Self-Service BI Myths and Truths

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Self-Service BI Myths and Truths

blog_myths-truthsAs I discussed in The Road to Self-Service BI, enterprises need a better understanding of self-service BI so they can avoid the common mistakes often made with it.

Self-Service BI Truths

The primary goal of self-service BI is to enable business people to perform business analytics in a timely and self-sufficient manner. A secondary goal for many business people is that the information they use in that analysis is consistent, comprehensive, correct and current.

Supporting objectives:

  • More pervasive and in-depth use of analytics in decision-making
  • Reduced time to insight
  • Improved business and IT productivity

Self-Service BI Myths

There are too many myths and hopes that impede successful self-service BI efforts:

  • Business people want to build their own reports. No they don’t, but they do want to perform their own analysis.
  • You need to eliminate IT from BI. No, it’s not that simple. It’s naïve to think that you can give business people the latest wave of BI tools and avoid working with IT. Although an enterprise does want to get IT staff out of the perpetual queue of creating BI reports and dashboards, or writing custom ad-hoc queries to support new or modified business analytical requirements, business people will get frustrated without IT involvement (we’ll discuss in what areas later)  and likely create the next wave of data shadow systems that are data silos.
  • All you need is the latest self-service BI tool. Not even close. This is a great sales pitch that both business and IT would love to be true. It would great if buying a BI tool eliminated the hard work of, for example, getting the data consistent and governed, but unfortunately if it was just technology then self-service BI would have been the norm years ago.
  • The problem is that business people just cannot access the data they want. No, the problem is not access, it’s the data inconsistency and quality. This is the sales pitch in almost every BI demo I have seen for the last decade. The disclaimer on these demos should also be that their product works great as long as all your data is consistent, comprehensive, clean and current.
  • One size fits all. No way. Business people have different degrees of analytics needs and skills, need to use a diverse data types and volumes, and are trying to answer a wide variety of business questions.  It’s short-sighted to assume that a single BI analytical style or tool could solve everyone’s problems.

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