As workers and business units clamour for more control over data analysis to gain insights at their finger tips, there is a rise in the use of self-service business intelligence (BI) tools to meet demands. But, this is not without its challenges for IT teams in particular.
A gap between business users and IT has ensued because historically IT departments have created a centralised BI model and taken ownership over BI. They want to maintain control over aspects like performance measures and data definitions, but workers are striving to gain access to the data they want, when they want it, and don’t want IT to ‘hand hold’ them. This is creating a redistribution of self-service BI and could inhibit business success if IT departments and business users don’t find a happy medium.
Gartner argues that, 'Self-service business intelligence and analytics requires a centralised team working in collaboration with a finite number of decentralised teams. IT leaders should create a two-tier organisational model where the business intelligence competency centre collaborates with decentralised teams.'
I agree that to manage all types of data in one place in one structure is difficult at the best of times but it’s all the more difficult these days with a move towards individualism and personalisation where users want to help themselves to the data they need for their job roles, in real time.
To manage the push and pull between IT and users, businesses need to look at ways to redefine self-service BI, and it’s not just about the IT organisational model. An approach needs to address more than IT departments’ needs.
Implementing an app-based approach to self-service BI can help appease everyone concerned. IT departments can build apps for self-service BI to serve every individual, irrespective of back end systems and data formats. 'Info Apps', for example, is a new term used to describe interactive, purpose-built BI applications designed to make data more readily accessible to those business users who simply don't have the skills or the technical know-how to use complex reporting and analysis tools, to satisfy their own day-to-day needs.
Some studies have even shown that such individuals can make up more than 75% of an organisation's BI user base. Using an app-based approach is therefore an extremely effective way to give business professionals the exact information they need, through an app paradigm, without requiring any analytical sophistication.
Next-generation BI portals play an important role here too. They can provide enterprises with a way to seamlessly deliver self-service BI apps to business users. By organising and presenting BI apps to users in a way that is simple and intuitive (similar to the Apple App Store), companies can empower workers with faster, easier, more interactive ways to get information.
These next-generation portals also offer high levels of customisation and personalisation so business users have full control over their BI content at all times. They will be empowered with the ability to determine what components they view, how they’re arranged, how they’re distributed across multiple dashboard pages, and how they interact with them.
By offering unparalleled ease and convenience – giving them what they need, when and how they want it – organisations can encourage business users to take advantage of self-service BI in new and exciting ways, whilst having the peace of mind that IT departments are ensuring data quality and integrity in the background. This will all drive higher levels of BI pervasiveness, which in turn, will boost productivity, optimise business performance, and maximise return on investments.