Big ROI for BI?

With the Business Intelligence tools market growing by almost 13% in 2010, and generating total revenues of over $4bn in the second half of the year alone, BI vendors might well think that they’re entering something of a golden age (http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20110627005197/en/IDCs-Worldwide-Business-Intelligence-Tools-Tracker-Finds). The market doesn’t look like slowing down any time soon: with the Big Data era apparently upon us and the financial climate meaning businesses need to squeeze the last drops of value out of every asset they possess it’s only natural that organisations will keep looking to BI tools to help make the most out of their resources.

At the same time, Big Data means that we will also see the BI market evolve: as well as the front-end tools themselves, organisations will need stronger back-end systems to deal with the huge amount of information required. As a result, we can expect in-memory tools such as SAP’s HANA to add to BI revenues from 2011 onwards.

However, with this growing market there is one statistic that I’d be much more interested in seeing. IDC is just the latest to show us exactly how much is being spent on BI, which is great news for the vendors. However, it would also be useful to see exactly what the return on investment of these tools is. Admittedly it may be more complicated to study, but I believe it makes a crucial difference if organisations can see this.

BI isn’t exactly going away and only very confident (for want of another word) organisations would say they can do without it entirely. Yet at the same time we need to see more information on what exactly we can expect from BI and how soon we will see a return, rather than simply how much we’re spending on it.

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