ROI, Customization, and Mobility
In my series so far, I’ve tackled questions about buying criteria, cloud BI vs. SaaS BI, and data management. Today is the last installment and tackles the remaining most common questions we hear from SMBs about business intelligence. This series is all about expediting and simplifying BI by dispelling myths and providing practical advice for moving beyond manual processes to automated reporting, dashboards and advanced analysis.
8) What’s the ROI for business intelligence?
This is a question we’re asked more often all the time, as SMBs know they need BI but struggle to justify the investment. BI vendors need to understand that SMBs can’t invest in solutions that don’t quickly generate returns.
Unfortunately, a large percentage of BI projects fail to meet the businesses’ objectives. I don’t bring that up to scare you away from BI, but instead to encourage you to ask the vendors on your shortlist for proof of their ROI. It’s part of your due diligence when it comes to selecting the right vendor. First, ask them about their success rate. Do they have happy and long-term customers? As an example, the average tenure of arcplan’s customers is more than 7 years, the longest of any vendor included in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence – an indicator of long-term customer satisfaction. How do the vendors on your short-list stack up?
The next step is to ask your vendor to estimate the ROI you should expect…
Business intelligence is evolving in ways that improve efficiency, productivity, and the bottom line for companies of all sizes. Combined with major innovations like real-time data access and mobile technology, BI is truly driving the success of leading organizations. The Aberdeen Group’s recent report, Decisions on the Move: Mobile BI 2013, surveyed the state of mobile business intelligence and found that “leaders” enjoy benefits like a 2.3-times year-over-year improvement in sales revenue and customer retention, and a 70% improvement in operating profit over “followers.” The benefits of mobile BI are both practical and tangible, but some companies are still standing on the sidelines, not taking advantage of the mobility that their BI platform likely facilitates. So let’s address the misconceptions that keep some organizations lagging behind when it comes to mobile BI:
It can wait ’til I get back to the office…
The proliferation of mobile devices has opened the floodgates for an “always-connected” society. We can argue about whether or not that’s a good thing, but it is the state of business these days. Allowing yourself to think that business questions can be tackled once you’re back at the office is a mistake – one your competition may not be making. Mobile BI empowers your executives, field teams, off-site workers, and sales managers to be productive, attending to time-sensitive information and making impactful decisions no matter where they are. Certain decisions – or at the very least, status checks – can’t wait until these road warriors get back to their desk, especially when dealing with vendors and customers in different time zones. The work day isn’t confined to 9-to-5 if you’ve got coworkers, customers and vendors spread across the country, or if you’re global like arcplan. Leading organizations realize the value of mobile BI’s ability to give workers access to decision-relevant data day and night. I’d never suggest that you tether yourself to your corporate metrics 24/7, but for the times you really need that information away from the office, mobile BI is invaluable.
The bring your own device (BYOD) trend has moved from hype to reality, from nice-to-have to necessity and from business option to expectation. It’s a workplace trend that’s driven by worker demands, and as many as 60% of organizations will give in to allow personal devices in the workplace by the end of 2013. In the same way, the new era of business intelligence is driven by consumer technologies like mobility and collaboration, and that’s one of the reasons we’re seeing such an uptick in mobile BI adoption plans this year…people are simply demanding it.
Mobile BI Plans
According to a 2012 benchmark study by Ventana Research on Next Generation Business Intelligence, 53% of companies are currently deploying or plan to deploy tablets in their BI environment, a trend driven by executives who use their own mobile devices for work and are asking for support. BI vendors have been quick to respond – like others, we released our own product, arcplan Mobile, in early 2011 in anticipation of the trend.
The 2012 Successful BI Survey by BI Scorecard revealed that organizations that have already deployed mobile BI and been successful enjoy an adoption rate of 39%, much higher than industry average. BI Scorecard founder Cindi Howson thinks mobile BI “will be the technology that helps BI become more mainstream and impactful.”
As speculation about Apple’s iWatch grows – will it be a snap bracelet? will it replace the iPhone? – it got me thinking about a watch (of all things) supporting the vision of real-time analytics. What sounds stupid at first (the notion of an old-fashioned personal device, around for 5 centuries with little to no innovation over such a long period, inspiring a 21st century topic such as real-time analytics) has some merits if you think about it twice.
First off, wearable computing devices are real business. According to tech analyst Juniper Research, the next-gen wearable devices market, including smart glasses, will be worth more than $1.5 billion by 2014, up from just $800 million this year.
While the majority of those devices are sold in the context of fitness and healthcare scenarios, there is applicability in modern enterprises. In fact any business process that can benefit from real-time analytics can leverage computing devices that are “at hand” and travel with us easily.
So what business processes can benefit from real-time analytics?