The TDWI BI Maturity Model

As most industry experts tout the ongoing nature of Business Intelligence projects, there comes a natural desire to rate the status quo BI in an organization. However, as wide and diverse a Business Intelligence implementation is in terms of the tools, processes, people and culture invovled, it does need an overall benchmarking to assess future directions by setting goals and understanding the shortcomings of current offerings. To measure the ‘Maturity’ of an implementation, several independent organizations and certain vendors have developed their own assessment models. Among such publicly available models, the TDWI’s BI Maturity Model is a top down, vision oriented model which organizations can use to develop a road map. The model is a generalization of multiple BI projects and implementations indicating certain patterns of behavior based on five different aspects:

1. The BI Adoption

2. Organization Control and Processes

3. Usage

4. Insight

5. ROI

Such a maturity assessment is important in terms of gauging the value of the business intelligence inititave. For systems integrators and consultants its serves as a guide to set project milestones, deliverables and management and for C-Level execs to understand a step by step guide to the ROI from BI investments.

The TDWI BI Maturity Model offers a framework to adjudge the current standings of a BI implementation in terms of its adoption, control, usage, insights and finally the ROI.

An associated poster is presented here taken from Timo Elliott’s blog:

Each graph has its own target audience within the stakeholders and serves as a guide to a particular agenda. The management might be more interested in the last graph, the business value and ROI, whereas the business analysts might be more interested in the Insight whil the program implementers will focus on the adoption and usage as their primary concerns.

The Gaps:

While advocating the value of Business Intelligence, it is imperative for organizations to understand the gaps which obstruct their progress, either caused by the management or by the prevailing culture of the organization. It is the crossing of these gaps that defines the change management agenda for the program.

In the BI adoption cycle, the gaps define the points of stagnation which requires consultancy and a self motivated drive by the organization to cross it. But in other cycles the gaps indicate paradigm shift, state transition and time to reap the rewards of the investment. For the Local control vs enterprise standards, this indicates a well placed Business Process Management occasionally coupled by Data Governance initiatives which take over adhoc factors within organizations. In the first gap called the gulf, it is the individuals who feel empowered mostly by self-service BI capabilities but it kind of stops at that until and unless the organization throttles to move towards the second gap, called the chasm where it finds a mutual agreement between the individual entities of control and the corporate governance and management practices which leads to organization enlightenment, becoming a ‘sage’.

For the BI Usage, before the gulf, the organization is equipped with its first batch of power users which identifies freedom from their IT department to provide insight. But here is where the gap occurs. A group of established power users indirectly in control of the BI program lets the organization stagnate and miss out the ability to truly empower all their business users and not just power users. Although an ideal utopian state to accomplish, but it has been the approach of wise men, there is no end to gaining wisdom and becoming a sage. To overcome this chasm, organizations further enhance their incentive systems for business users while providing the next layer of BI services: the customization capabilities to supplement self-service. Here tools become pervasive to the organization staff and their throughput increases.

For BI Insight, the phases between chasms indicates the shortening of the decision making process. Once the second and final chasm is crossed, organizations gain the capability of automated decsison making and a system which supplements business users with true decision support.

Programs such as BI require a dedicated sponsorship from the management to prosper and when they do take interest, expectations of ROI might supersede their actual values. This is partly caused by phenomena well explained in Gartner’s Hype Cycle.

This poster aids the BI teams to better explain the ROI expectations to the management in charge of the programs. What you sow, so shall you reap system applies to BI programs as well.

The model is well explained by the author Wayne Eckerson and certain blogs supplement the material as well.

Some notable links:

1. TDWI BI Maturity Assessment Tool

2. You can’t get there from here!

3. Hows your BI Maturity

  1. Very interesting blog! Thanks for the link to Data Mining Research. By the way, could you please change from to Thanks!

  2. Techieindex is releasing a technology blog index and printed version of blog. We would like to include your blog also to this online & printed version of BLOG. Can you please send me your contact details?


    • Mike
    • March 2nd, 2009

    Just passing by.Btw, you website have great content!

    Don’t pay for your electricity any longer…
    Instead, the power company will pay YOU!

    • Shubho Ghosal
    • October 7th, 2009


    I liked your blogs. I would like to see more insights on data mining in particular, using real examples. I think there is a need to explain predictive analytics to the world, in simple terms. It is a closely guarded secret.


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