In the past, business intelligence (BI) tools were relatively limited in their application. Only certain departments, such as sales and IT, would make use of the technology. As a recent report demonstrated, however, BI tools are becoming more commonly used throughout organizations.
A ubiquitous tool
Datamation recently reported that the 2012 Wisdom of Crowds Business Intelligence Market Study, conducted by Dresner Advisory Services, surveyed 859 workers worldwide. Slightly more than half came from the United States, more than a fourth from Europe and the Middle East and the rest of the participants were primarily from Asia and Latin America. The workers came from various departments, including IT, sales, marketing, finance, research and development and others.
The study found that BI users are no longer concentrated exclusively in certain departments. Approximately half of users fell into the category of "information processing," with relatively equal distribution among other sectors.
Speaking to the news source, Howard Dresner, proprietor of Dresner Advisory Services, explained that one of the biggest groups to have recently begun using BI tools are executives. They are accessing the technology via their mobile devices and, in many cases, have never used BI before.
Additionally, Dresner noted that BI use is increasing significantly among human resources, supply chain and research and development departments.
The report noted that the expansion of BI use can largely be attributed to new capabilities for the technology. Rosanne Saccone, chief marketing officer at a data integration and analytics vendor, explained that organizations are now frequently using BI to look at behavior analytics.
"They are trying to get a better understanding of what is driving revenue metrics, such as a view of the entire value chain," she said, according to Datamation.
One other factor that is likely leading to the expanding use of BI among nontraditional departments is the move toward self-service options. As Computerworld's Jaikumar Vijayan recently noted, self-service BI holds several advantages over legacy BI solutions, making it an appealing option for many organizations. Self-service BI, he explained, accumulates data primarily via social media, cloud computing and mobile computing. This makes it far more agile and flexible than older forms.
Additionally, as the name suggests, advances have made self-service BI accessible to more members of an organization, rather than the IT department exclusively.
Association and nonprofits interested in improving their BI capabilities should consider investing in association management software with integrated BI tools, which can significantly improve an organization's efficiency and insight into its customers, clients and members.