Business decision-makers in Asia Pacific (AP) are increasingly aware of the importance of business intelligence (BI) and broader analytics to business strategy and execution. However, lack of internal expertise remains a significant barrier to BI project success.

In response, Fred Giron and I have just published The Forrester Wave™: Business Intelligence Service Providers In Asia Pacific, Q4 2013. In it, we identified eight companies that offer strong capabilities and services for AP-based organizations seeking BI service support.

To succeed in the region, BI service providers must provide guidance on how to translate data access into actual insight and information into business value. This requires a strong understanding of local cultures, business practices, regulatory frameworks, and market dynamics. When evaluating providers, understand how their capabilities are likely to evolve across five categories:

  • People. To minimize project risks, understand who will be the on-site business and technical leads on BI projects and how many successful implementations this staff has led in a similar industry and similar technical environment within the region.
  • Technical expertise. Service providers need to demonstrate region-specific knowledge of the technical characteristics of various BI tools, platforms, architectures, and applications. Most companies will not have all of the necessary skills on site, so closely evaluate ease of access to remote staff from the service provider as well.
  • Market presence. BI-related project considerations can vary widely: country-specific reporting requirements, broad variations in business processes and practices, cultural differences, and the strong role of local partners in driving BI engagements. Evaluate how much BI service providers have invested in local AP delivery capabilities.
  • Innovation. Most AP markets are dynamic and change extremely quickly. Closely monitor BI service providers’ flexibility; they should have a demonstrated ability to generate new insights and recommend business and technology solutions to keep pace with your specific and changing needs. Providers should be prepared to bring new ideas and approaches to an engagement, not just do what you tell it to do.
  • Strategy. Service providers won’t just implement basic BI technologies and tools for you. Seek their guidance as to how BI and broader analytics initiatives are likely to affect business transformation projects. Successful BI projects should deliver increased business value; confirm that the provider also has best practices that apply to the functions and business processes engaged in your BI project.