Standing before the screen, I carefully reviewed my options for udon. It was my first trip to Tokyo, and the lure of the wheat noodles was too strong. I made my lunch selection, grabbed a receipt marked in Japanese, and walked inside the noodle shop.
I handed a woman my ticket, and she scooped out my allotted noodle amount. My receipt and bowl were passed to another employee who added the broth. When my meal was handed back to me, I took a spoon and sat at the wooden table. There was no need for a cashier as I prepaid at the machine.
As an introvert whose Japanese speaking skill is minimal, I felt comfortable in this restaurant. It was so easy! No talking required, no chance of cultural blunders occurring. I had a mission- to eat udon. And nothing got in my way.
This self-service restaurant can be aligned to self-service Business Intelligence. If I am the business user, and my bowl of udon is a dashboard, I was just picking what I wanted and making it come to be.
Of course the ease of building your own reports saves time and puts the user in control. Instead of submitting help tickets to IT, you can build your own reports to show the exact data you want. This gives you time back to build more reports to analyze more data. You even have time to build more experimental reports- those you were curious about but didn’t have time to spend making.
The result is that now the business is acting on data insights faster than ever. Your company gains a culture of data consumption- everybody becomes their own detective to solve their own problems.
As you and your team build more and more reports, the possibilities of data comprehension seem endless. But without governance from a BI manager or department, you run the risk of the business reporting off inaccurate data analysis. How much freedom is too much? When users want a report to show a specific result, they can often unintentionally manipulate the data to show exactly what they want. This results in the business acting in intuition versus data.
In order to combat inaccurate data analysis, organizations ought to put data governance in place, so everybody is measuring off of the same set of key performance indicators (KPIs) to determine what is determined as successful for each organization. This can take the form of a designated individual or an entire team of data governance specialists that ensure KPIs are being met.
In the case of the udon shop, having employees dish out proper proportions ensures that there’s enough udon, broth, and topping for everybody. The shop also stays clean, and ensures that patrons maintain a sense of safety while dining. Plus, if any patron had a question, they could ask one of the employees.
The benefits of Self Service BI are not that clear cut. What is the perfect balance for your organization? Should you leave Business Intelligence up to the experts? Or should everybody have a hand in it?
Let us know what your balance is in the comments.