Business intelligence (BI) solutions have traditionally been the domain of senior management – largely due to the need for intervention from the IT department to design and produce reports.
Today, however, the need for business intelligence reaches far beyond the executive suite, into the realm of everyday knowledge workers – including sales professionals, marketers, financial analysts, IT professionals, and virtually anyone who relies on timely, accurate information to make decisions. And a new generation of self-service solutions is making BI more accessible than ever before.
That is the topic of a Forrester paper commissioned by SAP entitled, “Self-Service: An Essential Capability of BI” (no registration required.)
This report is the result of interviews with 30 professionals in multiple industries within the US, UK, India, and Singapore, in which Forrester asked about usage requirements, patterns, and challenges of modern office workers.
According to the independent research firm’s findings, today’s knowledge workers:
- Increasingly rely on themselves for most of their information needs
- Spend too much time looking for information
- Have information needs that are not fully addressed by earlier-generation BI applications
- Require an intuitive, search-like interface that requires little or no training
- Will significantly benefit from self-service BI solutions that require minimal IT support
Business opportunities by department and role
By interviewing knowledge workers in key departments, the Forrester study identified a variety of opportunities and use cases for self-service BI, including:
Sales: The Forrester study focused on business opportunities for sales operations, sales managers, and individual relationship managers. It found that, “Respondents were all very enthusiastic and quick to identify with the benefits they would receive with a self-service BI platform.”
Marketing: Forrester surveyed a number of key marketing professionals, including campaign managers, product marketing managers, and pricing mangers. It found that, “All marketing organizations are collecting all kinds of metrics and data, but most still struggle to connect the dots between the information collected and real business value.”
Finance: By interviewing auditors, business analysts, and business liaisons, Forrester found that, “These businesspeople are certainly finding big savings opportunities across the matrix, but the level of effort to collect the information to perform the analysis is extremely difficult. In some cases, it can take days to find all of the right information to analysis a cross-functional process.”
In its conclusion, Forrester recommends that businesses acquire BI solutions that:
- Run and lightly customize canned reports and dashboards
- Run ad hoc queries
- Add calculated measures to existing reports
- Enable collaboration with other users
- Fulfill BI requirements with little or no training
In addition, it suggests that businesses employ the following BI tools:
- Portals that are key enablers of BI collaboration and knowledge management
- A semantic layer that isolates business users from database management system complexities
- BI with search user interface (UI) that can address the I-don’t-know-what-I-don’t-know dilemma
- BI with search UI that can also support faceted navigation
A High Priority
According to Forrester, more than half of the businesses surveyed consider new BI tools to be a high or critical priority for the next 12 months – indicating that these companies consider self-service to be important to maintaining their competitive edge.
To learn more, download a free copy of the Forrester report, Self-Service: An Essential Capability of BI.