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Self-Service Analysis | Real Business Intelligence
When Comfort and Progress Collide
The question of whether spreadsheets are part of a Business Intelligence strategy, or simply an obstacle to realizing one, has been presented to us on many occasions. Typically, a firm wrestling with this dilemma either has an Excel guru in their midst, or they have collectively developed a reliance bordering on fascination with spreadsheets. They find themselves attempting analysis based on data they can’t easily interrogate, modify or verify. Or, even worse, living in fear of upsetting the omnipotent Excel power-user. As a result, they tend to want to stay with what they know, because the unknown is so scary. Scarier still is the realization that they are placing ever more pivotal decisions on data they can’t easily interrogate or verify, and in the hands of someone more interested in protecting turf than generating liberating data analysis.
Spreadsheets are a fantastic tool, but just that. To a hammer, everything is a nail. The reality is that firms need to identify where spreadsheets end and Business Intelligence begins. They can be a barrier to Business Intelligence in a number of ways. One of the inherent issues with spreadsheets is that the data is offline. This presents a few challenges:
- The longer it takes to create a compelling chart, the less accurate the data.
- The data represented in a spreadsheet is open to manipulation and errors.
- It takes a lot of effort to maintain charts in a spreadsheet.
These problems with spreadsheets are part of the reason Self-Service Analysis will change the definition and expectations of Business Intelligence forever. Gone are the days of accepting the Excel bottleneck. Agile firms are already making the move to the user-driven model.
Fixed Reports Constrain Data
Flexibility is everything. The ability to dynamically change what you are measuring and how you filter a chart is key to understanding your data.
Consider our example, which seeks answers about the relationship between Lead Sources and Opportunities. The chart and grid are unified in theme, providing a utilitarian summary of the chart as displayed. But, one may need to dig further for the answers. We invite you to.
Below, we decided to clone our chart and with a couple clicks of the mouse, we asked for the data by date, and for running totals. We have two very different sets of numbers, for two perspectives, both valuable. The key is, they are driven by the same view, the data is resident in a central shared data source, and is being updated continuously. We can aggregate data, or use multiple functions, but the data remains unchanged. With a single click, we can clone the chart and save a copy under another name.
To get the most out of your data assets, you need to invite more people to interrogate the data that is relevant to them. Enabling users to clone charts on the fly, and save their own versions of existing reports gets back to the whole point of Business Intelligence enhancing your abilities to make better decisions faster.
Find The Right Balance
Data visualization is changing the way we gather and learn from our business data. To get the most of your information, you need an easy t0 use interface, low cost of deployment, and true Self-Service Analysis.
Give us 10 minutes to show you how easy and powerful Self-Service Analysis can be.