The Case For Self-Service BI

Matt Allington makes the case for self-service BI:

Success or failure of Enterprise BI can be shown as a continuum.

The 5 sample points I call out (from best to worst) are:

  1. It adds lots of value to lots of people.
  2. It’s OK, lots of “export to Excel”
  3. Some use, but not worth the cost
  4. It is a failure and it is written off
  5. It is a failure but you keep it.

Note what I list as the worst possible outcome.  The solution is no good, and no one does anything about it.  This is much worse than writing it off as a failure as you can’t move on if you don’t accept you have a problem.

This is a provocative article with some good comments.  I’ve mixed emotions about this, as I see Matt’s point and agree with him in the hypothetical scenario, but it’s really easy for business users to get the wrong answers from self-service tools (e.g., introducing hidden cartesian products or not applying all business rules to calculations) and give up on the product.  That might be a function of me doing it wrong and I’ll cop to that if so, but I think that self-service BI needs a “You must be this tall to ride” sign.

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