Providing Business Intelligence (BI) reporting and analysis used to be a service that IT provided for their line-of-business counterparts. In recent years, however business users have increasingly taken the lead for their BI and analytic solutions.

What’s Driving the Self-Service BI Growth Trend?

There are several factors driving this trend. The most important is the rising strategic importance of data and analytics. With data the new competitive battlefield, line-of-business leaders have become more aggressive in their demands. Sometimes this means more funding for IT technology and staff. And other times it means directing existing business staff to work on BI and analytics challenges directly.

A second factor is the difference between traditional “industrial-scale” reporting such as month-end financial reporting, and more agile, “quick-and-dirty” question answering and “what-if” explorations typical in dynamic businesses today. IT has been engineered for the former, with the latter two taxing IT processes and controls.

From the solutions point of view, a third factor is the rise of self-service business intelligence (SSBI) tools such as those available from Cisco partners Qlikview, Spotfire, and Tableau. Leveraging graphical, intuitive and easy-to-use interfaces, these tools have enabled business to reduce their reliance on their IT colleagues.

Does IT Still Have A Role in Self-Service BI?

So when it comes to BI and analysis, does the business side still need IT’s help at all?

The answer is absolutely yes! And that role is to provide the data that self-service BI users require.

In other words, beyond a subset of compliance and organizational reporting, business delivers the ad hoc analysis and reporting, with IT delivering the data.

And just as SSBI tools have helped enabled this self-service transition on the business side, data virtualization offerings such as Cisco Data Virtualization are the critical self-service data enabler for IT.

How Data Virtualization Helps!

Imagine if you were a business analyst who needed to provide some insight on a key question from a senior executive. Your first step would most certainly be, “What data do we already have that I can use?”

A well-developed data virtualization implementation can often provide most of the data required, in a secure and governed manner.

Even Easier with a Business Directory

To make this data easy for business users to find and access, Cisco provides a business-friendly Business Directory in our data virtualization offering. Leveraging a search-based approach, users can quickly identify the data sets they want to include in their SSBI tools.

And if the data is not already available, IT teams can use data virtualization development tools to extend the data available in just a few hours or less.

To help you understand how SSBI tools, the Cisco Business Directory and Cisco Data Virtualization work together, Rick van der Lans, data virtualization’s leading independent analyst, has published a white paper, Streamlining Self-Service BI with Data Virtualization and a Business Directory that includes everything you need to know.

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You can download Streamlining Self-Service BI with Data Virtualization and a Business Directory here.


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Bob Eve

No Longer with Cisco