BI Trends

The Failed Promise of Self-Service Analytics

By Marissa Davis
Share on LinkedIn Tweet about this on Twitter Share on Facebook

Breaking the ceiling of analytics adoption is going to take a lot more than a great self-service BI tool. In fact, standalone analytics tools on their own – no matter how simple to use, or how broad the capabilities – will never solve the analytics adoption problem.

If you think back ten years ago, BI was solely the domain of IT. As data analysts grew frustrated with their inability to get the insights they wanted without asking IT for help, we entered the Wild West of data discovery tools – often purchased without any IT involvement. But even when end users were choosing their own tools, analytics adoption still hit a ceiling of around 20 to 30% of the workforce.

>> Discover additional analytics trends in the 2017 State of Analytics Adoption Report<<

Fast forward to the the last five years: Vendors, including Logi, have turned their focus to delivering self-service analytics tools – the happy medium where IT could still control data access, while end users could do their own analysis and create their own dashboards and reports. But regardless of how easy self-service tools were to use, they often forced users to leave their current workflows and open standalone applications to analyze their data.

This meant that these standalone self-service tools didn’t live up to their hype. Not only did analytics adoption not increase, it actually decreased. According to Logi’s 2017 State of Analytics Adoption report, despite an increase in availability of self-service tools, user adoption of has decreased 20% since 2014.

This indicates that we have reached full penetration of standalone self-service analytics. Those who want the tools have them, and the adoption rate isn’t going to get any higher – regardless of how simple we make the tools.

Standalone self-service solutions were right for 20 to 30% of knowledge workers. But for the other 70%, these tools are still inefficient and outdated, requiring users to open up separate applications outside the context of their workflows, which wastes time and cause frustrations. In fact, Nucleus Research estimates that toggling between applications can take up as much as 1-2 hours of an employee’s time each week.

So where does this leave the analytics market? The majority of people still need to use analytics to make data-driven business decisions. But they don’t want to switch to a separate application to do it.

It all comes down to how analytics (including self-service analytics) are delivered to users. Research has shown time and time again that analytics embedded in the applications people use every day have better adoption rates than traditional standalone BI tools.

According to Nucleus, companies are noticing the benefits of embedded analytics. They estimate that 90% of analytics solutions for business users will be embedded in other core applications within the next 5 years. Anne Moxie, senior research analyst at Nucleus, says, “To offer analytics in a manner that is suited to business users, analytics tools should be embedded within core applications to increase adoption, grow productivity, and advance understanding of analyses by offering insights in context.”

There needs to be a shift. Rather than giving separate analytics tools to end users, application teams need to embed the analytics into their applications. People want information delivered where they are; they don’t want to have to go seek it out. And if done right, the people using the application won’t even realize they are using analytics to make their business decisions. Kind of the way Amazon has so tightly integrated analytics into the buying process, that it’s just part of your buying process.

There is still a need for self-service capabilities in the analytics market, but they must be delivered in context. That’s how you break past the adoption ceiling.


Originally published January 19, 2017; updated on June 15th, 2018

About the Author

Marissa Davis is the Corporate Communications Manager at Logi Analytics. She was previously an Account Manager at LEWIS PR, where she managed the public relation activities for a number technology companies. Marissa holds Bachelor degrees in Communication Studies and Technical and Scientific Communications from James Madison University.