Business Intelligence & It’s Total Cost Of Ownership

business intelligence


According to Gartner, the most quoted fact in Business Intelligence (BI) is, “70-80% of BI Projects fail.” Business Intelligence projects fail for a number of reasons whether it be a simple lack of time, resource or domain expertise to critical factors such as lack of a clear BI strategy and vision, poor stakeholder buy-in and probably the most influential – choosing the business intelligence tool based purely on software license cost and not considering the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

While software licensing cost cannot be ignored and indeed forms a significant part of the overall business intelligence investment, focusing on this in isolation and not the TCO runs the risk of overspend, project derailment and potentially a tool that is not fit for purpose.

When choosing a business intelligence tool, it is important to ensure you are comparing apples to apples and not fall victim to a low-cost BI solution that ends up being higher in cost due to limited functionality and hidden add-on costs.

In addition, there is a reason that ‘Total’ is prefixed to Cost of Ownership; to understand the ‘Total cost’ there are a number of factors to consider as part of your evaluation.

Let’s explore some of the important factors to consider throughout your ownership in BI evaluation:

Data Manipulation: Most organizations today have disparate data sources and have the need to bring raw data from multiple sources whether it be on-premise such as spreadsheets, legacy ERP systems or bespoke applications or cloud based such as SharePoint, Google drives, Salesforce or IoT devices.
Look for a tool with an extensive library of pre-built connectors with bi-directional data integration capabilities, without this you are in danger of having to source expensive development resource to continually build connectors.

Extract, Transform, Load (ETL): Many business intelligence tools in the market today charge extra for drag and drop ETL functionality. Choose a tool with ETL built in at no extra cost with the ability to quickly normalize data from disparate sources and automatically keep datasets up to date minimizing manual intervention from expensive IT resources.

Scalability: Future proof your business intelligence investment. Data grows at an exponential rate, even in small to medium sized organizations. When considering a business intelligence platform, think of scalability.  With on-premise the cost of additional hardware, the maintenance of the hardware and the cost of support should be taken into account as part of the TCO.

Look for Software-as-a Service (SaaS) solutions where your data resides securely in the cloud and can be infinitely scalable without significant increase in investment.

Self-Service BI: A significant cost in any business intelligence journey is the cost of skilled people to support, train and administer along with making data consumable for all. Look for a platform geared towards giving the end user the ability to be self-sufficient and lessen the drain on an already stretched IT team.

A business intelligence tool that is easy to use, intuitive and gives the end user the ability to create data visualizations with ease on a single source of truth, in real-time rather than the dependence on requesting reports or having to manipulate data in spreadsheets will increase user adoption and improve employee productivity and reduce cost.

Mobility: In an age where we live on our mobile devices, business leaders want access to real-time data whenever and wherever they are 24×7. Ensure your business intelligence platform is mobile ready with no additional development or maintenance required to avoid having to fund expensive program developers to rebuild for mobile deliverability. 

Key Takeaways:

Evaluating Factors for TCO Fully Integrated BI Solution Other BI Solutions
Manpower to support 100+ user deployment (IT, Developer, Expert) 1-4 10-15 or more as user adoption increases
Data Warehouse No Extra Cost Heavy investment in Hardware and Software
ETL No Extra Cost Heavy investment in Hardware and Software
Native Mobile Capability Mobile-app ready – no extra development cost Deploy and maintain separate mobile capability
ROI 4-5 times higher over first three years Longer time to realize ROI
Time-to-Value 4-6 weeks 10-12 weeks or more
IT/Data Analysts Dependency Minimal dependency on IT Heavy Dependency
Self-Service Yes No


Time taken upfront to select a fully integrated, all-purpose, self-service platform with no hidden add-ons will lower your TCO and in turn improve the return on investment (ROI), shorten the time to value and improve user experience and adoption but more importantly help you leverage the power of data to improve business performance and revenue growth.

Executing BI implementation in-house can be a challenging process as the knowledge to understand and implement a new business intelligence solution is likely to be limited with the in-house team and comes with a learning curve.

An experienced business intelligence partner who has executed numerous projects across the world can help you define business intelligence objectives and goals, leading to a significantly improved TTV, enabling you to achieve the desired results sooner.

A BI partner with a team of expert data scientists who understands self-service business intelligence tools is better equipped to smoothen the implementation by overcoming the usual roadblocks that come in the way like flawed datasets, restricted access to data sources, change management and time management challenges to list a few.

If you are looking for a business intelligence partner , check out our expertise in the Data Science domain.