Classic business intelligence solutions were good at accomplishing their core purposes – namely, helping organizations make better decisions based on information instead of intuition or guesswork. However, it may have felt like a pretty substantial group of employees were missing the boat. Getting output from BI can be a complex process, one handled by employees with advanced competency and training in a particular field. But what about the business staff without this specialized expertise? They would have to file a ticket with the proper department and wait. And if there's one thing that can scuttle a quick strategy in business, it's a protracted delay.
The self-service revolution
A recent insideBIGDATA piece by contributor Daniel Gutierrez explained the changes that are underway in IT today, shifting the onus of asking BI questions to departments that don't have a technical background. These employees can take the new freedom they have been given and get on with their own projects. As for the technological developments that have actually made this highly logical change possible, Gutierrez highlighted development in the interfaces accompanying algorithms. The processing power is still all there, making sure the insights are sound, but now they are tied to visualizations and other tools that make sense to those without advanced training.
Today, granting self-service BI access doesn't just mean opening up a few weak or token algorithms to the masses. The solutions themselves are strong and capable, with the ability to handle large data sources. Gutierrez cited big data as a challenge presented to companies today. They see that they can harvest great insights from information that would have been considered too large or loosely structured to produce anything of value in years past, but they need to make the connection between this content and advanced business needs through capable software. Fortunately, products today can rise to the task.
Go for self-service
Companies hoping to delve into self-service analytics can fortunately get started right away, as this technology is finally available for consumption as a standard feature within BI suites. Solutions such as Necto 14 are powerful and effective because they combine the ability to make sense of a huge variety of inputs with friendly design that puts the outputs of those analyses in front of workers who haven't been trained specifically in interpreting BI. This is a boon to everyone from the CEO to the road warriors in the sales department, as it facilitates accessing the software through a mobile device and seeing custom, helpfully tailored results.
There is a need to increase the number of software users within companies today. Increasingly, advantages are being conveyed by the programs organizations choose to use, and the better their access to these solutions, the more effective these businesses will be. This doesn't means spending a fortune on IT training, however. Instead, it is possible to bring the software to the users and enable self-service functionality. Business intelligence is one of the areas primed to become a hotbed of expanded use, largely because just about any employee, regardless of department, can think of a way he or she could improve daily operations through an infusion of data.
The musts of self-service computing
Supply & Demand Chain Executive contributor Gary Meyers recently outlined the process of making sure programs are accessible to many members of the team rather than just a highly trained inner circle. He stated that when properly implemented, these strategies allow end users to work without being interrupted by IT, which is both a functional relief and a time-saver. He noted that for programs to truly be considered self-service BI, they should enable employees to dig into their data, getting beyond superficial analysis and tracking results across departments, truly letting professionals tackle complex questions their own way.
Visual tools may be the key to extracting helpful information from the torrent that goes into a BI system. This means customized representations of the current situation according to the software, in a form that the target user can not only understand but grasp quickly and apply immediately. Meyers stated plainly that processes should enable the immediate creation of customized visual toolkits by line of business professionals. Preparations are solely accomplished by those individuals, no more calling in an expert for the setup phase. Take out that step of requesting collaboration and the entire process becomes more streamlined, offering the ability to provide answers promptly.
Future solutions today
When it comes to outfitting a workforce, business leaders can ill afford to wait. That means if they want self-service BI, they should approach it today, rather than in the future. Products available now, such as Necto 14, can convey the custom functionality needed to give every employee a view that suits his or her daily requirements. This means everyone from the CEO down to the frontline marketing force will be able to answer their most pressing questions immediately. Such functionality was not a feature of older BI, but is now in demand. The future involves improved self-service reporting.