Self-Service BI

Self-Service BI - Users are able to service their day to day reporting and analysis requirements without involvement of a BI Team/IT Team. The service is not setup by the Users themselves.

Usually the BI Team setup/enable this self-service by creating governed and metadata based reporting using various tools like Business Objects, Microstrategy, Cognos etc at the front end (user access) of the BI Solution. Usually there are other tools (ETL, RDBMS) at the back end of the BI Solution.

Without BI Team/IT Involvement these tools are only as good as excel or even less useful than excel. If the data is not consolidated (integrated), not cleaned and not governed, you can imagine the outcome of users using this data.

I guess below analogy gives you an idea

Self Service BI in reality - You are hungry, You go to a buffet restaurant, you find multiple dishes well arranged, labelled (name, veg/non veg, spicy, hot, very hot etc, contains x, y, z), you pick up what you want, eat, pay at cash desk and leave. You don’t involve the cooks, cleaners and waiters ( ETL guys, Administrators and Reporting guys).

Result of using Self-Service BI as marketed by some software vendors - You are hungry, you set up a restaurant or if restaurant was setup earlier go to the restaurant, find vegetables, clean them, find out which vegetable to use for which dish and what proportion of it should be used and how best to mix them, find a way to cook it, assume that it is cooked well enough, start eating, something doesn't taste good, but you have no one to blame, add salt, add sugar, add whatever else you find, still doesn't taste good, eat it. Someone else is hungry now and he repeats the process all over again.

From own experience, Even in 2008, BI Reporting and Analysis Tools like Business Objects already provided Self-service BI capability.

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