Self-service business intelligence sounds so simple: Give business users easy-to-use BI tools and let them do their own data analysis and build their own reports. Easy, right?
But of course, there's a lot more to self-service BI than that. Some users just need dashboards with data that they can drill into if they're so inclined; others want full-fledged BI tools that let them write their own analytical queries and create their own reports. There's training -- potentially a lot of training --to be done, often followed by ongoing handholding. IT and BI teams also have to closely monitor self-service applications to make sure that different users are using data in a consistent way and that mammoth queries don't choke BI systems.
What's really easy is going wrong, according to a survey conducted in July 2012 by Wayne Eckerson, director of the BI Leadership Research unit at TechTarget (which is also the parent company of SearchBusinessAnalytics.com). Only 36% of the 234 respondents rated the success of their self-service BI initiatives as good or excellent. "Implementing self-service BI is trickier than many BI professionals anticipate," Eckerson wrote in a report about the survey.
You'll find more from the survey in a three-part series of stories we've published on self-service BI, along with advice from experienced IT executives and BI consultants on how to get a good grade on deployments. First, we look at the benefits of using self-service software. Next, we catalog tips on successfully managing self-service projects. And finally, we focus on issues to consider in evaluating and selecting self-service BI tools.
Craig Stedman is executive editor of SearchBusinessAnalytics and three other TechTarget websites. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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