Most BI Buyers Pleased, Despite Complaints

Most business intelligence software customers would recommend their software to others, but contracts, integration, and tech support are sore points, survey shows.
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As the Gartner Business Intelligence Summit gets underway this week in Las Vegas, attendees shopping for new software should closely examine licensing terms, integration capabilities and tech support. These are among the biggest complaints about BI software revealed in a new "Wisdom of Crowds Business Intelligence Market Study" released last week.

Based on interviews with 457 business and IT professionals, the survey found that BI buyers and users are generally pleased with their software, so much so that 92% would recommend the products they use to others. Nonetheless, there are consistent complaints.

"The things that are working for them are the products themselves and the product knowledge and professionalism of the vendors," said report author Howard Dresner in an interview." What's not working are terms and conditions of contracts and follow-up after the sale."

The survey found that respondents were generally pleased with the sophistication, scalability, and reliability of their software, said Dresner, the former Gartner BI analyst turned head of independent firm Dresner Advisory Services. The biggest complaints, in order, were difficulty integrating with third-party technologies, shoddy online documentation and forums, and difficulty migrating to new versions.

"The vendors talk a good game about integration, but the consumers of the technology either know better or they don't understand how to use the integration features," Dresner said, surmising that application integration and third-party-schema integration are the likely weaknesses.

On migration, Dresner said changes in user interfaces and data structures from one major software version to the next cause the biggest problems. "You always hear war stories wherein companies have to migrate reports and queries, run both systems in parallel for a time and then train users on the new version," Dresner explained.

The top tech support complaint was time needed to resolve problems followed by continuity of personnel. "Those service-ticket systems are only as good as the first service rep who documents a problem," Dresner said. "The rep on the second call may have access to notes in the system, but customers still feel as if they're starting over."

As for the 8% of respondents who would not recommend their current product to others, Dresner says the feedback consistently maps to specific products that had particularly poor customer feedback on terms and conditions and software reliability. The study specifically rates 15 leading products against 32 criteria. The detailed, vendor-specific results are available only in the full report. Dresner is slated to deliver a keynote address at this week's Gartner BI Summit.