Even when business users lack a background in business intelligence or related functions like statistical analysis and data mining, self-service business intelligence (BI) enables them to access data sets and explore them. Organizations may implement self-service business intelligence tools for reasons like:

  • Filtering, sorting, visualizing, and analyzing data without involving IT and BI teams.
  • Simplify access to helpful business insights for executives, frontline workers, and regular employees. 
  • Drive more informed decision-making for positive outcomes like better customer satisfaction, higher profits, and increased efficiency. 

In this article, we will talk about the things you need to know about self-service BI, such as its benefits, challenges, and features to look for in a self-service BI tool. 

Traditional BI vs. Self-Service BI

Traditional BI includes processes where BI or IT teams do data analysis for business users. It involves action on the part of users to request new queries and ask for new reports/dashboards, which BI analysts do for them. The problem here is dependency and time consumption. Project approvals may take weeks sometimes. Also, the reliance on BI teams to extract data from source systems, cleanse it, and then create queries for analytical results is high. 

Self-Service BI includes processes that enable executives, business analysts, and other users to run queries by themselves to create data visualizations, reports, and dashboards. Self-service BI tools must have an intuitive and easy-to-use user interface (UI) as some users may not be tech-savvy. 

Benefits of Self-Service Business Intelligence

Self-service business intelligence has a variety of benefits that can be helpful for users:

  • It frees up BI and IT teams to focus on higher-value tasks. Self-service BI enables BI and IT teams to focus their time and efforts on high-value tasks requiring top-level technical skills, such as creating complex queries and curating data sets for business users. This happens because self-service BI enables employees to do their own analysis, freeing BI and IT teams from creating visualizations, queries, reports, and dashboards for other employees of the organization. 
  • It reduces bottlenecks to speed up data analysis. The shift of analytical work to business users instead of BI professionals leads to the reduction of bottlenecks in BI programs. As a result, business procedures are accelerated, and the speed of data analysis is increased. Consequently, decision-making is also sped up. 
  • It makes organizations more agile. As the use of data is expanded and decision-making is sped up, the organization becomes more agile. It helps business leaders to create and maintain their organization’s competitive edge in the market. 
  • It develops a data-driven organizational culture. Self-service BI enables employees at all levels of the organization to leverage analytics for themselves, ranging from frontline workers to C-suite executives. As a result, an entirely data-driven organizational culture is created in business operations. 
  • It increases data accessibility. Self-service BI tools prioritize data accessibility. As self-service BI enables business users to analyze data and create visualizations, it invests in simple UI designs with no-code features to increase data accessibility with ease of use. 

Challenges of Self-Service Business Intelligence

Although the benefits mentioned above are incredible, there are certain challenges that self-service business intelligence imposes on organizations:

  • Resistance in adoption. Self-service BI tools face a lot of resistance in adoption due to multiple reasons like lack of knowledge, unwillingness to base decisions on anything else other than intuition & expertise, and complex user interfaces. Such resistance in adoption makes self-service BI tools redundant.  
  • Inaccuracy in results. Self-service BI tools often may produce inaccurate results based on unidentified data errors or incomplete data sets. This leads to faulty decision-making and confusion.  
  • Breaches to data security and privacy. Additional security and privacy responsibilities come along with increased access to data. Organizations must put adequate data security and governance policies in place to ensure that no breaches take place. Lack of proper security policies and measures can lead to privacy violations, misuse of data, and unauthorized access. 

These challenges can be avoided with the help of a well-structured BI strategy that includes a robust BI architecture to establish governance standards. 

Features To Look for in Self-Service Business Intelligence Tools

Choosing the right self-service business tools is essential to ensure its easy adoption and implementation. Hence, it would be best if you looked for the following features while choosing a self-service business intelligence tool for your organization:

  • Quick and easy implementation with the help of a library of integrations and requirement of short time periods to purchase any needed licenses.
  •  Ease of use with the help of an intuitive nature so that it can be used by employees who lack technical expertise as well. 
  • Cost-effective self-service BI tools can help avoid significant budget imbalances. You must ensure that you invest in affordable self-service BI tools that give a respectable ROI and offer flexibility to fulfill all your objectives.
  •  Easy connection to new data sources so that business users can run operations without involving any technical team.
  •  Variety in visualization can improve the quality of reports and enable users to create detailed yet accurate visualization. 
  •  Easy shareability of dashboards can facilitate collaborations for enhanced business operations. 
  • Scalable self-service BI tools can help to grow the tools’ functionality along with the growth of your business.


Self-service business intelligence tools offer an extensive set of benefits but also impose a few challenges on the organization. Knowledge of all things related to such tools can help you make informed decisions. 

Every organization must have a well-structured business intelligence technology in place to ensure the effective implementation of self-service business intelligence. The extensive benefits of such tools remain relevant only as long as the implementation is correct. By putting a well-defined BI strategy in place, training employees, and ensuring the selection of fitting tools, organizations can leverage self-service business intelligence successfully.