Self-service BI is simple to use so business people can perform tasks that in the past would have required assistance from an IT pro. It enables business users at various skill levels to be involved in the creation and sharing of analytics and visualizations.
I talked to a few of the great brains at QlikTech who put their heads together to describe the different types of users who benefit from self-service BI. John Trigg (product director), Mathias Carnemark (partner development manager), and Johan Averstedt (segment manager, financial services) came up with this list based on their experiences with hundreds of QlikView customers:
- Data wranglers harmonize and rationalize data. Data wranglers are typically database specialists. They can work with everything from raw data sources (including enterprise data warehouses) to analytics and dashboards. They know what data resides where, how frequently it is refreshed, and how to access it. They are good at acquiring data from multiple data sources, creating normalized views of the data, performing cleansing operations, and readying meaningful data views for consumption by other users.
- Power analysts create dashboards, analytics, and interactive discovery experiences. Power analysts are advanced BI users who know how to work with an abstract analytic layer to assemble dashboards, views, and reports. They focus on creating line of business analytics and representing data visually. Power analysts know which analytics make sense for a particular situation. They understand the data model created by the data wranglers, and know how to create the best paths of inquiry for collaborative users and netizens.
- Collaborative users add their perspectives to analytic apps―and share them. Collaborative users add their perspectives―such as new measures or visual representations―to the “single version of the truth” created by data wranglers and power analysts. Based on their knowledge of the business, collaborative users have unique perspectives on visual representation, inquiry paths, and supporting analytics. They work with and extend prebuilt applications by introducing their own analytics into existing charts, creating their own visual representations, and adding new searches or filters.
- Netizen users explore data and share business insights. Netizen users (otherwise known as “the rest of us”) want to explore their business analytics in an unhindered way. They search, drill, and filter the data―in apps created by data wranglers, power analysts, and collaborative users―based on their current thinking and interests. They may share their observations and perspectives with others by passing along filters and searches to colleagues, along with notes.
With an app-driven approach and the ability to deliver 360 degree views of business information, self service is no longer about drag-and-drop to create the report of the day. In this world of empowered consumers, the bar is continually being raised so that business users can do more and more on their own, quickly and with ease. Self-service BI has become about fine tuning the experience for personalized perspectives and collaboration. It enables a broad spectrum of usage by delivering the right capabilities to those who can use them and by ensuring that the fruits of each person’s labor can be harnessed by others in the chain of BI app creation. IT professionals play a critical role in self-service BI by assembling the data, delivering relevant data, and ensuring scalability and security.