The FAQs we hear most often about Self-service Business Intelligence

Here is round one of the most Frequently Asked Questions we hear about Self-service Business Intelligence. Have a look. You might find some surprising answers.

I am an Excel user and do my data analysis with it. Why do I need another more expensive tool just to replace excel?

Excel definitely has its uses and is a great tool but not for Data Analysis. Excel is a spreadsheet tool, not a Self-service BI tool. It is a product that many people are very comfortable with but even the most advanced Excel Guru can’t make Excel do what Self-service BI software tools can.
Here are just some of the areas in which Excel does not exceed when it comes to Self-service Business intelligence:

  • Error proof: Manual data entry in Excel means it is very prone to errors, even more so when documents pass back and forth within the organization. Self-service BI products update data automatically.
  • Large volumes of data: Dealing with large volumes of data in Excel is difficult and time consuming. Everyone has been in the Excel hell - that which you reach after the approximately 1000th row of data.
  • Access to the same data: Self-service BI systems pull data (structured and unstructured - social media for example) from different sources which means that every department across the organization sees a single version of truth. With Excel every department usually works with their own data and does not know how in reality it relates to other departments.
  • Interactive Data Discovery and Visualization: Want to dig deeper in your data, uncover patterns and investigate issues? Go and spend couple of hours building another chart in Excel. On the other hand, Self-service BI tools let you play around with data and spot patterns displayed as intuitive visualizations.

How does self-service BI work? I am not IT savvy...

Don’t worry, as a business user you won’t be required to import data, write code or spend months learning a software. The IT savvy people (inhouse or outsourced) will set up the software, make sure all your data is there and is updated in near-real time and create dashboards that answer questions relevant to your particular department. You will only be interacting with a very simple drag and drop or click and play interfaces that will even suggest you which type of visualizations to choose for each data set.

We already have all types of BI tools - Cognos, SAP, SAP BO, SAP BW, IBM, Microsoft BI, Microsoft Strategy, SAS, Oracle, etc. I think we have enough and, in fact, they are not integrated together, everyone is already too busy managing them. Why do I need another one?

Self-service BI tools actually solve this issue. A Self-service tool integrates data from different sources - including traditional BI systems - so that everything is in one place, saving time for your IT department and Business Users. The above mentioned traditional BI systems from Megavendors are mostly reporting oriented and very rigid - you get your reports from IT and it takes a lot of time. Non-IT users can’t perform their own ad-hoc analysis like you can with Self-service. The whole idea of Self-service BI is to make data accessible to everyone and to create data driven decision making cultures across organizations.