The Turning Point for Self-Service BI

Big data and business intelligence analytics were among the top enterprise buzzwords in 2012, with many different types of companies finding the technology to be extremely beneficial. Despite their advantages, however, the majority of organizations are struggling to adopt analysis tools that can be used across the workplace.

“More data and types of data (e.g., multi-structured) have the potential to give us new insights to new users that were previously not possible, but just providing more data, without providing the right, trusted data and insights, will actually impede adoption,” Rita Sallam, research vice president at Gartner, told Information Management.

A recent Gartner study found that approximately 30 percent of enterprise employees use analysis tools, representing a slight uptick from a few years ago. In a recent blog post for Information Management, Mark Smith, CEO and chief research officer at Ventana Research, discussed some of the reasons self-service BI has been relatively unsuccessful so far.

Usability and functionality were rated the top-two priorities for effective BI use, cited by 63 percent and 49 percent of respondents, respectively. However, as Smith noted, the software is currently lagging behind in those areas. He advocated the need for “smarter business intelligence” that can produce advanced data sets to fulfill specific employee needs.

The turning point?

The complex nature of BI analytics has posed one of the biggest obstacles to full-scale adoption, but that might not be the case for much longer.

“I think we are finally at an inflection point for expanding adoption beyond the 30 percent glass ceiling because, for one, users are demanding, and vendors are delivering, easier to use tools for doing a broader range of analysis similar to what they have access to in their personal lives,” Sallam told Information Management.

The Ventana study revealed that executives value technology innovations for the BI sector. Nearly 60 percent of respondents considered collaborative tools be a top-three priority, 56 percent said the same about mobile analytics and nearly a quarter of respondents were interested in social BI.

Sallam specifically pointed to the growth of the mobile analysis tools as one of the reasons she believes self-service BI could soon go mainstream. With applications increasingly embedded into these devices, she said that it would provide greater transparency and accessibility “to an expanded set of tradition and non-traditional BI business users.” Sallam also predicted that social and collaborative tools will improve going forward.

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