i.deeds Blog

Self-service BI: a revolution in business intelligence

BI self service

Traditional Business Intelligence (BI) increasingly seems to be giving way to self-service BI (SSBI). This makes users less dependent on the IT department and enables them to obtain information from various data sources independently. Or is there a catch? i.deeds shows you around in the world of self-service BI.

Technological progress doesn’t stop, which means that employees within a company are ever more closely connected and can use IT applications more easily than, say, ten years ago. So users don’t need to call on the IT department as often. Meanwhile, however, traditional Business Intelligence, which is generally a complex and comprehensive affair, remains very dependent on the IT department. Consequently, there is an increasing demand from business users to be able to obtain relevant information from various data sources independently, easily and flexibly, without having to call on IT. This has led to self-service BI, a major (r)evolution in BI that enables business users to tackle analysis and data discovery themselves in a user-friendly supervised way.

A number of new and previously existing players on the market are using this new set of tools in an effort to move away from traditional BI. They are forcing conventional BI software houses to get in on this new trend and integrate self-service-solutions within their existing portfolio.

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What is self-service BI? Business data are assuming gigantic proportions. Thanks to self-service BI this data flow can be accessed in a structured manner and tools are available to answer any questions. Self-service BI typically has a number of features to distinguish it from traditional BI:

  • Visual: attractive visualisations in line with the latest design trends are used to present the data transparently and clearly.
  • Interactive: click through and filter by clicking directly on the interactive visualisations or making selections.
  • Intuitive: these tools tend to be very user-friendly, making them accessible to everyone. The applications assist users to design their own reports and dashboardse
  • Intelligent: techniques such as Machine Learning, whereby the application learns independently by analysing historical data, help users obtain insights and make predictive analyses.
  • Personal: everyone can develop reports and dashboards themselves and supplement them with personal details.
  • Mobile & ad hoc: because the applications are generally also available on mobile devices, you can conjure up the dashboards and reports anytime anywhere.

All these features serve one purpose: to make information available in a simple way, within a controlled environment and for diverse types of users.

Our experience with self-service BI

i.deeds emphasises the importance of a data warehouse, as this ensures that employees can work in a secure, controlled environment. If the data of a DWH are supplemented by personal external data within a self-service-tool, the correctness of these data cannot be guaranteed. In addition, self-service BI cannot be used as a one-tool-fits-all: not all questions can be solved using a self-service tool. Traditional BI solutions certainly still have their usefulness – for example where the distribution of reports, multilingualism, strict control or audit are important. A company that doesn’t have these requirements, however, can start using self-service BI right away.

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