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On-Demand BI – Not Just for SMB

Posted on Friday, Aug 17th 2007

By David Hatch, Guest Author

As a brief introduction, Sramana Mitra and I, after a short on-line discourse, determined that my research into user organizations’ perspectives about BI technology, processes, and investment intentions would be of value to readers of this blog forum. As a primary researcher in the BI space, I am very interested in projecting my findings and analysis to a broad audience and, hopefully, generate feedback and lively discussion around topics that matter today, and are, for the most part, forward-looking.

With that as a loose framework, I’d like to discuss some of my recent findings pertaining to On-Demand BI.

From the moment the terms “SaaS-BI” and “Hosted-BI” entered the BI market vernacular, there has been a consistent mantra that has positioned “On-Demand BI” for SMB organizations, and “On-site BI implementations” and “Outsourced BI consulting services” for larger enterprises. Based on findings from research conducted for a new Aberdeen Group Benchmark Study – “Delivering Actionable Information to the Enterprise” – these firmly held beliefs may no longer be valid.

Many industry voices have put forth the idea that “On-Demand BI is a Mid-market or SMB strategy”. This has been fueled by recent vendor acquisitions, new product announcements, and what has seemingly been logical business sense. The theory has been underpinned with an amalgamation of value statements regarding total cost of ownership, consulting and resource requirements, implementation time-frames, on-going support and maintenance of complex BI applications, and license cost barriers. On-Demand BI vendors, such as Dimensional Insight, LucidEra, Oco, OnDemandIQ, and SeaTab, as well as On-Demand BI divisions at some very prominent BI players, like Business Objects, Cognos, and SAS have positioned On-Demand BI as a vehicle that will bring “BI to the masses” through a down-market push into Mid-Tier companies.

Aberdeen research shows that On-Demand BI is certainly of interest to organizations, but the level of interest is not affected by company size. In fact, 13% of large organizations surveyed are planning to start On-Demand BI projects in the next 12 months. This is at a higher rate than Mid-tier (8%) or Small (11%) companies surveyed in the study.

Aberdeen research has also shown that “limited BI skill sets” among users is the top pressure companies are facing as they attempt to expand the delivery of actionable information to the enterprise. What does all of this mean? Well, for starters, the research suggests that the On-Demand vendors’ go-to-market messaging will resonate with companies who are looking to expand BI use and push capabilities down to line-level knowledge workers. It also lends validity and credence to On-Demand as being a viable approach to expanding access and use of BI throughout the enterprise.

I’ll explore this further in future entries (look for a regular posting each Friday) and dig deeper into the research findings around the key pressures and drivers that are pushing organizations toward new BI deployment approaches.

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