For more than 20 years, adoption has been the key hurdle in the business intelligence (BI) industry. Average BI usage is only about 10% to 20%, says Johan Jurd, MD of InfoBuild, representing Information Builders in SA.
Every business is at some stage involved in some type of decision making. It is important that information is delivered across all business levels. This includes operational and front-line employees, partners, suppliers and customers. This wide adoption ensures that businesses maximise their information capital to create transformational change in the organisation’s performance.

To understand why adoption is low, Information Builders engaged IDG to conduct research to understand how managers perceive the importance of information capital, how they are driving adoption, the stakeholders they consult about information delivery, to which stakeholdersinformation is delivered and the preferred methods of delivering information.

A variety of stakeholders were interviewed, including IT decision makers, business analysts and operational workers.

It came as no surprise that most participants in the survey consider information assets to be as valuable as any other fixed, tangible and intangible assets. It also came as no surprise that all stakeholders viewedinformation management as key to aligning strategic goals with operations and employee performance as a means to match corporate strategy and culture.

And yet it was surprising that most organisations are primarily focused on delivering information to upper management and to business analysts.

It was further surprising to find that partners, suppliers and customers are less of a priority. In particular, customers are least important for information delivery. This is despite the potential for customer retention and revenue generation and given the widespread and popularity of consumer information apps.

This indicates that IT and the BI community are still locked in a reactive service mode of providing information to levels up in the organisation rather than thinking about how to use information to satisfy directly emerging business needs.

This approach is exactly the opposite of what the fastest growing organisations in the world do: integrate partners, suppliers and customers into the BI systems such as Wal-Mart, Amazon and EBay.

It is also interesting that most organisations do not ask their employees, partners, suppliers and customers about access to information. These are the best methods and interfaces for them to retrieve and consume information.

This is in sharp contrast to how information apps are created and delivered in app stores. And the results are telling, given the wide adoption of simple and intuitive apps that monitor everything from personal to business processes. All in all, the research provides plenty to think about.

While businesses pay lip service to adoption and ease of use of BI, they seem to fail to understand the need for customer integration and have an analyst-centric view of what is important, to whom information matters, where the information has the largest impact and the type of user interface needed.