Data Democratization Through Self-Service BI

Organizations in all industries increasingly recognize the value of a data-driven culture, a current hot trend in business intelligence. Data-driven businesses are the ones having a profound understanding of their internal operations, customer relationships, workforce, and competitive standing. This enables them to differentiate their value proposition, improve efficiency, and capture emerging business opportunities.

Propelling equal access to corporate data are self-service business intelligence solutions. Through BI implementation, modern enterprises can optimize the decision-making capabilities across their organizations, helping every employee work toward their goals and encouraging stronger job performance.

What’s Data Democratization?

Access to information is essential for citizens to contribute to the well-being and development of a state. In the same manner, it is paramount for empowering employees to facilitate the growth of their companies.

Data democratization removes gatekeepers to valuable information, putting decision-making in the hands of employees and furnishing them with the information they need to excel at their jobs. Because of the way data democratization supports employee engagement and participation, it subscribes to the modern agile business development strategies as one of the leading technology trends that drive business impact in 2020.

How Do Self-Service Business Intelligence Tools Enable Data Democratization?

It’s not enough to just grant employees access to data. In order to capitalize on data democratization to the fullest, it’s essential to ensure that the information is easy to find, retrieve, and comprehend.

Self-service BI software can help organizations deliver on these requirements by providing an integrated system for collecting, aggregating, and displaying data in readable, user-friendly formats. Strengthened by AI, machine learning, and big data analytics components, business intelligence systems transform raw and unstructured data into visually pleasing reports, charts, and dashboards that are easily understandable for end-users.

In their most basic form, modern self-service BI tools utilize centralized data models to provide access to real-time and historical data; more advanced solutions leverage progressive algorithms to support decision-making with predictive insights.

The Business Impact of Self-Service BI

By offering a single, consolidated source of truth, self-service BI solutions provide everyone in an organization with equal and independent access to information, delivering a range of benefits along the way:

Faster Decision-making

Self-service BI solutions equip enterprise users with a tool to answer pressing questions, without seeking help from the IT or business analytics department. These solutions make it possible even for non-technical users to explore trends, access opportunities, and reach conclusions faster, optimizing outcomes and streamlining project work.

Improved Data Quality and Governance

By aggregating inputs from a variety of data sources (including enterprise equipment, databases, websites and wikis, spreadsheets, social media, external systems, etc.), business intelligence solutions offer a centralized view of up-to-date information. Acting as an integrated tool for data discovery and visualization, BI solutions help companies ensure data accuracy and root out inconsistencies in information management.

Less Strain on the IT Department

Relieving IT staff was among the primary drivers behind the introduction of conventional BI solutions. Modern self-service BI systems continue to serve that purpose, in addition to delivering other benefits. These solutions unburden IT teams of tedious, repetitive tasks (such as generating reports for end-users or maintaining data consistency) and free up their time to be spent on more strategic duties related to systems security, compliance, and data protection.

Employee Engagement

Data democratization through self-service BI drives a positive organization-wide change, encouraging a shift from control to empowerment. Encouraged to take ownership and armed with the right tools to do it, employees apply their own analytical thinking and seek creative solutions to resolve business issues independently. As a result, they feel more accountable for the outcome of their work, which boosts their satisfaction and engagement levels, making them less susceptible to stress and burnout.

Increased Business Transparency

Through the implementation of self-service BI solutions, companies may also improve information transparency, which contributes to streamlining operations, creating a flatter, more agile structure. Additionally, companies are benefitting from data traceability from source to target, which adds to process optimization and security while keeping everyone well-informed.

What Holds Enterprises Back from Implementing Self-Service BI?

As demonstrated by the benefits above, self-service BI solutions are catalysts of data democratization, bringing enormous value to the table by replacing siloed data and chaotic spreadsheets with personalized, highly-accessible reports and visualizations. Still, some organizations aren’t rushing toward their adoption, anxious they won’t be able to efficiently and securely manage data with its various levels of complexity, relevance, and credibility.

Security considerations are among the chief barriers to implementation of self-service BI. Companies fear that putting too much power in the hands of their employees will deprive them of control over data, which may leave room for its exploitation. However, modern self-service systems have built-in security features in place that make it possible to govern data access at a granular level. These control measures allow data owners and managers to explicitly state what each person can and cannot do with the information. It’s possible to even lock down the parameters that users can display in a report.

Another concern that may dissuade business decision-makers from driving the adoption of self-service BI involves dataset redundancy. As a centralized solution, a business intelligence system stores immense amounts of data that may be queried simultaneously by multiple independent users across various departments. This may delay data processing and slow down concurrent queries. The redundancy risk can be mitigated through well-developed data models.

Finally, like all enterprise-grade solutions, self-service BI systems require an upfront investment in software, user training, maintenance and support. Nevertheless, it’s worth remembering that the value that business intelligence tools create in the long run effectively offsets the implementation outlays.

Final Thoughts

Data underpins modern business as a strategic asset that produces critical insights into new operational and monetization models. Driving data-based decision-making at all structural levels entails a fundamental organizational change, but it’s nevertheless a worthwhile effort that generates tangible benefits for forward-thinking businesses.

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Darya Efimova

Darya Efimova

Darya Efimova is a Digital Transformation Observer at Iflexion. With MA in Creative and Media Enterprises, Darya is an accomplished writer and industry insider helping IT leaders make sense of today’s tech disruptions and new market imperatives.

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