A new Forrester Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR) report “Use Business Intelligence To Manage Velocity,” takes a critical look at today’s immature business intelligence (BI) tool deployment in US firms and offers a strategic approach to help these firms turn BI into a strategic corporate asset. The report also provides a road map to help companies forge a high-velocity business that maximizes the benefits of their existing BI investments.

To provide new insight into future business conditions and respond effectively to unexpected events, Forrester Research has long advocated that firms embrace business velocity management (BVM) — the process of assembling leading indicators to detect and manage business direction and speed. In response, business intelligence (BI) applications have risen to the top of the enterprise software most-wanted list as more firms cull data to understand which leading indicators can help them cut costs, segment their customers, or rationalize their supply base.

Forrester defines business intelligence tools as the technologies that help firms organize and convert data into information and insight, including data cleansing, warehousing, reporting, analysis, and data mining. For this report, Forrester surveyed 25 large firms that indicated intent to purchase BI tools.

Key findings

  • Most BI benefits remain elusive because too many deployments have resulted in a mishmash of tools, multiple versions of the “truth,” and a failure to answer C-level executives’ key decision-making questions.
  • Eighty percent of interviewees have multiple BI tools today, but most want to cut costs by consolidating their investments.
  • To gain value from BI investments, firms must craft analytic strategies, consolidate BI investments, and use analytics to manage business velocity. Tackling high-priority initiatives first, firms will exploit BVM in five stages.
  • To elevate BI¿s value, firms should follow three steps led by the CIO:
    1. Link analytic strategies to corporate intent. CIOs will work with top executives to help define goals and use them to frame data decisions, set analytical priorities for key activities, and create a decision-maker network map.
    2. Consolidate BI infrastructure investments. Since disconnected BI purchases sabotage other cost-savings efforts, CIOs must track inventory BI spending, select a single BI platform foundation once they¿ve sized up what they have, and identify stewardship for core analytics to identify priorities like process basics.
    3. Make analytics relevant to business velocity management. CIOs must apply BVM to key priorities, ensuring that analytic apps provide information that leads to action. By placing BI investments into a BVM framework, firms will be better able to sense and interpret significant changes, decide and act based on correlation and synthesis of data, and learn and transform business processes based on the feedback from analysis recommendations.
  • Implementing BI in a BVM framework will affect both user organizations and BI vendors in significant ways. For example, BI circuit breakers will emerge to rein in analytics run amuck and BI vendors will tap into new opportunities to link structured data marts to knowledge bases, Web content, and repositories.

Note to editors: Contact Tina Murphy to learn more about this report or to schedule an interview with Forrester Research Director Laurie M. Orlov. Forrester’s TechRankings™ team also conducts laboratory-based product evaluations of Business Intelligence vendors and products.