SELF-SERVICE ANALYTICS, THE CLOUD, AND TIMELY INSIGHT

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1 SELF-SERVICE ANALYTICS, THE CLOUD, AND TIMELY INSIGHT July 2015 Peter Krensky, Research Analyst, Analytics & Business Intelligence Report Highlights p2 p4 p6 p8 The need for better analytics The Best-in-Class approach to BI The impact of selfservice and cloud analytics Pushing users beyond spreadsheets This report examines the analytical practices of Best-in-Class organizations, and discusses the benefits of self-service BI tools and a cloud deployment.

2 2 The need to become more data-driven throughout the organization is consistently the top pressure driving new analytical investment. Aberdeen defined Best-in-Class organizations (the top 20% of performers) and All Others (the bottom 80%) based on the following metrics: Improvement in organic revenue year-over-year Improvement in operating profit year-over-year Frequency of access to timely information Gone are the days when Business Intelligence (BI) was the sole province and responsibility of IT. The need to become more data-driven throughout the organization is consistently the top pressure driving new analytical investment. This means empowering line of business users to engage information and generate the kinds of insights that drive superior performance. Not only do these insights need to be robust, they also need to be timely in order to be impactful. Aberdeen s 2015 Business Analytics survey collected data from a wide variety of organizations to determine where current analytical efforts are falling short and identify the best practices of top performers. This report highlights the analytical philosophy of Best-in-Class organizations, and evaluates the impact of cloud BI and selfservice analytics. Dissatisfaction with Analytics Aberdeen created a maturity model to identify top performers in business analytics (see sidebar). Best-in-Class organizations are healthy companies that excel at providing BI users with the information they need in a timely fashion. The Best-in-Class do a better job of mitigating user dissatisfaction, but the entire survey population reveals the most prevalent points of disappointment around analytics (Figure 1). Many users feel that their analytical tools are too difficult to use. Non-technical line-of-business users are not comfortable interacting with infrastructure or writing code to accomplish their analytical goals. Tools for the line of business should be intuitive and inviting to users of all backgrounds and skill levels. Most users want an interface that lets them interact with data and nothing else. Tools that are frustrating will quickly be abandoned and gather dust on the shelf. Tools may also be difficult to use because they require heavy IT support that causes lengthy delays and unnecessary organizational friction.

3 3 Figure 1: Many BI Users are Unhappy n=270 Source: Aberdeen Group, June 2015 Users are also not receiving access to all the data they need to support their decisions. Users must fight to overcome data silos and convoluted data warehouses to track down and obtain the right information. Too many systems do not facilitate user discovery of pertinent information. Users not only need access, they need timely access. Turnaround time can kill analysis in the line of business. Users are hungry for the ability to generate justin-time insight whenever conditions demand it. The Best-in- Class have invested in the right technology to reduce user discontent and make just-in-time insight possible. Finally, over a third of users outside of Best-in-Class organizations are unhappy with the relevance of their analytical capabilties to their job role. Information workers in the line of business need more than the data and analysis that is fed to them by IT. IT may not have the business savvy to understand what data and views information workers in the trenches really need. Users who are mostly reliant on IT for data and analytics Users are hungry for the ability to generate just-in-time insight whenever conditions demand it.

4 4 may receive irrelevant information, or the wrong view of the right data. Nobody knows what data matters in the line of business better than the users themselves and the Best-in-Class empower them to procure what they need to craft better intelligence. Best-in-Class organizations are addressing analytical pain points by deploying BI solutions in the cloud and investing in selfservice capabilities. Top Performers Choose the Cloud and Self-Service There is hope for the suffering masses. Technology decision makers cannot control all the elements that contribute to becoming a Best-in-Class company, but they can control their approach to analytics and follow the example of top performers. Best-in-Class organizations are addressing analytical pain points by deploying BI solutions in the cloud and investing in selfservice capabilities. The Best-in-Class are 79% more likely than All Others to have cloud BI, and also have 43% more users per capita that are self-sufficient with analytics. A cloud data hub centralizes data collection and distribution, and enables users to sign in and access data from anywhere. This ensures that collaborating information workers are on the same page and working from a single version of the truth. Self-service capabilties enable users to easily build analysis without IT assistance. With self-service capabilities, Best-in-Class organizations empower non-technical users to generate their own insights.

5 5 Figure 2: Best-in-Class Analytics n=270 Source: Aberdeen Group, June 2015 Turning Frowns Upside Down Aberdeen s research shows that deploying a cloud data hub and empowering self-sufficient users are Best-in-Class practices. To highlight the impact of these capabilities, Aberdeen isolated and analyzed organizations with cloud BI, and more than 60% of their users operating in a self-service capacity (Figure 3). Cloud BI and self-service turns the struggle around user dissatisfaction on its head. Organizations with cloud BI and high levels of selfservice have 78% more users per capita who are satisfied with the ease-of-use of their analytical tools. Self-service tools designed for non-technical users facilitate regular engagement and rapid insight. Users can build the exact analysis they need without IT assistance. While the Best-in-Class are leading the way, self-service tools still have plenty of room for improvement as the majority of users are still not satisfied with ease-of-use. Aberdeen s report, Best-in-Class User Interfaces for Analytics: While the Best-in- Class are leading the way, self-service tools still have plenty of room for improvement as the majority of users are still not satisfied with ease-of-use.

6 6 Making Insight Easier, shows how organizations can improve the user experience of BI tools. Figure 3: Driving User Satisfaction n=453 Source: Aberdeen Group, June 2015 Organizations should strive to get as much data in the cloud as possible while implementing governance policies and tools to control user access. Self-service and the cloud also significantly boost user satisfaction with data access. A centralized cloud database helps organizations overcome data silos, and allows users to access the data they need from anywhere. This type of on-demand data engagement produces insights when they are most needed. Again, there is plenty of room for improvement. Organizations should strive to get as much data in the cloud as possible while implementing governance policies and tools to control user access. Users are not only getting more data, they re getting the right data. Rather than being fed data by IT, users in cloud and high self-service environments can proactively obtain the information they know they need. Decision-makers and analysts can independently perform the caliber of analysis that is crucial to their respective job roles. More relevant capabilities helps

7 7 analytical cultures take hold at the line of business level (see sidebar). Pushing Users beyond Spreadsheets The advantages of self-service analytics in the cloud do not end with higher user satisfaction. The cloud and self-service organizations support an expanding and active user base that goes beyond simple spreadsheet analysis (Figure 4). Organizations with cloud BI and high levels of self-service can offer tool access to nearly three quarters of their employees that have demonstrated a desire or need for analytical capabilities. Wider access means that more analytical minds in the line of business are engaging a robust analytical tool instead of performing rudimentary, error-prone spreadsheet analysis. Individuals without access to BI tools are forced to deal with numerous spreadsheets that will conflict over time and create tedious manual data work. Users in a cloud and self-service environment are also 86% more likely to engage BI tools on a weekly or more frequent basis. When users can independently use BI tools and pull information from a cloud data hub without IT assistance, they will make data part of their daily decision making. Users who are not independent and struggle with data access will use tools infrequently and turn to incomplete information and unreliable instincts. Self-service and the cloud encourage users to regularly seek out new data and lines of analytical questioning. Organizations with cloud BI and high self-service reported strong or highly pervasive analytical activity in the following departments: Finance: 64% Corporate Management: 59% Marketing: 47% Sales: 44% Customer Service: 38% Individuals without access to BI tools are forced to deal with numerous spreadsheets that will conflict over time and create tedious, manual work.

8 8 Figure 4: Sprawling Insight n=274 Source: Aberdeen Group, December 2014 In a cloud environment, everybody is working with the same data and maintaining a single version of the truth. The vast majority of organizations with cloud BI and high selfservice have improved collaboration and knowledge sharing over the past two years. In a cloud environment, everybody is working with the same data and maintaining a single verison of the truth. Users that can collaborate on analytical work in the cloud don t have to struggle comparing and corroborating different versions of spreadsheets. Users can also comment back and forth on data, reports, and visualizations, ultimately eliminating the need for inbox-clogging exchanges. A cloud data hub also enables the strongest users to easily socialize their insights. Key Takeaways and Recommendations Organizations know they need to become more data-driven in every corner of the business. Cloud BI and self-service capabilities empower users to engage the right data and regularly churn out timely insights. Technology decision makers

9 9 weighing investment, big or small, in a cloud data hub and selfservice analytics should consider the following: Organizations need to improve analytics in the line of business. Survey respondents cited the need to become more data-driven as the top pressure driving new analytical investment. Outside of Best-in-Class organizations, the majority of users are dissatisfied with their data access and the ease-of-use of analytical tools. Organizations need to invest in analytical capabilities that make a wide array of data accessible to users of all types and skill levels. Users need to achieve just-in-time insights. Best-in- Class organizations obtain information within the decision window 93% of the time, and are significantly more likely than lesser performers to deploy BI in the cloud and adopt self-service capabilities. The cloud and self-service accelerate the collection, analysis, and dissemination of data. Insights achieved too late, no matter how earth-shattering, are of little value to decision makers. A cloud data hub and self-service capabilities drive stronger user satisfaction and more pervasive analytical activity. Self-service users interacting with data in the cloud are more satisfied with their data access, the ease-of-use of their analytical tools, and the relevance of analytical capabilities to their job role. Satisfied users not only regularly produce valuable insights; they foster analytical cultures at the line of business level. The cloud and self-service push users beyond spreadsheets. Organizations with cloud BI and high self-

10 10 service can offer analytical tool access to 80% more employees per capita. A large and active user base working with dedicated tools is far more effective than users trying to make sense of numerous, sometimes conflicting spreadsheets. Cloud and self-service users will also collaborate more effectively to reach a single version of the truth. For more information on this or other research topics, please visit. There Will Be Blood: Pain Points in Analytics; July 2015 The Landscape of Self-Service Analytics; May 2015 Best-in-Class User Interfaces for Analytics: Making Insight Easier; May 2015 Related Research The State of Data Availability: All the Right Data in all the Right Places; November 2014 Rapid Insight with Results: Harnessing Analytics in the Cloud; July 2014 Cloud Analytics for the Large Enterprise: Fast Value, Pervasive Impact; June 2014 Author: Peter Krensky, Research Analyst, Analytics & Business Intelligence About Aberdeen Group Since 1988, Aberdeen Group has published research that helps businesses worldwide improve their performance. Our analysts derive fact-based, vendor-agnostic insights from a proprietary analytical framework, which identifies Best-in-Class organizations from primary research conducted with industry practitioners. The resulting research content is used by hundreds of thousands of business professionals to drive smarter decision-making and improve business strategy. Aberdeen Group is headquartered in Boston, MA. This document is the result of primary research performed by Aberdeen Group and represents the best analysis available at the time of publication. Unless otherwise noted, the entire contents of this publication are copyrighted by Aberdeen Group and may not be reproduced, distributed, archived, or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior written consent by Aberdeen Group

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