SMBs in desperate need of self-service Business Intelligence

New findings released by Ventana Research indicate that small and midsized businesses (SMBs) are struggling to achieve desired results from their Business Intelligence (BI) implementations.

While Gartner, Forrester, IDC and many other notable research organizations have forecast the continued uptake of reporting and analytics by SMBs, Ventana’s recent benchmark research on business analytics for SMBs reveals a severe lack of maturity.

The report found that 51 percent of SMBs only deliver key metrics monthly, quarterly or yearly, with almost half (47 percent) admitting that their data is already outdated when they receive / generate their reports. Unsurprisingly, 39 percent of SMBs said that they are unsatisfied with their “analytics creation process.”

The ability for organizations to access up-to-date reporting and analytics is critical. If business decision-makers are unable to perform ad-hoc analysis and independent report building, the validity of any reports generated becomes questionable, severely impeding the ability to achieve BI Return on Investment.

Self-service Business Intelligence: Empowering users to generate insights

The Data Warehousing Institute (TDWI) best practices report – Self-Service Business Intelligence: Empowering Users to Generate Insights – supports this view, arguing that “Access to BI is what gives companies their competitive edge and allows them to discover new business opportunities.”

The report simultaneously laments the fact that “in too many organizations, decisions are still not based on business intelligence because of the inability to keep up with demand for information and analytics.”

The paper argues that the cure for this prevalent problem lies in self-service BI, stating that easy-to-use and easy-to-consume BI products hold the key to self-service BI: “It is these two themes—ease of use and information consumability—that play crucial roles in a fully functioning SS [self-service] BI environment.”

Defining self-service Business Intelligence

Self-service BI is defined as “the facilities within the BI environment that enable BI users to become more self-reliant and less dependent on the IT organization.”

Four main factors are listed as comprising a self-service BI environment, including:

  • Easy access to source data for reporting and analysis
  • Easy-to-use BI product
    • Good support for data analysis
  • Fast to deploy and easy to manage data warehouse solutions
  • Easily consumable BI results

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