When CNBC described data analysis as the sexiest job of the 21st century, they were not joking. What they had inferred was simply that there is a huge shortage of data analyst skills relative to the growing demand for such expertise.
The growing demand for Data analysts and the ever shortening supply
Data is being built up and stored every second of every day, the major issue now is how to sift through this data and analyze for the nuggets of gold that define policies, shape ideas and hopefully identify growth opportunities. The ratio of data analysts available to the need in the workforce is widening at an accelerated rate. This gap has made it necessary for business to consider strategies that ensure businesses can analyze this growing wealth of data without waiting to fill in data analyst positions.
Self-Service Business Intelligence to the rescue
The major benefit is self-evident: it is faster and more efficient. Rather than wait for the data analyst, the business owner is empowered to make his decisions and answer his questions by himself. This cuts away a lot of the time ordinarily wasted in passing through the chain of command from subject matter experts to business analysts to data analysts to reports designers and all the way back up before decisions could be made. A self-service business intelligence solution cuts away the time spent by analyzing the data personally and making decisions faster. There will of course always be a need for data analysts for more complex modelling and statistical analysis, however business users are more than capable of helping themselves to data when given the right analytics tools to do so.
Business owners and analysts are capable of making more informed decisions when they analyze the information themselves as opposed the preparation of reports by independent data analysis teams that do not understand the business and often all into multiple interactions to get to the required insight. And of course, self-service business intelligence ensures the IT department are not drowning in ad-hoc requests and can focus more on data quality and data stewardship to deliver cleaner and more accurate data.
Self-Service with governance and compliance in mind
The need for Governance & Compliance
Self-service business intelligence is certainly nothing new, spreadsheets are the most widely used self-service analytics tool on the planet. However an inherent problem with spreadsheets is that there is no IT governance around it’s usage and the data is almost certainly orphaned from its source. The decentralized nature of spreadsheets means that business terms, calculations, mappings are inconsistent, and there are no controls around sharing the data within.
As stated by the research firms Gartner and Forrester, governance is a critical element for a successful self-service business intelligence implementation to ensure consistency, oversight, auditing with monitoring and manageability through IT.