BI Trends

Top 5 Insights from the State of Self-Service BI

By Alvin Wong
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We recently released the State of Self-Service BI Report, which provides insight on how self-service impacts their business. The report delves into the underlying need, the opportunities for improvement, and evolving trends for self-service business intelligence.

Let’s examine the top 5 insights from the report.

1. Both IT and business users understand the importance of self-service BI:
Over 92% of survey participants say that self-service BI is essential to the business. The factors most driving the need for self-service is the desire for business users to get things done on their own time, organizational demands to become more data-driven, and limited IT resources.

IT can realize tangible return from investing in self-service BI, and a reduction in report requests in an important way to measure this. Respondents report an average reduction of 37% and median of 30%, which informs those who are initiating a self-service project today that they should probably not expect to eliminate all requests. Rather, having business users accomplish easier tasks can provide a quick productivity boost, while IT works on more difficult tasks.


2. Adoption of self-service BI tools is still low:
Both business users and IT reported that only 22% of business users have access to and use self-service BI tools when they need. This result is even lower than the enterprise adoption of CIO-sponsored BI tools reported by Gartner, which stands at 30%. In our survey, IT reports that the biggest limiting factors are limited budget, business user skill set, and data security.


3. IT departments plan to invest in better tools and user training:
84% of IT organization plan to invest in self-service BI over the next two years. They will primarily be spending on enhancing the tools they already have available, implementing new tools to fill gaps in capabilities, and training business users.

In addition, 24% of business users have already purchased self-service BI tools on their own without sign-off from IT. This will be a continuing trend for the foreseeable future.

4. Business users are looking for increased functionality:
Business users are interested in performing analysis and constructing the presentation, not just consuming the output. This is shown by their top-rated functions: read a report or dashboard, analyze data to create a visualization, create a report or dashboard, and export data (presumably to work in another tool if they cannot get the first three things done in the BI system). With report consumption and data analysis tied for most important, this diverges from the traditional view that business users are consumption-focused.


5. IT and business users differ on deployment models:
Business users have a slight preference for installed applications. IT, however, overwhelmingly prefers the security, access control, and management afforded by web applications as the channel for delivering self-service capabilities.


Want more insights? Download the full report here.


Originally published November 4, 2014; updated on June 15th, 2018

About the Author

Alvin Wong has an extensive background in solution architecture and implementation of SaaS and business intelligence applications. Alvin earned his MS in Engineering Management from Stanford University and BS in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University.