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What is Self-Service Business Intelligence?

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  • Last Updated : 22 Dec, 2020
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Have you ever tried self-service in a restaurant? It allows you more freedom in what you want to eat and makes sure that you are not dependent on someone else for your food. It’s the same case with Self-Service Business Intelligence! It also allows business teams such as sales, marketing, operations, finance, etc. to create Business Intelligence models to answer their data questions on their own without depending on the IT or data analytics team to create the data insights they need.


This independence is what is making Self-Service Business Intelligence more and more popular these days with many BI platforms such as Tableau, Sisense, Looker, etc. offering options. Companies can select their choice from all these options according to their needs and then implement their BI strategy according to their business requirements. So let’s understand what Self-Service Business Intelligence is in detail and what makes it so different from Traditional Business Intelligence along with its advantages and disadvantages. And then we will look at some of the BI platforms in detail.

Self-Service Business Intelligence provides Self-Service capabilities to businesses. This means that business teams can focus on Business Intelligence without putting much burden on the IT department or the data analysts. So IT teams of companies don’t need to be heavily involved in Business Intelligence and they can manage other IT projects while the business teams can manage Business Intelligence on their own. (Even though it is a product of intelligence analytics!) There are many Business Intelligence vendors these days that provide Self-Service BI capabilities as well for companies that do not want to manage the entire spectrum of Business Intelligence from scratch.

Differences Between Traditional and Self-Service BI

There are many differences between the Traditional and Self-Service Business Intelligence models. Traditional Business Intelligence requires employees in various departments such as sales, finance, and HR, etc. to request the IT or the data analysis teams for the data reports forecast trends, or business analysis they need and then wait for the results. While this method is advantageous as it allows the IT team absolute control over the data which reduces data discrepancies, it also leads to slow reports and data bottlenecks in the business. This is because the regular employees do not have the necessary level of expertise to manage traditional Business Intelligence, they are dependent on the experts to provide them with data insights that they use to make business decisions. This can cause unintended delays that lead to unfortunate losses for the business or miscommunication between departments.

However, the Self-Service Business Intelligence model puts the data power in the hands of the employees. It allows them to access the business data on their own using a centralized data model and then create BI insights as they wish. This approach is more independent as it allows employees to access the business data and obtain the data insights they need without relying on the IT or the data analysis teams. This model promotes more trust between the business teams and employees because it allows the transparent use of data. Employees can use Self-Service Business Intelligence for themselves according to their needs without relying on anyone else.

Advantages of Self-Service Business Intelligence

There are many advantages to using Self-Service Business Intelligence. Let’s check some of these now!

1. Employees can answer their questions

All the employees in a company can answer the question they have on their own using the data. This is because the Self-Service Business Intelligence places analytics tools into the hands of individual employees so that they can make well-informed decisions on their own. They also don’t need to wait for the IT and analyst teams to make the data analyst decisions for them and thus they can work much faster than using traditional BI models.

2. Individual data insights are backed by data

Self-Service Business Intelligence allows individual employees to make data insights using the various BI tools on their own. This is very important as businesses require fast decisions that are rooted concretely in data and so employees can quickly provide reports on the data analysis quickly and further advance their company.

3. Increased efficiency allows businesses to gain a competitive edge

When all the employees can make data decisions on their own using Self-Service Business Intelligence tools, this makes them more confident and leads to increased efficiency in the business. This also means that the business can gain a competitive edge over their competitors that are still using traditional Business Intelligence with the help of experienced data analysts and IT professionals.

4. The IT and analyst teams can focus on higher-level problems

When the business employees are not dependent on the IT and analyst teams to provide them business insights for various problems, this frees up the teams to focus on higher-level problems. This reduces the burden on the IT and analyst teams which also improves their performance and eventually increases the efficiency of the business.

Disadvantages of Self-Service Business Intelligence

While there are many advantages to Self-Service Business Intelligence, there are also some disadvantages. This is especially true because this is still an emerging technology. So let’s check out these disadvantages.

1. Resources aren’t used efficiently enough

All the resources that are available normally with the Business Intelligence tools may not be used efficiently enough using the Self-Service BI. This is because when employees use BI individually then the data reporting responsibility becomes increasingly more scattered. So different employees may create conflicting reports or there may be data inconsistencies.

2. The ability to innovate and compete with the help of analytics can be compromised

As already discussed, if employees all work individually with data using Self-Service Business Intelligence, then it will be very little scope for innovation in the business. This is because the employees are all inexperienced in data analysis using the BI tools and they may barely be able to get the information they need, less alone innovate.

3. The quality and efficiency of the entire corporate management is affected

Since the business resources are used efficiently and the employees are not able to innovate as they can using traditional BI tools, this means that the quality and efficiency of the entire corporate management is affected. Instead of becoming a boon for businesses, Self-Service Business Intelligence can become a hindrance in the worst-case circumstances.

Self-Service Business Intelligence Platforms

Let’s see some Business Intelligence platforms that offer Self-Service options:

1. Tableau

Tableau is a Business Intelligence platform that is arguably the most popular currently. It has many different products including Desktop, Server, Online, Reader, and Public where the Public version is free for anyone to use. Tableau is working on providing Self-Service Business Intelligence to businesses and it has also focused on the reasons a business should invest in self-service business intelligence.

2. Sisense

Sisense is a business intelligence platform that provides various tools for data analysts to simplify complex data and obtain insights for their businesses. Sisense provides various data analytics tools to business teams which also includes Self-Service Business Intelligence for non-analytics-expert professionals. Sisense also provides a demo to demonstrate its self-service analytics for business users.

3. Looker

Looker is a business intelligence and data analytics tool that can provide in-depth data insights. Businesses can make instant decisions based on the insights obtained from Looker. It also provides Self-Service Business Intelligence options for businesses so that employees can create their business intelligence models even if they don’t have a high level of technical expertise.

This article provides all the pertinent details about Self-Service Business Intelligence to get started. So you can decide to integrate it with your business model as it provides various advantages. Or you can even stick with the tried and tested traditional Business Intelligence if it suits your business needs better. However, it is worth it to study more about this technology as it is getting more and more popular in the future with many Business Intelligence platforms also providing Self-Service options for their customers.

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