february 7, 2023

Self Service BI - the latest trend in Business Intelligence

Over the past few years, Self Service BI tools have become core components of Business Intelligence platforms. They allow users to create data queries in natural language without knowledge of SQL or other programming languages.

 3 approaches in data handling

  • Data centralisation

Previously, all the tools to manage meaningful data resided with the IT department. Business users had to request data from them to generate reports. This method allowed IT to have much better control over data quality, security and data cleanliness. But often this approach led to resource constraints, which in turn reduced the speed with which important business information could be retrieved.

  • Data decentralisation

There was a need to allow business users to retrieve data independently from sources to create analytical reporting. As a consequence, chaos reigned — each business unit analysed and interpreted the same data in its own way.

  • Data democratisation

In this approach, the main task of IT is to provide the technical component: organise accesses, ensure scalability of the infrastructure and quality of primary data. The SSBI trend is a logical extension of this approach.

What is Self Service BI

Self Service BI is a new approach to data analysis focused on the end user, allowing them to create their own analytical reports, data models, visualisations and share them with business process stakeholders without the need for IT assistance.

Self Service BI tools allow you to look at any company’s performance from different angles, test hypotheses, create customised reports to meet individual business needs, and most importantly do it quickly, without the need for outside help.

Key features of Self-Service BI

  • IT infrastructure

  • Data management

  • Analysis and reporting

  • Sharing

  • Common features

Benefits of Self-Service BI

The enhanced data access and analytics capabilities provided by Self Service can benefit businesses in a number of ways. Potential benefits include:

  • Efficient use of business intelligence and IT resources

  • Rapid data analysis and decision-making

  • A data-driven organisation

  • Competitive advantage

Safety: what is important to know when working with SSBI?

It is important to bear in mind that stand-alone business intelligence has pitfalls too. By leading your business users to become ad hoc data engineers, you could end up with a chaotic set of metrics that vary across departments and run into data security issues.

Self Service is usually used to create custom analytical applications that allow you to test hypotheses, identify influencing factors, see trends, etc. IT needs to organise the accesses so that the user has access only to the data they need: allocate space on the server for these applications, configure the ability to remove such applications after a certain time, so that they do not burden the server capacity.

If your company relies on Self Service BI tools on a daily basis, business analysts also have an important role to play as they are essential to managing these tools. They set up and standardise the reports that managers will generate to ensure the consistency and relevance of results across your organisation. And to avoid problems related to garbage in, garbage out, business analysts need to make sure that the data coming into the business intelligence system is correct and consistent. This often involves extracting them from other data stores and cleaning them up.

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