Let's Face It. BI Sucks.

There are some things that suck.

Three things that suck when they happen to you.

When things suck, we find a solution. Every solution creates new problems. We solve these problems with a new solution. Which brings new problems. We call this “progress”.

The Past

Business Intelligence was born in the 1980’s. It was a huge step forward from cobol-based MIS reports on mainframes. Though it has served us well for thirty years, BI has now become the problem.

The Present

It’s time to admit that “BI sucks” and start looking for something better. Here’s why we think BI sucks:

  1. We spend a lot of money on BI.
    Billions of dollars are spent on BI technology every year. It’s a $14.4 billion market annually according to a 2013 Gartner report. That’s more than the GDP of half the world’s countries. The top 5 vendors make about $10B selling their BI wares. So clearly, selling BI is a great business (at least for those five companies).

    Over time, the world has spent over $100 billion on BI. For that kind of money, we could have funded the Apollo program, or paid for all the hours workers spent on fantasy football over the last seven years.

  2. We spend even more to make BI.
    That $14.4 billion is just 25% of the total cost of BI. The other 75% goes to consulting and implementation to get BI solutions in place. Over $50 Billion was spent in 2012 on professional services to implement BI.

    Why so much money? It’s complicated. Meaning that with BI, a simple question can become much more complex than it appears.


    A son asking his mother what's for dinner.



    1. People still can’t access their company data.
      With so much being spent, you’d think companies would be happy with their BI solutions. But here’s the rub: only 24% of employees use these tools to get the data they need to do their jobs.

      And the other 76%? They spend days and weeks in a reporting queue.

    People holding signs that say "we want data", "we are the 76%", and "data-less and proud".


    1. Users don’t get what they want.
      When their number finally comes up, business users don’t get what they really want. They may have some vague report requirements in mind, but IT needs them to be more specific.

      In 1995 you might use a travel agent to book a family vacation. Today you use Booking.com and Airbnb. Why use a middleman, when you can book it yourself? Without the communication bottlenecks and having to explain what you want. And the multiple rounds of back-and-forth revision.

    The Future

    At ThoughtSpot, we’re attempting to solve these problems with a different approach. We won’t be the only one - but we believe that we can play a significant role in moving the industry forward.

    So instead of being inspired by BI (which sucks), here are some things that don’t suck*:

    1. LEGO Mindstorms EV3

    2. Wolfram|Alpha

    3. The Oatmeal

    4. Tesla Motors

    5. 3D Printers

    6. Pinterest

    7. Scratch

    8. Spotify

    9. Airbnb

    10. Quora

    * Disclaimer: All lists of awesomeness subject to change, as things evolve.

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