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Mobile business intelligence adoption slows, BARC BI survey finds

Brian McKenna

Mobile business intelligence (BI) adoption is slowing and much vaunted social media analytics are little deployed, according to the latest BARC BI global survey.

The 13th iteration of the survey polled 3,149 respondents from companies drawn from a variety of industry sectors worldwide.

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It found 16% of companies are currently using mobile BI, compared with 8% two years ago and 13% last year.

Carsten Bange, CEO of BARC, said: “Last year 32% of respondents said they were planning to implement mobile BI by 2013. But despite this strong interest, uptake has been much slower than expected.

“We’ve seen simple starts, with dashboards on tablets, but once underway we start to see problems, especially with security and central mobile device management. Security mechanisms are only just being introduced in some of the software. We saw one project that was fully developed for 100 people, and the company CSO stopped the whole project. So 'include security from the beginning' is a lesson there”.

He points to the diversity of devices and operating systems as complicating factors for mobile BI projects. Another factor is the need to adapt to different screen sizes. What might be good for an iPad screen won’t work so well with another.

Mobile BI is more in evidence in South America (30% in use) and Asia and Pacific (26%) than in Europe (15%) and North America (16%). And within Europe, the northern region is less prone to mobile BI than southern Europe. The UK and Ireland registered 17% use, German-speaking Europe 14%, and southern Europe 27%.

The survey found the analysis of social media data to be scarce. Only 4% of organisations are doing this and 76% say it is not required at all.

“Social media is an area where there is a lot of talk, but the data suggests that very few organisations are doing it – the reality is totally different. And very few plan to do it", says Bange.

BI spreads beyond finance as managers help themselves

The BI Survey 13 also reveals a marked growth in the percentage of company employees using BI tools in the last five years. Finance remains the core business function using BI this year – with 85% of finance departments using it. But the survey also shows sales, IT, production, procurement, logistics and HR departments – as well as senior management across the board – all significantly increasing their use of BI since 2008.

The need for transparency is definitely increasing, as is the demand for more frequent delivery of information

“BI was traditionally the preserve of finance departments but has now become a lot more pervasive. The increase in usage by management, sales and procurement staff has been especially pronounced,” says Bange. “This owes much to the wave of more visually appealing, self-service BI tools in recent years from vendors who place an emphasis on ease of use.”

But it is not just a question of more visually appealing dashboards, says Bange. “The need for transparency is definitely increasing, as is the demand for more frequent delivery of information”. There is, he says, “more demand for data analysis in organisations”. 

Moreover, senior management’s use started to increase markedly after the financial crisis in 2008. However, he says, the vogue for big data “is not considered BI yet” since it has yet to reach the level of interpretation, as opposed to storage and processing.

The spread of BI consumption beyond the finance department is significant, he says. But it has not increased as might be expected in marketing. From 2008 to 2013, marketing’s use of BI has stayed put at 45%. Senior management’s use has gone from 48% to 74% and sales from 53% to 65%. And a clutch of ‘operations’ departments – production, procurement and logistics – has increased usage by around 14%.

The pattern of self-service BI is similarly strong globally. Within Europe the UK leads the way with 58% usage and France lags the pack at 34%.

The 2013 BARC [Business Applications Research Centre] BI survey can be found here.


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