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What is Self-Service BI?

What is self-service BI? A definition by The unbelievable Machine Company // Visual royalty-free @ pexels.com

Creating analyses and reports by yourself, in a short time, with all required data and without external help from the IT department or highly complex software – these are the objectives of business intelligence as a self-service solution.

Self-service business intelligence, also known as self-service BI or SSBI, enables employees in the departments to access own and additional data and to create analyses or reports independently – as for data discovery, data visualization or predictive analytics.

Advantages of Self-Service BI

Advantage professional user
Thanks to self-service BI, employees in the departments are capable of collecting and evaluating the existing and required data on short routes in order to derive analyses and generate reports. This without having to call on the help of the IT department or even have in-depth technical knowledge.

This makes evaluations available more quickly. Decision processes are easier to feed with data and facts and become more target-oriented and efficient. The already existing data gains value, as more information can be derived from it, which flows directly into the evaluations of the various departments. The entire company can react much more quickly to changing market conditions and, if used correctly, secure decisive competitive advantages.

Advantage IT department
Already heavily utilized IT departments and employees are also relieved. Because the provision and operation of classic, sometimes very complex BI software is significantly reduced or eliminated. IT employees do not have to prepare the necessary data material for the specialist departments. Thus, they do not have to deal with different views and analysis options of different departments and can concentrate on their core tasks.

Requirements of Self-Service BI

Essential factors for self-service BI are the transparent availability of data and access to the data repository (data lake or data warehouse). Intuitively operable, functionally structured applications and tools are recommended for easy user entry. Since Office applications are an integral part of their everyday work, interfaces with Excel- or Access-like functions are particularly suitable.

A further basic requirement, in addition to querying data, is the ability to feed information into the system. Users should be able to add current data to the existing database and make forecasts or analyses based on the most recent material. This data should also be available in real time to other departments in the organization for their specific analyses.

And then it is important...

Self-service BI is no complete alternative to traditional managed BI platforms, which remain necessary in larger contexts. But the self-service variant in particular offers companies of any size the opportunity to develop agility, integrate the specific domain knowledge of specialist departments into projects and gain new insights from existing and supplementary data.

The applications and tools of self-service BI do not function independently, but are part of the company's IT. Connected to existing and, if possible, external data sources. To ensure this fundamentally, it needs someone who sets the framework and the definitions, prepares the data, consolidates it and brings it into a consistent format, checks and adheres to security guidelines. Overall control must remain with the IT department, which assigns roles and permissions to users.

A well-considered SSBI initiative finally requires three main things: decision-makers who want to keep pace with market developments, an IT department that retains control, and experts who accompany them.


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