Category Archives: Self-Service BI

Self-service BI requires more than generic data exploration tools

gas station In a recent blog post: “The Myth of Self-Service Analytics“, data visualization expert Stephen Few took BI vendors to task for their use of the term “self-service”. He opened with the remark: “Exploring and analyzing data is not at all like pumping your own gas”.

The pumping gas analogy is one I like. It is also one I have used myself for some time. The earliest example I could find being this slide from a presentation I gave back in 2013: Continue reading

If you wanted a sandwich, you would not tolerate BI-style “self-service”

Self-Service Sandwich BarIn his recent blog post, Wayne Eckerson opens:

The promise of self-service analytics is almost too good to be true. Business people get the information they want, when they want it, how they want it

From there, he goes on to explain how he has seen this vision fail inside organizations, in a post which nicely articulates some of the pitfalls of self-service analytics.

However, I want to take a step back and look at his opening premise. Particularly, the aspect summarized as: Self-service analytics gives business people information “how they want it”. Continue reading

A broader take on self-service BI

Team working, technologyOver the past few weeks we’ve published a series of articles on this blog, aiming to broaden the definition of self-service business intelligence (BI).

It’s a topic that’s on everyone’s lips nowadays but somewhere in the hype cycle it has become almost synonymous with Data Discovery, and the notion that regular business users should be given access to raw, unstructured data to gather their own business insight.

We believe this definition is far too narrow.

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Most people need BI apps, not “self-service”

As someone who has previously written (here and here) about how technology labels often don’t help us, you might think it a little odd to find me writing a post comparing one label (BI Apps) with another (self-service BI), but bear with me.

I came across an article written by a product marketing chap, which draws an interesting analogy between doctors needing patient information and corporate users of BI. The article is not recent, but we still see a trend, especially from vendors, claiming that self-service BI is everything business users need.

The author of the article asks us to imagine a scenario where doctors are not allowed to access data directly, but instead have to go and ask non-medical, data specialists for the information, sometimes waiting hours or days for the answers. Clearly, this is supposed to be a parody on the way BI works in some organizations and equally clearly this would be a ludicrous way to run a hospital.

Continue reading