BI in the Cloud: The Theoretical Adoption

I recently received an invitation to a webinar named “Your checklist for Cloud BI success!” from Yellowfin, a BI vendor from down under, headquartered in Melbourne. In the announcement, I read

By the end of 2014, Gartner expects almost 50% of organizations to deliver their mission-critical BI via the cloud.

Say what? The end of 2014 is not even a whole month away, and by that time, half of all organizations are using BI in the cloud, even for what’s considered mission-critical decisions? No way, José.  I mean, this incredible adoption of BI in the cloud must either have happened in a parallel universe, or something is totally off with that statement. I know my former colleagues at Gartner well, and I doubt that anyone dealing with BI trends would come up with such a prediction.

I asked the folks at Yellowfin for some clarification as to where they found that statement, and received the following references, two media outlets and one blog:

After scanning those texts, I came across related sections discussing BI in the cloud. In the ComputerWorld article, I read:

Researchers at Gartner say that 2014 may be the tipping point for cloud BI. In each of the last four years, around 30% of respondents to a Gartner survey said they’d run their mission-critical BI in the cloud. This year, however, nearly half — 45% — said they would adopt cloud BI.

The Brittenford blog says the same thing, word by word. Looks like the “blogger” just pulled that section from the CW article.

Researchers at Gartner say that 2014 may be the tipping point for cloud BI. In each of the last four years, around 30% of respondents to a Gartner survey said they’d run their mission-critical BI in the cloud. This year, however, nearly half (45 percent) said they would adopt cloud BI.

Marissa Tejada from the Midsize Insider also references the CW article, the message is the same.

In a recent ComputerWorld article, Gartner analysts revealed their insights on recent industry trends around the cloud and BI. Within the last four years, about 30 percent of firms preferred to run their mission-critical BI through cloud computing. That percentage is set to increase to 45 percent this year.

Wait a minute, those 30% or 45% from the first two references said they would adopt cloud BI. Which means they did not, or not yet. In the Midsize Insider article, those same percentages preferred cloud BI, which sounds as if they are already underway, which I really doubt.

Bottom line: Lots of companies consider cloud BI as an option. That’s it, no surprise there. Now, I personally could consider a lot of things, for example, base jumping from a skyscraper or putting a Hello Kitty tattoo on my forehead. Doesn’t mean I’ll do either. Same thing will be true for many of those organizations that said they’d consider cloud BI. They’ll never do it.

The much more interesting thing to know is obviously how many organizations have a significant (!) number of their user population consume BI via the cloud today. Still relatively few. According to the 2014 BARC BI Survey, which includes a breakdown of cloud BI adoption by vendor from over 2000 end-user respondents, only 10% of organizations use cloud BI at all. The percentage of total users is obviously even smaller than that.  If only the BI vendors with a large customer base would tell us what percentage of their BI revenue is actually coming from cloud BI subscriptions, because that would provide a good indication of adoption. I’m fairly sure that it is still in low single-digit percentages. So far, no vendor has objected.

Still, as for the Yellowfin statement, that started this whole investigation:

By the end of 2014, Gartner expects almost 50% of organizations to deliver their mission-critical BI via the cloud.

Maybe it’s just a simple misunderstanding, maybe it’s wishful thinking. In any case, it clearly distorts the facts, which isn’t helping anyone.

 

P.S.
Coincidentally, Yellowfin, a provider of cloud BI solutions, is leading the cloud BI adoption statistics by quite a margin. Get the whole BI Survey here.