Self-Service Business Intelligence is Catching On — And Paying Off

March 24, 2011
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self service bi 300x224 photo (bi in the cloud)Today’s line managers need more information and need it faster in order to make complex decisions in real time. This puts intense pressure on IT departments to keep up with requests for reports.

self service bi 300x224 photo (bi in the cloud)Today’s line managers need more information and need it faster in order to make complex decisions in real time. This puts intense pressure on IT departments to keep up with requests for reports. Even with standard reports, everybody wants something just a little different and it’s almost impossible for IT to respond in real time, even if they had an enormous staff – which they don’t. The slow economic times have forced companies to become leaner, especially with IT support staff.  Spreadsheets aren’t an option for mainstream users if they want to import, summarize and analyze large data sets. Even technically proficient users often wind up with inconsistent and inaccurate results from complex spreadsheets they create. With all of these things happening at the same time, it’s no wonder that self-service Business Intelligence is becoming the choice of both end users and IT departments. A recent article in Computerworld describes how self-service BI is really catching on  – and really paying off for some companies.

Browser-based interfaces, menu-driven options, interactive graphics and other user-friendly features are standard in the latest self-service business intelligence tools. These simple-to-use interfaces enable mainstream users to analyze and report on large data sets, without the intervention of the IT department. This allows IT to focus on issues such as governance rather than responding to a continual stream of report generation or modification requests. Data governance and security is a critical area that needs to be addressed before placing information in the hands of end users, and it’s usually accomplished through role security in the self-service tools.

More technically proficient users are also finding that self-service business intelligence tools can give a big boost to productivity. At Equifax, analysts had access to a business intelligence system through IT, but no access to self-service tools. By implementing Spotfire to query and report on data across multiple data sources, they immediately increased productivity fourfold in their customer insight department. Self-service business intelligence tools are also helping to break down barriers among departments and levels in organizations as they begin to collaborate more on data analysis and decision making.

Organizations are realizing more than just increased productivity. The business impact of trends and patterns that end users discover by accessing, visualizing and analyzing data on their own is allowing them to make decisions way ahead of competitors who don’t have access to their own data.  For example, Dealer Services Corporation believes it delayed the impact of the recession by about six months because what they saw in the data allowed them to anticipate a slowdown and take steps to reduce and delay its impact on the company.

Putting information and tools in the hands of end users with intuitive and interactive tools via the web, mobile devices and through SaaS offerings such as TIBCOSilver Spotfire is rapidly becoming a best practice in business intelligence implementation. Explore these self-service BI solutions and more in the webcast BI in the Cloud: A self-service alternative to “Big BI”.

Steve McDonnell
Spotfire Blogging Team