How Guided NLQ unlocks true self-service analytics for everyone

How Guided NLQ Unlocks True Self-Service Analytics For Everyone

Matching the experience of your self-service analytics tool to your users' needs has often been difficult when ‘self-service’ is different for everyone. Here's how Guided NLQ tackles this.


Historically, self-service business intelligence (BI) solutions has been talked about by vendors as analytics for everybody. But there's been a real lack of discussion around the nuances of what self-service really means, and for whom, and its individual use cases.

When products in the past were built for self-service analytics, such as Tableau and even Yellowfin’s own Advanced Report Builder, they were for analysts who already understand data, and are prepared to use a drag-and-drop interface. They need to answer reasonably hard questions, and typically want to create complex analysis and reports.



On the other end of the spectrum, you have non-technical business people who will never use drag-and-drop report builders. They find it complicated, with no immediate value to train to use it, or too much time needed to get answers they understand.

It's clear what constitutes self-service analytics is different for everyone, and this challenge has been a driver in creating our new natural language query tool: Guided NLQ.

Guided NLQ: What self-service BI looks like

Guided NLQ is the newest self-service BI capability in Yellowfin that allows all users, regardless of analytics skill or knowledge level, to ask relatively hard questions of their data in a fully guided experience, and receive relevant answers almost instantly.

Asking complex questions of data usually requires writing complex SQL queries, or building complex reports with drag-and-drop tools. With Guided Natural Language Query, we found a way to dynamically assist people as they build their query, so they can ask relatively complex questions in a very simple UI, while being guided toward answers.

For non-technical people who have had to previously use BI solutions labelled as 'self-service' and found it still requires a lot of external assistance to understand, having a tool like Guided NLQ is truly liberating - because what we’ve done is take all the complexity behind the scenes of a BI solution, enabled people of all knowledge levels to ask conceptually hard questions, and made the process, end-to-end, as easy as possible.

Read more: An introduction Guided NLQ: What is it?


Self-service analytics for multiple use cases

Guided NLQ is an analytics tool made to be leveraged for different business use cases.

Non-technical users: Need quick answers to day-to-day questions, such as “What was performance in each region this week?”, or, “who were my top 10 sales people last month vs this month?”. They may not need, or want to perform complex analysis to get answers, as they need insights fast to make a decision. Using Guided NLQ, they can get an answer almost instantly in the form of a report or chart, instead of having to analyze a dashboard. They don’t need to change the formatting, or even save the report, and can ask the question again when they need it without having to go to IT for help. It's a new, fast method of exploring data they wouldn’t be able to leverage previously without training.

Advanced users: Those who build content used over and over again - on dashboards, or for scheduled sharing and broadcasting - need tools to make data look good and extensible. Guided NLQ can be leveraged by trained business people and experienced analysts to generate a quick report or chart for this purpose, and add detail to it from there. Because it can handle complex questions, it’s an effective launching pad for their final report, as they can edit answers for both repeatable and bespoke use cases.


Read more: What is Self Service Analytics? The Role of Accessible BI Explained


An end to BI technical hurdles and resource roadblocks

Many independent software vendors (ISV) still have teams that create analytic content (dashboards, charts) for their end-users because it’s historically been a hurdle to train business people in using their BI solution effectively. It's also meant many end-users fail to see the value in learning how to use the BI solution themselves.

Guided NLQ saves developers money and time from having to respond to every ad-hoc question people once relied on them for, as end-users can ask those questions themselves. Developers can also focus more on building specialized content for analysts.

What to use NLQ in analytics for

In the enterprise space, the data analyst who writes reports for most people in the business is a much more limited resource, and it can take time to get their help. If someone in the business has an additional question, they may not bother asking the analyst, or make a decision without waiting. But with Guided NLQ, that user can ask their question, look at the data, and validate the answer before they make a decision.

We see Guided NLQ as really helping business people avoid the analyst resource bottleneck, and get an actionable answer instantly, using a tool that’s simple and enough for anyone to be able to ask questions they want answers for right now. Analysts can also use Guided NLQ to perform several complex tasks that normally take multiple steps in traditional drag-and-drop tools (step regressions, subqueries, functions, logic) far faster.

Learn more: Natural language query: 5 benefits of Guided NLQ


Why Guided NLQ is a game-changer for self-service BI

Yellowfin has rich complexity that could only be leveraged previously by experts or extensive training. What our new wave of self-service BI capabilities like Guided NLQ does is opens up that advanced functionality for a whole range of users that historically would not have used it before.

There is a philosophy in product design that there should only be one way of doing something, and you have to optimize that to be the best way. But the reality is you can’t optimize it for every type of user in the business, or their individual use cases. Trying to enable highly skilled people and non-technical people to use the same tool in the same way does not work, as over time, technical people keep pushing for functionality that the average layman can’t do, and the analytics product itself becomes too technical, locking out mainstream users.

This is why Yellowfin Guided NLQ is a game-changer; it solves this recurring discrepancy with ‘self-service’ analytics by providing an interface and uniquely guided experience that everyone can understand and use, without having to go to someone else for help.

Whitepaper: 5 Key Benefits of a Guided Approach to NLQ

Understand the business benefits of Guided NLQ and exactly how it opens up true self-service BI for everyone - not just analysts. Get the report today.

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