The Future of Business Intelligence Tools

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Chris_NeumannIn this special guest feature, Chris Neumann of Data Hero explores the growing world of self-service BI tools and how they can one day empower end users to be self-sufficient. Chris Neumann is a data analytics junkie, a bonafide techie and a self-proclaimed foodie. He’s currently the CEO and cofounder of DataHero where he wants to help everyone unmask the answers in their data.

We are smack dab in the middle of a self-service world. From our food and movie rentals to the post office and transportation, we’re living in the golden age of self-service.

Self-service tools are also becoming increasingly popular by business users, and adoption should be encouraged by IT departments as these tools have proven to reduce the amount of data requests sent to IT by 37 percent. Except most that are claiming to be self-service still require a data scientist or analyst.

This is where the line blurs. Across the tech landscape, self-service is being touted as the next wave, if not the current wave. Yet most of these advertised self-service tools are not truly self-service, at least not in the way we’re accustomed. And that’s where the near future of businesses intelligence tools is taking us, to a clearer – and more universal – definition of self-service and growing empowerment of the end users.

In order for a BI tool to be truly self-service, it must have two properties:

  1. The user must be able to select the data that is accessible without IT
  2. The user must be able to get answers from the tool without asking for help

Most of the tools claiming to be self-service actually sit on top of a database where only IT departments can access, and are designed for analysts and those familiar with heavy statistical analysis. Essentially, this leaves out most of the corporate population, despite these BI tools being marketed as universally accessible.

So what does the future of BI look like?

Accessible: Business Intelligence tools should make the user feel just that – intelligent. The end-user experience should be focused on providing easy-to-access insights without requiring them to possess overt technical experience.

Visual: Hard data may tell the story but visuals help bring the story to life. More BI tools will gravitate to churning out strong visuals, including charts, maps and allow the user to easily convert the data into supporting visual elements.

Specialized: Every company is different, so why should their needs be expected to mirror one another? Future BI tools will be as unique as the companies that use them, providing insight specific to a company’s practice.

Personal: Currently, BI tools are – right or wrong – associated with large enterprises. But, as these tools become simpler to use and more specialized to specific firms, more and more medium and small-sized companies will begin to utilize the technology.

While we’re becoming accustomed to the a self-service world, when it comes to BI tools, we still have a ways to go before they are truly self-service.


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