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How BI Challenges Relate to Success and ROI

Most organizations face challenges when implementing their business intelligence (BI) projects. The complex nature of BI requires consolidating and integrating disparate data sources, with the intent of creating business value from that data. Dresner Advisory Services research verifies that issues related to data management and the lack of access to the right skillsets and resources cause many of those challenges.
However, many organizations with challenges also consider their BI projects successful and generating positive returns on their BI investments. Organizations that identify challenges and measure BI success tend to have systems in place that properly calculate returns and address challenges proactively. Doing so requires the ability to define and measure project success. Although organizations commonly do this by measuring return on investment (ROI), many others gather regular feedback from users and customers to ensure that projects get delivered on time and within budget while meeting stakeholder needs.
This Research Insight identifies some of the challenges organizations face and, despite these, the levels of success that they potentially can achieve. As information complexity increases and required skillsets quickly change and evolve, organizations cannot look at their challenges in a vacuum. Successful organizations tend to take a holistic approach to their BI deployments, including analysis of what works and what needs improvement. Addressing the challenges identified in our research can lead to higher levels of overall BI success, especially when leveraging a variety of methods and measures of success that extend beyond ROI calculations—including those identified within our research, such as user-satisfaction scores, usage levels, and customer feedback—to define and to determine BI success.

1. No direct correlation exists between BI challenges and BI success. Organizations that experience challenges in the areas of “data integration, quality, and governance,” or an ability to leverage the right people, still achieve positive ROI and consider their BI implementations successful.
2. More than 90 percent of survey respondents consider “data integration, quality and governance” at least an important challenge to address, and 68 percent perceive this issue as urgent or very important.
3. The top challenges respondents identified relate to either data management and ecosystem challenges or the need to leverage resources and skillsets better.
4. The largest organizations (those with more than 10,000 employees) record the highest levels of data-related challenges. The smallest organizations (those with 1–100 employees) show few challenges related to data and analytics ecosystem fragmentation; this is likely because these environments tend to lack complexity.
5. Even though they experience BI challenges, most organizations achieve high, positive ROI on their BI initiatives.
6. Perceived BI success is not always tied to positive ROI. For example, all respondents who identify their BI investments as costly for the department also consider their BI initiatives successful, and no respondents who indicate flat ROI from their BI investments consider their BI initiatives fully successful. These examples highlight the limitations of aligning BI success solely to ROI, as well as the importance of needing to implement additional measures and processes to determine BI success.
7. Almost 20 percent of enterprises achieve very high, transformative returns on their BI investments. Of these, the largest organizations report the highest rates of challenges related to “data integration, quality, and governance” and data and analytics ecosystem fragmentation.
8. Slightly less than 40 percent of respondents use ROI models to measure achievement of BI success. However, 76 percent of organizations that consider their BI initiatives successful leverage user-satisfaction measurement and feedback to ensure they continue and improve successful environments. This propensity highlights the importance of using continual feedback loops to help define levels of satisfaction as well as proactively identify new opportunities and challenges.

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