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Some challenges remain in accessing, using valuable business intelligence data: U.S. survey


May 24, 2016   by Canadian Underwriter


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A new survey out of the United States shows wide agreement that business intelligence (BI) data can provide a company with a competitive edge, but ongoing challenges remain about how best to get and use that information.

Washington, D.C.-based B2B research firm Clutch reports 86% of the 291 polled respondents – those who use BI data analytics tools for their jobs – say the value of BI data has increased significantly in the past 12 months. (Respondents who use spreadsheets or free web analytics tools only were not included in the poll.)

Further, 54% of respondents say they strongly believe BI data plays an important role in their company, and 89% of BI data analytics users say the importance of data in their jobs has increased significantly over the past 12 months.

Widespread use of BI data is fairly new, note the survey results, with 71% of polled users reporting that they began using BI tools after 2012.

One reason for increasing adoption may be that there are now more affordable solutions available for analyzing BI data. “The market is competitive. With the advent of the cloud, users can acquire [BI] tools and solutions without large expenditures,” Carl Paluszkiewicz, director of customer value for Denologix, says in the statement issued Tuesday by Clutch.

Despite the belief in BI’s value, the survey identifies several key concerns around using BI solutions to analyze data, security and using the data effectively.

BI data “means you can communicate more effectively internally and make decisions more quickly,” Paluszkiewicz suggests. Still, accessing BI data could be easier than it is, with 24% of respondents saying it is very simple, 43% saying it is somewhat simple, 16% being neutral, 13% saying it is somewhat difficult and 3% saying it is very difficult.

Ensuring easy access to BI data demands setting up a solid infrastructure, notes Clutch’s survey report. The infrastructure should include a process for transforming data into a useful form, as well as the ability to visualize data in a way that is interesting.

“It’s not enough to say, ‘We have a BI tool.’ What is the data path from operational to actionable?” John Keenan, founder and CEO of Anthem Marketing Solutions, comments in the statement.

Beyond accessibility concerns, 22% of respondents point out that flaws in BI data can present significant challenges when identifying what is relevant and also being able to analyze the data efficiently.

The survey report suggests that using BI data effectively requires a strategy, one that gives consideration to the following measures:

  • identify the data that can solve a specific business problem;
  • convert data into a clear, analytic story; and
  • ensure data remains accurate and consistent.

Without a strategy in place to identify, collect and apply data, the reports suggests that BI data tools can be detrimental to a business.

Concern around security was also raised. In all, 35% of BI data users are most concerned about security, 24% about administrative delays and 22% about data flaws, the report points out.

“Security becomes a challenge with BI data when companies do not implement processes to protect data proactively,” Paluszkiewicz contends.

Although security is a concern, results show BI data users still see considerable value of incorporating the data into their business strategies. Clutch reports that, in all, 71% of respondents cite improved efficiency, 64% note better data management, and 52% report more support for strategy development as the primary benefits.

But the key benefit appears to be the ability to make better business decisions.

Consider that collecting data about online behaviour reveals how customers interact with a company’s brand, Dean Abbott, co-founder and chief data scientist at SmarterHQ, says in the statement. Without this information, Abbott suggests that there are gaps in how a business understands its audience.