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Finding Success With Self-Service BI

Of all the new technologies hitting the market for business intelligence these days, self-service BI is certainly one of the most significant developments. Research firm Gartner defines self-service BI as “end users designing and deploying their own reports and analyses within an approved and supported architecture tools portfolio.” Essentially, the average worker can do their own data work, as opposed to having to ask someone for help any time they need something that requires a bit of expertise. 

The magic of self-service BI really comes from its construction. The advanced analytics tools of today that can facilitate this kind of work are really in a totally different league than those that have come before them. Thanks to artificial intelligence and other advances like natural language processing, things that were once impossible are now commonplace. But just because a tools exists doesn’t mean people will use it effectively—much less to its fullest potential. Here’s how enterprises can go about finding success with self-service BI. 

Everyone Can Contribute Through Data

The defining feature of self-service BI is the fact that it allows just about anyone within an organization to run their own queries and receive instant, actionable insights. But what does this actually mean for the enterprise; and moreover, how can this power be leveraged to realize improve operations? These are some of the things to consider if you want to get the most out of self-service BI in this way:

  • Look for products that are truly self-service – Just because a tool or platform advertises itself as self-service BI doesn’t necessarily mean this is fully the case. When it comes to seeking out a new addition to your BI suite, it’s essential to find one that actually accomplishes his goal. Probably the most important aspect is the mechanism for how users actually make data queries. ThoughtSpot is one platform that has done something pretty intriguing with their self-service BI. They utilize something called relational search, which is built with total intuitiveness in mind. Thanks to natural language processing and AI users can simply look for things as they would through a search engine. They’ll get an answer back in just seconds, and can even keep drilling down into results if they want to dig further. Adopting tools that are easy to pick up for the average person will help make self-service BI a success at your organization. 
  • Ensure governance and compliance are airtight – One of the critiques of self-service BI is that it can potentially create more risks due to more people having access to data. While there’s certainly reason to take this seriously in a world where data breaches can cost millions of dollars, it’s easy to avoid these issues. Find a platform that has solid governance and compliance architectures. This will allow admins to determine if there’s certain permission levels that don’t need to be seen by certain levels of employees. 
  • Improve everyone’s workflow – It doesn’t matter if you’re the one sending a query to the data team, or the analyst fulfilling it, there are better ways both ends can be spending their time. By putting analytics powers right in the hands of those who are asking the questions, it eliminates the time lost waiting for the report. Sometimes, this delay can be long enough to render the question itself obsolete. At the same time, data analysts can spend less time working on figuring out other people’s projects, and more time on data work that requires deeper expertise. 
  • Build a data culture – Ultimately, an enterprise that runs on data like we do air is going to be leaner and healthier than one that relies on less-complete information. Organizations that want to reach this point should strive to build an internal data culture. This can be accomplished by adopting tools that have effective self-service BI capabilities, while also encouraging more people to use data to solve problems. Over time, these forces can build on each other and grow into a powerful asset. 

There are lots of reasons why self-service BI makes sense for enterprises today. Consider these ways you can find success with self-service BI. 

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