Leveraging the benefits of user‐driven BI

Sudipta K Sen SAS Institute

Analytics is no longer an IT initiative; it has transformed into a boardroom discussion and an industry wide strategic imperative. At the vanguard of the analytics opportunity, are the organisations that have managed to inculcate a culture of data‐driven decision making across various functions and departments.

Today, businesses are keen on leveraging analytics to spot trends and forecast future outcomes, instead of merely using analytics to examine past problems. User‐driven Business Intelligence (BI) empowers business users to interactively explore data and derive valuable insights ‐ quickly and easily, with minimal intervention from the IT department. As a result, there is a lot of traction from the Indian BFSI, Retail, Government and Manufacturing sector for self‐service BI solutions.

User driven BI doesn’t have to be restricted to the physical corporate environment. Answering questions and making decisions doesn’t have to stop just because users are away from the office. Mobile BI enables executives and decision makers to easily access, explore data and collaborate about decisions from their mobile devices. This saves time and effort and ensures that departments across the enterprise are ready to tap potential opportunities. In this way, mobile BI capabilities are extremely important for any user‐driven BI solution.

For user‐driven BI, the architecture should be built around three primary capabilities as mentioned below,

Data exploration on massive amounts of data: The true value of big data can only be unlocked when organisations analyse data in its entirety and not just subsets. To do so, it is important that user‐driven BI solutions leverage in‐memory analytics techniques and provide support for Hadoop in order to resolve complex problems in near‐real time and deliver highly accurate insights.

Actionable, easy‐to‐understand insights: A user‐driven BI solution should be capable of analysing complex data to develop patterns, relationships and forecasts and present the insights in a manner that is easy to understand by the non‐technical business users.

Share fresh insights on the go: As stated earlier, mobile BI capability is a vital component of any user‐driven BI solution. Having on‐the‐go access to relevant information translates into faster decision cycles and uninterrupted workflows.

There is a growing belief among executives that we are on the verge of an analytics revolution which has the potential to transform the way businesses function and the way societies operate. It assists users across the enterprise to take decisions based on facts and thus empowers a culture of data‐driven decision making. This is a key reason why IT heads and business leaders are keen on embracing self‐service BI.