Understanding the cost of Business Intelligence

When companies reach a certain growth level, they often start thinking about implementing more powerful analytics tools and start asking questions, such as: What is the cost of Business Intelligence? What ROI can we expect? What kind of internal resources we need to allocate? Although the actual cost of implementing a Business Intelligence project depends on various factors like the solution chosen, provider, project complexity, number of licenses, etc., we are going to guide you through the main components that you need to consider when estimating the cost of BI. Additionally, we are also going to discuss what can be the costs of not having BI.

The cost of Business Intelligence?

To answer this question of how much BI cost, we need to look deeper into the total cost of ownership (TCO), which includes not only the purchase costs of the BI solutions but also the cost to operate and maintain its infrastructure.

Licensing costs – the first costs that you should consider are, of course, the licenses themselves. You must decide on the number of licenses that you will need currently. However, keep in mind that it is highly possible to need to purchase extra licenses if your BI needs expand. Furthermore, leading vendors like Qlik, Tableau and Power BI offer different types of licenses ranging from per-session to per-database and most of them are subscription-based. If you are going to go for the cheaper or more expensive option really depends on your specific requirements. For instance, if you are going to have only a few users, maybe per-user will suit you best.

Hardware costs – hardware systems must be set up and provisioned. Often companies will need to invest in a database server with the appropriate disk subsystems required to support high-volume reads. In many cases, a secondary server must be used with the primary one to ensure recovery. Furthermore, depending on the interactivity level, the end-users require, a sufficient number of front-end web servers are required to shoulder the end-user load. Finally, the hardware infrastructure needs to be maintained continuously.

Installation and Implementation costs – to implement your BI tradition properly, you will often rely on an external vendor (in most cases, the software provider), which will add to the costs. Additionally, to the initial installation, they will help you with tasks, such as report building and system configuration. Typically, the project will go through installation, development, testing and deployment stages.

Report/Dashboard Design Costs – ultimately BI solutions deliver some form of data presentation, such as reports, dashboards, etc. Many self-service BI solutions provide enough tools for beginners to start creating their own simple dashboards. However, to use the full capabilities of the solution, you must often either invest in training/hiring data experts to create your reports or depend on external consultants. They can help you with collecting data from various data sources, designing, building and maintaining your dashboards as well as generating and distributing your reports.

Training Costs – no matter what solution you have chosen, you need to ensure that there are people who can use it. Therefore, to ensure a good adoption rate and proficiency, you need to train your team, who are going to use the new BI solution. You should also consider if you need to expand your team to meet your needs and what will be the length of the training program. Many of the modern BI solutions have well-developed self-service capabilities, which offer a high level of independence for the users. With proper training, even less tech-savvy users will be able to create and publish their own data visualizations and analyses easily.

Administration Costs – the administration of the new software can be assigned to your current IT team, or you can hire a new dedicate person/team. However, in both cases, they will need to complete specialized training to have a full understanding of the software’s administration and maintenance. In some cases, companies prefer to outsource the task and hire external consultants to help them manage the software and its accompanying tools.

Maintenance and Support costs – this will be a constantly ongoing process, concerning tasks such as building new reports and visualizations, adding new data sets, adjusting security settings, or performing software updates, etc. All this is essential to ensure you make the most of your investment. Depending on their needs and costs, companies prefer to outsource the tasks to third parties. Furthermore, if an issue arises, you need to ensure that the support can solve it efficiently. Be aware that some vendors may not offer support services or outsource them. In such cases, problems are often not resolved as quickly as the helpdesk frequently does not have enough product knowledge.

What are the costs of not having BI?

After reading through the different costs that you will need to bear to have a well-functioning BI solution, you may start to wonder if it is worth to embark on this journey at all. Well, think again. For businesses to be successful, they need when “reliable information” and create an infrastructure that ensures transparency and effective flow.

For instance, you probably have already invested in a CRM system or a Data warehouse and may believe that you get more than enough information out of them. However, these systems are not designed with profound analytics in mind and solely relying on them may cost you growth opportunities and lead to losing clients. An efficient and well-implemented Business Intelligence solution will provide you with a 360-degree view of your business and will give you insights, where it is the best to invest your resources. Besides, they will help you save costs, time and find new business opportunities. Furthermore, your business strategies will not be based on mere “gut feel” or “probabilities” but instead on data-driven decisions. With the right implementation methodology like Agile PM, the benefits that BI can bring you, in the long run, outweigh the costs tremendously.


To understand the real cost of implementing Business Intelligence, you need to consider not just the initial software license fees, but also any maintenance fees, hardware costs, and services for implementation. You should also compare the costs of keeping some of the activities, such as maintenance in-house vs. outsourcing them. Importantly, you must choose a trustworthy BI vendor who understands the specific needs of your industry in order to provide you with a good fit for your organization solution, which offers ready-to-use self-service for both technical and non-technical users. By comparison, a vendor trying to sell you just cheap licenses, but with many hidden costs such as paying extra for essential features, will end up costing you much more.

How B EYE Can Help You

The Business Intelligence industry has expanded exponentially in recent years and it is expected to continue growing. Relying on our proven track records in helping Fortune 500 companies, we at B EYE, can help you discover new opportunities and implement data-driven strategies. Our highly specialized, industry-based, end-to-end services let businesses evolve by assisting them in building optimal decision-making processes and achieving efficiency. Connect with us to find out how we can develop a program tailored to your specific needs.