Six Reasons Business Intelligence Is More Important Than Ever


In the universe of business technology, knowledge is a form of currency. There might be no official exchange rate, but enterprises that know the most about themselves and their environment are, in some sense, the richest.

That makes Business Intelligence (BI) applications incredibly valuable. It’s a $15 billion global market on the forefront of the revolutions in Big Data and business analytics.

Furthermore, the value of Business Intelligence will reach even higher. In fact, the global business intelligence market is supposed to grow over 30 percent by 2018 to reach a value of approximately $20 billion.

Why? There are a few reasons.


1. The Information Universe Won’t Stop Growing

The data universe currently contains about four and a half trillion gigabytes of data. In six years, ten times that amount of data will exist. Simply put, humans need a lot of help to sort through it all.

The modern enterprise needs to be equipped with the tools to harness the value contained in those trillions of gigabytes. At its essence, that’s what Business Intelligence is: a set of tools to derive meaning from seemingly endless sequences of information. The greater the amount of information, the greater the value of robust BI.

Similarly, the proliferation of information means that the gap between companies that adopt cutting-edge, intelligent BI practices and those who don’t will only grow wider.


2.  It’s the Last Frontier of Cloud Innovation

Just five percent of the entire BI applications market is in the cloud, a much smaller portion than many other business areas. In the enterprise application market as a whole, over 25 percent of business applications are cloud apps.

But that’s changing. While the traditional BI market is supposed to grow by under 10% over the next four years, the forecast for cloud-based BI is predicted to grow by 31% before 2018.

There are two sides to this coin. On one, since cloud BI is a relatively untested market, brave and daring CIOs might be able to find treasure troves: tools that provide exclusive, cutting-edge intelligence at a fraction of the price that a more established market would dictate.

 On the other side, untested markets often come with far greater risk. Like any frontier, danger lurks around every corner. It’s up to purchasers to be able to correctly evaluate any vendors that walk in the door.


3. Many Companies Are Blowing It

Approximately three out of every four business intelligence projects fail to meet their goals. That success rate is staggeringly low, which is scary for any IT professional—from project manager to CIO—considering a new BI implementation or strategy.

But it also means that successful BI projects don’t just keep pace with the competition; because of the difficult nature of BI initiative management, well-managed BI deployments put companies light years ahead of the competition. 

It might be cynical to think of the market this way, but each company that throws millions of dollars at unsuccessful BI projects opens the door a little wider for companies that know what they’re doing.


4. Self-Service BI Means Relevant BI

BI tools are not just becoming more powerful; they’re becoming more customizable, too. The best BI applications provide analysts, project managers and even CIOs with the functionality to create their own reports. Good Business Intelligence allows users to organize data into a virtually unlimited number of arrangements. Don’t like the out-of-the-box metrics? Create your own.

However, the rapid growth and innovation rate in the BI space affects vendors in much the same way it affects implementers. To put it crudely: a lot of Business Intelligence vendors sell crap. Furthermore, even quality vendors might not be a good fit for each and every business.


5. Analytics Are Better than Ever

When it comes to making decisions based off of Business Intelligence, quality comes first. But second—and not that far behind, either—is speed. In fact, how fast a business or IT leader makes decisions directly impacts the effectiveness of those decisions.

Of the companies that adopt analytics, 75 percent report that the use of analytics led to faster decision making. But that’s not the only benefit: 78 percent of company-wide implementations resulted in lower costs, increased productivity and risk reduction.

That’s the reason the buzz-phrase ‘fast data’ keeps appearing. It’s easy to get caught up in the buzz-heavy culture of corporate IT, but in this situation, the phrase merely acts as a plaque for something that has always been important: speedy, reliable decisions.


6. The Umbrella of BI is Growing

Categories for business processes and applications have always been somewhat liquid. BI is perhaps the best example of this: in a certain sense, one can ask, “what isn’t Business Intelligence?” CRM, HCM, and other corporate applications all provide valuable data that can be incorporated into business decisions.

In the future it won’t be any easier to categorize. In addition to the market size, the scope of BI is also growing rapidly.

One area expanding upward and onward is visual data analysis. Visual data discovery will grow at rate 250 percent faster than the remainder of the BI market, which is already expanding at light speed. Visual data has not been a traditional player in the BI space, not because it’s been categorized as something else, but because effective visual data discovery hasn’t been widespread enough to be consistently implemented in businesses worldwide. That will change: by 2018, the IDC predicts that visual data discovery will be a business standard.

The takeaway? Business Intelligence is more important than ever not only because it’s more powerful, but because its definition constantly changes. The category expands to accommodate innovation.



In terms of both innovation and market value, the horizons of Business Intelligence are expanding. For executives, adopting business intelligence is a high-risk, high-reward proposition.

Despite its extremely high rate of failure, the value of the insights gleaned from well-run BI projects is quite high. Success in Business Intelligence propels companies so far past their competition that it’s not a reach to say that BI is more important than it ever has been.