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Gartner defines Business Intelligence (BI) as “an umbrella term that includes the applications, infrastructure and tools, and best practices that enable access to and analysis of information to improve and optimize decisions and performance” and Self-Service Business Intelligence (SSBI) as “a form of Business Intelligence (BI) in which line-of-business professionals are enabled and encouraged to perform queries and generate reports on their own, with nominal IT support.”

Modern day Business Intelligence is an iterative process. Whilst, in comparison, the traditional BI process (which was 100% IT managed) had significant limitations and constraints. This eventually resulted in limited user adoption, low ROI, a much longer lead time and very rigid change process.

The rapidly changing and evolving environments for both business and technology require a different approach in order to deliver timely fit-for-purpose business intelligence to a wide range of stakeholders, and ultimately provide support to their business decisions.

The alternative to traditional BI is to implement a Self Service BI process that leverages the enterprise foundations: data governance, data warehouse as well as IT & business capabilities and resources. The SSBI process will overcome the limitations of the traditional BI process by building a new agile capability (tools, skills, people, process) which will allow the business to:

  • Respond to sudden changes in market conditions, support a new business launch or marketing strategy, confirm new value streams hypotheses etc

  • Enable quick delivery, from idea / requirements to availability of the information needed for business decision 

  • Perform rapid development and iterations to either succeed or fail early in evaluation of the user case 

  • Increase the user adoption by involving end-users in the design or build of their dashboards or reports 

Self Service BI is a powerful resource, however, if misused- especially by users lacking proper knowledge on tools, process or data- it may bring a series of significant risks to the organization:

  • SSBI users who do not understand the data model (or how BI tools works) may design SSBI dashboards or reports that have incorrect values which can drive incorrect business decisions

  • Result in exposure of confidential or most confidential information due to lack of understanding of the landscape or data classification

  • Spiraling licensing costs of BI tools due to the uncontrolled number of business designers

  • Uncontrolled proliferation of dashboards and reports that may lead to different versions of the truth

Managed SSBI is a process that is designed to eliminate the above risks by developing and adopting across the enterprise a quality assurance framework.

This will allow SSBI users to:

  • train and certify on how to use the BI tools 

  • understand and apply the definitions from the enterprise data model, the data classification and associated security controls 

  • adopt the standard design guidelines of the organization

  • understand when & how IT department can contribute to enhance the SSBI capability

Each enterprise has its own unique data governance, data warehouse landscape, legal or regulatory constraints and risk profile that must be taken into account when designing a fit-for-purpose managed SSBI process.

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