Mobile devices and cloud computing have changed the workplace significantly in a short amount of time.
These days, employees aren't confined to working exclusively at the office. The cloud enables them to log into networks from any device with an internet connection. That means they can now work from home, a hotel room or the local Starbucks, among many other places, and smartphones and tablets allow employees to take their work on the road with them.
As a result, employees are increasingly demanding access to mission-critical applications remotely. It used to be that email and a couple of work-related programs were enough, but with the rise of bring-your-own-device practices, people want the same programs they use at work available from personal devices as well.
That includes business intelligence (BI) solutions. In a recent blog post for Bizcommunity.com, Ayanda Diamini, business development manager at LGR Telecommunications, noted that as workers continue to use BI apps with regularity, "They are starting to demand the same functionality in their enterprise applications."
This, he said, is sparking a growing interest in self-service business intelligence tools. By delivering relevant information to employees in real time, enterprises essentially have "untapped gold" on their hands.
The self-service 'hierarchy'
The benefits of self-service BI are starting to come to the forefront, and for good reason. Many companies have benefited tremendously from sales teams having better and immediate access to individual customer profiles and predictions about future consumer trends.
However, according to a TechTarget survey, just 36 percent of respondents are satisfied with their companies' self-service BI programs right now. That indicates organizations have work to do before they can truly take advantage of the technology.
"You need a number of tools for data mining, ad hoc analysis, dashboards," Wayne Eckerson, director of TechTarget's BI Leadership Research unit, told the news source. "The question with self-service BI is, who is that tool geared for – report users or report authors?"
When implementing a self-service strategy, Eckerson proposed developing a "hierarchy." This outlines how reporters authors and users intend to use BI tools.
"Different people are comfortable with different hierarchy levels for how they want to use information, and the best BI tools expose information on demand so you don't overwhelm lower-level users," Eckerson said.
Once these expectations have been established, it becomes easier for companies to deploy BI applications in a way that best meets the needs of its users.