5 Reasons Why You Don’t Need Self-Service BI

Apr 14, 2014

Do you currently have people in your IT department whose main function is just to query and write reports for your employees?

You have probably been hearing a lot of buzz lately about agile BI or self-service BI which allows your average information worker to explore your data themselves, ask questions and gain insight without the help of IT.

Perhaps you are even starting to wonder if you should be considering self-service BI for your organization, like many others are right now.

The Right Decision for the Right Conditions

“I’ve had the opportunity to work with clients who have had differing needs with respect to data requirements and decision making.   In past years, we worked a lot with more traditional BI approaches, with long lead times in report creation and implementation.  There weren’t a lot of options at that time and this was OK when the decisions weren’t required right away,” said Cory Hanna, Senior Consultant at BizXcel.  “However, with recent downturns in the economy and companies wishing to take advantage of any situation they can, this is changing.   BI solutions that are more agile and friendlier to the end user allow them to mine the data and create the reports they need on the fly to make their decisions.  Agile BI tools, such as QlikView, give them the power to make the important decisions they need to and to make them more quickly.  And, as a bonus, their overworked I.T. department can focus on other things at hand.”

What’s Right for You?

Rather than discuss the benefits of a self-service system though, I’ll discuss when you don’t need one instead.

Here are five reasons why you should consider sticking with your traditional BI system.

1. Your organization is not faced with a shrinking decision-window

In today’s business environment, many people are pressured to make decisions more rapidly, anywhere from within the day, the hour or even minutes. Decision-windows are getting smaller every day and many information workers need access to real-time data.

Due to this, many organizations find that it is imperative to have a self-service BI system which allows their people to access information when they need it and where they need it in order to make decisions, without the bottle-neck of having to go to IT.

2. Your employees rarely have time-sensitive data needs or unanticipated questions

Traditional BI platforms can sometimes take weeks or months to create a new report or even add a new column to one.

For organizations that may be faced with time sensitive needs, such as a sudden product quality issue or the unanticipated departure of a big client, it is important for employees to have immediate access to all the necessary data to ask the questions they need to get answers.

If your employees rarely require urgent access to data, a traditional approach to BI works well.

3. Your people never need to dive deeper into reports or ask further questions

Information needs are constantly changing with the shifting business environment and many information workers continually need to see different views of data as different challenges arise; sometimes asking questions outside the box, seeing if different issues are related or drilling down deeper to get insights.

Static reports from IT are thus continually met with requests for even more information. This makes it increasingly difficult for IT departments using traditional BI to keep up. Furthermore, because of the complexity of the processes involved, often these work requests aren’t completed in time to actually be useful to the people who requested them in the first place.

Timely access to information and the ability to explore, collaborate, share and dig deeper are key reasons why many organizations are implementing self-service BI systems. Their static reports are no longer sufficient.

4. IT isn’t overburdened by the responsibility of satisfying user requests

Due to the shrinking decision-window, massive amounts of data, and IT departments often left running lean after cutbacks, requests for reports in many organizations leave IT overwhelmed and unable to provide them fast enough.

When IT should be concerned with data quality, security and governance, they are held back by a never-ending stream of requests. Even a small request might involve changes to table structure, load process, cube or semantic layers, and reports, all of which typically require a testing cycle and formal change management process before it can land in the hands of the person who needs it.

Sophisticated, but still easy-to-use self-service BI tools, like QlikView, let information workers explore their data and gives IT a break.

If your IT department hasn’t been under the stress of running lean or a deluge of report requests, then your traditional BI system is still probably a good bet.

5. It’s not important for your employees to make evidence-based decisions all the time

Despite the overwhelming amounts of data available today, many employees still make decisions based on gut feelings, instinct or benchmarking.

Much of this is due to organizations not having a culture based on evidence-based decision-making and not providing employees with access to real-time data they can easily access and explore to get the answers they need to make solid decisions based on facts.

Organizations looking to address the shrinking decision-window and take advantage of the benefits of using real-time data to make informed choices, address problems and embrace opportunities are discovering self-service BI is the way to go.

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