I am acutely aware that I work at arm’s length from actual users of the data products I ghostwrite on behalf of. The users are there, I know, even if they are only phantoms to me. The wisps of data collected in surveys provide some of the few signs that I or many of my colleagues ever sense a pulse out there in that other world.
Surveys are good links to that other world. When survey data comes along, I see what it’s made of. Does it blow away like fog, such as when the data is too thin? Or does it give me the feeling I’m touching something real and alive, such as when the data’s solid and the questions probe multiple dimensions?
The annual BARC report is one of the good ones. I’ve never verified their claim to be “the world’s largest survey of business intelligence software users,” but I suspect it’s true. This year’s 3,149 responses is hard to beat.
One of the chewy bits is BARC’S Business Benefits Index. It’s a matrix of benefit quality, from none to proven, with a weighted variety of benefit types.
It’s a relief, after all the hype I help generate, to see data that people actually get results. In the survey’s business benefit index, a composite weighted score for each benefit, 80 percent reported “faster reporting, analysis, and planning.” Also, 71 percent reported “more accurate reporting, analysis, and planning.”
But then I notice a unpleasant bulge on the not-so-good edge of the spectrum for “increased revenues”; 38 percent “didn’t know” about that, while over on the other end a mere 9 percent had quantified this very quantifiable metric. But I’ll take encouragement where I can get it.
BARC is based in Germany under Dr. Carsten Bange, who’s been a generous source of insights to me and others I know. He’s also a frequent speaker at BI events, such as at TDWI Munich.
The organization seems intent on protecting the survey’s integrity. For one thing, they’ve tried hard to avoid the old trap of relying on a few customers of a few vendors. Instead, BARC persuaded vendors to promote the survey publicly to recruit not just customers but anyone else who happened by.
As meaty as the 2013 BARC survey is, you could help make this year’s even meatier. The survey closes on July 14 — barely more than a week from now. I don’t know how they’re doing so far, but surveys always benefit from more respondents.