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June 2013

Companies seeing self-service BI demand

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Business intelligence usage is changing at a relentless pace. While this quick transformation may be shocking to some IT leaders who were just getting used to the old model, it is in line with the overall direction of technology in the 21st century. Each new technical introduction, from cloud computing to servers that can handle massive volumes of information, is adding its own wrinkles to the BI world, and companies that adopt these trends are well-positioned to succeed. The expansion of BI is driven, in part, by what employees themselves want to see. Rather than acting unilaterally, IT leaders can ask their team members for advice cornering future acquisitions.

Self-service BI on the rise
Information Age recently gave examples of business intelligence's spread beyond the insular world of the IT department itself. While analytics operations were once accomplished by a few experts who then disseminated the results to the rest of the company on request, that model has begun to disappear. The news provider explained that workers throughout corporate structures are demanding analytics access, and waiting for a second hand report takes more time than they are willing to give. This has created a breaking point, and these workers are now interested in taking over the analytics process through easy to use programs tailored to their own roles.

Major companies have made the switch already – Information Age described the situation inside clothing giant Nike. IT architect Jimmy Lee told the source that Nike's individual users would use Microsoft Excel to handle their analytics queries, but this method does not have the proper governance checks in place. Thus, to satisfy both business demand for BI and IT demand for management of information, it's time to adopt modern self-service methodology. Lee noted that to make such systems work, companies should make sure projects have strong support in any department where they might be used.

Establishing standard experiences
According to a recent Forrester blog post, Unilever is another massive company implementing an advanced data use strategy. Greg Swimmer, Unilever global IT leader, told the source that the company is deeply involved in efforts to produce a simple and standardized data experience. This is important, as the firm's IT strategy involves giving some level of access to more than 20,000 workers in total.

At companies that have extensive workforces and plenty of data, close management of the situation is absolutely critical. Taking a hands-off approach and hoping things work out could be disastrous. Today's BI programs demand user and leadership attention.

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