Why All the Buzz About Self-Service Analytics?

Posted by John Reid May 18, 2017 3:47:13 PM

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Data analytics is a data-centric approach to decision making. Self-service analytics is an approach to data analytics that enables business users to access and analyze their corporate data with minimal skills in business intelligence and data mining. This is achieved through the use of tools that simplify the business users’ ability to access corporate data and the ease in which they can manipulate that data to uncover important insights and trends.

Barriers to Self-Serve Analytics

Most business users are hesitant to dive into a new self-service analytic tool. The idea of taking the time to learn a new application to the point where you are comfortable is disheartening to the average business user.  Just rolling out the installation of the tool and providing basic documentation on typical functionally or work flows will only result in failure.  Having a good IT support system to help guide users in the use of self-service analytic tools is critical for the success of the self-serve BI initiative.  Hands-on training workshops, with corporate test data and real business process scenarios, will go a long way to ensure end user acceptance. 

It is important that business users in the organization understand the main intent for the self-serve analytic tool. Expecting to produce or replace existing corporate executive dash boards with a few hours of effort in a self-serve analytic tool is not going to produce successful results.  The focus should be on discovery of current conditions and treads that can influence organization KPIs related to cash flow or production performance.  For example: Why is sales revenue down in store X this month?  Can we determine why Plant Y is seeing a 28% increase in productivity?  Having a clear understanding of the tools’ intent will help users focus on getting the most out of their efforts.

Self-Serve Analytics – The Road to Success

In order for self-serve analytics to be successful the user interface needs to be intuitive, with a development canvas and navigation functionality that is user friendly. Successful self-serve analytic reports tell stories.  They combine data facts with business knowledge to bring out hidden business insights. They help you show the root causes to business problems and can help provide solutions to resolve those problems.

Training is needed to help users understand what corporate data is available and how that information should be accessed. IT also needs to focus on maintaining the corporate data warehouse and data marts to ensure that business users have the right data at the right time.  With the right training and data business users can build their own queries and customize their own reports and dashboards with minimal effort and maximum benefit.

It is important to note that while self-serve analytics can provide business users with an easy to use tool that greatly increases their ability to access and consume data, it can also bring confusion and mistrust if there is no corporate data governance processes in place. Data made available to your self-serve analytics tools must be relevant, accurate, and timely.  The data provided needs to help resolve business problems not create new ones. This requires a data governance policy that maintains data consistency and quality though out the organization using constant monitoring and review processes so business users have confidence in the data they are using.

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                 GEO analysis made easy with SAP Business Objects Lumira

Summary

Self-service analytics will not replace traditional business intelligence or remove the need for data scientists.  Organizations will still benefit greatly with operational and strategic reporting and complex data analysis that can be captured in a traditional BI system with the assistance of data scientists. Self-service analytics enhances the BI offering by allowing core business users to generate new business insights and use these insights to make more informed decisions.

B4 Consulting can provide assistance with implementing a good self-serve analytic strategy, which will integrate with and complement existing BI initiatives. Data preparation processes that adhere to corporate data governance policies and business user training are the key components in a successful self-serve analytic initiative. 

SAP Lumira offers a very insightful and user-friendly interface that supports self-serve analytics development. Seamless integration with the Business Objects BI Platform exposes all of the rich functionality of a secure BI platform while providing users the flexibility of both desktop and web-based development environments.

For more information on how self-serve analytics can engage more employees to help give your organization a competitive edge -- contact me at B4 Consulting -- jre@b4-consulting.com

About the Author

John Reid is an Analytics, Mobility & Technology Consultant at B4 Consulting.He can be reached at

jre@b4-consulting.com 

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Topics: SAP, B4 Consulting, Business Intelligence, Self-Service Analytics, SAP Lumira, Data Analytics