Self Service? Full Service? What Gives With Business Intelligence?

Business intelligence, once a coveted technology for only the elite enterprises, has evolved to the point of mass consumption. While a 2011 Bloomberg study revealed that 97 percent of companies with revenue of more than $100 million used a business analytics solution, self-service business intelligence has changed the game.

Five years later, as Gartner points out in its latest release of its BI Magic Quadrant, there are more tools than ever to choose from, resulting in mid-market and even small businesses jumping into the data game.

Self-service benefits everyone

The benefits of self-service business intelligence are hard to dispute – setup driven by the end user instead of IT; easily-accessible and understood analytics; and intuitive visualization and dashboard capabilities. As industry vendors trend toward cloud-based technology, many users also benefit from better security, faster upgrades, and low cost, off-site deployment.

As users seek new functionality, something new is emerging on the horizon – full service business intelligence. For the benefit of IT leaders not yet experienced with full service business intelligence, let me offer some insights.

Taking data preparation off the user’s plate

These solutions streamline even more of the analytics process by eliminating the typical steps preceding and following self-service BI.

All BI programs start with the energy-draining and time-intensive data preparation process. As users know, data has to be collected, cleaned up, and put into a structured format, a painful but necessary first step. Analysts spend 50-85 percent of their time on this responsibility, notes one study, significantly cutting into their highly-beneficial reporting and analysis hours.

This process must be repeated every time users want fresh data for their analytics, and financial professionals are actively seeking an alternative to this drain on their time and resources. As a result, the business intelligence industry is experiencing an evolution. To meet the growing needs of large businesses and their data, full-service business intelligence is emerging as a solution for companies who require additional data support and services.

Reduced Data Cleanup

As more BI solutions have started handling companies’ data organization, cleansing, and formatting responsibilities, companies’ are able to slash dedicated data cleanup hours down to almost nothing and replace them with additional hours for analysis.

Increased Customization

Full-service BI providers are also adding customization capabilities. Self-service BI rose to the top due to its easily-accessible basic analytics, but companies need the next big step ─ access to more advanced analytics that fit their specific business needs.

With this functionality, they can solve more complex problems on their own without pulling IT back into the process or draining their business users’ resources to develop BI programs. Modern businesses crave plug-and-play customization abilities and direct paths to actionable insights related to their specific business goals, and business intelligence software companies are responding.

Expedited Deployment

Then there’s the issue of deployment. Even with the rise of cloud-based solutions, most companies must wait weeks or even months for a fully-functional launched analytics tool. Business intelligence is taking a big leap forward with solutions that can launch enterprise-wide within days, if not hours, without sacrificing analytical or visualization capabilities.

Automated Analysis

Many BI solutions now offer automated alerts, which proactively notify users of specific situations, such as negative sales trends or unprofitable deals. This new functionality makes companies’ business data do the heavy lifting of analysis, with minimal user involvement.

On the Horizon

Within the next few years, companies should expect to see more of these functionalities become popular among mid-market and even small businesses as BI solutions go full-service and make powerful business intelligence and advanced business analytics even more accessible.

(About the author:Dev Tandon is the CEO of The Kini Group)

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