Four myths about self-service data analytics worth debunking


    By 2020, organizations that offer users access to curated data will see twice the value from investments in analytics than those that do not, according to a Gartner study.

    Often referred to as the ‘democratization of data’, self-service solutions allow employees to do their own analysis of organizational data to help them make better decisions on the job. Traditionally, this work has been the domain of IT and business intelligence teams.

    By providing faster access to information, the new self-service approach improves the agility of staff members and can help the organization to gain a competitive edge.

    Yet, some organizations are still holding back, clinging to the idea that they must maintain enterprise control of all data analytics.

    Myth over matter?

    There are four commonly-held myths cited by business leaders for their reluctance to put data analytics in the hands of more employees:

    • Most employees are not skilled enough to do data analysis. This myth is based on the view that staff members with no formal education in business intelligence will misinterpret the data. While training should be provided, the best tools for data analysis provide guidance to employees to run reports and build interactive dashboards to help them answer tough business questions. In all cases, data is sourced from a single curated corporate system so that there can be no argument about the numbers.

      A positive side effect of putting these tools in the hands of staff members is that it gives the IT and business intelligence units more time to focus on business transformation, rather than routine report generation.

    • The integrity of the data will be questioned. There is a fear that allowing more people to access corporate data will open the door to increased security issues. In fact, self-service access is no different from any other use of corporate information. Organizations need to maintain thorough security management practices in all cases.
    • The organization will not be able to govern the use of information. Similarly, there is a concern that organizations will lose enterprise-wide controls on the information. As with any other information, organizations must ensure that policies are in place to govern issues like privacy. These policies can be established within the self-service system to ensure adherence.
    • Opportunities for collaboration will be lost. Some executives are worried that, if employees have individual access to data analysis, they will no longer work together. In reality, quality self-service analytics provide central storage so that employees can share their work to build on the insights of others. As well, analytical models can be institutionalized, as needed.

    The latest self-service data analytics solutions provide ample opportunity for organizations to strike a balance to maintain governance controls while allowing employees to quickly and easily extract powerful insights from the data. For those that get it right, the rewards may be considerable.

    If you’re interested in learning more, please download the white paper by Blue Hill Research, “Enterprise BI Essentials: The Convergence of Self-Service Autonomy and Enterprise Scalability.”

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    Cindy Baker
    Cindy Baker has over 20 years of experience in IT-related fields in the public and private sectors, as a lawyer and strategic advisor. She is a former broadcast journalist, currently working as a consultant, freelance writer and editor.


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