The most successful BI programs are significantly more likely to place analysis and decision-making solutions in the hands of business users, according to a recent global study by Qlik, a provider of business intelligence (BI) and visualization software, in association with Forbes Insights. Survey results revealed that nearly two-thirds of respondents believe that self-service data analysis creates significant competitive advantage, and half of respondents believe such an approach can help to reveal valuable insights.
The study, which surveyed more than 400 senior IT and business professionals, confirms that organizations are embracing self-service environments where users can take control of their own analytics, modeling, visualization and decision-making. In fact, more than half of respondents cited that their BI environment features a significant or very significant degree of self-service elements. At the same time, IT departments and business unit heads alike are concerned about data governance issues impacting everything from data security to its completeness and veracity. Nearly 20 percent of respondents cited that the most challenging issue to enabling self-service access is the difficulty in combining data from different sources. Another key challenge is ensuring data security, cited by 14 percent of respondents. According to respondents, for a self-service model to be successful, there needs to be an effective data governance model – one that not only preserves data security and integrity, but also gives users confidence that their analysis works with complete and accurate data sets.
“Gathering and mining more and more data will not lead to better decisions,” said Head of Business Intelligence at National Express, Frank Kozurek. “True BI means empowering business users with tools and governance that will allow them to explore their own data using the insights that only they possess as a result of being so close to their business needs. They can get whatever data they want, they can interact with it, play with it. BI that isn’t fundamentally self-service driven is not intelligence at all.”
Fifty-four percent of respondents say improving data visualization is a strategic imperative; 40 percent agree self-service data analysis models create a significant competitive advantage; and 53 percent believe distributed, self-service enables end users to develop more visually compelling analyses. In terms of how value is created within a self-service BI framework, overall respondents most frequently cite improvements in activities such as identifying business opportunities (69 percent), optimized or dynamic pricing (65 percent), or gauging productivity (63 percent).
Future directives include enabling business units to interact with more forms of corporate and external data, expanding training for executives, as well as providing greater mobile and cloud access to needed data streams. Over half of companies, 54 percent, say they are pursuing the creation of a center of excellence to improve their self-service data performance. Nearly three in four respondents say they are, today, directing their IT departments to work more closely with business units to expand access to more forms of corporate and external data. Another 62 percent agree that line managers need to take significant steps to become more data literate.
According to the survey, in about a quarter of instances, senior management plays the lead role in creating a more self-service environment. But for most respondents, 64 percent overall, some combination of senior management alongside an organic, bottom-up set of initiatives is what leads to adoption. As to where value is being created today, the most frequently cited functions include finance (67 percent), sales (61 percent), marketing (60 percent) and compliance (60 percent).