The ROI of BI: How Will BI Pay for Itself?


I am a consultant who works with clients to help them implement reporting solutions, and I hear this all the time. 'We don't have the budget right now,' they'll say. 'Maybe next year,' they'll say. If I had a dollar whenever I witnessed a company delay or cancel a potential business intelligence project due to budget - I'd have enough to buy them a BI tool! It's time to stop thinking about Business Intelligence as a cost rather than a way to save or make money. BI provides many advantages that will help it pay for itself, so I don't have to! Let's look at 4 of them.

Before getting into specifics, I want to caveat all of this because there is a big difference between well-thought-out and well-implemented BI, and what most companies end up building. Most don't take the time to think about appropriate measures, and most don't try to present clear, actionable reports. If BI to you is just a bunch of tables providing a 'data dump,' you're probably not going to get a good return on your investment. Appropriate implementation of good BI is a must if you want to see your investment pay for itself. Here are some real-life benefits we've seen from some of our customers who have implemented BI well.

Data-Driven Culture

Well-implemented BI can help a company create a culture of data-driven decision-making. The days are gone (or at least should be) where management uses gut feelings to make decisions—trial and error or waiting until the end of the month or quarter for results to come in. You can see for yourself how Curacao Ports Authority used to take two days (which is better than most) to verify results which are now being delivered instantly with a well-implemented BI system. Business Intelligence can transform your organization from one that throws ideas on the wall to see what sticks to one that is informed and makes decisions based on quality data.

Better Decision Making

Dashboards have the uncanny ability to allow decision-makers to view high-level summary information and then work their way down via drill down and drill through to specific detail. If you see something that isn't quite what you expected, users can drill in and see what's happening. These users don't even have to be technical people or data scientists, provided the dashboard is well designed and provides guidance. This concept allowed BH Management to properly allocate marketing dollars to the right area of their business. And complete transparency in data led to an estimated 71% in growth in their apartment unit growth.

No More Manual Reporting

It's relatively common to see companies, even today, that are still doing manual reporting with Excel. You'll find entire teams dedicated to bringing together data from multiple locations, cleaning and summarizing it. Removing this repetitive work with a system that is more 'set it and forget it' allows your team to spend more time finding more profound insights into the data and allowing them to find better ways to present it. Yulista Holding, LLC. was one company that relied heavily on Excel and was able to get their first dashboard up and running over a week! Now they can glean more meaningful insights about their employees and the business itself. It even allowed them to grow their business by winning additional Government contracts through employee data in proposals.

Improve Team Collaboration

The ability to collaborate is vital with the work from home changes that many organizations are adopting these days. Business Intelligence can bring teams together by aligning their focus and helping them understand the critical metrics of the company. What is typically comes down to behaviour modification. If an organization wants a team to perform certain activities, publicly tracking them is a sure-fire way to get employees to focus on them. Viamedia built a BI Sales Solution that allowed access to data and even implemented live communication to allow coaching and easy peer review. Business Intelligence allowed them to manage their distributed sales teams better and achieve their sales goals.

As you can see, when done well, Business Intelligence can be genuinely transformative to an organization. In hindsight, I'd be willing to wager that any of these companies would be rather upset if they decided to forgo BI because of the upfront perceived cost. 'Saying "maybe next year" was a mistake,' they'd say.

If you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear from you at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


About the Author

Jeff Hainsworth


Jeff Hainsworth is a Senior Solutions Architect at Dundas Data Visualization with over a decade and a half of experience in Business Intelligence. He has a passion for building, coding and everything visual – you know, shiny things! Check out "Off the Charts... with Jeff", his platform for great content on all things analytics, data visualizations, dashboards, and business intelligence. There’s something for everyone!

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