A BI canary turns up dead

BI Scorecard’s annual survey on business intelligence success has found a dead canary in the mine.

In an April 7 post, “BI Adoption Remains Flat,” Cindi Howson reported that her broadly focused annual survey, fielded since 2006, found a drop in reported BI success. That score has been flat and low every year, but last year it fell to its lowest ever.

BI success — by which she means improved access to data, perception of value, and gains in revenue, customer service, and operating efficiency — dropped six points to just 28 percent.

Don’t slit your wrists just yet. A single dead canary doesn’t necessarily portend catastrophe.

In fact, the BI Scorecard Successful BI survey’s full report — for sale on Cindi’s site — found bright spots, such as the suggestion of great remaining potential. If only there were enough money, clean data, and proper support, say respondents, the percentage of workers using BI would rise from 22 percent — which has also been flat — to 50 percent.

But that one bitter point — lack of proper support — keeps showing up. “While much of the industry focuses on software and technical innovations,” Cindi observes, “the main barriers are organizational and cultural, according to 84 percent of survey respondents.”

Eighty-four percent say the main barriers are organizational and cultural! Such a lopsided result can’t be true, you may say, yet I believe it is. My own ongoing, informal survey that I’ve conducted since 2008 has found near unanimous agreement among BI professionals that this is BI’s big obstacle.

With such support, the other two obstacles — data quality and budgets — would no doubt begin to improve, probably to the degree that support improved.

Who murdered the canary? Look no further than executives who won’t give BI the support it needs.

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