s 2011 BI Buyer’s Guide is coming soon.

I welcome your thoughts—please leave a comment below, and I’ll respond as soon as I can.
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