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Lyndsay Wise

Hi and welcome to my blog! I look forward to bringing you weekly posts about what is happening in the world of BI, CDI and marketing performance management.

About the author >

Lyndsay is the President and Founder of WiseAnalytics, an independent analyst firm specializing in business intelligence, master data management and unstructured data. For more than seven years, she has assisted clients in business systems analysis, software selection and implementation of enterprise applications. Lyndsay conducts regular research studies, consults, writes articles and speaks about improving the value of business intelligence within organizations. She can be reached at lwise@wiseanalytics.com.

Editor's Note: More articles and resources are available in Lyndsay's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel. Be sure to visit today!

Earlier this week I was a part of a panel on DMRadio discussing Self-Service business intelligence and it got me thinking about the challenges organizations face when looking at implementing self-service BI solutions. SMBs especially face challenges due to the fact that there is a general expectation to deploy BI quickly and to get value immediately. And although this is possible, it depends on the end goal. For instance, if an organization is deploying BI across a single business unit, without large data sets or complexity, then implementations can occur seamlessly. Issues arise when businesses want it all and don’t understand that delivering Self-Service also requires strategic planning. And part of this planning means looking beyond how people will interact with BI and towards how the data will be structured, stored, and delivered.

Part of the discussion centred around understanding how to design the right database schemas to enable easier access on the front end. What this really means (from a business perspective) is that when organizations discuss Self-Service, there is usually a focus on analytics and dashboard access. This is where organizations identify the types of users within the organization, how many super users/analysts exist versus casual business users that require more intuitive interactions with ready-made analytics. The other part of the discussion that is sometimes overlooked is the data side. Where the data comes from and how it is structured can affect the ease with which it is accessed. Therefore, to create a full solution that expands across the organization, SMBs need to take a step back and identify the data they need and where it fits within a Self-Service environment.

Although there seems to be more and more movement away from traditional data warehousing, to create analytics and time based analyses, some sort of data store is required. This is why there will always be a need for data warehousing, even though the use cases over time might change. Therefore, there needs to be a shift when identifying the process required to achieve Self-Service. Yes, solution capabilities and ease of use are important aspects to look at, but so is the information architecture. Identifying whether a variety of data sets can be combined, how business rules are managed, and how easily changes can be made are just some of the areas that need to be looked at. How information assets are maintained over time and how easy they are to access and interact with, without damaging the integrity of the data itself is another area to consider.

Overall, there are many considerations to creating a successful Self-Service BI infrastructure that can sustain itself over time. SMBs should realize that although market hype looks at how business users interact with tools, implementation still requires a broader look at how to develop and maintain the underlying platform as well.

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

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Posted August 14, 2013 9:17 PM
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