When people think about traditional business intelligence or analytics projects, many times they are deemed unsuccessful. And while some of the reasons they are deemed unsuccessful are certainly expected – delays, cost overruns, and insufficient training – the main reason is more fundamental: once the BI applications comes out, it ultimately doesn’t meet users’ needs.
The information in the applications that have been built and widely distributed by a central IT organization, just isn’t the right information. And that’s really what the self-service analytics piece is meant to address. Rather than having to be content with the information you are given, you can now create the analytics, reports, and dashboards that you need.
However, the benefits of self-service BI doesn’t just stop with the people using the tools. Sure, these individuals can get their answers faster, but it can also benefit the IT team that is in charge of creating that large-scale analytic application that serves the largest number of information consumers or knowledge workers who uses the information to make decisions in their daily jobs.
In fact, if done right, you can create a virtuous cycle of analytics.
Think about the people who are closest to the customers and the business problems. They create their own dashboards and analyses to answer their business questions. When they discover something interesting, you should encourage them to feed that back to the people in charge of those large-scale applications. From there, the IT team can build these proven analytics into the centrally managed and distributed dashboards and reports that information consumers need.
When I think about, again, why these applications have failed, it’s because they are not meeting users’ needs. But when you have 10’s or 100’s of individuals creating their own reports, there is a good chance that there are another 100 to 1000+ people who need those insights.
These creators and analysts are going to find the insights a lot faster through self-service analytics. And once they are found, they can be shared or distributed in structured way – getting incorporated back into the dashboards and reports that the majority of information consumers in your company need.
Self-service not only benefits the people who are performing their own analysis and getting the answers that they need now, it also benefits the larger organization because those insights are being shared with more people in a centralized fashion.
This is also going to help the IT team in terms of their budget and timeline. The most useful self-service analytics “creme to the top” naturally. Those are the ones IT can include those in the new reports and dashboards that get widely delivered. This allows IT to focus and prioritize their time and resources on those analytics matter most.
I think sometimes people think that self-service analytics is a one-way street: IT provides self-service tool to creators or analysts. But it’s not – it’s a two-way street. These creators and analysts can help IT determine what is critical and important. Then IT can then blend that into the information back in to the report that is distributed to everyone.
With this virtuous analytics cycle, you are get maximum benefit in the least amount of time. Once IT and business understand the virtuous analytics cycle, cooperation, productivity, and performance all improve rapidly. Everyone wins!