Self-service business intelligence (BI) is a business capability that allows employers and employees to ask questions about their data, analyze said data, and gain insights. This is often referred to as self-service analytics, due to the results it delivers. These terms are interchangeable.
Self-service BI can be carried out without relying on IT professionals, data specialists, or structured query language (SQL), making it beneficial for all businesses. While specific technical skills are not required, self-service BI does rely on the expertise and competence of business professionals. This ensures the right questions are asked and the correct actions are taken based on the responses.
Self-service BI uses processes, tools, and software that allow your business to analyze copious amounts of data, quickly and efficiently. This means end users can see and analyze the data they want, and create dashboards for easy viewing. Self-service BI is therefore a fantastic way to streamline your workflow processes.
It is a table of contents. Click on the needed subheading and switch between parts of the article.
Using traditional BI methods can be effective if you have the professionals to do this, but it takes time. As you may already know, time is a luxury in a fast-paced modern business environment.
When an employee requests data but is not trained in accessing the data themselves, they must wait for someone else to do it. In the time it takes to process queries and reports, data is constantly changing. By the time the data report is accessed, the results could well be obsolete.
Self-service BI essentially cuts out the middle man, so your IT professionals can focus on other essential work while your employees access data themselves, quickly and more efficiently. Self-service BI is an on-demand service, meaning a report can be accessed within just a few minutes.
There are many benefits to this, such as being able to use the most current data trends in meetings. For instance, a data report could be retrieved just before a daily check-in meeting using the best business VoIP.
Free to use image sourced from Unsplash
Accessible by all
Another key benefit of self-service BI is that it is accessible by all. You do not need a qualification or degree in reading and analyzing data, which means you do not need to hire new employees or freelance workers. Whatever the role of an employee in your business (marketing, management, sales), self-service BI can be implemented throughout your company.
This leads to more informed meetings, where data can be presented in real-time. Self-service BI software like Tableau converts complicated data into an understandable format through charting. Managers can then use these charts to present data which can be understood by all employees, regardless of training.
Self-service BI training
Although self-service BI is accessible, managers should be given some kind of formal training. For anybody comfortable with IT, this will not take long. Most BI software is not overly complicated and as long as you know what questions to ask or queries to raise, you will get everything you need from self-service BI.
Once you have a few members of your team who are confident in using self-service BI, get other staff members involved. A quick online or in-person training session is all that is needed to teach the basics of self-service BI tools. Keeping your employees up to date with major business tools will not only improve their knowledge, but will also improve employee retention and satisfaction.
Free to use image sourced from Unsplash
When using traditional BI methods, the data is severely limited in who can access, explore, and analyze it with the correct results. This means only a select few employees or the technical elite can use collected data, which can cause a number of problems.
Firstly, if you are a small business with one data analyst who calls in sick, there is nobody to analyze data. Secondly, employees need to see data in order to truly comprehend what they contribute through their job role.
When employees can see trends in data, it leads to a better understanding of job roles. They can see what they are bringing to the team and how their efforts are making a change to the numbers. Self-service BI can be viewed in a clear, understandable format, so no employee is left wondering what they are reading.
Putting data to use
Most self-service BI tools allow users to create custom dashboards, create reports, and obtain the insights they need when they need them. Data can therefore be analyzed straight from the source, improving data reports, business decisions, and employee understanding.
For example, if you are working in a call center, your employees could access a data dashboard relating to sales figures or average sales per agent. This is a great motivational tool for pushing sales reps to compete against each other, perhaps with an added commission check for the winner. This is just one of many call center management tips that can be utilized through the use of self-service BI.
Empowered decision making
Self-service BI users are not the only people who can benefit from its use within your organization. Before self-service tools, analysts or IT specialists were required to build data reports and dashboards for individual users, depending on their job role. When a company begins to grow and needs data quickly, this can become a burden.
Self-service BI tools allow data analysts and IT professionals to focus on data accuracy instead of manually creating reports with constantly changed data. In this article, on the example of Power BI integration, we explain the importance for businesses to integrate their software with BI tools and how to simplify integration processes.
Thus, data professionals within your team are freed up to complex processes of data extraction and representation, focusing on data analysis itself. Self-service BI can also be used by data analysts to filter data avoiding meaningless data export.
Free to use image sourced from Unsplash
Employees can use current data to see where the business is and where the business needs to be (which should be set by management on a daily basis). From this, they have a clear picture of what their focus needs to be. This can help them prioritize tasks, without having to speak to the project manager every time. Employees should feel empowered to make decisions, and self-service BI can help with this.
The benefits of empowerment
Empowered employees are engaged employees! According to Haiilo, companies who have high employee engagement are up to 21% more profitable. Employees want skills they can add to their CVs and ones that can improve their career prospects. Giving your employees the chance to make better and more informed decisions is a great way to streamline many business processes and empower all business users.
Implementing self-service BI into your business
If the benefits of using self-service BI to improve your business processes have intrigued you, it is time to implement it. Like anything in business, self-service BI implementation will take planning, organization, and training. This may take some time but will reduce the workload for data analysts, while allowing employees to access the data they need, quickly.
Make sure you know what results you want from the data you collect. This can improve the efficiency of your workflow and ensure that your employees feel empowered. All that’s left to do is to start looking at self-service BI software and tools that can best benefit your business today. Which software you use will depend on your budget and what will work best for the data you want to analyze.
Subscribe to the Alpha Serve blog
Stay up to date with different topics related to project management, agile methodology, and more.