Bottom Up And Top Down Approaches To Estimating Costs For A Single BI Report

Boris Evelson

How much does it cost to produce a single BI report? Just like typical answers to most other typical questions, the only real answer is “it depends”. But let’s build a few scenarios:

Scenario 1: Services only. Bottom up, ABC approach.

Assumptions.

 

  • Medium complexity report. Two data sources. 4 way join. 3 facts by 5 dimensions. Prompting, filtering, sorting ranking on most of the columns. Some conditional formatting. No data model changes.
  • Specifications and design – 2 person days. Development and testing - 1 person day. UAT – 1 person day.
  • Loaded salary for an FTE $120,000/yr or about ~$460/day.
  • Outside contractor $800/day.

Cost of 1 BI report: $1,840 if done by 2 FTEs or $2,520if done by 1 FTE (end user) and 1 outside contractor (developer). Sounds inexpensive? Wait.

 

Scenario 2. Top down. BI software and services:

Assumptions:

  • Average BI software deal per department (as per the latest BI Wave numbers) - $150,000
  • 50% of the software cost is attributable to canned reports, the rest is allocated to ad-hoc queries, and other forms of ad-hoc analysis and exploration.
  • Average cost of effort and services - $5 per every $1 spent on software (anecdotal evidence)
  • Average number of reports per small department - 100 (anecdotal evidence)
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Forrester BI Maturity Survey Results Are In

Boris Evelson

Boris Evelson By Boris Evelson

Our latest BI maturity survey results are in. We used exactly the same questions from our online BI maturity self assessment tool to survey over 200 Forrester clients. Now you can compare your own BI maturity level against your peers by using data from the survey.

In the self assessment tool and in the survey we ask over 30 questions in the following 6 categories

  • Governance
  • Organization
  • Processes
  • Data and technology
  • Measurement
  • Innovation

Our clients rated themselves on the scale of 1 to 5 (5, if they strongly agree with our statement or 1, if they strongly disagree). Here are the overall results. Keep in mind that these results do not evaluate BI maturity accross ALL business, but rather in businesses that are already pretty far ahead in their BI implementations (they are Forrester clients, they read our research reports, they talk to our research analysts):

  • Governance 3.00
  • Organization 2.74
  • Processes 2.47
  • Data and technology 2.73
  • Measurement 2.11
  • Innovation 2.00
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Not All Mobile BI Applications Are Created Equal

Boris Evelson

Boris Evelson By Boris Evelson

I get many questions about the usage, pervasiveness, and adaption of mobile BI applications. What's a mobile BI application? Beyond a simple delivery of alerts, URLs, or actual reports via email - functionality that has existed for years - here are a few newer approaches to deliver BI on a mobile device:

  1. The no brainer. In theory any mobile device equipped with a browser can access web based, thin client, HTML only BI applications. Yes, these BI apps will be mostly static, not interactive reports and dashboards. Navigation (scrolling, zooming, etc) will be quite awkward. But, this approach indeed requires no additional effort to deploy.
  2. Customization. The next step up is to render each (or all) reports and dashboards to a format suitable to any mobile device in terms of screen size, usage of screen real estate, and mobile device specific navigation instrumentation. A variation of this approach is to create device specific navigation controls (thumb wheel or thumb button for Blackberries, up/down/left/right arrows for Palms, gestural manipulation for iPhone, etc). This obviously requires more development effort, but still no additional software.
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What Makes BI SaaS Architecture Multitenant?

Boris Evelson

Boris Evelson By Boris Evelson

I'd like to drill into some more details on my BI SaaS blog from September 2009. A key critical point to "what differentiates one BI SaaS vendor from another" discussion is what really constitutes multi-tenant architecture. Here are some initiall thoughts to stimulate the discussion:

  • DBMS. There's got to be back end, DBMS architecture that allows for one of the following:
    • Automatically generate a separate DBMS instance for each client  
    • Use same DBMS instance for multiple clients, but automatically generate a set of unique tables for each client  
    • Use same DBMS instance and tables for multiple clients, but automatically assign unique keys to to each client so that they can only update and retrieve their own rows  
  • Application. Similar functionality has to exist in the application tier:
    • Automatically connect to the appropriate, client specific DBMS instance, or 
    • Automatically use views that only point to client specific tables, or
    • Append "where" clause to each SQL statement to only retrieve client specific rows  
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How To Differentiate Advanced Data Visualisation Solutions

Boris Evelson

Boris Evelson By Boris Evelson

I get many inquiries from clients on how to select a data visualization vendor / solution. The criteria that my clients often site are

  • Thick and thin client
  • Dynamic visualizations, not just static charts 
  • Ability to pull data from multiple sources
  • OLAP-like functionality
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Next Gen BI Is Here Today

Ten Strong Hints Your Enterprise May Not Have A BI Strategy

Boris Evelson

Boris Evelson By Boris Evelson

You know that you don't have an enterprise BI strategy if:

 

Want more hints and best practices? Take our BI maturity self assessment test. Then if you actually want to compare your BI strategy and BI maturity against other Forrester clients, take our BI maturity survey. Good luck!

  1. Your end users keep pointing to IT as the source of most BI problems

  2. Your business executives view BI as another cost center
  3. IT staff keep asking end users for report requirements
  4. Your BI is supported by IT help desk
  5. You can’t tell the difference between BI and Performance Management
  6. You can’t measure your BI usage
  7. You can’t measure your BI ROI
  8. You think your BI strategy is the same as your DW strategy
  9. You don’t have a plan to develop, hire, retain and grow BI staff
  10. (My personal favorite) You actually don’t know if your enterprise has a BI strategy!

    Predictive Analytics is for Experts only! - Really?

    Holger Kisker

    You don’t need to be a scientist to boost your business with applied mathematics

    On 22/9/09 SPSS Inc. announced a new certification process to confirm an individual’s expertise with some of their statistical solutions. “Look at this”, I thought “sophisticated software still requires experts to unfold the value they can provide”. Being a physicist by background, I like it how applied mathematics can improve business. However, not everyone sees beauty in algorithms or is interested in statistics.

     

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    BI Saas Vendors Are Not Created Equal

    Boris Evelson

    Boris Evelson By Boris Evelson

    As many of my readers know, for years I’ve been quite skeptical about non-mainstream BI solutions, such as BI SaaS. Security, control, operational risk, data, metadata and application integration are just some of the requirements for enterprise BI that are still on my watch list as potential reasons to be weary about BI SaaS. However, I am also a very pragmatic analyst and truly believe that nothing but supply and demand drive the markets.  And I am now, slowly but surely, beginning to believe there couldn’t be a better case for demand for BI SaaS especially after findings from one of the project that I am currently conducting.

    I recently talked to a few dozen non-IT professionals (specifically in front office roles, such as sales and marketing) across multiple industries, regions and company sizes. Guess how many of them fully or partially relied on IT for their day to day operational and strategic information needs? BIG FAT ZERO!!! This finding was a huge surprise to me – yes, I did expect to find something like less then 50% reliance on IT, but I surely did not expect to find 0%.

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    Open letter to Information Week BI In Healthcare article readers

    Boris Evelson

    Boris Evelson By Boris Evelson

    I am so glad that my Information Week article BI in Healthcare is receiving interest and mostly positive feedback. I believe that this is indeed a very important topic to write about, especially considering how behind the times the industry is, and what a unique opportunity we have right now to get it right. We so strongly believe that this is such a critical IT issue and challenge, that Forrester is even bending its own rules slightly – typically all our research is “role” based, not industry based, as we most often find that challenges and requirements by role are almost always very similar across industries. Healthcare and public sectors seem to be a big exception, and therefore, I and some of my colleagues do plan to publish more Healthcare IT specific research. For example, I am currently in the middle of surveying top 30+ BI vendors specializing in Healthcare against 40+ criteria. Stay tuned to the results of this research. And my colleague, Craig LeClair (http://www.forrester.com/rb/search/results.jsp?N=0+11226), is in the midst of conducting research on EMR best practices.

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