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Business intelligence software should not be allowed to become ‘shelfware’


This short guide outlines what ‘shelfware’ is, how it hampers your business growth, and how to stop this unused business intelligence software undermining your productivity, bottom line and profit margins.

Today we live in the age of technology. Search engines and social media know almost more about us than our friends and family. Companies in particular use personal data to influence our decisions about travel routes, clothing or purchases. Internet of Things, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, Deep Learning, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are terms that have become part of our lives.

Targeted use of data is now indispensable

In contrast to larger companies, there is still a lot of room for improvement in many smaller companies when it comes to integrating BI into their business processes. This is mostly due to a lack of business intelligence knowledge and failure to see the potential effects on ROI. But this will change over the years as the influence of BI in small companies will increase dramatically.

Companies benefit from information, which is available in various databases. Through business intelligence, various tools and methods, relevant information can be transmitted to executives who can use it to achieve success. “Knowledge is power”, but with a large amount of information, a specialist is needed to sort out the high-quality data.

It is therefore not surprising that the demand for business intelligence software specialists and analysts has grown significantly. Smaller companies are also increasingly investing in BI specialists and software. However, there is the risk of letting it become wasted ‘shelfware’.

How does business intelligence software become ‘shelfware’?

Shelfware is a term used in the technology industry for business intelligence software that is purchased and then rarely ever, if at all, used. While a company may have the best of intentions for the business intelligence tools initially, somewhere down the line, the momentum decreases or there is no longer use for it as plans across the business change.

Research suggests that a significant portion of new tech investment in business intelligence tools is being wasted. On average, each computer in every office around the world has about $259 of unnecessary, unwanted, or unused software on it. According to a new study, businesses wasted a staggering $30 billion (yes billion!) on unused software over the course of a four-year study. £5.7 billion of this sum, is accredited to the cost of shelfware across UK businesses – an average of approximately £159 per work desktop user.

A recent discussion with MHR Analytics, a provider of financial performance management and business intelligence consultancy, found that only 4% of businesses are actively using every software licence purchased; with 20% of respondents stating that more than a quarter of their business intelligence software is lying idle on a shelf.
This suggests that powerful tools are being ignored or under-utilised which means that businesses are missing out on a valuable stream of insights despite software being present within the system.

How can using business intelligence tools help?

64% of business leaders who use powerful Business Intelligence software, like the one offered by, claim it has given them a competitive edge. Not only does it help businesses to make sense of data, enabling faster, more confident decision-making, but it also offers quick access into performance insights, data patterns and relationships. This detailed level of data gives further clarity and allows enables businesses to create more accurate reports. This is a clear indicator, that not using our purchases BI software could be directly stunting the growth of your business.

Nick Felton, Senior Vice President at MHR Analytics, said: “Business intelligence tools that remains in the cupboard as ‘shelfware’ is a major waste of resources and business potential. Business intelligence software makes decision-making 5 times faster through revelatory insights that enable the transformation of an organisation. IT leaders need software and implementation partners who understand their needs better, match their exact requirements and are ready to provide the right level of training.”

5 reasons business intelligence is indispensable

1. Business intelligence increases productivity

Data collection within organizations is often done manually: the information is collected, analyzed and summarized and explained in a report for specific employees of the company. However, this is very time-consuming, especially for smaller companies, because they usually only have a lower staffing capacity. To save time and resources, there are helpful BI tools that make it a lot easier to call up data and create reports. This means that employees can concentrate on their essential tasks.

2. Business intelligence supports companies in achieving their goals

It is not uncommon for companies to set goals for projects that are feasible and ultimately not realized. The BI specialist plays an important role here. It ensures that the required information can be tracked and made available to those who need to process this data at a specific point in time. BI supports the company in achieving its goals. It establishes the right reference points, avoids mistakes that have often occurred in the past and ensures that the projects are successful.

3. Business intelligence has a positive effect on the ROI

With better strategic alignment, faster reporting, lower operating costs and / or overheads, unrestricted data access, and better quality of information, BI can have a positive effect on the company’s ROI. In addition, decisions made based on fact and accurate data are less financially risky.

4. Business intelligence can be used to collect information and make forecasts

One of the most important advantages of BI is that you are able to identify certain data, take note of it, and act on it accordingly.
For example, current trends in consumer behavior can be analyzed. Once a company understands what its customers are buying, it can use that information to its advantage. In this case, to develop products that are precisely tailored to market demand.

5. Processes can be optimized with business intelligence

When it comes to optimizing the company’s various processes, business intelligence is indispensable. Since all data is rationalized, the processes are more transparent and elements / areas with need for improvement can be easily identified.


If you are a business owner who is concerned about Shelfware within your organisation, it could be time to check exactly what is and isn’t being utilised. If you have any unused business intelligence software, now is the time to implement it within your business strategy to get the upper hand on competitors and stand out against the crowd.

About Business Woman Media

Our women don’t want to settle for anything but the best. They understand that success is a journey involving personal growth, savvy optimism and the tenacity to be the best. We believe in pragmatism, having fun, hard-work and sharing inspiration. LinkedIn

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