Why Self-Service Business Intelligence is a Must for All Companies
Updated: Feb 22
In a company with many employees, it can be a hassle for BI professionals to handle providing analysis for all problems. So what do companies turn to nowadays to fix this? Many companies have started to introduce the concept of Self-Service Business Intelligence into their workplace.
What is Self Service Business Intelligence?
Business Intelligence (BI) is the field of gaining insight from data and which helps users make their choices as the ability to work with data becomes more of a common skill. Many users would like more direct access to interact with the data. This was the basis of the functional need for some type of systematic self-service BI, hoping to find a solution to tackle the ever-increasing need for faster data analysis and provision for pragmatic insights. Data can now be prepared then accessed through low-code tools such Excel by users to directly interact with the organization's data.
Traditional BI and Self-Service BI
Self-service BI is something separate and completely different from the traditional BI. The traditional approach usually consists of the IT or BI analytics team within a company who would have full control of the data. When a user had a question, they would submit a request to the IT team to get a report with the answer. Developers with technical skills such as SQL, data warehousing, and data integration would be responsible for writing queries and building reports. There would be lots of back and forth between the users and the team to make sure the report fits their needs.
With the self-service approach, the IT team now has a different role. They are added on the task of organizing and integrating data in order to create a data model that is easy to understand and to access. This could be a more simplistic approach such as a data set or views in a schema, accessible by users. For a more robust approach, adding a semantic layer such as a multi-dimensional model or modeling within tools can also make the data more appealing. The users can then access the data made directly available to them to quickly find answers to the questions.
Benefits and Challenges
Self-service BI undoubtedly provides solutions to problems that arose with the traditional BI. Self-service BI have the advantages of saving time. Employees or users don’t have to wait for the IT team to create an analysis, which can take days to create. These days, decisions often have to be made rapidly. Users will not be able to move forward with their work if they have to wait. Moreover, people have grown comfortable using data to make decisions in their real life. It allows employees to have more control over their work. At the end, this leads to a bigger and more positive outcome because more people will gain the knowledge of how to navigate data more wisely.
However, there are still challenges amongst these benefits of Self-Service BI. First of all, it might be hard for a traditional company who is used to requesting the IT team for any help in this field. Some employees might be uncomfortable with the BI tools, even if they are user-friendly. They could become overwhelmed with the terminology or even afraid they won’t successfully understand how to work with it. Secondly, there is always a risk of a bigger outcome of inaccurate results. Even with the efforts to create something clean and clear, some employees can still make mistakes or even misinterpret the tools. The biggest challenge facing Self-Service BI these days is data security and privacy. After several years of high-profile data breaches and data privacy concerns, it is something all companies are very cautious and careful about. They make sure everything is properly structure before allowing complete access to the organizational data. If companies want to implement this service, they need to determine what personal data is clear to be viewed and by whom and what can be abstracted to not show personal information.
Implementation of Self-Service BI
So what are some best practices to help overcome these challenges? Guiding the IT team to work hand in hand with the rest of the company users is a must in the first step. The IT professional will need to set up an environment of trusted data that can be accessible to others. This can be done through a modern data and analytics platform with the needs of the other employees always in consideration. The next step is setting up the data governance; to help the team find consistent terminology, true sources of data, and determine what data can be accessible to all or kept private. Not everything is suited for self-service needs and this can also help keep a tight security for the company. Once all is set, the last step is to make sure everything runs smoothly for everyone. It might be harder for others and everyone who understands will need to be willing to help. With this type of encouragement, it can create an atmosphere which emphasizes the importance of the Self-Service BI in helping the company grow.
An example of a Self-Service BI tool many companies use is Microsoft Power BI. With Power BI premium, IT professionals of a company can manage data, usage, and consumption across their organization. The tools can provide services such as analysis services, semantic models, support for paginated reports, and deployment on specific global regions.
Kitameraki can help you to implement these tools in your company. Contact us to find out more information!