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How Most Self-Service Analytics Platforms Fail Business Leaders and Hurt Businesses

Strategy   |   Shane Remer   |   Mar 30, 2021

Self-service analytics save line of business leaders hundreds of hours each year. Any time someone can run a report in five minutes instead of waiting days for a request to go through is a win.

That’s where the benefits stop, though. At least for business leaders. It’s all measured in time and cost savings. Don’t get us wrong, that’s good. However, being able to report on what happened is one thing. Being able to know which move to take next is something entirely different. And needed.

That’s where most self-service analytics platforms are underserving line of business leaders and hurting businesses.

To understand what needs to change, let’s first talk about what self-service analytics is.

What is Self-Service Analytics?

Gartner defines self-service analytics as “a form of business intelligence (BI) in which line-of-business professionals are enabled and encouraged to perform queries and generate reports on their own, with nominal IT support.”

This describes a good chunk of the self-service BI tools out there. For the most part, companies adopted these tools for their self-service reporting capabilities.

Reports. Datasets. Spreadsheets. Most self-service analytic tools can handle simple reporting functions. This isn’t a knock on them, per se. After all, that was part of the purpose they were designed for. They’re saving leaders hundreds of hours per year, and probably thousands of dollars, too.

They’re costing them thousands of dollars, too. Maybe even millions.

How Most Self-Service BI Reporting Tools Fail Leaders

Business leaders don’t just need to run reports (even if it feels like it). They also make decisions. Arguably, that latter part of their job description is far more important, too.

Knowing where to open a new location, which product features to implement, when to switch shipping partners, what company changes would retain more employees, and how to boost sales are all questions leaders answer throughout the year, if not every quarter.

When all leaders are looking at the same colorful visualizations and descriptive reports detailing last quarter’s numbers, it can be anyone’s guess as to handle the next pressing question. Those guesses are often second-guessed, and the second-guessed options are often overruled by someone higher up the chain.

Sometimes the results are good. Sometimes they’re bad.

The fix is easy, though. Instead of simply providing self-service analytics, companies need to provide self-service data science platforms that provide features leaders can use.

The Benefits of Self-Service Data Science Platforms for Leaders

Yes, the initial thought of asking a business leader to perform data science might sound daunting at first. But it’s as simple as clicking a button. One feature of true self-service analytics platforms are analytic apps. With analytic apps, analysts and data scientists can turn any analytic process into a self-service option for business leaders. What’s more, the possibilities are nearly endless.

Here are just a few self-service analytic app examples:

  • Predict the best campaign to run given a selected demographic
  • Determine the boost to sales given a new campaign
  • Select the best shipping methods and routes given prospective buyers

The list goes on. Self-service analytic platforms that provide analytic apps can produce results leaders can use to make decisions without solely relying on gut checks. And they can do it in the same time it takes to run a self-service report. Plus, they can be easily scaled and while maintaining security and compliance. (IT will be happy about that.)

You can use them to inform decisions with more than descriptive data and reports on the past few months. You can get confidence scores and numbers that provide the likelihood a new initiative will succeed.

With analytic apps, organizations can implement true self-service analytics that cater to leaders.

And, if you really want to, you can also use them to run standard reports. But where’s the fun in simply being a file pusher?