If you search on “marketing dashboards,” it is common to see business intelligence (BI) vendors among those advertising for that keyword.  This would make one think that BI tools are commonly used to implement marketing dashboards.  Based on a recent survey we conducted with business professionals who are involved in the digital marketing efforts at their company, this does not seem to be the case.  In our survey, only 11% of the respondents said that their organization uses BI tools to implement their marketing dashboards.  [The same survey showed that 63% use Microsoft Excel for their marketing dashboards.]

We are not surprised by the small percentage of organizations who use BI tools for their marketing dashboards.  As we talk to organizations about their marketing analytics needs, we hear about the apprehensions they have in trying to implement BI-based marketing dashboards.  Here are the common themes:

  • Time Consuming Implementation – It is commonly known that the implementation of a BI/data warehouse project can take a long time. But we have been hearing that even “quick and dirty” projects take a good chunk of time since they require a number of time consuming steps – understanding end user needs, designing the database, extracting the data, etc.
  • Costly – Organizations consistently take into account two elements when it comes to cost. First is the cost of the software. BI tools have historically not been cheap. Second is the cost of resources. Expensive IT professionals are usually needed to develop and maintain these type of implementations.
  • Limited Support for Digital Marketing Services – Unlike traditional BI implementations where the data sources are primarily internal databases, many of the data sources in today’s digital marketing world are external services (e.g., Google Analytics, Google AdWords, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and there are a lot of them. Most BI solutions don’t just focus on the marketing domain and we hear that their support for external marketing services is limited.

With these issues as a backdrop, it is not surprising that most organizations opt to use Microsoft Excel for their initial implementation of marketing dashboards, despite its challenges, rather than going down the BI route.  They feel it doesn’t make sense to go through an expensive process that may not even deliver all of the capabilities they need.

Fortunately, new solutions are being developed (like the one we are building at Origami Logic) that focus exclusively on the marketing domain.  These solutions provide “out of the box” capabilities that reduce the cost and time of implementation, and have the completeness of functionality needed by digital marketers.

Does your organization use BI tools for marketing dashboards?  If so, what challenges do you face?  Please give us some feedback in the comments section below.