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Why use self-service BI?

Business Intelligence self service

We explained earlier that traditional Business Intelligence (BI) seems to be giving way to self-service BI (SSBI), but that it cannot be used as a one-tool-fits-all. Nevertheless, it is still useful to integrate self-service BI within your company. This article clarifies why and how your business can benefit from it. 

Why use self-service BI?

BI provides insight into large data volumes. The IT department provides reliable data and a clear data structure (generally in the form of a data warehouse) and reports are drawn up together with the business department. Self-service BI aims to considerably speed up this process by giving end users the tools they need to create reports and dashboards themselves. The programs help import, convert and analyse the data and often analyse the structure of the data itself. In this way they aim to give users intelligent suggestions on, for example, the best choice for visualisation. In addition, data discovery is simplified as the tools themselves are able to propose insights to users thanks to artificial intelligence techniques (such as Machine Learning).

These intelligent, self-learning algorithms analyse the data and help users locate relevant information. In this way users can design their own dashboard or a report with relevant information much more quickly than with traditional tools – and make them look great too. Even less technically gifted or non-analytically minded employees can get to work quickly in just a few clicks with the available data. Slicing and dicing data is now child’s play.

How can I integrate self-service BI within my company?

Giving employees access to all business data via a self-service program is, of course, not a wise approach and this is consequently not the idea. Employees must be able to work independently within a controlled and structured (sub)set of business data. A corporate data warehouse can help set up this controlled and structured environment. 

Many tools also allow users to add data sources himself so that the analysis can be enriched with extra data. Major BI vendors such as Microsoft, Qlik and IBM try to integrate a self-service system within their existing tool set. Companies that already use these packages can opt to make these facilities available to their staff fairly easily. Other innovative standalone solutions such as Panorama Necto and Tableau can be used as an independent solution or as a supplement to a traditional BI package. The choice depends on many factors and i.deeds can help you make the right decision.

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