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Owning and maintaining any embedded BI solution is going to carry hidden costs, and you cannot rely on the BI vendor to give you a total cost of ownership (TCO) estimate because there are simply too many variables to consider. Your total cost of ownership for business intelligence depends on your business needs as they relate to BI, so before assessing a solution’s sticker price, consider how its features and contract agreement will affect the other cost drivers below.

In order to anticipate BI-related costs, it’s important to estimate annual expenses for the lifespan of the contract. Balancing projected new revenue against increased overhead is crucial to calculating and monitoring the total cost of ownership for business intelligence.

Cost Drivers of Embedded BI


If the BI license under consideration charges by the number of registered users, the number of installations, or some other scale-related variable, then your company’s size should be measured in these terms and factored into the total cost of ownership for business intelligence. Exago’s licensing operates on a flat-rate model, so size becomes a far less limiting factor in that case.


You may want to factor in your database software license, especially if you expect those costs to change as a result of your BI integration. Some companies also take BI licensing as an opportunity to invest in integration platforms like Dell Boomi, which can help coordinate integrations as well as facilitate master data management.


Using the vendor-suggested specs, how many servers do you expect you will need in order to accommodate current traffic? Projected traffic? Consider also how your databases will scale over time and whether costs will likely accrue there as well.


Whether your company has five employees or five hundred, you will need one or more people to take on the following responsibilities:

Support. These individuals will work to troubleshoot issues that arise for end users and liaise with the BI vendor’s support staff regarding more advanced cases.

User Training. Healthy adoption rates hinge on effective user training, so ask your BI provider what resources they can provide to get your staff up to speed. (Exago BI licenses include free training!)

Business Analytics. Someone will have to design and build your application’s canned reports and dashboards so that basic end users can run them and advanced users can use them as a starting point for ad hoc analytics.

Data Management. This person or team is responsible for seeing data through its lifecycle as it moves through the organization, ensuring that it is properly organized, maintained, and quality-controlled.

Database and Network Administration. These individuals handle capacity planning, configuration, security, backup/recovery protocols, and other elements of the database and network.

Development. In many cases, developers play a key role in integrating the host application with the embedded BI solution, customizing the solution, leveraging coded extensibility features, and troubleshooting any issues as they arise.

Taking these associated costs into account as you calculate the total cost of ownership for business intelligence will give you a more realistic picture as you assess the feasibility and economy of the embedded BI solutions you are evaluating. If you discover a cost we neglected to mention, let us know in the comments!

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