What’s behind low self-service BI adoption rates?

On paper, self-service business intelligence seems like a perfect solution for enterprises, but a recent study by Logi Analytics revealed the tool has been afflicted by low adoption rates, as reported by Enterprise Apps Today.

Gartner defines self-service BI as "end users designing and deploying their own reports and analyses within an approved and supported architecture and tools portfolio." Ironically, the empowerment associated with being able to take the wheel and conduct data analysis according to a specific and unique set of criteria is also what's hampering the widespread adoption of the solution.

In fact, according to Logi Analytics, fewer than one-quarter (22 percent) of business users have access to and can leverage self-service BI.

What's holding professionals back?
Budgetary constraints have historically been a problem for big data initiatives – and, indeed, IT developments in general. Self-service BI is no exception in this regard, with nearly half (48 percent) of participants in the Logi Analytics poll citing financial limitations as a reason for underwhelming adoption.

Perhaps more surprisingly, the same percentage of respondents pointed to business user skill sets as a challenge, likely as a result of a misconception surrounding the inaccurate application of "self-service" to the aspect of training.

"How can something be 'self-service' if it requires the IT department to train and support users continually? That's the conundrum of self-service BI," wrote TechTarget industry analyst Wayne Eckerson in a blog post responding to Inside Analysis research that revealed 73 percent of people did not expect the amount of training associated with self-service BI tools. "If you want to empower users, you first need to give them the know-how to service themselves, and how to do this varies widely, depending on the skills and experience of the business users."

Eckerson identified two major types of self-service BI users:

  • Casual users, such as executives, front-line workers and managers. Their information needs are basic, and they mostly want to rely on canned reports or dashboards to access the data they need. However, about one-fifth of the time, they want to create their own reports and dashboards.
  • Power users, such as business analysts, data scientists and statisticians. They seek to find, analyze and manipulate data to answer complex questions.

Given the sharp division between these two sets of users, one-size-fits-all self-service BI training isn't the way to go. Rather, companies should gauge the needs of their workforce and launch training efforts accordingly.

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