Self-service BI part 3

This is part 3 of a 6-part series on self-service BI. The series will address primary dimensions of self-service BI:

Self-service BI is a bit like the Many-Faced God from Game of Thrones: it appears differently to different users. The key is to make sure you are working with your BI Competency Center to identify how the requirements vary by use case and user.

These are common use cases: make sure to clarify what your users mean when they request self-service BI capabilities.

  • Business users and decision makers
    • Drill-down and filter dashboards or reports
    • Mashup data from multiple data sources
    • Easy to learn products
    • Create compelling visualizations
    • Create simple dashboards
  • Dashboard composition for business users
    • Compose dashboards
  • Data discovery for casual users
    • Answer a new business question in 10 minutes or less
  • Self-service reporting
    • Easy access to data
    • Build queries and format data as needed
    • Create simple reports
    • Create document-style output

Line of Business users or Subject Matter Experts are not the only use types for self-service BI, however. IT and Administrators are, too, and also need to participate in the self-service BI system in the following ways.

  • Secure the environment: reporting data is quite valuable! Make sure the environment is supporting your security standards
  • Ensure scalability and performance. Self-service BI, by definition, should bring you an explosion of users. The systems you stand up to support 10 users in 1 geography for the first project will differ greatly from an enterprise-grade solution.
  • Enforce user access rights so the right people are looking at the right data
  • REUSE user access rights so you aren’t introducing new, copied points of failure for user access
  • Schedule during downtimes
  • Provide gated access to curated, enterprise sources and respects user access rights
  • Maintain audit trails of licenses, users, and data usage to support the BI on BI initiative
  • Monitor system performance

Of course, two of your most vocal proponents are going to be your power users and information governance users (you have an information governance strategy, RIGHT?). These user groups also need to participate in self-service BI in the following ways.

  • Power users to facilitate usage from casual users
    • Create templates in corporate colors
    • Create custom extensions for data sources and visualization types that are unique to your company
    • Create report pieces that can be used together to compose personalized reports or dashboards
    • Analyze more complex data sources (beyond Excel)
    • Real-time data consumption
    • Sensor data consumption
  • Information governance team to work hand-in-hand with the analytics team
    • Ensure the best data is available and discoverable
    • Validate that the metadata and descriptions are documented so users know what they are really looking at.
    • Decide which data sources to promote to enterprise, curated sources (with more governance procedures in place to verify quality)
    • Validate quality so the data is fit-for-use

In short, make sure that you are quantifying both the majority use cases and the critical use cases that will make-or-break your success. Understand how the many faces of self-service BI change depending on the situation.

How many different use cases do you have? Who are your most critical users?

In the next section, we’ll talk about how IT can help break the chains to more fully support self-service BI.

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