Understanding the cost of Business Intelligence

Understanding the cost of Business Intelligence

By Severina Yordanova

August 25, 2022

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.

what is the cost Of Business Intelligence
understanding the cost of business intelligence

How much does BI cost? 

To answer this question, we need to look deeper into the total cost of ownership (TCO), which includes not only the purchase costs of the business intelligence solutions but also the costs of operating and maintaining its infrastructure.

Licensing costs

The first costs that you should consider are, of course, the licenses themselves. Decide how many licenses you will need in the beginning. You will most likely have to upgrade later when your BI efforts expand, which all of the major software providers allow to do effortlessly.  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. Generally, the licensing costs vary widely between the BI companies. For example, Qlik Sense Business (Qlik-hosted) costs $30 per user per month.


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 secure information 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

Chances are, you would rely on an external vendor to properly implement the new tool. The vendor will also help you with system configuration and reporting setup. Typically, the project will go through the installation, development, testing, and deployment stages.

Report/Dashboard design costs

Ultimately BI solutions help you deliver information in a consumable way, like visual 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 will probably either invest in training/hiring data experts to create your reports or depend on external consultants. There is more to a dashboard than designing the visuals. You need to make sure that the data sources are correct, the input is accurate, and the dashboards are usable, which requires either qualified people or training.

Training costs

To increase the adoption and higher ROI of the BI implementation, your team (or at least someone on the team) will have to go through training and become a power user. Those people can then educate the rest of the team on the useful functionalities and self-service capabilities if you decide to use them. We also suggest providing data literacy training for your teams.

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