Why Self-Service BI?

Self-service BI allows your employees instant access to the business intelligence they need to operate at highest levels. Not only does this put your staff in the driver’s seat for making faster decisions, but it also frees up your IT workers so they may focus on technology rather than data collection. As a side benefit, it can also save your organization 60 percent in IT costs annually.

What drives self-service BI? To put it simply, data in the hands of end-users is the ultimate driver of self-service BI. In other words, your employees are the ones who need the information, so why not let them decide which dashboards will best help them make informed decisions. In the old days, getting the BI you needed consisted of providing an explanation to data analysts only to find it would have worked better had you done this or that differently, technology can now adapt to the needs of the staffer.

How do you deploy self-service BI? First, assess your people, processes, technology and goals. After doing so, you should identify the business units across your organization who access information from the current BI application. These people will likely be your early adopters when it comes to learning the new technology. But before that can happen, you must define the requirements needed to deliver self-service BI to your organization. In other words, choose the right software, and then begin the gradual process of deployment.

How do you assimilate business users to the system? It starts with identifying your power users. Power users are the people who more quickly grasp self-service BI. In the beginning, you should work to educate your employees on the basics. Give them some pre-built dashboards to play with, and encourage experimentation. Show the ones who have an interest – those who aren’t afraid to play with technology – how to create and modify existing dashboards. As their experience grows, you can not only teach them how to draw their own dashboards from scratch, but you can also benefit from their knowledge by helping them train new associates and those who are struggling with the new application.

What comes after assimilation? About 80 percent of all data requested by business users today can be standardized with the other 20 percent available through adjustments on exploratory dashboards. What that means for your employees and your IT professionals is that more time can be spent on the functions that matter. On the employee side, decisions can be made with greater reliance on facts and therefore confidence. On the IT side, efforts can go more toward maintaining, troubleshooting, and strengthening the system. As you both learn and grow from the experience of using self-service BI, your system ascends to the level of agile BI in which on the job functionality leads to continued efficiency gains associated with the maintenance and access to business intelligence.