Self-Service BI Is About More Than Interactivity

February 7, 2014
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ImageOrganizations constantly struggle with their data. Integrating, managing, and verifying data sources are continuous exercises required for businesses looking at ways to increase their competitive advantage and understand what is occurring within their organization’s daily operations.

ImageOrganizations constantly struggle with their data. Integrating, managing, and verifying data sources are continuous exercises required for businesses looking at ways to increase their competitive advantage and understand what is occurring within their organization’s daily operations. Historically, the benefits of business intelligence and data warehousing have focused on this aspect – making information accessible and managing it within a series of strict guidelines. For instance, developing specific data models to understand how table fields are related or looking at the development of business rules and how they are to be applied. The recent advancements in technology and shift towards a more “social” approach to information access and interactivity has shifted the way in which organizations are accessing and interacting with information assets. Due to this change, expectations have also shifted. It is no longer good enough to have information available if only a subset of employees can access that data and make sense of its value proposition. Not only do these employees need to access data assets, they need to be able to interact with it and drive business decisions that benefit the company as a whole.

Essentially, this is the promise of self-service BI. Self-service applications should be easy enough to use that they appear intuitive to business users while maintaining the integrity of the data and managing business rules on the back end of the application. Call it a tall order, which it is, but luckily for businesses applying newer offerings, vendors are becoming more efficient at making sure that these two aspects fit together to allow business users the option of accessing more advanced analytics without requiring statistical skill sets. 

Organizations require flexible solutions that meet the needs of a variety of business and technical skill sets without limiting the types of information available – in essence creating a true self-service environment. Doing this effectively does require looking at the data as well (the whole process is circular in nature because we always come back to the data). To develop a true self-service solution, organizations also need to consider information access points and be able to look at data holistically. Since a variety of sources are required to get a true sense of what is happening within the organization, developing a self-service BI approach means taking these considerations into account and looking at self-service in a way that includes more than experience and delves into the value proposition broader information access provides.

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Businessprogram, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

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