Why do Business Intelligence Platforms have Low User Adoption Rates?

G2 Crowd has recently gathered implementability data for business intelligence platforms to assist buyers who are looking for quick and easy implementations of business intelligence products. To generate these Implementation scores, we factor in data from review questions specifically related to the success of a company’s implementation of a product. One such factor is user adoption rate, which was found to be low throughout the category. The average user adoption rate was 48.6 percent, meaning, on average, less than half of the employees at companies using business intelligence platforms were willing to use such tools for day-to-day work.

Of the 17 products included in the Business Intelligence Platforms Fall 2016 Implementation Index (which uses data from reviews* through August 15, 2016), here are the products with the highest and lowest user adoption rates:

Highest User Adoption Rates
Style Intelligence
Looker and GoodData
Lowest User Adoption Rates
TIBCO Spotfire
SAS Business Intelligence
Domo and MicroStrategy

Possible Reasons for Lack of User Adoption

With the influx of data-driven businesses it was surprising that more employees did not take advantage of business intelligence tools. A few hypotheses were determined as to why there is not more widespread usage of business intelligence platforms, in the hope that G2 Crowd reviews and data would reveal an answer.

Ease of use

Often these tools can be complicated products that require a good amount of tech savviness. However, user data did not consistently prove that ease of use was the main deterrent for the adoption of these platforms. According to the Business Intelligence Platforms Summer 2016 Grid℠ Report, SAS Business Intelligence and MicroStrategy––two of the four products with the lowest user adoption rates in the category––both received below-average satisfaction ratings for ease of use. However, TIBCO Spotfire and Domo––the other two products with the lowest user adoption scores––both received above-average satisfaction ratings for “ease of use,” contradicting the initial hypothesis. The short-answer portion of reviews could still show there was any direct evidence that usability was hurting user adoption. Again, there were inconsistencies:

It is also still cumbersome for an average employee to navigate Looker without help from someone well versed in Looker. Nonetheless, I’ve been surprised at how quickly adoption throughout the org and Looker truly as “the source of truth” is available.Bridge Mellichamp, reviewer of Looker (read the full review)

According to this review, even when a product is hard to use for the average employee, it is still widely adopted. While ease of use played a role in customer satisfaction, it was not the primary force behind low user adoption in this instance.

Not Meeting Requirements

Did these business intelligence platforms fail to meet the user’s requirements? What if companies are looking for data that these tools are unable to provide? According to the most recent Business Intelligence Platforms Grid℠ Report, Domo, MicroStrategy and SAS Business Intelligence all had average or above-average satisfaction ratings for the “meets requirements” metric. Again, statistics make it apparent that meeting user requirements could be a factor, but is not the main problem behind low user adoption.

Vendor Assistance

Finally, could a lack of vendor assistance, both with setup and training, be the downfall of user adoption. Some user feedback that provided evidence to support that hypothesis.

Ensure you have sufficient skills or ample support before you start otherwise adoption will be very slow.Russel Clarke, reviewer of MicroStrategy (read the full review)

This seemed to be on the right track. However, again, the Business Intelligence Platforms Grid℠ Report contradicted this sentiment. The category average for “ease of doing business” was the highest for any satisfaction metric in the category, and “quality of support” was not far behind. Products with low user adoption had mixed satisfaction scores for both of these metrics. Again, this data inconsistency proved that vendor assistance is not the root cause of low user adoption. Alas, all three theories were shot down by data.

While there are no clear data points that prove a cause in the low user adoption rates, we can speculate on the immeasurables. It is possible that users simply dislike the need to use an additional tool every day. Employees are already using a large variety of software, and adding a business intelligence platform may be too much, especially when users may have a familiar process in place for finding necessary data.

Simply, business intelligence platforms may be inconvenient. Users also may not know the benefits these tools can provide. Going one step further, users might not know the value of the data that they have readily available to them because they have yet to take advantage of a business intelligence platform. Either way, businesses are more frequently making data-driven decisions and continuing to invest in these products with no signs of slowing down any time soon. Perhaps user adoption is just behind the curve.

*Data included in the Business Intelligence Platforms Fall 2016 Implementation Index comes from real-user reviews gathered through August 15, 2016. Products included in the report received 10 or more reviews and 5 or more responses to implementation-related review questions.