What is Self-Service Business Intelligence and their benefits?

What is Self-Service Business Intelligence

Understand how systematic self-service BI can benefit your business

Self-service business intelligence is the process where users can create and customize their own unique reports. Using BI, large chunks of data can be scrutinized by both technical and non-technical personnel through the help of simple user interfaces to gain actionable insights.

Self-service business intelligence (BI) tools allow in-depth and efficient business analysis.
It lets users analyze relevant business data and succinctly present the insights from that data without relying on external IT departments for help. If an organization has self-service BI capabilities, it can begin streamlining the overall decision-making capabilities within its departments by providing users a single point of source for receiving centralized data.

What differentiates traditional BI when compared to self-service BI

With traditional BI tools and functions, it’s usually the BI team that’s tasked with data crunching work. In this traditional approach, users generally make a request for new data queries, which a BI professional writes and consequently runs a search query for. 

The origins of self-service BI

The functional need for a systematic Self-Service BI arose out of requiring a solution to tackle the ever-increasing need for faster data analysis and provision for actionable insights. Traditional BI solutions relied heavily on a collaborative framework between technical & non-technical users. I.e between IT departments and other users. 

The structure of these traditional BI mechanisms would create a noticeable delay between the time a request for data was created and when the requested data was successfully delivered. This inherent drawback of traditional BI created the impetus for efficient ways to create, scrutinize and analyze business reports without requiring extensive technical expertise.  

This necessitated the creation of a self-service BI that was proactive instead of simply being reactionary.

Consequently IT departments in businesses today are allocating more resources to focus on data governance and security instead of just on report creation. 

The benefits of Self-Service Business Intelligence 

Self-Service Business Intelligence can benefit businesses in a variety of ways. Some of these benefits include:

  1. Optimal usage of IT resources
    Since businesses today have the potential to conduct their own in-house analysis, self-service BI usually frees resources that an organization would otherwise invest into traditional BI and IT departments in creating data, dashboards and actionable insights.
    This consequently allows businesses to allocate their resources to focus on high value  priorities requiring more technical skills. These technical skills range from creating sample data sets for business users to generating complex queries and reports.
  2. Faster data analysis and decision-making
    Self-service BI efficiently minimizes bottlenecks in traditional BI programs by allowing the data analytics functions to be accessible to normal users instead of just IT professionals. This greatly enhances business productivity, because it lets users ( both technical and non-technical ) analyze data more efficiently and thereby be in a position to take better business decisions
  3. Data-centric processes
    More business owners, workers and even non-technical users are increasingly making use of self-service BI tools. This paves the way to create and sustain an environment of holistic data-driven culture in different levels of the organization and even among upper management.
  4. Versatile and competitive advantages
    The effective use of data and swift decision-making can help make an organization more versatile. This versatility lets it act on actionable insights faster thereby providing it a competitive edge. 

Try Self-Service BI for your business

A well implemented self-service BI strategy can help optimize many functional areas of your business. It allows for streamlining of processes as it empowers even non-technical users to become active participants of the process of data analytics and reporting. This helps free up bandwidth on IT teams, and helps foster synergy across different business departments. 

Also Read: What is Business Intelligence Reporting?


Sreeram Sreenivasan is the Founder of Ubiq. He has helped many Fortune 500 companies in the areas of BI & software development.