lightbulbWelcome to this 6-part series on self-service BI, which has been one of the favorite topics suggested from customers. It seems that although we’ve been talking about self-service BI for years (and years and years), market forces are changing both the priority of these offerings, as well as the expectations of self-service BI success. The series will address primary dimensions of self-service BI:

  • Part 1: The Night is Dark and Full of Terrors: Gear Up with Self-Service BI
  • Part 2: The Hand of the King to Support Self-Service BI: BI Competency Centers
  • Part 3: The Many Faces (and Use Cases) of Self-Service BI
  • Part 4: Breaker of Chains: How IT Needs to Support Self-Service BI
  • Part 5: Unburnt: Data Strategies to Support Self-Service BI
  • Part 6: Winter is Coming: What to Do Next

The night IS dark and full of terrors:

  • Dark because no one quite articulates what they mean by self-service BI. Unless someone does the work to clarify and shine a light on self-service BI, the night will remain dark.
  • Full of terrors because expectations are not clearly laid out, and yet blame for unsuccessful projects is plentiful.

Let’s shine a light on some of that darkness. What do we mean by self-service BI?

ssbi_definitionThese are not the professionally-authored, operational reports that we’ve been creating for years. Nor is the definition constrained to data discovery, dashboarding, or operational reporting. Instead, it is an approach that crosses all of these pillars. The interoperability between professionally authored and self-service is key, because professionally authored reports can provide filtering and input controls that empower end users to customize their results.

And the terrors? Here’s a great study from KPMG that outlines that despite the investment and conversation, CEOs are still not trusting the data they are basing their decisions on. Yet, with all of this mistrust, we are still not seeing interest in making sure their company is a leader in data and analytics.


But lack of clear leadership and investment is not helping the problem—oh no. Things are happening in the dark. Even in mature BI organizations, users are generating their own content for analytics. In most cases, the user-generated content is being blended with enterprise, curated content (see the Forrester whitepaper). Do you have a line on the trustworthiness and use of this user-generated data? These custom calculations and data are influencing key decisions (see figure 2).


Do you have a good handle on the dark corners of self-service BI in your company? Have you evaluated data usage and creation?

Stay tuned for part Two of the series, when  we’ll talk about how BI Competency Centers can function as the “Hand of the King” to support self-service BI.


This post originally appeared on the SAP community blog and has been republished with permission.