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According to leading market analysts, self-service data and analytics has reached “the slope of enlightenment.” In fact, analyst Dan Kirsch says, “The tide has turned, self-service Business Intelligence (BI) is not an option, it is a requirement for successful businesses. ”

How do CIOs view self-service and what do they think drives its momentum?

What are the drivers of self-service BI?

CIOs see a number of drivers for self-service BI. At the top of their list is reducing cycle time for decision making. The goal is to make data and analytics teams less of a bottleneck for businesses responding to today’s market speed.

There is no doubt that ideas such as information democracy have broadened the audience who need access to data. The inability to get business users to the information they need, when they need it, has created a backlog. Former CIO Isaac Sacolick thus compares the past to today: “Do you remember the time when reporting was centralized in IT? Reports several days / weeks old that no one has used? Being data-driven means everyone should ask questions and have access to tools and data to search for answers. The goal should be to make decisions when they are needed, which requires quick and easy access to the right data at the right time.

Randy Bean shares the example of American Family Insurance (AmFAM) in his new book, “Fail Fast, Learn Faster”. “AmFAM is moving from a data-rich enterprise to a data-driven enterprise… They are committed to helping everyone do a better job, from experts to underwriters to agents. CIO Jason James summed up the self-service trend this way: “The speed of business and competition now demands that stakeholders have quick access to meaningful data to make decisions. The data must be up to date, relevant and relatively easy to access.

Related article: Should Business Intelligence Be Self-Service?

What is the value of self-service BI?

The value of self-service is changing the way organizations think about what they’re doing and why. In terms of specific value propositions, CIOs highlight the following:

  • Shorter time to value.
  • Reduced business costs.
  • Faster / better decision making and innovation.
  • Large-scale distributed change / transformation.
  • Data-driven processes.
  • Improved quality, safety and efficiency.

CIO Martin Davis summed it up this way: “BI itself has minimal value, doing something with it that impacts the business is where the value is. By the same argument, the data cycle time has no value. Therefore, the value comes from better business decisions and lower business costs. And of course, doing this at the expense of the business has a big impact on business results.

Related article: What is good data visualization?

What cultural change is needed to make self-service BI a reality?

As with any large IT project, self-service BI requires changes across the business. It starts by convincing departments to expose data from their organizational silos to a larger audience. Initiating this change can often involve explaining why other groups may find their data useful.

CIOs understand that data ownership remains an issue for many organizations in delivering cross-silo capabilities. However, when users can easily visualize and understand data to drive their business, it often saves them time by eliminating legacy processes. It accelerates a culture of change when people can get their jobs done faster and easier.

Other necessary culture changes include:

  • Eliminate data hoarding.
  • Determine data access and sharing requirements.
  • Implement data literacy (a culture where we seek to understand data and its context).
  • Encourage responsible use of data.
  • Establish data ownership and governance.

The goal should be to foster a culture where decisions are only respected, even unpopular, when backed up by good data. Kirsch said data managers should “teach data literacy to everyone in the organization. It’s not just about understanding the data, but how can you tell a story to your colleagues and partners through the use of data? CIO Deb Gildersleeve added, “To foster a data-driven culture, you need to both empower people and help break down technological silos so that employees can truly access data. “

Related article: How to Improve Data Proficiency Among Non-Quants in Your Organization

What technologies are needed to deliver self-service BI?

CIOs mentioned that many technologies are needed to deliver the promised self-service BI, including the following:

  • Data catalog.
  • Basic data.
  • Data Lake / Data Mart.
  • BI / Analytics tools.
  • API / Microservices.
  • Self-service BI training.

CIO David Seidl suggested, “As a user, a highly usable data portal or access tool, including data discovery and contextualization, is essential for more casual and inexperienced users. I think this is the real destination for long-term self-service BI, with a stop at power users along the way. Also, sometimes discovering that you don’t have the data (or that it isn’t complete, bad, or ungoverned) and understand why, and if it’s worth collecting and keeping it, isn’t not? Analyst Jack Gold added, “First you need a way to build trust in data. Users must be able to assess the quality of the data. Next, they need to make the data accessible (securely through governance) so that people can access and use it, and finally, you need easy-to-use discovery and analysis tools that don’t have no need for a programmer.

Who are the best partners for CIOs selling self-service BI initiatives?

CIOs believe they have many potential partners for self-service BI. Seidl said, “It’s often a coalition of the willing, but all peers in an CIO should want to access useful data and hopefully make it accessible and usable by a wide range of people to empower the organization. organization. Natural partners include:

  • Business line managers (LOB).
  • COO.
  • CEO.
  • Compliance / Regulatory Officers.
  • CMO.

Marketing organizations have become much more data-driven. Marketing managers can, for this reason, provide funds and show the rest of the organization how data can drive business results. That said, Gold said, “The best way for BI and analytics to spread throughout the organization is for leaders at the highest level to make it a priority. Since it takes a lot of moving parts, few functional groups can successfully drive it on its own.

CIOs can help speed up the decision-making process

Self-service BI is clearly on the way to generalization. However, Kirsch cautioned, “Data discovery remains a huge challenge in analytics and BI. If you don’t know the data exists, it won’t be part of your decision-making process. I think the game in the future will be to provide the growing number of hybrid / remote employees with the data they need, regardless of their location, so they can make better decisions at the pace of business today. ‘hui.

Myles Suer, according to LeadTail, is the # 1 influencer for CIOs. Myles is Director of Solutions Marketing at Alation and he is also the #CIOChat host.


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