Self-Service Analytic Tools

Data software that allows interactive and real-time exploration of data and visualizations is the latest wave in analytics. These self-service analytic tools, like PowerBI or Tableau, give the ability to create reports once and have them update when fresh data is added automatically. Self-service analytic tools also give the ability to share dashboards and reports instead of simply creating static reports.

Pepsi implements the self-service analytics platform Tableau in its organization to generate great value. Pepsi was able to save 90% of time in generation reports, allowing analysts to spend more time “analyzing the data, telling the story, and finding the problems” (Tableau 2016). Not only did it reduce the analysts time, it also allowed leaders to make quicker decisions and forecasts with the data. It also helped democratize the data by requiring clean and unified data across disparate business lines. Pepsi was able to predict trends and then adjust sales to achieve much greater savings to their bottom line.

Self-service analytics can be a powerful tool in any organization, however there are limitations that can make it less effective or difficult to implement. Typically, these software packages require additional licensing for users which can add costs. It also requires a skilled creator and storyteller to build useful reports as well as manage and provide upkeep. The tools ability to bring in disparate datasets for analysis also increase the risk for data inconsistencies and issues around data trust. Some of these can be overcome by good data governance and database management, but the ability of report creators to add additional layers of analysis that don’t necessarily go through standard IT validation processes can increase error risk. Not only does it take a skilled person to build the reports, users also need to be trained to not only understand the program but also how to use the report and understand the data sources. Users of the data also may not have the time to go and look at these reports if not directly prompted. Great self-service reports can be published only to be ignored or hidden in a link within an internal or external website.

Self-service analytics are very powerful tools that can unlock productivity and greater insights. These tools still require good data management and governance, as well as high quality data sources. The need for continual education for both the developers and users is critical for successful implementation.

Author: Logan Callen


Pal, Kaushik. 2016. “Advantages and Risks of Self-Service Analytics.” TechAlpine, March 02, 2020. https://www.kdnuggets.com/2016/04/advantages-risks-self-service-analytics.html

Tableau. 2016. “PepsiCo cuts analysis time by up to 90% with Tableau + Trifacta.” Tableau, March 02, 2020. https://www.tableau.com/solutions/customer/pepsico-cuts-analysis-time-90-tableau-trifacta

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