Nowadays, “Self-Service” is becoming a buzz word and everyone is talking about it. You will hear that in every project meeting that you go to. But is it a myth?
“Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he will eat for a lifetime”. In a perfect world, it is a fantastic idea to let the business users build their own reports to derive their own analysis. However, we often run into the problem that the business users are either not technically savvy enough or they simply do not want to do it.
People love their comfort zones. It is extremely difficult to “teach an old dog a new trick”. If you tell them to leave their Excel spreadsheet behind and do all their analysis on a reporting tool, you can almost see the blood running out of their veins.
Yes, you can show them a hundred times on how to do it, and demonstrate a thousand times on how easy it is and how wonderful it can be, but will they actually do it on their own is another story.
Very often, after you spent countless hours teaching the business users on how to use Web Intelligence and how to build a report by simply dragging and dropping the objects that they need, at the end of the day, they will ask you how to export the query result into Excel.
Business users love to ask report developers to build them data dump in Web Intelligence and Crystal Report. Then they can export the query result and plug it into an Excel model that they built for analysis. Basically, the business users are using a tool that costs their employers millions of dollars for simple data extraction….something that they can do with TOAD that costs only a few hundred dollars, or simply by writing a few lines of VBA codes which is available in Excel at no additional cost. So what’s wrong with this picture?
It is not impossible to change the mindset of the business users. But don’t expect the business users to jump out of their chairs to embrace it wholeheartedly right away. It can be a long, repetitive, running-around-in-a-circle, and aggravating process. Not until the business users truly understand the value of “Self-Service”, and not until the business users bear the open mind and willing to leave their “comfort zones” to learn a new “trick”, “Self-Service” might remain a myth.
In response to Vijay’s comment, data is another huge challenge to “Self-Service BI”. Typically, Data Warehouse is not built for “Self-Service”. With the huge amount of data, we are having problem on aggregation. The BI 4.0 Semantic Layer with multi-sources capability + HANA will be the perfect solution. In the business world, being able to do “real-time” analytics is GOLD (it is more so in the retail industry). But the “price tag” of HANA can give customers a moment of pause. The challenge is to convince the customers that it is a good investment in the long run. Perhaps we need an “entry-level HANA” to help customers’ adaptation?