How individualism and personalisation are redefining self-service BI

Gartner has recently predicted that by 2017, most business users in addition to analysts in organisations will have access to self-service business intelligence (BI) tools to prepare data for analysis. But how has this shift happened?

In the 1980s, hierarchy in businesses was focused around top down decision making with reporting lying solely in the hands of senior executives. Those were the days when the board decided what results needed to be achieved and how, and then the plan was communicated down the management levels, eventually reaching front line staff.

> See also: Gartner’s business intelligence predictions

In the 1990s, this moved towards a more fragmented structure. As dashboards for enterprise data were introduced, this quite often led to different business units reporting their own version of corporate data. Systems became very siloed and organisations began to struggle with inaccurate, disparate views of data across the entire business.

As the Internet became widely used in the second half of the 1990s, businesses started to strive for better and faster communications. This enabled enterprise data monitoring through data warehouses, and started to drive demand for this analysis, in real time, which further changed the way we collated and analysed data.

Today, organisations are flat. Middle management is almost gone and company hierarchies have been broken down into decision makers responsible for different departments within businesses. Structures are even more fragmented, which is forcing us to redefine and take on self-service BI. But it’s not just about the hierarchy (or lack of) in this decade.

Another evolution and trend in society today has caused significant changes in the way we manage, manipulate and use enterprise data. Now, data analytics is driven by individualism and personalisation. The c-suite today recognises more than ever that individuals are unique and want to be treated that way in the workplace. This stems from consumer behaviour where personalisation is in high demand.

Just look at the Coca Cola brand campaign around birth names on coke bottles, websites where you can add personal photos to greetings cards, and the fact that marketers are trying to make their campaigns more targeted to customers’ personal preferences. Even the ‘i’ in Apple products mirrors the ‘Me, Me, Me,’ mentality.

Enterprise data use is now driven by this need for personalisation and individualism and it is bringing about this self-service BI generation of workers. The range of different individuals with different skills, on top of other trends in the workplace like ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) is also pushing organisations to provide intelligence to everyone through self-service tools like ‘Info Apps’. These are interactive, purpose-built BI applications that provide fast, easy, and direct answers to specific questions or common problems within the enterprise.

> See also: 5 ways to build a business intelligence centre of excellence

More and more companies are turning to these apps as a means of making self-service BI more pervasive to expand the use of reporting and analysis beyond a conventional audience of analysts and power users. This enables an individual view for making decisions at the right time – with the right data, for the right worker. You as an individual can now have data the way you want it, in the format you want it, wherever and whenever you want it.

Front line workers and customer-facing staff can now have the ability to review data that’s relevant to their jobs to make more informed decisions in real time. This is parallel to the way that society is evolving, and it’s important that businesses leaders address this today.

Sourced from Sylvain Pavlowski, SVP European Sales, Information Builders

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...