Self-service business intelligence is the key to success with BI these days.
In many ways, self-service is a form of empowerment. Learning how to acquire and use business information (BI) tools has many short and long-term benefits for developers, managers, and businesses looking to make the most of their data analytics processes.
While outsourcing the BI process to dedicated project management hubs can save time in the immediacy, there is a very real financial cost for such a highly specialized skill set. That cost premium can be prohibitive for smaller businesses and start-ups that may not have the capital to invest in a bespoke BI experience.
Not only that but with business intelligence being such a quickly evolving field, adaptability needs to be centered. If a data analytics team spends half the time running back and forth with the BI company, then the time saved upfront in outsourcing is wasted on the back end through middle management of a complex process.
This isn’t to say that outsourcing is a bad option, but that self-service business intelligence offers a different avenue for those who need it or see the value in having those skills based in-house.
But as with anything in the tech world, it’s easier said than done. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done successfully, though, and below are a few tips we have on being successful with self-service BI.
Top 4 Keys To Being Successful with Self-Service Business Intelligence
These four keys are crucial in ensuring success with your self-service business intelligence.
A successful self-service business intelligence system starts with a good foundation. While outsourcing the basic data analytics and project management is a full-time commitment to working with a third party, outsourcing training is slightly different.
Essentially, you aren’t just paying in time and money to acquire a set of skills; you’re investing in the time and money you’ll save by equipping your IT department with a knowledgeable, competent, and adaptable workforce.
Training options vary. At the very least, we’d recommend a foundational course around the basics of business intelligence: data acquisition, goal-setting, visualization, analytics, and outcomes. At the end of that course, there should preferably be a certificate to seal the deal.
Supplementary training can be sought as needed, either in less frequent workshops or courses that deal with more specialized aspects of BI, like learning new business intelligence solutions that arise throughout the year.
In any case, training is about taking control of the process and streamlining the problem-solving that goes into any business intelligence project.
Testing tools and methods
Data analytics is a field that’s a part of businesses as small as local restaurants to multinational conglomerates. It’s not uncommon to have first-time BI enthusiasts launch head and wallet first into the biggest, most expensive tools available. Not every nail will need a sledgehammer. Most of the time, companies might need a length of sandpaper.
Testing different analytics and visualization tools before investing in them is essential to making sure you don’t spend more money than you need to in order to solve a problem.
Not only that, but the larger and more complex a tool or method is, the more expertise is needed to run it successfully, which might mean re-investing in further training to avoid purchasing something that will become hard to use and ultimately wasteful.
This can be a hard lesson to learn and put a damper on the excitement of self-service BI, but discipline in this regard will yield immediate results and carry through. Luckily, there is a way to get the best of both worlds. You can find a suitable tool to make self-service business intelligence a reality (more on that later).
Make your BI project scalable
While we might advise caution in the early stages of starting up a self-service BI endeavor, that doesn’t mean you can’t plan for bigger things in the future. If you want to safeguard your practice for future growth, keep this central question: Are the tools and methods I’m using now adaptable to bigger problems I will face down the line?
This doesn’t mean they need to be able to solve the problem now, simply that – foundationally speaking – they can evolve to solve them. If companies must buy more cost-effective tools now, do those tools require the same type of training as future software might?
If so, while the tools themselves might need updating or outright upgrading, the skill set remains the same, ensuring a transition that avoids growing pains.
Reach out to people
Self-service doesn’t mean being alone. While acquiring knowledge and expertise is to foster independence and efficiency, business intelligence is just like any other craft – you learn from the people around you.
A mentor can do wonders for someone doing self-service, as they represent a well of information and experience, and should they allow you to draw on it, it could prove invaluable.
Likewise, joining other BI communities gives you access to intellectual resources filtered through human interaction rather than optimized search engines. This human element allows for specificity in problem-solving, and at the end of the day, that’s what going into self-service BI is all about.
How Can DashboardFox Help in Self-Service Business Intelligence?
We have already mentioned the four important keys to success in self-service business intelligence. Those keys are important because the equation won’t work without one.
However, you need a BI tool that can help you realize your vision of becoming a successful figure in self-service business intelligence, and that’s DashboardFox.
The second key to being successful in self-service business intelligence has the best tools without necessarily the most expensive ones available in the market today.
Cost. Our advice is never to pay more for a BI tool than the value of solving the problem. With DashboardFox, we have a no-subscription pricing model. This typically saves the organization a lot of money upfront, and DashboardFox has one of the lowest ongoing costs of operations and maintenance in the industry.
Self-Hosted. DashboardFox is self-hosted. You install it on your server at the location of your choice (we also offer managed to host if you don’t want it). To be empowered with a BI platform, you have to own it (the cost factor above), but you also have to control it.
With other BI tools that are cloud-based, you’re tied to a 3rd party vendor, their security, their outages, their access to your data, and most importantly, when you stop paying for their subscription, you lose access.
Ease of Use. Finally, the core feature is related to self-service. It has to be easy to use. Dashboardfox was designed for business users, not developers. You don’t need to learn proprietary languages, like DAX in Power BI.
There are no desktop tools or mobile apps to install. Everything is managed via the DashboardFox web interface. And once you configure your Dashboard App, users need no special access to the database or understanding of joins and database syntax to create robust reports and dashboards.