When enterprises are in the market for a business intelligence solution to power their business, self-service functionality is often high up on the list of features they’re looking for. After all, what good is a data platform if it’s only accessible to a handful of executives or business analysts or it’s not fast enough to provide insights when you need them most? The promise of self-service BI has always been the ability for everyone in an organization to have access to the most up-to-date information they need to make informed decisions. Over the years, self-service has taken many forms, and in this article, I’ll outline the three generations you’ll still find in the market today.
Generation 1: Humble BI Beginnings
When business intelligence products first came on the scene, they were mainly tools for disseminating pre-built reports with some analytics. Pioneering companies like MicroStrategy created the concept of “data cubes” that used pre-processed and pre-aggregated data to allow end-users to build reports and add things like filters to slice and dice the data in an ad hoc manner.
Later on, the concept of personalized dashboards and ad hoc chart builders gained popularity, yet, it became clear that these self-service BI tools were still too limited. This was due to the fact the data always needed to be collected, cleaned and modeled by your IT department before it could be used. That made getting answers to business problems incomplete, cumbersome and not as “self-service” as promised.
Generation 2: Rise of the Analysts
These traditional BI shortcomings quickly led to the rise of a new class of data discovery and visual analytic tools like Qlik and Tableau. These new products were aimed squarely at business analysts, those who knew their way around a dataset and could prepare their own data for analysis. These tools offered more data visualization functionality and interaction than BI platforms and could shorten the time between asking a question and knowing the answer. The only problem? These products relied on isolated copies of the data that had been processed in a one-off, ad hoc manner by the analysts. There was never a guarantee that the data being used was the right data, the most up-to-date data or even data had been accurately processed. This was acceptable for casual and departmental use, but not a good fit at an enterprise level.
In both of these early generations, self-service only applied to the analysis of data. The collection and preparation of data still wasn’t self-service, that was either handled by IT or individually by the analysts. Disseminating and automation information was also not a self-service task, that too was still a painfully manual affair. This led Qrvey to reimagine what self-service could be and take data platforms to whole new level.
Generation 3: All-in-One Self Service for All
Qrvey represents the latest and most modern generation of self-service, offering a unique all-in-one stack that combines data collection with analytics and powerful workflow automation. By combining all of these elements in a single, easy to use package, the promise of self-service can fully be realized and all of the previous shortcomings can be overcome.
Qrvey’s easy-to-use interface means that all business users, not just analysts and Excel-savvy users, can work with the platform and build their own analytics, workflows and even entire information applications. And those workflows are also capable of sending alerts and notifications, and taking actions as thresholds are met. No other product in the market today extends self-service to include these powerful features.