The BI Survey allows us to analyze trends over the past fifteen years. The figure below shows how four very common product selection criteria have developed over time.
Trends in four common selection criteria (n= changing basis)
‘Fast performance’ saw a net increase in importance between 2010 and 2013, but in each of the last four years we have observed small declines. At the same time, ‘price-performance ratio’ has become more significant.
The BI market is a relatively mature one and differences in functionality, performance and usability between the various BI solutions are now less marked than they were a few years ago. Also, the principal market players now have plenty of experience in delivering professional, impressive proofs of concept. As a consequence of these factors, we see price taking on extra significance as a differentiator.
‘Ease of use for end users’ and ‘ease of use for report designers’ remain popular selection criteria. The increasing demand for ease of use has coincided with the rising trend for ‘self-service BI’ over recent years, with its focus on enabling business and IT users to flexibly adjust applications without requiring the help of specially trained individuals. Self-service is a common requirement for BI projects as organizations attempt to increase agility by empowering users and lessening the burden on IT departments.
Trends in some less popular selection criteria (n= changing basis)
The figure above shows the trends in frequency of some of the less popular BI software selection criteria over the last fifteen years. It reveals that organizations are now more likely to choose tools for practical, product-led reasons such as ‘large data handling capacity’ or ‘ability to support large number of users’ than previously. Over the same time period, customers have become less inclined to select a BI tool because of their existing relationship with a vendor. Both ‘vendor relationship’ and ‘bundled with another product’ are less important criteria than they were ten years ago.
Reasons for buying in selected countries and regions (n=2330)
Interesting similarities and differences materialize when analyzing purchase reasons in different regions.
Some reasons, such as ‘good vendor relationship’, ‘international focus of the software’ and ‘size/financial stability’ seldom make the top five list of selection criteria anywhere. In DACH (Germany, Austria and Switzerland), BeNeLux and Southern Europe, respondents show a slightly higher preference for innovation-related criteria (‘innovative capacity of the vendor’).
While the top five criteria tend to be similar across all countries, France is noteworthy for reporting that ‘vendor listed as a corporate standard’ is a much more important purchase reason than in other countries.
Other notable observations include:
Availability of predefined data connections is an important criterion in German-speaking countries (DACH), possibly due to the dominance of SAP ERP systems in this region. It is not considered so relevant by respondents from Eastern Europe.
In German-speaking countries (DACH), ease of use for report recipients is a very important buying criteria while ease of use for report designers is considered far less so. However, the reverse is true in Southern Europe and Asia Pacific.
Ease of use for report designers and ease of use for report recipients are key selection criteria all over the world, but especially in Northern Europe and the UK and Ireland.
Price-performance ratio is much less significant for companies in South America, BeNeLux and Eastern Europe.
The figure below shows the frequency of reasons to buy for large, medium and small BI projects (based on the median number of users). There are a number of key findings here:
In general, most of the selection criteria are of similar importance in all three groups.
The importance of price-performance ratio decreases as project size increases.
Tools used in large deployments are more likely to be selected because companies have them as a corporate standard, for their ability to support large numbers of users or their large data handling capacity.
Surprisingly, vendors providing products for large-scale deployments are selected less often for the availability of local support even though they have the biggest, most widespread support organizations.
Reasons for buying BI tools by project size (n=2290)