Adopting a collaborative approach to truly support self-service is the key to changing the perception of IT – from a producer to a strategic partner and enabler for the organization. Collaboration between the business and IT is critical to the success of the implementation. IT knows how to manage data and the business knows how to use the insights to drive business decisions. Early collaboration will not only lead to the deployment of a platform that meets the needs of the business but also drives adoption and impact of the platform overall. Indeed, in the 2015 Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics platforms, Gartner placed self-service data discovery tools designed for end users firmly in the forefront of the leaders’ quadrant.
Owing to their complexity, traditional business intelligence (BI) tools have always been handled by data experts, meaning decision-making was limited to a privileged few. But not anymore. Today, In the world of BI, it’s all about the business user. Forget about those old tools that only data scientists or the IT department could use. In today’s fast-paced business environment, noone can afford to take weeks or months to prepare a report. It is all about being agile. Business users, at different levels, are able to access the real-time data they need & quickly generate results without the need for working on spreadsheets & any technical expertise. Often, no coding skills are required & even the reports can be sliced & diced as required without the use of Excel Pivots or any other methods of aggregation in SQL. The future is self-service, data discovery and quick insight—bringing power to the business users!
As a self-service business intelligence solution, Self Service BI empowers the end user to seamlessly carry Self Service Data Analytics processes or Self-Service Reporting, without being heavily dependent on IT. When compared to Traditional BI, Self Service BI have a shorter development cycle that uses less IT resources and is quicker to deliver as well as easy to deploy on multiple platforms & devices. For example, reports can be accessed through smartphones & tablets. Because of the rich user interactive feature, user adoption is typically greater with Self Service BI than with Traditional BI as it is easier for any non-technical business user to understand & leverage. In Self Service BI Analytics, Data discovery is quick & easy, as it helps business to overcome the hurdles of Data Extraction & Data processing tools & pull data from different sources within their organisation (including the core data pipeline) to answer ad-hoc one-off questions. Once the Data-model is architected properly it helps information savvy users to get their answers fast without spending additional time on data-processing.
Self-Service Business Intelligence Governance provides ways for enforcing quick & affordable data governance. Business users are often unaware of the complexities of data preparation and the risks involved in getting it wrong. Without an authority guaranteeing strong data governance, they may miss mistakes in their own data, and draw the wrong conclusions—or different business users may draw upon poorly curated data sets, and reach different decisions. To prevent this, IT will most likely need to get involved.
Each end user may be asking different questions, and looking for different answers. With flexible in-memory acceleration, users are able to create reports and answer questions for themselves, rather than having an IT department create reports for each question/user. Especially as data volumes grow, this becomes increasingly critical. With this in mind, self-service reports can provide a huge boost to productivity, as they can be personalised based on the individual requirements of staff. Self service reporting, enables an interactive reporting experience, as end users can make modifications and additions to their reports on the fly calling information to them instantly. Since report elements are chose individually, end users are able to ask their own questions of the data fully customizing their reports to match their data analysis needs. Additionally, end users should be able to interact with their finished reports by applying controls such as on-screen filters, sliders, conditional formatting, and by creating drill down and linked reports.
One of the great benefits of Self-Service BI is the price, as well as further money that can be saved. With Self-Service BI being available over the Cloud, it can greatly reduce cost as no hardware need be installed. In addition to this saving, specific reporting staff are not needed as end users can report themselves, thereby saving money on personnel.
Implementing ad hoc reporting functionality can be of major benefit to the entire enterprise. Self-service reporting puts the tools necessary to build a fully functional report and modify existing reports directly into the hands of end users so that data analysis can be achieved quickly, intuitively, and interactively with little to no training. Ad hoc reporting speeds the report creation process by empowering end users to work with their reports independent of developers. This helps to eliminate the lengthy back and forth cycle between end users and IT to achieve a final report, saving valuable time for both the end user and developer and allowing them to focus resources towards more mission critical activities. The platform gathers and stores all your cloud and on-premise info in a centralized location that you can access anytime, anywhere. You can also make use of pre-packaged content packs and built-in connectors to streamline import of your data from other sources (internet).
An extensive library of visualizations and an intuitive drag-and-drop interface makes it easy for users to build data discovery dashboards. It will enable users to quickly visualize data with out-of-the-box grids, graphs, charts, and maps. If that’s not enough, it’s also easy to extend the visualization library to incorporate new third-party visualizations, like D3, or build your own from scratch with our Visualization Builder and SDK. Self-service tools allow them to visually slice and dice data, drill down to the bottom, and even change appearances with different chart types and a wide range of predefined templates for everyone. Visualization can change how business managers and other workers “see” data. The way data is presented to users will be as important as the information itself. But for achieving that, a flawless IT and BI architecture must be built that can deliver the right data to the right users and empower them to take advantage of it.
As an organization, you won’t get very far on self-service BI and data visualization if you don’t have high-quality data, a well-designed systems infrastructure, and consistent processes. A lot of work has to take place behind the scenes to build an IT and BI architecture that can deliver the right data to the right users and empower them to take advantage of it.
Making the transition to self-service analytics can be tricky and filled with challenges. Implementing few rules such as Embracing good data quality practices, Documenting Data definitions and lineage standards in data dictionary, embedding data science in reporting solutions, Developing security practices can will create a strong foundation for your team to build on. So, what’s next? Finding a trusted implementation partner can help. At NRoot Labs, our team of experts know BI and cloud computing. We helped many companies bridge that gap between IT and business users. Call us for a quick chat to discuss how you can bring the balance between IT and business at your organization.
In a recent survey, 98% reported that they rely on business information to do their job well, but only 6% strongly agreed that they can access their business information quickly.
The right way to bridge the gap between IT and business users is by getting the right information to the right people at the right time. It sounds like we are over simplifying it, right? The good news is, we are in an age and time when it is getting easier to do this.
Disparate systems, complicated UIs and a need for specialized tech skills have made business users more dependent on IT. The top management leaders need real-time access to critical metrics, and BI and analytics systems. To top this, the implementation time frames might be overwhelming too.
Self-service BI answers all the questions to this dilemma. It provides the facilities within the BI environment that enable BI users to become more self-reliant and less dependent on IT. These facilities focus on four main objectives: easier access to source data for reporting and analysis, easier and improved support for data analysis, faster deployment options such as cloud computing, and simpler, customizable, and collaborative end-user interfaces. It helps business users rely on real-time updates to occur automatically, thanks to APIs that plug data into a single dashboard.
The position of CIO has been changing and we are seeing more people in the role from less technical backgrounds than in the past. The main driver for this is cloud computing – a public cloud platform that hides more of the technical backend from the user than an in-house, physical platform.
The new age CIO will focus on what matters; driven by the business’s tactical and strategic needs. Rather than worrying what company label is on the servers, the CIO can look at the overall capabilities and performance of a cloud provider’s platform and services. He will ensure the services and functions they are providing the business meets strict criteria of performance, availability, security, compliance and so on.
This evolution of his role does not release him from the pursuit of the latest and greatest in technology. Although the separation from hardware to software means the general need to track speeds and feeds is less of an issue, what is happening at the software layer becomes more important. Being able to understand how disparate workflows between the company and its customers and suppliers can be integrated to provide the optimum business value is also essential, as is being able to ensure areas such as the internet of things (IoT) are dealt with successfully.
The CIO and their team of IT leaders must stop seeing decentralized IT as a threat and recognize that perspective does not help business units leverage the power of new digital technologies or enable the enterprise to learn more widely from these efforts. This will mean that IT organizations must shift from a control strategy to an influence strategy regarding IT and all things technology. For many, it will mean the creation of a holistic business unit IT strategy that recognizes that the value propositions for different technologies require different treatments.
One of the benefits of cloud computing is increased efficiency. Services are rapidly deployed and ready for use in a matter of minutes versus weeks or months it traditionally takes. It makes your business more agile and tends to shorten IT projects. It takes fewer resources to deliver the project and a quicker and more predictive time-to-market. It has become much easier to start business innovation initiatives, often enabled by readily available cloud services.
Utilizing standardized services can significantly reduce issues and defects. This increases business continuity and reduces time spent on operational issues, focusing more on the things that matter. Cloud computing allows you to deploy the same service or topology of services repeatedly, with the same result every time.
So, what’s next? Finding a trusted implementation partner can help. At NRoot Labs, our team of experts know BI and cloud computing. We helped many companies bridge that gap between IT and business users. Call us for a quick chat to discuss how you can bring the balance between IT and business at your organization.
Microsoft under the leadership of Satya Nadella has brought in fresh make over of Microsoft, and when it comes to Business Intelligence, the changes brought about under the leadership of James Phillips needs to be specially mentioned. Business intelligence (BI) delivers critical performance analytics and insights to workers, empowering them to make faster and better business decisions. However, enterprise-wide penetration of BI is still surprisingly low. This is partially due to the misperceptions that business intelligence is costly, difficult to use and deploy, and slow to deliver real business value. “Self-service BI” is shattering these perceptions. It delivers low-cost, rapidly deployed decision-support, enabling any worker, regardless of job role, geographic location or department, to work from a reliable and up-to-date set of data, presented in a context and detail level relevant to job role and appropriate to data access privileges. This definition serves as a useful discussion point to highlight how Power BI can help your organisation to achieve the objectives of self-service BI and realise its benefits.
Clearly, Power BI will let you do nearly everything that you can do using the traditional SQL Server BI toolkit. Power Query queries extend the scope of the data sources further to include Azure data services, OData feeds, web pages, web services, and SaaS applications. You can design, build, and deploy self-service BI solutions by creating Power BI reports from datasets, connecting to tabular models.
Microsoft has built a brand new HTML 5 compliant visualisation engine that is simply awesome. Everything (virtually everything) will slice and dice and cross filter everything else. Anyone that can create a chart in Excel can create a chart in Power BI (and probably some people that can’t create a chart in Excel too for that matter). You don’t need a specialised IT report writer to create every new report for the business.Making data more comprehensible: Power BI users can create custom visuals and use them in dashboards and reports. The number of visualizations is growing, however currently, visualizations include:
Sharing Data Insights: Analysts can utilize a free-form canvas for drag-and-drop data navigation as well as a vast library of interactive visualizations, easy report creation, and fast publishing. As Power BI is part of Microsoft’s set of business apps, it offers seamless integration with popular Microsoft software systems such as SQL Server, Azure, and Excel. PowerBI service BI takes this further and allows data insights uncovered by individuals, who have explored the data, to collaborate with colleagues-by sharing your personalised dashboards or by taking snapshots of individual reports and emailing them from within the Power BI apps. Open source Visualizations: PowerBI allows you to share its visualisation source code so that any capable developer can develop their own visualisations and share them with the community. Developers can either copy an existing visual and extend it, or they can start from scratch and build something completely new.
To streamline the experience even further, users can inquire the data and build visualisations from the results by using the natural language capability and just typing questions.
Because users can get up to speed quickly and require little to no training, support costs with self-service BI are significantly lower than they are with more complex BI solutions. If you implement SaaS-based self-service BI, you can also recover direct server investments and evolving maintenance costs with a convenient monthly subscription. Also, self-service BI platforms scale seamlessly so that as adoption increases, additional server capability can be added without disrupting access or requiring significant IT resources. In marked contrast to traditional enterprise BI solutions, self-service BI tools don’t require either a data warehouse or the associated database licensing costs. This alone cuts down months if not years off of BI project timelines and it eliminates sizable expense. Power BI is free to try and indeed free to use as long as you want. If you want to take advantage of more of the enterprise features including controlled sharing of data, automatic refreshes using gateways etc. then you have to pay – wait for it – a whole US$9.99 per month per user. It is enough to give the competition a run for their money!
Power BI is offered in three different plans, with a cost sheet showing the high-level features of each plan here, so you can decide which option works best for your organization.
The Power BI service is on a continuous release cycle. As improvements are made they are released into the cloud service. You can experience parallel improvements to the mobile apps and to Power BI Desktop. The pace of their release cycles s still incredible. Quite literally, today’s biggest complaint can disappear when you wake up tomorrow morning.
NRoot Labs has tremendous experience and has the resources to architect and deploy comprehensive BI solutions with Microsoft’s technology stack on-premise or in the cloud. Contact us to learn how you can integrate Power BI into your overall BI strategy.
Around the globe, companies must cut costs and reduce risks as they face undemanding sales,reluctant suppliers, and tighter credit. In addition, restrained credit can affect the entire supply chain, causing delays or limiting availability to key raw materials. It’s vital to have contingency plans for handling the potential impact of constrained trade. But with challenges come opportunities – opportunities from Business Intelligence. To justify BI, decision makers need to look at the big picture advantages.
BI compiles a company’s most essential data so employees can focus on answering crucial questions. Access to data allows for fast decision making and an edge over the competition. Let us address how BI can help you reduce costs, make smarter operational decisions, and help your business thrive within an uncertain economy.
In good times, when revenue and margins are high, business leaders seldom ask if they can squeeze more out. Their perspectives change when the economy falters. This is when instances of poor decision-making comes to light.Bottom line vs. top line: When professionals have access to the information they need, they’re able to focus on improving their work, rather than getting distracted by insignificant tasks. Taking a data-driven approach also opens up opportunities for new incentives by rewarding how employees improve the bottom line beyond expectations. In highly competitive positions such as sales, recognizing performance data this way lets top talent set goals for their maximum potential. BI thus helps empowering the employees and thus improves the bottom line.
It’s been shown that top-down change is only essential for companies during critical moments, while bottom-up change brings long-term improvements. With BI solutions, the company is guided by the bottom line keeping the top line in focus. As data is entered into the system, dashboards across different roles depend on the information needed while employees are connected by the same results. In some organizations, without centralized reporting, this leads to decisions made on false assumptions. Instead, through BI, everyone shares a single source of truth. Thus helping the change occur from the bottom up, rather than top down.
To win, survive, or grow in today’s market, businesses need discipline and execution. BI is capable of providing solid forecasting that takes into account the operational model and how it relates to the economic environment. It helps business units have fast, efficient and agile reactions when a problem occurs.Turn on a dime: Disruption is often unpredictable. When a market shifts and a business comes across a road block, BI makes it easy to sail in a new direction. Data is selected and displayed based on the organization’s strengths, highlighting opportunities for additional revenue. With BI’s far-reaching effects, everyone within the organization can be prepared to make an impact where it’s needed. BI thus helps business units react faster and efficiently when challenges arise. Find profitable customers/channels: Data improves conversations by focusing on facts rather than subjective experiences. It’s imperative to have data that supports every argument. If decision makers are discussing something that may deeply affect the company, the outcome shouldn’t depend on subjective experience or a single event. Instead, to make important decisions, there must be data available that keeps everyone focused on the reality of the business, not just the perspective of executives. BI helps you analyze customer profitability, so you can allocate your limited resources on those customers that are profitable now and cultivate those customers who are most likely to grow your sales when the economy recovers. Get real-time information to the right employees: With access to information, your company stake holders can quickly analyze what’s happening within the business today and make decisions based on information that’s both current and relevant. With a nuanced and reliable BI reporting tool, stakeholders can rest easy knowing the business is planning for long-term success. The most common problem in several companies is that people on the frontline do not receive information, even though they make the most decisions. And yet individuals who make the fewest decisions, albeit the strategic ones, have the most access to information. With BI, stakeholders can have direct access to the data that’s driving the company’s decisions to easily get on board with them.
The bottom line is, Business Intelligence solutions combine the best value, pervasive deployment, and complete integration. To reap the full performance enhancing benefits of BI, you need a solution that is easy to use and makes your stakeholders smarter. Business Intelligence doesn’t need to be so complex that it shuts out regular business users. Nor does it need to eat up IT resources. The key is to find the right BI implementation partner to help you thrive.