Understanding Business Intelligence: from Traditional to Self-Service BI

Companies have now been implementing Business Intelligence for some time. However, the traditional approach came with some challenges for organizations, which significantly impacted their flexibility and productivity. The need to hire data experts and the lack of customization was the most pressing challenges for management teams that needed access to specific information anytime and anywhere. Fortunately, providers now offer self-service BI solutions, which could enable companies to achieve their KPIs faster than a traditional approach.

Adopting a self-service collaborative procedure to support business demands correctly is the key to changing the perception of IT providers from producers to strategic partners and enablers. Collaboration between the business and IT partners is critical to the success of each BI solution implementation. IT knows how best to manage data and the company knows how to use the insights provided to drive business decisions. In its 2018 Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence & Analytics platforms report, Gartner placed self-service data discovery tools designed for users firmly at the forefront of BI capabilities.

Why is self-service BI the best option for the current business environment? And what challenges could companies address better using this new technology? Here are some key points that will help you find the answers.

Data experts become data users

Before self-service solutions made their way to the market and roles and procedures changed accordingly, data experts handled traditional Business Intelligence tools, so the decision-making processes belonged to a privileged few. However, today BI is all about business users. The old methods accessible only by data scientists lag well behind the fast-paced business environment. Today, no company can afford to wait for weeks to prepare a critical report, and that’s why they need to access real-time data quickly and generate results without technical expertise is a primary objective. With self-service BI no coding skills are required, and reports can even be segmented as required without the use of any methods of aggregation in SQL.

Users are now in control

Compared to the traditional BI solutions where IT managed the processes, self-service BI empowers end users to seamlessly carry out data analytics operations and reporting, without being strongly dependent on the IT provider. Moreover, self-service BI has a shorter development cycle, which requires fewer resources to deliver and deploy on multiple platforms and devices. For example, self-service BI enables users to create reports and analyses with smart devices, making user adoption more significant as it is easier for less technical business users to understand and leverage the insights.

In self-service BI data, discovery is quick and easy, helping companies overcome the hurdles of data extraction and data processing. It means they can pull data from multiple sources within their organization, including the core data pipeline. Once a company has implemented the data model appropriately, it helps information-savvy users to get valuable insights without spending additional time on processing.

What’s even more remarkable about self-service BI is that it can help correct errors before they manifest themselves. Traditional BI end users may overlook the complexities of data and may misinterpret it, especially if they are not highly skilled. The new technologies enable users to make the right decisions based on the correct variables and conclusions, as at any time they can go back to the previous stage in the reporting process.

Customizing reports and analysis

The industries and departments where companies can use self-service Business Intelligence solutions are many and varied, but so are their requirements. Each end-user that has access to the reporting system BI provides will be able to find the insights they need at that specific moment. Thanks to the flexibility of self-service BI, users can create reports and analyses for themselves, while traditional BI involved the IT department meeting those demands. As the volume of data grows, it is increasingly crucial to boost productivity and create personalized data reports.

Self-service reporting enables an interactive experience because end users can modify the reports and instantly add supplementary information to them. Since users choose the individual elements to include in reports, they can extract the insights their departments need. Additionally, end-users could interact with complete digital papers thanks to controls such as on-screen filters, conditional formatting, sliders, or by creating drill-down and linked reports.

Data visualization as a service

The extensive library of displays and the intuitive interface make it easy for each user to build data discovery dashboards. Self-service BI enables users to visualize data through grids, graphs, charts, and maps. If needed, they can also incorporate new third-party options, such as D3, or create new ones from scratch.

Also, self-service tools allow them to visually divide data and even change its appearance with various chart types and predefined templates for everyone, more so after the reports are finished. In this way, visualization becomes an essential factor when it comes to how businesses or users view data. The way data is presented is as meaningful as the information itself. For the best possible outcome, companies must implement self-service BI architecture from the start or transfer their data to such solutions.

Self-service Business Intelligence is now a leading technology in generating accurate reports and analysis. Companies using this solution can interact with their data and create analyses according to the specific demands of each user while reducing deployment costs and other resources. However, before that, each company needs to take into consideration the relevance of implementing customized Business Intelligence solutions that are created in a way that will best suit their business model and requirements.