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5 Surprises from Our Annual State of Self-Service BI Report

By Alvin Wong
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Today we released our second-annual State of Self-Service BI report, which is focused on how businesses users and IT professionals view and use self-service business intelligence (BI) tools today.

The report once again shows that the vast majority (91%) of IT and business users agree self-service analytics tools are essential. However, adoption of these tools remains stagnant, with less than a quarter of business users (22%) reporting they have access to and use self-service BI tools when they need it – the same disappointing percentage reported in 2014.

That being said, we recognize that creating a data-driven culture takes a lot more than just providing users with a self-service BI tool. Fundamentally changing the way people work and the associated adoption of these tools cannot happen overnight.

This year’s report shows encouraging signs that indicate organizations are taking the necessary steps to improve the overall adoption of self-service analytics tools.

Here are the top 5 findings from this year’s report:

1. Investment in Self-Service Growing

95% of IT organizations plan to invest in self-service BI in the next 2 years, which is up 11% from 2014. But compared to 2014, they won’t simply invest in enhancing existing tools or implementing new ones: the top area for investment is end user training.

We believe that by shifting focus to improving people and processes, IT can work around their limited budgets and still address gaps in user skill sets, both of which are viewed as limiters to self-service BI adoption.

2. Business flexibility drives need for self-service

The biggest driver for self-service remains the flexibility it gives business users to get things done on their own time. This year, business users also report that it helps support the over-arching desire for organizations to become more data-driven.

Criticisms of IT, which traditionally include long response times and their lack of resources, are still present, but are not the primary drivers for self-service. This shows us that business users recognize that they must team up with IT to get the analytics tools they need.

Discover additional findings. Download the 2015 State of Self-Service BI Report.

3. Self-service BI liberates IT

Self-service doesn’t just empower business users. On average, self-service BI reduces IT requests by 47%, up from 37% in 2014, strengthening the case for IT to make further investments in user adoption. Moreover, this reduction in requests will allow IT to be more strategic in the use of their ever shrinking resources.

4. Marketing is the most under-served department

63% of business users in marketing said self-service BI is very important to their job, the highest of all departments. However, only 9% of marketing respondents were very satisfied, the lowest of all departments. The huge gap in satisfaction highlights how a typical business user community struggles with transforming into a data-driven organization.

5. Data complexity reins in self-service

In 2014, 51 percent of business users said that they had access to all the data and information they needed without asking IT. This year, only 43% of users reported having access to everything they needed. This decrease suggests that the need for more data coming from more sources, and the complexity of pulling it all together, has made business users more reliant on IT for their self-service needs.

The 2015 State of Self-Service BI report is based on an online survey of more than 800 business and technology professionals, conducted in August and September of this year. Respondents included executives, directors, and staff from line of business and IT at companies of all different sizes.


Originally published October 27, 2015; 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.