BI Trends

The Rise of Agile BI and the SMB Revolution

By Mark Lockwood
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Historically, SMBs were largely excluded from the benefits of business intelligence. The heavy, expensive full-stack BI solutions designed for the Fortune 500 were completely misaligned with the needs, and available resources, of the SMB market.

Times have changed. In fact, according to Gartner’s latest report, the fastest-growing segment of the BI market into 2016 is – you guessed it – small and medium-sized businesses.

Here are the two market trends that broke the big BI business model:

1) Widespread demand for accessible, consumer-driven BI

Even in large enterprises, a new tech-savvy generation of business users is demanding access to BI, but won’t tolerate the quality of legacy tools. These users are demanding the same data-enriched environment in the enterprise that they’ve experienced as consumers for years with tools from companies like Netflix and Google.

As a broader range of users demand access to BI tools, software vendors have developed intuitive self-service BI platforms. As anticipated, large enterprises have seen increased organizational adoption and reduced burdens on IT departments. Perhaps more importantly, these new accessible BI platforms provided the burgeoning SMB market with tools perfectly aligned with their diverse user demographics and scarce IT resources.

2) Escalating business complexity and BI scalability requirements

Many companies are straining to keep their BI tools relevant in a fast-paced, complex digital environment. The value of a BI solution is intrinsically dependent on its flexibility to connect to relevant data and drive robust analyses and insights. With the exponential growth of data sources and users, the heavy, static BI implementations brought back dark memories of the ERP implementations of the 1990s and 2000s – ballooning costs and broken promises.

As a result, larger companies have invested heavily in agile business intelligence platforms that scale efficiently with complex organizational needs at a fraction of the cost and time. Meanwhile, the lower implementation costs and fast time-to-value of these BI tools are also ideally suited for the unmet needs of a fast-paced but cost-constrained SMB market.

What does the future hold?

While all companies stand to benefit from more accessible and agile BI platforms, these platforms open up new opportunities in an underserved SMB market. By aligning the organizational dexterity of small and medium-sized businesses with agile BI platforms, the potential for rapid prototyping and innovation skyrockets. In fact, well-known professors from Harvard Business School have built entire careers around the theory that SMBs, armed with robust BI capabilities, are able to outmaneuver larger competitors in rapidly evolving markets. For SMBs, the opportunity to increase operational transparency and improve organizational performance with a new generation of BI platforms has never been more promising.


Originally published June 18, 2014; updated on August 9th, 2017

About the Author

Mark is the Director of Customer Account Management at Logi Analytics, where he is responsible for customer success, market development, sales enablement and thought leadership. Prior to joining Logi, Mark was a Lead Strategy Associate at the management consulting firm Booz & Company, where he helped create the firm’s first Big Data service offering. Mark earned a dual degree in Industrial Engineering and Economics from Northwestern University and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.