Is This a Surprise? “The BI Survey” Says 92% of Employees Do Not Actually Use BI

Is it surprising to read that BI adoption rates are worse than conventional wisdom suggested? A respected survey of the BI market reports that 92% of employees with access to BI do NOT actually use BI. They’re called “disenfranchised.” Conventional wisdom has always put the number of the “disenfranchised” at 80% (as if that’s acceptable). Stephen Swoyer's article in today’s “TDWI’s BI This Week” newsletter reported this (and more) based on the respected BI Survey (formerly the OLAP Survey) from Nigel Pendse and the Business Application Research Center (BARC). As the 8th in a series, this year’s survey seems quite interesting!

In truth, the survey actually reported that just 8% are using BI. But I think it’s more astounding when you flip that number to 92%. Over 9 in 10 people do not use the BI tools into which their companies have invested hundreds of thousands, even millions, of dollars. Because a good visualization is worth at least a thousand words, here are some representations of that ratio.

Bi Adoption

Can you imagine that for any other product? 9 in 10 people who bought a car never drive it. 9 in 10 people who buy a movie ticket don’t actually go see the movie. 9 in 10 people never use the computers on their desks. Yet somehow it’s o.k. for BI? Of course I don’t expect that everyone would use BI. But 9 in 10 not using it? Give me a break.

It’s not that I blame the users. I’ve been there – I’ve been at companies where we had big fancy BI platforms that just didn’t do what I (a typical business analyst) needed. I admit I would try to use the software a couple of times and just abandon it. Is it my fault that it was hard to use and didn’t do what I needed? (Of course, once I discovered Tableau at my previous company, everything changed. I finally could do what I wanted.)

So what can this all be attributed to? Pendse says multiple factors were cited: security limitations, user scalability, slow query performance, hardware cost, data availability, software cost, hard-to-use software. Even internal power struggles play a role. In my mind, most of those reasons sound like they are not emanating from the targeted business user – the person who ultimately decides to click on that BI application. Shouldn’t we ask the business user – why aren’t you using BI tools?

The BI Survey may in fact have asked a significant number of end-users. I haven’t yet found out details about the survey sample but I’ve asked the good people at BARC. As soon as I hear, I’ll update this blog posting.

In the meantime, are you a business user that’s got some kind of BI platform at your organization that you’re not using? Help us understand why – comment on this blog post with your thoughts. Let’s find out what’s going on the hearts and minds of the “disenfranchised”.

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