Is Self-Service BI too hard for business users?

Recently I’ve read some blog posts warning that self-service data analytics is not really possible with today’s BI software. So I thought of these comments to share.

I agree that traditional BI applications have been far too intimidating for the average person to use. But with more innovative, easier-to-use solutions like ours, you can take steps to facilitate a fairly deep penetration of self-service BI.

First, I recommend having a power user in a given department create a couple of interactive dashboards, both monitoring and analytical ones, that let business people filter and drill down so they can answer a lot of ad hoc questions on their own.

Second, some software, like ours, lends itself well to easy personalization, such as “bookmarking” settings for different dashboard views that they want to use over and over.

Next, I recommend making logical data models of the narrower set of data fields that a particular department is interested in, making sure to give the field names ones that are self-explanatory, and then even the Excel-jockeys can do even more self-service BI.

Lastly, after the more advanced users become experienced, they can begin to teach others in their department. That’s how I see self-service BI expanding to the average knowledge worker.