In the past, the use of traditional business intelligence tools has been restricted primarily to IT departments due to the complexity and cost of these systems. However, industry research organisation Gartner predicts that by 2017, self-service business intelligence tools will be widely accessible to business users throughout the organisation.
In a recent report, entitled Predicts 2015: Power Shift in Business Intelligence and Analytics Will Fuel Disruption, Gartner outlined their forecasts for the future landscape of the business intelligence industry.
These forecasts included a prediction that, by as early as 2017, most business users and analysts will have access to self-service business intelligence and analytics tools.
Is this prediction likely to come true?
And if so, what are the driving forces behind the increased democratisation of these tools across organisations?
A shift in the balance of power
Gartner predicts that there will be a shift in the balance of power between IT and business, with business users beginning to have a much greater influence in the decision-making process surrounding analytics tools and procedures.
A big component in this shift away from ‘IT-centric BI’ can be attributed to the rise of self-service data integration tools that reduce the time and complexity involved in traditional data preparation. This will shift a lot of this activity from IT departments to business users as the process becomes much more simplified.
This shift in power is a prediction shared by Timo Elliott, who in his 7 interesting Big Data and Analytics trends for 2015 states that self-service business intelligence and analytics tools will become increasingly available across the whole organisation.
Rather than these tools remaining ‘under the control of well-meaning central IT dictatorships’, Elliott believes important decisions surrounding IT expenditure will begin to further involve business users.
Meeting demand from business users
According to Gartner, the rise in demand for self-service business intelligence tools has occurred as a result of ‘end user clamour for access to business data, combined with IT’s inability to satisfy this need’.
Self-service business intelligence can therefore be seen as a way of meeting the demand from line-of-business users by providing them with an easily accessible platform from which they can build reports and access insights without relying on IT staff. This significantly reduces bottlenecks in the reporting process and can save the company a lot of time and money.
Gartner states that self-service business intelligence vendors have responded to the demands of business users by providing ‘broadly deployable, easy-to-use and, often cloud-based technologies’. These solutions may not be as complex as traditional BI systems, and may not have the same wealth of functionality, but they do provide user
s with an easy-to-use interface and greater access to data.
The role of IT in self-service business intelligence
With a move towards these easy-to-use, self-service business intelligence tools, it will be interesting to see how the role of IT departments changes over time. The self-service functionality of these solutions means that business users no longer have to rely on IT staff to manipulate data and create basic reports.
But does this negate the need for IT involvement in these projects?
Don Tennant discusses the relationship between business units and IT departments when it comes to making purchasing decisions. He argues that ‘The consumerization of IT has resulted in line-of-business user’s frequently acquiring and using technology without interacting with the IT department’. There are some cases where business staff, disillusioned by traditional BI, choose to circumvent IT departments altogether when making purchasing decisions.
Granted, it is no longer completely necessary to involve IT staff in the implementation of self-service business intelligence, but this does not mean it is not beneficial. By circumventing IT altogether, businesses may come across stumbling blocks in terms of data governance and security.
Gartner’s predictions surrounding the growth of self-service business intelligence come with a word of warning. When IT is circumvented, solutions may often be subject to ‘inconsistent or incomplete data, capricious development of metrics and formulae, and either too-restrained or unrestrained sharing of results’.
The growth of self-service business intelligence
Here at Matillion, we think that the case for self-service business intelligence is pretty compelling, and it’s clear to see why users are demanding access to these tools. If predictions are correct, then the growth in demand will only continue in coming years until the majority of business users have easy access to these systems.
Democratising these tools can have widespread benefits for businesses, allowing them to alleviate the pressure put on IT staff, reducing bottlenecks and speeding up the reporting process.
To find out how real companies have experienced real benefits from self-service business intelligence, check out the case studies section on our website and see what our customers have to say.
If you would like to know more about the benefits of self-service business intelligence, download our free eBook today.