Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan

5 Common Misconceptions About Business Intelligence


Even though BI has been around for decades, misconceptions still persist. These myths harm BI’s reputation and can make it difficult to achieve buy-in from stakeholders. Let’s review a few of the common misconceptions I’ve come across in my work as a BI consultant.

1) Dashboards = Business Intelligence
Certainly dashboards with at-a-glance views of KPIs are the most common form of business intelligence, but they’re not the only mechanism for consuming BI content. Many companies use dashboards for quick reviews of very important metrics, but just as many are running monthly or even daily reports with their BI software. Many of our customers use arcplan to send daily financial reports to entire departments every morning. Other BI models include self-service ad-hoc reporting, which goes beyond traditional static reporting, and data discovery, where analysts interactively explore data from multiple sources in a BI interface. Then there are many BI platforms that enable users to use BI like social media – collaborate with peers, leave comments, annotate graphs and more. The truth is, business intelligence solutions nowadays are flexible enough to accommodate however your users want to work. Don’t limit yourself to thinking dashboards are BI. They can help you monitor your business performance easily and should be a part of your BI mix, but think about what other forms of BI can contribute to the success of your initiative.

2) The most popular BI tool must be the right one for my organization
When it comes to BI, one size doesn’t fit all. The hype surrounding popular solutions doesn’t necessarily translate to value for your organization. You should evaluate whether the solutions on your shortlist are compatible with your data architecture, whether they’ll address users’ specific requirements, and whether they’re scalable for future development. You might set yourself up for failure if you only shortlist “hot” vendors. Need a starting point? Try analyst evaluations like BARC’s BI Survey. Its analysis can help you build a list of vendors to evaluate based on product capabilities and user feedback.

3) BI ROI is questionable
Of course ROI depends on your organization’s unique situation and how you use your business intelligence tools, but smart vendors will insist on helping you evaluate the ROI you’ll achieve by using their product. It helps them as much as it helps you justify what you are about to spend (or have already spent) on a BI solution. Business intelligence breaks down into 5 categories of potential return on investment: revenue enhancement, margin protection, cost reduction, cost avoidance, and capital cost avoidance. Check out this article for a breakdown of each type as well as our white paper on the topic of BI ROI.

4) I gotta have big data for BI to be meaningful
Big data hype has done a great thing – it has emphasized importance of integrating real-time and unstructured data into the decision-making process. But don’t get hung up on chasing big data as the only means of getting insight into your company’s operations. Your company may not even have – and may never have a need for – big data. There are plenty of insights waiting to be uncovered in your data, large or small.

5) Business intelligence will monopolize IT’s time
Historically, running queries and generating reports for business teams were back-office activities assigned to the IT department. But today, easier to use BI solutions with self-service capabilities make it possible for business users to create their own reports and dashboards without help from IT. The IT department should still be involved in the procurement process since BI solutions make use of corporate data, which they generally manage. But after implementation, BI can often be “owned” by the business users – especially small footprint, low-maintenance solutions like arcplan that sit on top of existing data sources and natively connect without the need for additional infrastructure/data warehouses.

When you’re ready to implement BI, you may find some of these misconceptions acting as roadblocks in the approval process. Ask your shortlisted BI vendors to help you combat them. Your success is their success!

Takashi Binns

About Takashi Binns

I'm arcplan's Senior Manager of Solutions Delivery in North America. I oversee our implementations and manage a team of solutions architects. I live outside New York City but love spending time with our customers on-site all over the US. Connect with me on LinkedIn.
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  1. “Don’t limit yourself to thinking dashboards are BI. ”

    Dashboards help boil a lot of data into manageable bites, but HUMANS tell you what that data means for your organization. Reporting is important because it helps spread information but what you do what that information is really what matters.

  2. Very insightful article, I think there is much valuable content for both executives and business level users!

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