Almost every modern company aspires to be data-driven, but digital transformation is complex without the right tools. Organizations that want to collect, analyze, and report on Big Data from multiple sources need Business Intelligence (BI) tools. However, choosing the right BI tool isn’t as simple as it appears for many of these executives.
One of the most important decisions you’ll have to make is whether you need a traditional BI model or a self-service BI model. There are some technical and logistical considerations you should think about before deciding which option is best for your company. Before selecting a BI tool, keep the following factors in mind.
Traditional BI Vs. Self-Service BI
For traditional BI tools, business users must submit a request to the BI team or IT department, which will extract and clean the data, run the query, and generate a report or dashboard.
While this ensures data governance, it can be time-consuming, mainly if the BI team deals with multiple requests from different lines of business. Many businesses can’t afford to hire a Business Intelligence team, much less an IT team.
On the other hand, self-service BI allows users to run their queries and create their reports, even if they don’t have a background in statistical analysis. They also don’t have to wait days (or weeks) for a response to a query they’ve sent to the BI team, which is essential because real-time data loses its value if analysis takes days.
It is the real-time nature of self-service BI that empowers users to make crucial decisions at the moment they need them.
Embedded BI takes this further by integrating data analytics and visualization software into existing business software and providing users with reporting and analytics in the applications they already use, effectively turning even the most basic applications into data analysis platforms. This also helps to reduce employee pushback by decreasing the learning curve and making their job more accessible rather than adding to their workload.
Why Modern Businesses Need Self-Service BI Solutions?
Some of the notable benefits of self-service BI for modern business organizations include:
- Improved Data Literacy
If data is the new oil, then self-service is the way. Everyone in the organization, not just the C-suite, can benefit from BI.
Through personalized dashboards, all employees in any department or line of business can benefit from data insights. And the more they use it, the better their data literacy will become (the ability to understand and interpret data).
- Provides Data Insights For Everyone
Self-service not only data scientists, but all business users can benefit from BI. Look for a BI platform with a simple user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) that isn’t intimidating to non-technical employees.
At the same time, you’ll want tools that appeal to both casual users (who might just be looking at data) and power users (who might want to create dashboards and reports).
- Expand Your Data Exploration
Employees in a data-driven organization can delve deeper into the numbers to uncover new or unusual insights and spot potential trends. They’re no longer making decisions based on their ‘gut’ or market reports available to their competitors, giving them a competitive advantage.
- Creates A Data-Driven Culture
Improving data literacy contributes to developing a data-driven culture, which is especially important in these uncertain times. When dealing with volatile circumstances, such as supply chain disruptions or geopolitical unrest, yesterday’s decision might not be appropriate today.
Employees in a data-driven culture are aware of this and are prepared to respond accordingly.
- Reduces Bottlenecks & Saves IT Resources
When business users are given the ability to conduct their queries and analyses, bottlenecks can be reduced. IT staff or data analysts can concentrate on larger, more complex questions or technical requests, such as data curation, shortening the time to gain insights and saving IT resources.
Self-service BI reduces the cost of onboarding, training, and development by integrating it into applications that employees already use, which is especially beneficial if those employees work from home.
However, just because something is “self-service” does not mean it is entirely hands-off. Business users will need the training to run their queries and create data visualizations, such as reports and dashboards, even if the BI platform has an intuitive user interface.
Business analysts can use business intelligence tools to access real-time data at various levels and quickly generate results without working with spreadsheets or having any technical knowledge. There are times when no coding skills are required, and reports can be sliced and diced as needed without using Excel Pivots or other SQL aggregation methods.
Self-service BI tools have a shorter development life cycle than traditional BI tools, requiring less data discovery and IT resources. They are also easier to deliver and deploy on multiple platforms and devices.