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Early insights from the agile analytics survey, part 1
David White, Senior Research Analyst, Aberdeen Group
MAY 20, 2013 05:01 AM
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Michael LockPeter OstrowTrip Kucera and I have been speaking at many IBM Business Analytics Summits recently.  One of our big talking points has been this:  Where business users are able to use analytics self-sufficiently, with very little (if any) assistance from skilled IT staff, analytics is used more pervasively throughout the organization.  In other words, analytics gets into the hands of a greater percentage of employees.

Early data from Aberdeen’s current survey on agile / self-service business intelligencehighlights this relationship (Figure 1).

For the record, small companies are 100 employees or less, large organizations have more than 1,000 employees, and midsize take up the space in-between. The first point to note on the left of Figure 1 is that smaller organizations tend to have a bigger fraction of their employees using business intelligence (BI) – compared to large organizations, a much bigger fraction. In tandem with that, as the chart on the right shows, small companies are much more likely than larger ones to have self-service BI users.  That is, users that can operate most of the time without direct help from skilled IT staff.  Typically, these users have access to tools that let them drill-down to access detailed data, or otherwise manipulate data directly to find the information they need. My belief is that self-service BI enables more widespread use of analytics at least partly because it means scarce IT skills aren’t frittered away making relatively simple changes to existing reports and charts.  Consequently, IT has more time to get BI into the hands of more users.

I’ll blog about other nuggets from this early data over the next few days as we get ready to publish our first formal research from it. For example, I’m going to investigate:

  • The ratio between producers (people that create BI reports, charts and dashboards) and consumers (people that use those assets).  This is another way to look at pervasiveness, but also at productivity, so it will be interesting to see what drives a higher producer:consumer ratio.
  • How many existing BI assets are modified or enhanced each year – and who makes those changes, IT or business users.  My hunch is that this is also going to have a bearing on how widespread analytics are used in a company.

If you haven’t taken the agile BI survey yet, there is still time. As a special inducement to take part in our research survey, I will also hold a webinar and Q&A session exclusively for survey respondents. Also, if you want to read my previous research on agile BI you can do so for free by registering for AberdeenAccess.

PS.  Why isn’t the same trend so pronounced in mid-size companies?  I’m not sure yet, to be honest.  As we’re still early in the data collection for this survey my guess is that this particular wrinkle will work itself out as the data set gets bigger.

David White
Senior Research Analyst
Business Intelligence (BI)

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