Self-Service BI for Finance in 2021

Business Intelligence (BI) services are usually defined as a set of software and technology solutions aimed at streamlining a company’s decision-making process via analyzing corporate data assets. Business Intelligence (BI) has been in full service across organizations, gradually becoming a strategic process of using real data insights instead of relying on intuitive conclusions, traditional thinking, patterns, etc. to make informed business decisions that help to reach their goals. 

With today’s corporate needs shifting towards data-driven management, connected experiences and real-time analytics, self-service BI (SSBI) is forging ahead as an instrument enabling regular users to access, analyze and visualize data from different sources and make even more accurate business decisions. Financial enterprise leaders, like in no other industry, recognize the importance of acting on business data with self-service BI and analytics. Offering users a single source of truth in a business intelligence environment in order to optimize the decision-making capability across the financial  organization directly impacts risk management, operational efficiency, products and services market provisioning leading to profitability, sustainable growth, and standing the competition in the future.

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Exactly, what is self-service BI all about?

So-called traditional Business Intelligence tools have long since become a viable instrument for the financial sector providing insight into the internal and the external data that determines the bottom line.

So, everything seems to be going swimmingly well for business data analytics and decision-making . . . till the problem arises. As the world is getting more dynamic and littered with larger sets of raw data, the tech-savvy teams are starting to fail at timely addressing multiple data-driven challenges and to get back to the front office with results. 

Given this, the use of traditional BI tools for Finance and other industries entails not only the software itself, but also an in-house team of professionals with an extensive technical background. 

Read more about Business Intelligence in Finance in the 2020s: A path to value 

That’s exactly where self-service Business Intelligence comes into play. As the name implies, self-service BI is a toolset allowing non-tech employees to easily access and make use of the required business data. Speaking of leveraging self-service Business Intelligence in finance, the need to tackle large volumes of data in a fast yet efficient way has already become an imperative for CFOs, sales and marketing departments.  

The adoption of self-service BI has been widely recognized among banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) market players. Over 62% of business users reckon self-service BI to be critical and very important, as stated in the 2020 study from Dresner Advisory Services. However, let’s see how the huge popularity of these tools stacks up against their true value for business.

Any reasons for self-service BI gaining popularity?

The reasons behind finance’s self-service BI are gaining so much traction among organizations are pure and simple. The managerial staff is capable of solving complex data-driven tasks, like data visualization and reporting, with a nominal involvement of IT/BI teams. This makes gaining invaluable time-critical insights much easier, which in turn gives a completely different output in terms of data accuracy, significant cost reduction, and overall operational excellence. In light of today’s ever-growing demands for data accessibility, the end-user self-service BI is deemed extremely strategic for enterprises.

With this in mind, the best way to prove the efficiency of self-service Business Intelligence and analytics in finance is to let the figures speak for themselves. According to the recent 2020 report by Allied Market Research, the self-service BI market is expected to reach over $14 billion by 2026 while gaining a massive CAGR growth of nearly 15% during 2019-2026. What’s more, its lion’s share will very likely go to the BFSI sector, and finance in particular.

Self-service BI Market by application, a forecast according to Allied Market Research

Self-service BI Market by application, a forecast according to Allied Market Research

If you are still on the fence about the plausibility of self-service Business Intelligence for finance, here’s rock-solid proof from Mike Saliter on the Qlik blog. He is confident that 52% of all organizations already enjoy self-service BI tools implemented within their business intelligence environments. 

So, the facts are that introducing self-service Business Intelligence and analytics into finance seems to be a pretty good option in gaining a prime-mover advantage over your competitors.

To make sure if self-service BI is right up your finance business alley, here is a breakdown of its core advantages for you to consider.

Benefits of self-service reporting and bi for the financial sector

Utilizing a self-service BI environment in finance is not limited to mere data accessibility. It lends itself to a far wider range of business applications, like big data analytics, data visualization in finance, BI-backed financial reporting, capturing actionable insights from historical and current operational data, and suchlike.

The list of its advantageous strengths and capabilities boils down to the following:

  • Self-reliance. As mentioned above, self-service BI environments are user-friendly, meaning they enable non-tech finance practitioners to leverage corporate data for insights, present it via dashboards for data visualization, submit it for reporting, and share it across peers.
  • Enhanced workload efficiency. A financial institution benefits greatly from implementing self-service BI facilities as it lifts an immense weight off the shoulders of the IT/BI department. Most data-related financial operations, like data mining, collection and analysis, and visualization and reporting, can be easily managed by a finance team. It leaves the tech professionals much more room for laser-focusing in on your core business goals and strategies.
  • Ad hoc reporting. Under time-critical work conditions, to handle and analyze massive datasets from multiple sources for creating timely reports will give a hard time even to seasoned CFOs, let alone financial managers. With self-service BI on board, business users can build and share meaningful financial reports in no time, no matter how intensive the work environment is.
  • Improved decision-making. When it’s all sunshine and roses for your employees, in terms of manageable data access, deep analytics, and dynamic reporting, self-service BI helps to greatly streamline the concurrent operations. This said, harnessing easy-to-use BI reporting tools allows end-users to make fast and informed business decisions that eventually contribute to the overall business’ effectiveness.
  • Simple data visualization. No more clumsy unappetizing Excel graphs and tables that cause your employees lag behind the pace and scale of technological change. From now on, self-service BI provides all the assigned business users, be it a CFO, sales manager, or BA, with the possibility to generate custom-built data visualization assets. Turning the data-driven insights into charts, diagrams and graphs on your dashboards adds a greater value to an all-out understanding of your business performance rates, market trends, competitive analysis, and customer experience.
  • In-depth data analytics. Unlike traditional linear query-based solutions, like ERP/CRM systems that used to be the prevailing tools in financial analytics, self-service BI in finance enjoys a way more powerful and profound functionality. The BI tools allow for smooth scalable processing of financial data as well as time-sensitive operational data assets. What’s more, BI can easily handle structured and siloed sets of data, both historical and current. On top of this, BI ensures drill-down discovery resulting in accurate and even unexpected forecasting insights based on automated predictive and prescriptive analytics.
  • Cost and risk reduction. Before opting for robust self-service Business Intelligence tools, it is worthwhile to also consider migrating your computational capacities from an on-premises environment to a cloud-based one. Most global self-service BI vendors, like Salesforce, are ready to assist companies in switching over to their BI services via reliable fair-priced SaaS subscription models. With no pricey hardware installation required, deploying your BI, ETL/ELT processes and data warehousing in the private cloud leads to a dramatic risk minimization and increases cost-efficiency. So, moving to a holistic cloud-hosted ecosystem seems to be a perfect match.

 →Explore 5 Reasons Why Your Data is Made Simple with Tableau Software

On the way to moving towards self-service BI in your organization

With all the above said, self-service BI for finance has its flipside. Just having it across your organization does not in itself bring you any progress in terms of data optimization; there is no hidden knowledge. However, here are some facts you should consider before shifting to self-service BI.

Moving to a self-service BI and analytics can become a tricky exercise. Self-service BI and data visualization are a value on the condition that your organizational processes are consistent and well-orchestrated, your data is of  high quality and systems infrastructure is custom-tailored. Self-service BI can ensure the ease of utilization for end-users only if gets integrated and implemented correctly. It presupposes a prepared  IT and BI architecture capable of  delivering relevant data to business users in order to make use of it: adopted data quality practices, charted data lineage and definitions, applied data science practices for reporting solutions together with security practices, etc.  Given this, a team of seasoned IT specialists is still required to streamline the self-service BI analytics and data visualization functionality while tailoring it to the end-user routine operational needs. While seeking robust IT assistance, try and choose a team with a strategic mindset rather than mere operational thinking.  

→Download Real-Life use cases of Data Services  for Enterprises

The well-worn cliché that says that ‘one-size-fits-all’ is proven wrong when it comes to self-service Business Intelligence for finance companies. Apparently, an out-of-the-box software product gives you no flexibility and needs a proficient helping hand to get things done. 

While being an easy-to-use software solution, self-service BI for finance is nowhere near being simplistic. A nearly cakewalk for the old hands, the BI learning curve surely appears to be quite steep for the uninitiated. So, having a comprehensive onboarding program along with ongoing employee training is highly recommended. 

All in all, you still need a mature IT team to make the adoption of self-service BI smooth and risk-free. Having the right team of professionals at your side during every stage of introducing the self-service BI tools within your company is essential.  

Here at Avenga, we offer our customers robust technology and vendor-agnostic solutions for seamless third-party software integrations. We perfectly know how to help you move to self-service BI from start to finish – be it integration, toolset revision, data models correction, tech support, or the ideation of your next strategic steps.

Once your solution is customized and tailored to your individual business needs, you can tap into the power of self-service BI at its fullest. So, you are more than welcome to contact us. We’d be happy to help. 

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