The Self-Serv Data Preparation trend is growing by leaps and bounds. Why? Well, there are a lot of reasons to like Self-Serve Data Preparation and Self-Serve Business Intelligence solutions. Here are just a few:
- Empowering Business Users
- Making the Best Use of Resources
- Using Existing Knowledge and Skill to identify Trends and Patterns
- Bring agility in the decision making process
- Reducing time to analyze data by empowering business users do data prep on their own
- Leveraging BI Tools to Gain Competitive Advantage, Improve ROI and TCO
Business Intelligence vendors have invested time and money in tools that integrate enterprise data and provide dashboards and reports but many of these tools require intervention by programmers or ETL experts or trained analysts. In many instances, there is still a disconnect between the enterprise wishing to embrace self-service and the tools that are touted as self-serve.
So, when it comes to Self-Serve Data Preparation, it is no wonder that organizations and business users are frustrated. Self-serve tools must be mobile and user friendly. They must allow business users to perform Data Extraction, Transformation and Loading (ETL) without technical skills. In the past ETL was always performed by the IT staff connecting various data sources, and then extract, transform, and load the data to prepare it for the analysis. To complete these tasks, the IT team would use complex tools and special skills.
If an organization can leverage self-serve data preparation, it can empower its business users with easy-to-use tools that let them connect, mash up, cleanse, reduce, and prepare data on their own without waiting for IT.
True Self-Serve Data Preparation allows for appropriate user access and security, quick and easy customization and personalization of reports, dashboards and formats and a true self-serve data preparation environment that allows the user to find, compile, format and analyze data in a way that is meaningful to them and can be shared with others to collaborate on solutions and opportunities.
Self-Serve Data Preparation must allow for data integration and extraction with sophisticated backend operations that allow a user to focus on what is important, rather than on learning the technology or spending hours of training time to learn to use the tool. If your organization really wants to enable Self-Serve Data Preparation, the tool must connect, integrate, mashup and analyze data with clear, concise data visualization that allows for quick identification of patterns, trends, issues and opportunities. The solution must allow for swift configuration, drag, and drop data visualization and formatting. But it must also ensure that the business user is collecting and connecting data for accurate, uniform and consistent interpretation.
To fully leverage the knowledge of a business user in their area of expertise, these BI tools must ‘lead’ and guide a user, rather than restrict them. Automation is one thing but a real Self-Serve Data Preparation environment allows the user to intervene along the way with the ability to create and view and draw conclusions. Gathering and preparing the data for manipulation and analysis should not be a daunting task but the process cannot be totally devoid of direction or the business user will get lost in the weeds.
If you can make your enterprise data available to business users, you can increase the speed and dependability of decisions and spread the wealth around. Information is wealth, after all and every business users needs information to perform tasks, make decisions, report to management, make recommendations and advance the ball on the playing field.
The challenge for vendors is how to provide all of that information and Business Intelligence in a self-serve environment that is easy to use and easy to customize to the needs of the organization, the team, and the individual. The user must be able to ‘explore’ data and then prepare it for presentation in a variety of ways.
The Business Intelligence solution market is already capitalizing on these opportunities but, if these solutions do not take the next step and help users by driving conclusions and recommendations, the Self-Serve Data Preparation concept is not fully leveraged. If you have gone the extra mile to create a user-friendly data preparation environment, it only makes sense to further assist the user by recommending formats and presentations to make the data more useful and even suggesting actions and drawing conclusions based on the data. Business users don’t need to know how data integration, data cleansing or data organization work. But, if you want your users to adopt and leverage these self-serve data preparation tools, they do need to understand how to gather and prepare the data for analysis.
So, the ideal Self-Serve Data Preparation environment must provide sophisticated technology and tools on the backend and a simple, intuitive dashboard and report environment that encourages business users to dive in, analyze and present information Self-Serve Data Preparation significantly reduces the time required to analyze data and allows business users to share data and collaborate with other users. It also allows for automatic identification of patterns and trends and improves time required to analyze data, and improves time to market, competitive stance, accuracy and speed of decisions.
The benefits of true Self-Serve Data Preparation are many, and this approach can and should be considered by small, medium and large enterprises in every industry.