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 do 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.

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 to 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.

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