Businesses turn to self-service BI

Read time 3min 20sec

Self-service business intelligence is booming. Less than a decade ago, BI was the domain of the IT department, and business teams were completely reliant on IT for all of their reporting and analytics needs.

Today, things are different. Data is the lifeblood of every company, rendering the old approach ineffective. Business users have gone rogue with solutions that allow them to work with data on their own, to quickly get the answers to their questions.

Vijay Anand, senior director of Product Marketing at MicroStrategy, says self-service BI is instrumental in fostering a strong data-driven culture at every organisational level.

"Owing to technology becoming easier and users becoming savvier, it is an approach that shifts a traditionally IT responsibility into the hands of business users and empowers them to be able to make decisions on their own."

He adds that it enables the key metrics and KPIs that drive the business to be circulated across the business at a much faster speed, allowing decision-makers to make insightful choices with less dependence on IT resources.

Less than a decade ago, BI was predominantly an IT discipline, and business teams were completely reliant on IT for all of their reporting and analytics needs. "Today, business teams are a lot more hungry to make fact-based decisions, and the skill set to be able to do that is increasingly making its way into business teams. Business users now want to go beyond simple data access and work with data on their own, so they can answer their questions quickly and independently. On top of that, the rapid pace of innovation in today's economy places a demand on businesses to make quick decisions."

To be successful, Anand says IT and business teams need to work closely and re-organise the way analytics is delivered. They need to strike a balance between enabling business teams with the flexibility and freedom to be independent, yet build the framework to govern and gate data access and quality as needed.

"At a recent MicroStrategy conference, a large Fortune 100 customer cited a 20x improvement in productivity because of their work with self-service BI. On the other hand, smaller organisations that don't have IT resources will also see quick benefits from a TCO perspective."

According to Anand, with only a minimal investment, companies can get more people using analytics than ever before. Self-service BI is easy to use, bringing analytics into the hands of even non-technical staff. "As a result, you end up with 100 times more content creation and consumption - making it possible to communicate key business facts and metrics in a much broader, more effective, and more impactful way than ever before."

Self-service tools cater to a line of business and departmental needs ranging from customer segmentation, to sales forecasting, to performance analysis, and more. The simplicity of self-service BI also allows everyday business users to search for the information and insights they need without relying on other departments, he explains.

IT teams are also heavily adopting these tools for faster prototyping as well, he concludes. "From large banks to retail chains, IT teams are now able to speed up the cycle time to produce dashboards by collaborating more easily with business users."

More importantly, self-service tools are increasingly enabling governance workflows with capabilities that allow promotion of business user data-mashup, watermarking and data lineage - making it easier for IT and business departments to work together for the successful deployment of self-service analytics.

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