Self Service BI I think is very important for businesses to implement and can greatly increase productivity of a business as a whole. Let me give you what I think Self Service BI. Self Service BI allows employees to conduct their daily analytics work with little to no IT intervention which increases productivity and gets answers to questions that are important to that department or set of employees.
When business are looking into Business Intelligence Visualization tools to allow it’s different departments to conduct their own data analytics and data discovery, I will say Data Governance not only greatly helps but I would state it rescues this ideology that a business wants to put into place. Data Governance can help these self service users with complex data models and ensures that all the data that is being analyzed is of the highest quality. Data Governance also makes sure that all the different departments in the business are looking and talking about the data in the same way, so everyone is getting the same story from what the data is saying and moving in the same direction.
With all the above being stated, Self Service BI does come with obstacles and each of the below obstacles need to be addressed and can be solved with a Data Governance solution. You might encounter more obstacles as you pursue Self Service BI but the below ones are the obstacles I have ran into more then several times and wished to share.
Obstacle 1: Data quality. A lot of businesses that I have worked with realize that they have data quality issues once we get into the project. Trying to convince the stakeholders that Data Governance is built for exactly this is not only cumbersome sometimes but outright difficult. Many times the stakeholders say the investment is to much in dollars, my statement back to them is that I do not think you can afford not to put a Data Governance in place. Here are just an example of some questions that you can ask the stakeholders or executives. Is there duplication in the data? Can you see all the touch points of your customers? Is the data that your systems collecting accurate and valid? Letting the stakeholders know that implementing Data Governance does not have to be a huge investment in time or money if you take the approach I like to call the Mindful Data Governance Initiative.
Obstacle 2: Data growth: Many business are seeing an exponential growth in the data that they are collecting (variety and data sources) especially business with many departments. Implementing a Data Governance solution ensures data quality and that all the processes that collect data are repeatable and valid.
Obstacle 3: One fits all: In Self Service BI there might be an attempt that one tool fits everyones needs from a sales rep to a data analytics employee. The methodology of one fits all will work in Self Service BI but will not work with Data Governance as the wide range of data analytics is way to wide. However, self-service is of no benefit if the data being accessed is not valid and governed correctly. Data Governance provides a consistent and repeatable way to manage data collection across business units and to make sure that information delivered is reliable and is of the highest quality.
Obstacle 4: Although the biggest benefit of Self-Service Computing is that it offers complete democratization of complex Data Management tasks in the daily life of a business user, you still have to think: Are there any down falls of having so much freedom over critical business data? As all types of business users will have access to critical data, isn’t Data Security and Data Privacy at high risks of loss or corruption? Unless Data Governance policies take these risks into full consideration through the rules, procedures, and access controls, the whole purpose of self-service may be compromised.
Like I stated early you will definitely come across more obstacles when implementing Self Service BI in your business and you will have to figure out solutions for them. It is my belief that if you do not have a formal Data Governance solution in place first it will make getting over all these obstacles extremely hard if not impossible.