Although there are various competing definitions for both self-service BI and Traditional BI, the most simple version is this: Traditional BI is software that is designed to allow users to gather information from a wide range of sources, and then to organize, analyze, and share that information in an accessible way. Self-Service BI follows the same basic definition. Where the two differ is in how the platform itself is used. Traditional BI is not designed for usability. Instead, it requires specifically trained IT professionals in order for it to function in any beneficial way. Self-service BI, on the other hand, is designed to be accessible to any and all potential users, without necessitating IT involvement.
As data becomes ever more prevalent, many organizations that were once perfectly happy using traditional BI platforms are beginning to see the limitations of having to involve IT professionals in the process. As such, the need for self-service BI is becoming almost universal.
Self service BI connects the business leaders and decision makers of the world to the data they rely so heavily on. Rather than necessitating the need for an IT middle man, self-service BI provides direct access, allowing users to concentrate more on the the results of the data that’s been gathered, and less on the processes used to gather it.
Beyond this specific advantage, there are a number of other benefits associated with self-service BI:
- Easily Identify Trends
It’s one thing to be able to see the data that is having an impact on a business it’s quite another thing to be able to see the causes and trends behind that data. Self-service BI allows users to get down deep into the information, and to personally analyze that information for valuable conclusions.
- Keep up with Changes
By providing direct access to up-to-date data, self-service BI makes it possible for businesses to address changes in the market as they happen. This proactive approach is only possible when users have the ability to work with their BI platforms directly, rather than waiting for IT professionals to clue them in on what is happening. Companies that use BI analytics are 5x faster to make decisions then the competition.
- Improving Accountability
When a separate department is in charge of analyzing data, it’s easy for average employees—and even managers and other high-ups—to disassociate themselves from the responsibilities of data analytics. On the hand, when those same employees are tasked with performing their own analyses and generating their own reports, they become accountable for the information they acquire. This accountability translates into increased productivity, and better overall performance.
- Preserving Resources
IT departments exist to perform duties other than just those associated with business intelligence. Self-service BI frees up the time and resources of the IT department, and allows those resources to be better allocated towards more-important pursuits.
- Reducing Costs
By eliminating the need for in-depth training, self-service BI generally carries with it lower associated costs than traditional BI. On top of that, many self-service BI tools are cloud-based, featuring a SaaS subscription model. This allows organizations to make full use of advanced BI solutions, complete with in depth support options and automatic system updating, without having to pay for expensive hardware installation, and, as an added bonus, users of cloud-based BI tools can access their data at any time, from any internet-connected device.
Self-service BI is an advancement that is changing the way businesses use data, and it’s popularity is only growing. In fact, it is expected that by 2017, over 50% of business users and analysts will have access to self-service tools.
With this proliferation of self-service BI, a greater focus on timely, confident decision making is developing. On the other hand, those organizations that choose to stick with traditional BI may find themselves at a disadvantage. After all, with so much data now available, users who have the ability to access it directly will be the ones who get the most out of it.