Operational BI enters the Midmarket

When Administaff Inc., an outsourcer of human resources for small businesses, first broke ground on a Web-based operational BI initiative back in 1998, it had revenue of $284 million. Seven years later, its annual topline approaches the $1 billion mark, it handles the HR of some 86,000 employees working for 4,800 businesses, and it can hardly be described as a mid-size company.

While it would be silly to attribute that explosive growth to BI alone, Administaff s early roll-out of reporting and analytics tools certainly played a crucial role. For years BI vendors have trumpeted the need to bring business intelligence to the masses. Long deployed by executives to tease out strategic corporate trends, BI capabilities have slowly trickled down to lower-level employees, to those workers charged with actually conducting a company s business in the field. Such tools have been termed operational BI, and their implementation has become common among large companies with vast resources and enormous IT departments. To be fair, however, there are indications that BI s to-the-masses trend has been a bit overplayed. According to a report published this summer by The Data Warehouse Institute TDWI-, only 18 percent of potential BI users in any given organization are using BI tools, a percentage that seems to suggest a dearth of operational BI. In any case, vendors are very much attempting to sell such software. Says Wayne Eckerson, director of research at TDWI: They re like oil companies that have tapped all their oil fields. They re prospecting for new markets. Especially as Web-based technology has grown more robust, one of the new markets that BI vendors have begun targeting is the middle tier: those small and medium-size companies once believed to be far too unsophisticated to handle this kind of software. It is now considered by many vendors to be a faster growing market than the enterprise sector. A few months ago, for instance, Business Objects came out with a new operational BI initiative, and it has aimed much of its push at small business and medium-size companies.- Administaff and its success represent the leading edge of this trend - an example of an early adopter that has outgrown its mid-size roots. Nonetheless, its experience, along with that of other companies striving to give employees a clearer understanding of their jobs, demonstrate both the benefits and potential pitfalls smaller organizations face when attempting to introduce operational BI. Source and full article: ie.bizintelligencepipeline.coma>