Business Intelligence (BI) Solutions and the Economy

Business intelligence (BI) solution providers are bucking the trend, continuing to grow in an upset tech market.  How are BI solutions helping companies in a down economy?  Why is investment in BI smart in a tough capital environment? BI software tools and solutions are absolutely critical to businesses and have become especially crucial as corporations scrutinize every sale and every dollar spent to deliver products / services.  Couple of key thoughts:

Making Sense of Data: Most businesses are collecting and maintaining large volumes of sales, marketing and operational data.  On top of the data that they "own", they also have access to consumer and market data available for purchase (or provided by partners).  BI tools are absolutely critical to making sense of the information.  To understanding the insights.  To identifying value drivers and potential business opportunities.  To avoid the laborious task of downloading large volumes of data into Access and Excel in order to make sense of the data.

Right Tool...Right Time...Right Business Process: BI vendors typically "sell" to IT organizations within an organization.  While this is one path for selling-in solutions, the real user (and therefore buyer) is the business process owner that needs the information to support business activities and customer-facing solution development.  BI projects typically fail due to IT leading a deployment without business buy-in or ownership.  As businesses have tightened their belt - reduced headcount and foregone hiring decisions - BI tools are in even higher demand and decisions around BI solutions are heavily considering functionality and capability vs. only price of software / hardware.  Price is important and yet in today's business climate, the business user (ops, sales, marketing, finance) needs the right tool to support their business process area.

Leadership: The BI solution space has consolidated over the years and companies like Gartner and AMR make it easy to sift through the "contenders" from those that are having a difficult time staying in business.  As a business user of BI solutions, company viability must be considered as the market for enterprise solutions has slowed over the last 9-12 months.

Capability Improvement Yielding Insights: BI solutions have dramatically improved in core features, functions and capabilities.  This makes these tool suites smart investments as they provide much easier and more efficient access to insights that drive business decisions.  For example, from a supply chain perspective, data is able to provide timely insights into the forecasting process for product manufacturing allowing companies to better manage inventory levels and eliminate stock-outs.  Insights drive action in the marketing environment allowing marketers to test campaigns in differing consumer groups, measure results from the campaign and build results back into the model for future campaigns.  Finally, from a customer stewardship perspective, BI solutions efficiently allow sales teams to access large amounts of data, make sense of the data and present findings in presentations, webex, dashboards and scorecards that previously would have required days or weeks to create, validate and distribute.