What Is Self Service Business Intelligence (And Is It Right For Your Business)?

DashboardFox - Self-Service BI

Self Service business intelligence (SSBI) can certainly be a game-changer for a company. Are you thinking of implementing new strategies and changes in the way you access, analyze, and treat data? Looking into self service business intelligence tools may be a good option for you and your business.

You must be wondering what’s the difference between self service and traditional business intelligence. In this post, we’ll get into that and demystify it all for you.

What Exactly Is Self Service Business Intelligence

Let’s take a look at what self-service BI actually is, what it isn’t, and how it can change the way you find, analyze, and use business data.

Definition of Self Service BI

In a nutshell, self-service BI lets employees and individuals who are not technically data analysts by profession to have access to business data without any assistance from the information technology department.

It’s about user independence where some individuals will use the data to perform simple tasks while others may require more extensive and sensitive information to complete their work.

Self-service business intelligence involves data mining, data exploration, and being able to ask questions as part of data analysis without needing to do complex tasks such as SQL query writing and having to understand the underlying database schemas.

What Self Service BI Means For Your Company

What that means is that employees in a variety of departments can easily and rapidly gain access to business information that they need without waiting for it from the IT department. They can manage, organize, and treat what they want in a self-reliant way through reports and dashboards.

That also gives more responsibility and self-sufficiency to individual employees and departments. They can have access, analyze, modify, and personalize data.

  • Less wasted time
  • Keep up with the competition
  • Flexibility
  • Gained efficiency
  • Independence

Who Is Self Service Business Intelligence For?

Self service BI is obviously not for everyone and can’t be implemented in certain business formats. Self service BI is usually a dependable and suitable solution for smaller to medium-sized companies.

  • Companies that require information at any time and anywhere can benefit from self service BI tools.
  • Companies whose IT departments can substantially benefit in a reduction of the business data processing workload.
  • Companies that are looking to provide data access and exploration to their external customers and partners without increasing the level of technical support required.

What Are The Benefits Of Self Service BI?

Many companies could profit tremendously by cutting the middle man and letting some key employees have direct access to certain data to do analysis. These individuals don’t need to wait for the IT department and can meet deadlines more quickly.

Organizations that adopt self service BI tend to be more agile, users more productive, and overall cost of operations and maintenance tends to be more cost-effective as compared to traditional BI tools.

Common Characteristics of Self-Service Driven Organizations

  • Easy and intuitive
  • More agile
  • Faster response times
  • Less reliance on Excel spreadsheets
  • Data-driven decisions
  • Increased monitoring of KPIs and metrics

With the right BI tool, your team won’t end up waiting for analytics like the character in this cartoon.

DashboardFox - Self-Service Business Intelligence

Self Service Business Intelligence Vs Traditional Business Intelligence

Of course, some situations and certain businesses can’t take advantage of self-service BI for a variety of reasons and still rely solely on traditional BI.

Some businesses are simply deep-rooted in their processes and are afraid to take risks or to shake things up. By having the proper knowledge on hand and analyzing individual business strategies, some would undeniably benefit moving from a traditional BI to a self service BI.

What is Traditional Business Intelligence?

In traditional business information, data is usually analyzed, processed, modified, and distributed through the information technology department. The data is not collectively accessible and is only issued at the demand of employees when needed.

Some companies believe that this is the safest way to guard sensitive information and to keep control over what data gets processed and which users have access. But with the growing success stories of self service BI, this thought process is becoming less accurate.

What’s The Difference Between Self Service And Traditional BI?

Traditional BI has only one department in charge of all data and dispenses it as needed.

When set up with self service BI, a company usually assigns roles and tasks to specific users. A business will usually set up casual users of self service BI and power users who have access to more options like modifying and changing data.

Traditional BI

  • Exclusive department
  • Data is distributed more slowly
  • Rigid
  • Safe

Self Service BI

  • Efficient distribution of data.
  • Self-reliance
  • Flexible
  • Safe

Most Popular Self Service Business Intelligence Tools

We try to avoid discussion of what is the best self service BI and analytics tools. We definitely recommend our software, DashboardFox, but even we admit, DashboardFox is not right for every environment.

Here is a list of popular user-driven self service dashboards and reporting tools in the industry, but the right tool will be based on your environment and your business requirements.

  • Tableau
  • Microsoft Power BI
  • Qlik Sense
  • Chartio
  • Looker
  • Sisense
  • Google Data Studio
  • Yurbi
  • Domo

Each tool has pros and cons related to data visualization, ad-hoc reporting, and data source integrations so when making a buying decision it is important to understand the capabilities and which matches up with the functionality your business needs. And most importantly, we always recommend:

Don’t spend more on your business intelligence tool than the problem you’re solving is worth

A lot of the vendors mentioned above are quite expensive, but not all. Do your due diligence and try not to be swayed by the aggressive sale pitch.

Most Popular Traditional Business Intelligence Tools

Here is a list of larger, traditional BI tools. These tools tend to be more costly, more enterprise-focused, and in many cases have a large market share due to being an early innovator in the BI space.

However, over time their software has become more bloated, they have developed by acquisition and the integration of acquired tools only adds to their complexity, and they focus on less user-driven methods.

  • IBM Cognos
  • Oracle BI
  • SAP Business Objects
  • Microsoft SSRS
  • Information Builders
  • Microstrategy

These traditional BI software tools certainly have a place for large enterprise organizations.

Is Self Service BI or Traditional BI Right For Your Business?

Your type of business, organization structure, governance practices, technical environment, the number of employees, and the nature of data requirements will determine which type of business information distribution is best for you.

More and more businesses qualify for self service BI and provide users with the software to build data visualizations, dashboards, and reports that are custom-made for their specific business needs.

Learn More About DashboardFox

DashboardFox was designed with self service business use in mind. DashboardFox was designed so business users can have access to data without needing a technical pedigree or needing to write SQL queries. But our focus has always been to make sure data is protected and secure if the goal was to make it more available to business users.

So DashboardFox is enterprise quality BI software, designed with ease of use as the focus.

It has enterprise features such as data-level security, data-blending across multiple databases, dashboards, centralized library, scheduled emails of reports, embedding, multi-lingual support, multi-timezone support, multi-tier architecture for scalability, and the list of enterprise buzzwords could continue.

But unlike traditional BI tools that also come with a level of complexity, infrastructure, and cost that requires a team of consultants and long project plans, and dedicated IT staff to keep the systems running and upgraded, and a team of BI analysts and developers to create reports and dashboards, DashboardFox takes just days (or weeks at the most) to deploy and a minimal amount of training.

Take a look at a live demo of DashboardFox or start a free trial and see how DashboardFox can enable your business to leverage data more effectively via self-service business intelligence. Empower your users with improved reporting and analytic software.

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