Self-service analytics, also known as self-service business intelligence (BI), is an ideal solution to open up the process of accessing, analyzing and sharing data to both non-technical users (customers, staff) and data experts (IT, developers, analysts) alike.
Providing analytics that offers self-service BI, characterized by low code, no code platforms and features, is critical to scale up the benefits of data-driven decision-making to more than just those who already have advanced knowledge of data and analytics.
However, the concept of self-service analytics is understandably still new to many businesses, including what benefits it brings. In this article, we list 5 key benefits of self-service analytics, to help your team understand how it helps, and why you need it today.
Self-Service Analytics vs Traditional BI: Recap
We previously covered what self-service analytics is in our in-depth guide, which we highly recommend reading before continuing with this blog.
In brief summary, self-service analytics describes a modern approach to data analytics that empowers both non-technical and technical users of analytics tools to be able to view, explore and share their data without needing extensive expertise or knowledge to actually use said tools.
Historically, analytics solutions have been created with data analysts or data experts in mind. This has meant deeper analysis of data, and access to it, has often been limited to a small number of people in a business, preventing development of a data-driven culture.
It has also meant business users typically rely on IT teams or data experts to explain data and reveal insights for them. This has led to a number of consequences, including:
- Putting the analytic workflow burden and responsibility entirely on technical departments, who have less time to focus their efforts on other important areas of the business
- Making users and customers have to submit requests to the IT team everytime they need a dashboard or report created, modified or explained to them
- Preventing more people (customers, internal non-technical users, etc) from being able to use their business data independently for decision-making and insight discovery
The pivot toward creating analytic tools usable by both advanced and regular users aims to remove these traditional barriers and create data-driven worklows. The other many benefits self-service BI brings are also significant - you can learn more about them below.
Benefit #1 - Self-Service BI Democratizes Data for Everyone
The most important benefit of self-service analytics is it democratizes data for everyone.
Legacy BI tools severely limit the access, exploration and analysis of data to a small number of technical elite in a business. What self-service BI tools aim to do is open up the ability for regular business users to be self-sufficient in their data needs.
This means your users and customers, regardless of existing knowledge or technical skills, can more readily access, analyze and build dashboards and reports and obtain insights if they need it, when they need it (such as when they need to support a decision). There’s no need to wait for analysts to explore data for them; they can do it themselves.
Most enterprise companies struggle to get their users to leverage business data based on the fact that that data has been traditionally siloed away from them due to inaccessible, overly technical analytics tool sets. That is rapidly changing with modern self-service BI solutions like Yellowfin - and so should your deployment.
Benefit #2 - Self-Service Analytics Increases Agility and Efficiency
Legacy BI tools often give no choice to regular users but to wait for their queries and report requests to go through IT, rather than be able to build their own. The challenge of this approach is that data is often outdated by the time it gets to the user or not needed anymore, and often results in the user acting without data entirely up-to-date or available.
Self-service BI means the process of accessing data or building a report or running a query is essentially available on-demand for the individual user. Whatever the user’s role (C-suite, marketing, sales, management, etc) or skill level (expert, intermediate, beginner), self-service BI tools are streamlined and tailored to allow more people to explore data, analyze it for trends or patterns, and identify insights and actionable opportunities that they otherwise would have to wait for an expert to do. There is no longer a delay in the analytic process, improving overall agility and efficiency to make important decisions.
Benefit #3 - Self-Service Analytics Provides a Single Source of Truth
A self-service analytics solution helps ensure every customer or user engaging with your BI tools has access to and explores the same version of your business critical data.
Instead of having to rely on using multiple Word docs, Excel spreadsheets or disparate data from CRM, ERP and HR systems (not to mention further fragmented across different business units/departments) to inform their work, self-service analytics solutions help make sure data is more accurate, consistent and relevant for use.
Self-service BI ensures everyone in the business can access accurate and reliable data that is updated instantly in real-time, improving collaboration, context and productivity.
Benefit #4 - Self-Service Analytics Reduces the Burden on IT
Self-service analytics doesn’t just benefit your analytics users or customers, either.
A majority of legacy BI tools typically require analysts or developers to build reports and dashboards for users, owing to their inherent complexity and lack of streamlined UI.
Self-service BI tools in comparison enable your users and customers to be able to access, create, explore, analyze and share data via reports, dashboards, data visualization and data stories far easier.
What does this mean?
Your expert in-house IT or developer teams will spend less time having to create routine reports or explain data to non-technical people everytime they need to find answers. It also means they have more time focusing on other important areas of the business, such as improving data preparation, strengthening data governance, or streamlining the analytics user experience.
Self-service BI platforms also benefit the more technically-inclined users in your business, as the streamlined nature of these tool-sets allows advanced experts to speed up their typical report building, data cleaning and data analysis processes considerably.
Read More: 6 Signs Your Analytics Dashboard is Outdated
Benefit #5 - Self-Service Analytics Guides People Through Data
Making better business-related decisions is only possible by understanding the story beneath the numbers. While self-service analytics solutions have opened up the capabilities of dashboards, reporting and data storytelling to more people, just making those tools available isn’t enough for everyone. Some users will need additional guidance in being able to use those tools effectively.
Today’s BI solutions, such as Yellowfin, are increasingly designed with the non-technical business user in mind, combining sophisticated technologies such as augmented analytics (artificial intelligence, automation, machine learning) with user-friendly design (low code, no code drag-and-drop UX) to lower the complexity of accessing data and empower more people to be able to explore, analyze and understand their data - and use it for their decision-making efforts.
Because your users can create dashboards, build reports, identify trends or share data stories independently, the process of data exploration and data analysis is simplified significantly. For example, Yellowfin’s Guided NLQ features allows users to not only query their data for insights, but get help in pinpointing what parameters they need to use to ask the right question.
Having such a self-service analytics solution in place that is easy to navigate and guides the end-user toward insights or how to use their data means you significantly reduce your users’ reliance on IT or developer teams to produce reports or explain the meaning of data for them.
Self-Service Analytics: Why You Need It Today
The reality is the people who need data the most are probably not already specialized in data and analytics. Legacy BI tools demand technical knowledge in data engineering or SQL to navigate their UI, meaning access to data and any insights within are left to a small number of experts.
Most people either have to wait for their help to build or analyze reports, make do with static spreadsheets, or worse - make decisions not based on any form of hard data.
What self-service BI does is help empower these non-experts to make more business decisions because the process of viewing and analyzing data is now made more available and easily done.