Business Intelligence Software Buyer Report – 2014

By: on April 16, 2014

At Software Advice, we speak to prospective buyers from thousands of companies looking for business intelligence software, giving us unrivaled insight into buyers’ reasons for seeking new BI software solutions. We recently analyzed a sample of these interactions taken from over the last two years. This report outlines the trends we uncovered.

Key Findings

  1. More than 60 percent of prospective BI software buyers are not IT professionals, instead listing job titles that correspond with business professionals.
  2. Almost half of all prospective buyers are looking for BI software in order to better visualize their data. Similarly, the most-requested BI tools among buyers are dashboards and scorecards.
  3. All but a small fraction of prospective BI software buyers want integrated suites, but remain unsure of a deployment model.

Broken down by job title, more than 60 percent of the prospective BI buyers we spoke to were not, in fact, IT professionals—instead, they listed such roles as financial officer, operations manager or marketing executive, to name a few. Just 37 percent of buyers were IT professionals, serving in either Chief Information Officer or IT managerial functions.

These findings are in line with a 2013 report from Gartner, stating that 2014 would “be a critical year in which the task of making ‘hard types of analysis easy’ for an expanded set of users… will continue to dominate BI market requirements.” There is clearly a growing demand among business professionals to not only harness insights gleaned through BI software, but to do so without tasking the IT department.

Prospective Buyers by Job Title

Prospective Buyers by Job Title

Better Data Viz Sought in New Business Intelligence Software

Regardless of whether the organization was evaluating BI software for the first time or replacing an existing system, nearly 40 percent of buyers we spoke to were evaluating software because they wanted to better visualize the data they were collecting. 

Another 25 percent were either looking for an update to existing software, or had never implemented a BI system before. Still others were looking for ways to automate and unify a previously scattered system of data collection.

“We want to implement a BI tool that can pull data from our existing systems into easily visible dashboards,” one buyer told us, in what was a relatively standard response. “We want to pull data from our SQL server, Microsoft Dynamics, SharePoint and Excel, and we want a strong visualization tool.”

Top Reasons for Buying New BI Software

top reasons for buying BI software

Buyers Prefer Integrated Suites, Split on Deployment

Ninety-five percent of the prospective BI software buyers we spoke to were only interested in evaluating an integrated suite—meaning, a single BI system that houses multiple tools (e.g., dashboards and scorecards and ad-hoc reporting) all in one place. In fact, less than 4 percent of organizations said they wanted one “best-of-breed” solution—that is, a single BI application, such as one just for ad-hoc reporting—and only 1 percent wanted multiple best-of-breed applications. 

Surprisingly, more than 84 percent of the people we sampled had not yet made a decision on a deployment model. Among those who had, however, 66 percent preferred an on-premise solution (hosted on their own servers) to a cloud-based one (hosted on the Web).

Buyers’ Integration Requirements

integration requirements

Deployment Preferences Among Buyers

deployment preferences

Dashboards and Scorecards Top List of Desired Tools

Among both integrated suite and best-of-breed buyers, dashboards and scorecards were the most sought-after BI tools. This category topped the list for all of the companies evaluating best-of-breed solutions, and all but two of the companies evaluating integrated suites.

Query and report writing was the second-most popular category of tools among both types of buyers. In fact, 82 percent of integrated-suite buyers expressed interest in including query and report writing as one of their tools.

While best-of-breed buyers were only looking for dashboards and scorecards or query and report writing tools, integrated-suite buyers expressed interest in several more. In order of preference, they also sought data warehousing, extract, transform and load (ETL) and online analytical processing (OLAP) tools. Data mining and predictive analytics made up the least-required category, and was only requested by 6 percent of integrated-suite buyers.

Best-of-Breed Buyers’ Top-Requested Tools

Integrated Suite Buyers’ Top-Requested Tools

integrated suite top-requested tools

Customizable Dashboard Tops List of Most-Desired Features

When asked about which features they wanted most in their new BI system, prospective buyers mentioned customizable dashboards, user-friendly interfaces and data storage capabilities most often. In fact, more than 75 percent of prospective buyers wanted at least one of these features. Secondarily, many organizations sought a solution that could integrate with analytical applications, such as OLAP or a forecasting tool.

Top-Requested BI Software Features

Most Buyers in Health Care and Manufacturing Industries

A combined 25 percent of all prospective BI software buyers were from organizations in the healthcare and manufacturing industries. Software, government, banking/finance and retail each constituted between 5 and 10 percent of prospective-buyer industries. However, the majority of buyers (46 percent) were from disparate industries, with the “Other’ category encompassing such fields as nonprofit, education and distribution—each of which accounted for 5 percent or less of all prospective-buyers industries.

Prospective BI Software Buyers by Industry

buyers by industry

Most Buyers From Midsize and Large Organizations

Thirty-six percent of companies included in our sample had between 101 and 500 employees, making mid-sized organizations the leading segment. Larger organizations came in second: companies with over 1,001 employees made up 30 percent, and companies with between 501 and 1,000 employees made up just over 10 percent of the sample. Conversely, small businesses made up the smallest portion of the sample, as only 10 percent of prospective BI software buyers had 50 or fewer employees.

Buyer Size by Number of Employees

number of employees

Most Buyers’ Current Software Doesn’t Address BI Needs

Nearly 35 percent of prospective BI software buyers included in the sample were using a CRM or an ERP system to gather, track and report on data, and were looking for a new solution to better analyze the data they were collecting.

Twenty percent of prospective buyers, on the other hand, were still using Excel spreadsheets to compile and store their data. And nearly 20 percent of buyers in the sample said they weren’t using BI software at all.

Another 20 percent were using BI software that was either outdated or unsatisfactory for what their business needed.

Finally, 8 percent of the sample said they were using manual methods for compiling data about their business, and were now looking to automate that process with BI software.

Prospective Buyers’ Current Methods

current methods


The detailed methodology for this report can be found here.

If you’d like to further discuss this report or obtain access to any of the charts above, feel free to contact me at

You may also like:

Traditional vs. Modern BI Buyer Trends Report

How SMBs Use Operational and BI Dashboards

Business Intelligence Software Buyer Report – 2015

Compare Business Intelligence and Analytics Software