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TDWI Upside - Where Data Means Business

Survey Reveals Progress, Back Sliding in BI Self-Service Trends

Despite strong benefits, fewer than a quarter of users have access to BI self-service tools and technology.

The latest State of Self-Service BI Report released by Logi Analytics shows both progress and a few regressive trends that executives, managers, and tech leaders should heed.

For example, there's no question about the need for self-service BI: 89 percent of business users answering the survey said "it's important for business users to access the data and information they need without IT" and 92 percent of respondents in IT agreed. Enterprises understand: 95 percent of IT organizations plan to invest in self-service BI in the next two years (only 84 percent said that last year).

There are many benefits to be had. On average, the report notes, self-service BI reduces IT requests by 47 percent (up from 37 percent in last year's survey). Self-service Bi enables a business to increase IT's operational efficiency (according to 83 percent of respondents), be more competitive (80 percent), and respond more quickly to changing business conditions (79 percent).

Yet despite such powerful benefits, only 22 percent of business users "say they have access to and utilize self-service when they need it." Users also aren't waiting for IT to act: a quarter of businesses have already purchased self-service BI tools without IT's approval and 30 percent plan to buy software in the future with "little or no IT sign-off."

This year's survey shows that progress toward user self-sufficiency has been reversed. In 2014, over half (51 percent) of business users said they had access to everything they needed without having to ask IT for assistance; less than a third (31 percent) said they had to ask IT "for some things." This year only 43 percent of respondents have what they need, and now 40 percent have to ask IT for help.

What's getting in the way? "Age old IT obstacles," Logi Analytics' report says. "The first limiter to self-service adoption is a common one -- limited budget." Second in line: a deficient "business user skill set, signaling the need for more end-user training."

IT does have plans to increase its investment in self-service BI. Nearly half (49 percent) say they plan to invest in training business users over the next 1 to 2 years; 40 percent plan to address data quality issues, and 37 percent say they'll be implementing new tools and applications. Still, the results make clear that spreadsheets "remain the de facto data analysis tool."

The survey results aren't perfect. The authors use a nonsensical measure to determine what percent of users are underserved, and they conclude that limited budgets mean self-service tools are too expensive.

You can read the entire survey at no cost here, though a short registration is required.

About the Author

James E. Powell is the editorial director of TDWI, including research reports, the Business Intelligence Journal, and Upside newsletter. You can contact him via email here.

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