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Self-Service Business Intelligence

by Dashboard Insight, Dashboard InsightMonday, June 17, 2013

The democratization of data is nothing new, one of the biggest BI buzz words floating around right now (aside from the monster that is Big Data) is 'self-serve BI'. Basically this means allowing users not only access to information but the ability to decide what and how they want to have presented. Take a look at the article by Chloe Green from Information Age below.


Employees have long had the ability to process and analyse small data sets themselves, thanks mainly to Microsoft Excel.

But when it came to anything that exceeded Excel’s maximum row limit (65,000 in Excel 2007), they were dependent on the reports and dashboards that the IT department had built using the enterprise standard business intelligence tools.

Recent years, however, have seen not only a staggering uptick in the volume of data produced and collected by businesses, but also a steady increase in the awareness of the power of data analytics.

The combined effect is that users are increasingly dissatisfied with the prescriptive reports and dashboards that are handed down to them from IT. In particular, the time it takes for new reports to be issued cannot keep pace with employees’ need to answer questions as they arise.

It is little wonder, then, that there is high demand for ‘self-service BI’.

In a 2011 white paper, analysts Claudia Imhoff and Colin White defined self-service BI as “the facilities within the BI environment that enable BI users to become more self-reliant and less dependent on the IT organisation”.

And according to the Wisdom of Crowds report, an annual survey of business intelligence users by BI guru Howard Dresner, self-service BI has been among the top technology priorities for two years running.

At first glance, it seems like a straightforward idea. But on reflection it quickly emerges that there are many different ways to approach self-service BI – in particular, how much autonomy is extended to users.

When it comes to enterprise-wide self-service BI programmes, IT organisations are still finding their way. But the growth of providers selling easy-to-use and easy-to-deploy BI software reveals that users are helping themselves, with or without the IT department’s aid.

Here is yet another field of technology where the IT department must find a way to offer users the tools they want while simultaneously applying the data governance and security controls that the organisation needs.

See more here.

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