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Business Intelligence Trends 2020


Executive Summary 

This report contains the results of 360Suite’s Business Intelligence (BI) Survey on the current business intelligence trends. We conducted the survey with the goal of gathering information on how Business Intelligence professionals manage multiple BI solutions and the challenges they face in such a volatile and diverse environment. With respect to content, the survey was designed to gather feedback on an organization’s current BI situation, the challenges organizations face in a changing landscape and the future of Business Intelligence. During an 8-week period of promoting the survey, we received 815 responses from professionals across the world from different-sized companies.

The following key business intelligence trends emerged from the survey:

  • On average, an organization uses 3.8 different BI solutions indicating that multiple BI is a reality.
  • The 3 most popular applications are SAP BusinessObjects, Microsoft Power BI, and Tableau, with the top four solutions representing 63.3% of market share. 
  • Improving the efficiency of existing BI solutions is organizations’ top priority.
  • The larger the company, the higher the BI adoption rate is. 
  • Managing user adoption and data quality control are the most challenging tasks for organizations. 
  • Investment in the cloud is continually increasing, particularly among companies with more than 5,000 employees. 
  • The main challenges faced when managing multiple BI solutions are cost control, data reliability, adoption, and security in BI solution management. 
  • Organizations are not planning to add solutions to their portfolio but rather reduce the number of them in the foreseeable future.
  • Creating a centrally-managed BI team is on the horizon for 48% of participants’ organizations.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Study Demographics
  3. The Current Reality
  4. The Changing Nature of the BI Landscape
  5. The Future of BI
  6. Conclusion


In an ideal world, companies would use a single Business Intelligence solution to transform raw data into meaningful and useful information. However, the current BI environment is packed with competing BI solutions, and has seen an increase in data thus data analytics, making it difficult to have a “one-size-fits-all solution” for every business use case. In reality, companies rely on multiple BI technologies and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. 

We conducted a survey to learn how individuals and companies manage multiple Business Intelligence solutions and to understand the challenges they face. We received over 800 responses, which provided us with valuable insights into how companies deal with BI technologies and the current business intelligence trends. Survey results revealed that multiple BI solutions are here to stay, and that there is a need for, as Forrester defines it, “BI Fabric Technologies” — technologies that integrate components from multiple BI solutions. This report highlights how the industry manages and deals with multiple BI solutions and hints at the future of a multi-vendor environment. 

Study Demographics

For a better understanding of who participated in the survey, we gathered information on each participant’s background: profession, BI technologies used, industry they work in, and location. 


Our survey gathered responses from hundreds of BI professionals in different roles, industries, and locations. More than 60% of participants are BI Managers, BI Administrators, and BI Consultants — the roles that predominantly use and manage BI solutions.


BI Technologies

Among survey respondents, SAP BusinessObjects is the most widely used Business Intelligence solution. A lot of participants already have a relationship with us that started with Business Objects solutions. Microsoft Power BI, Tableau, and Qlik are the other most used BI applications among our respondents; with all four solutions representing 63.3% of the market share. Oracle BI (OBIEE) makes it into the top 10, and others include Domo, Dundas BI, YellowFin BI, and Sisense.

business-intelligence- market-share

Company Sizes

We received survey responses from companies ranging in size from fewer than 250 employees to more than 5,000 employees, providing us with highly varied data.



Survey respondents work in a variety of industries with Healthcare Services, IT, and Manufacturing coming out in the top three. A total of twenty-one industries emerged from the results but the top twelve were found the most pertinent. 



We also asked participants in what geographic region(s) is their BI team located, and we learned that the majority are in Europe (56.54%), followed by North America (34.36%). This can be explained by the widespread presence of 360Suite in both continents.


The Current Reality

Understanding the current reality of BI is an essential part of predicting the future.

BI Primary Objectives

Companies have different Business Intelligence priorities, and one of the aims of the survey was to uncover them. Among survey respondents, the most important BI objective is to “Improve Efficiency of Existing BI Solutions” (49.7%). This aligns with the challenges identified by participants, such as overlapping solutions, zero collaboration, and varying IT skills. It is also consistent with the idea of not adding more BI solutions in the future but rather improving what organizations already have. Other important objectives include “Keep Platforms Updated (Migrations or Upgrades)” and “Increase Self Service.” 


BI Solutions and Data Access

It’s increasingly challenging to find one BI solution that addresses all use cases, which is why most organizations use more than one solution. In fact, our survey suggests that on average, a company uses 3.8 BI solutions. This supports Forrester’s research, which argues that, on average, organizations use 5 solutions. Note that Forrester’s number takes into account CRM/ERP and financial planning tools with embedded BI functionality. 

Furthermore, 55% of respondents say that their BI solutions connect and query the same data sources. 30% replied that each of their BI solutions are connected to their independent data source. The balance (15%) weren’t sure how to answer this question.


If your organization uses multiple BI solutions, do they query the same data source(s)?

In addition, 67% of respondents say they can take advantage of multiple Business Intelligence solutions within their organization, with 20% replying that they’re limited to a single BI application.


If your organization uses multiple BI solutions, can end users access multiple BI solutions?

What’s interesting to take away here is that users are accessing multiple BI solutions themselves all while querying the same data sources. This indicates that people use different BI solutions depending on how they want to work with this same source data. 

BI Technologies by Department

Whether employees within the same organizations have access to the same BI technologies, survey results demonstrated that different solutions suit different departments depending on the needs and requirements. Again, this highlights the fact that there is not one perfect solution for all users. 

SAP BusinessObjects came out the best suited for Finance & Accounting (82%), Supply Chain & Purchasing (61%), and IT & BI Competency (68%). Tableau is the favorite solution for the Marketing (61%) and Senior Management (60%) departments, with Qlik Sense being the best suited for Sales & Customer Service (61%). It’s also interesting to note that Microsoft Power BI is globally suitable for every department (on average 50%). Out of a total of seventeen solutions used, we focused on the top three tools for each department. 


BI Adoption Rate

The global BI adoption rate across all organizations is 26%. At a more granular level, based on the company size, survey results showed that those with an adoption rate of more than 80% is higher in organizations with more than 5,000 employees. What is interesting to take away here is that the overall business intelligence trend is that the larger the company, the higher their BI adoption rate is. 22% of companies with less than 250 employees have an adoption rate of 20% or less, when it’s only 2% for organizations with more than 5,000 employees.


BI Activities by Performance

Managing multiple Business Intelligence solutions is a challenge for organizations but survey results demonstrated that they perform very well in certain areas.

Among survey responses, organizations are best at managing user permissions along with complying with regulatory requirements. However, monitoring user adoption is currently managed poorly across organizations on the whole. As 15.4% of participants didn’t know their organization’s BI adoption rate, this could be one reason behind this poorly-managed objective. Performing regression testing (that is running a report before and after a modification and comparing the results) is also a challenge for most companies with 35% of participants responding that they poorly carry this out.


Key Takeaways

  • Improving the efficiency of existing BI solutions is the top priority among respondents.
  • On average, an organization uses 3.8 BI solutions.
  • 55% of respondents say that their BI solutions query the same data sources.
  • The larger the company, the higher the BI adoption rate is. 
  • Organizations are best at managing user permissions but struggle at monitoring user adoption. 

The Changing Nature of the BI Landscape

The BI environment is constantly evolving, as evidenced by the recent acquisitions of Tableau by Inc, and Looker by Alphabet Inc. The BI survey was designed to explore how the evolving landscape impacts organizational approaches to Business Intelligence. 

The Cloud Trends in the BI Market

Dresner Advisory Services market study indicates that “on average 72% of organizations valued the cloud as an important element of their broader analytics strategies in 2018, as opposed to 55% in the prior year”. As this study indicates, business intelligence trends include organizations increasingly investing in the cloud with regard to BI solutions. 

In general, organizations have a choice between native-cloud BI solutions and on-premise BI solutions hosted in the cloud.

The survey showed us that there is a difference between exploring the cloud and actually investing in it, as 50% of our respondents still have not invested in the cloud.


Has your organization invested in the cloud with regard to BI solutions?

Survey results also suggest that bigger companies are more likely to invest in the cloud. Almost 58% of companies with more than 5,000 employees have invested in the cloud compared to 35% of companies with 250-1,000 employees. 

Nearly half of participants (49%) have upcoming or ongoing BI projects related to the cloud. This explains the continuous interest in cloud BI investment and proof that the BI environment is ever-evolving. In fact, 57% of participants are concerned by the cloud for their BI (this takes into account those already invested and those who plan to in the future), which emphasizes the importance of cloud BI investment for organizations.


Does your organization have upcoming or ongoing BI projects related to the cloud?

The Challenges of Multiple BI Technologies

As a result of varying preferences and requirements, most organizations now use more than one Business Intelligence technology. Different business units have different BI needs, and not all solutions will tie in with their requirements making it a very complex environment. This makes sense given that survey results suggest that people think different solutions are best for different company departments and use cases. 

Using multiple BI technology across one organization adds challenges and increases complexity, thus compromising control over system management. We asked participants to identify in their own words the main challenges associated with handling multiple BI solutions, and four main themes emerged:

cost-icon1. Costs
Using multiple solutions results in overlaps between solutions and adds to license costs, maintaining skills costs, and infrastructure costs due to the lack of consistency across an organization. This is why organizations want to improve the efficiency of existing BI solutions in order to reduce the TCO (total cost of ownership).

data-icon2. Data
Survey participants raised concerns about data consistency and the fact that there is no single version of the truth when using multiple BI solutions. It also opens up the possibility of working on ungoverned data in analytics solutions. 

user-adoption-icon3. Adoption
Organizations find it difficult to get employees to change solutions in favor of a specific BI solution because it requires more training and users become lost in where to start. Being able to monitor adoption also requires tracking user-activity which can be difficult for BI teams, especially if they have multiple BI solutions to maintain.

security-icon4. Security
The greater the number of Business Intelligence solutions, the greater the risk in inconsistencies and differences of security across different technologies, and an increase in shadow IT. 

Key Takeaways 

  • BI Cloud investment is continually increasing. 
  • Native-cloud BI solutions are preferred to on-premise BI solutions hosted in the cloud.
  • Companies with more than 5,000 employees are more likely to invest in the cloud. 
  • The main challenges of multiple solutions are cost, data reliability, adoption and security. 

The Future of BI 

No one can predict the exact future of BI but we certainly can look at what organizations are planning to change within their BI portfolio and how they’ll manage it in the future.

Evolution of the BI Portfolio

With the BI environment forever-changing, we asked respondents if they were planning on making changes to their BI portfolio in the next five years. Survey results indicate that most organizations are either keeping their BI portfolio as it is (29%) or reducing the number of BI solutions (28%). This aligns with the fact that organizations’ highest priority this year is to improve the efficiency of existing BI solutions, and Forrester’s recommendation of integrating and scaling down the number of technologies based on use cases and persona. 

Only 15% are planning to add more BI solutions, and surprisingly there are still 29% of respondents who are unsure at this time. 


In the next five years, does your organization plan to make changes to the BI solutions in its portfolio?

Implementation of a Business Intelligence Competency Center

As the results have shown, respondents face various challenges such as higher security risks when managing multiple BI solutions. However, implementing a centrally-managed BI team could reduce these risks. Survey results demonstrated that 48% already have or plan to establish a centralized BI team, 28% haven’t or have no plans, and 24% don’t know if their organization is planning to put this in place. Among participants that definitely know, 63% already have or plan to create a central BI team, and 37% will not have a BI team in place.


Does your organization have or plan to establish a centrally-managed BI team (e.g., BICC, BICOE, ACC)?

BI COE by Company Size

We wanted to go beyond this and look at the size of the organization that have or plan to establish a BI COE. According to results, companies with 2,500-5,000 employees are more likely to have or plan to put in place a central BI team (74%). Nevertheless, organizations of different sizes are on average 45% likely to have or establish a centrally-managed team. This shows that it’s not just the reality for large organizations but for all sizes.


Key Takeaways

  • The current business intelligence trend among respondents is to keep their BI portfolio as it is or reduce the number of solutions.
  • Nearly half of participants have or plan to establish a centrally-managed BI team. 


360Suite surveyed industry professionals to learn more about how organizations manage multiple Business Intelligence solutions and the challenges they face in an ever-changing environment. Survey results demonstrated that multiple BI is here to stay as there is no single solution capable of meeting every need and requirement. With the cloud becoming a reality for most organizations, who knows what the BI landscape will look like tomorrow. This unstable situation creates challenges for businesses, some of them being more of a struggle than others. To prepare for this “tomorrow”, organizations are establishing centrally-managed BI teams and maximizing efforts in improving the efficiency of existing solutions, while also reducing the number of them.  

The key question to think about here is: how can BI professionals reap the benefits of the multiple BI landscape, measure the importance of each initiative, and thus take smarter decisions around BI investments?

360Suite is a suite of agile governance solutions for SAP BusinessObjects developed by Wiiisdom.

At Wiiisdom, we transform your Analytics landscape into a reliable place to make better, trusted decisions every day and maximize your data assets.

360Suite is a set of solutions to ensure quality, reliability, performance, and efficiency of SAP BusinessObjects through testing, auditing, monitoring, cataloging, and scheduling methodologies. 360Suite is designed for large organizations looking to mitigate data risks, automate operations, and is the solution of choice for any migration project.


Content Writer: Ailsa Cartledge logo-linkedin