Data is not new and has been the center of most organizations for decades. However, never before has the world seen such gargantuan levels of data being consumed. FORBES is predicting that more than 150 zettabytes or 150 trillion gigabytes of data will need analysis by 2025. According to the Business Application Research Center (BARC), organizations leveraging big data and analysis, see on an average 69% chance of making better strategic decisions, 54% chance of enhanced operational process control, 52% better understanding of consumers as well as 47% effective cost reduction. Organizations reaping the benefits of data analytics reported an average 5% increase in revenues whilst seeing over 10% in costs reductions. It is no surprise the business mindsets are changing and CIOs increasingly are finding themselves as enablers at the forefront of the digital transformation journey rather than merely supporting the infrastructure.
Digital innovation and changes in technologies, along with the increasing need for real time data analytics and business intelligence are driving changes in the role of CIOs. From historically playing a supporting role in the organization predominantly being responsible for managing, deploying and supporting IT systems and infrastructure, CIOs have transitioned to playing an ever-increasing role in leading the strategic direction of the organization alongside business leaders.
With the increasing demand on IT departments to feed the organizations’ increasing appetite for real-time data analytics and reporting, CIOs are constantly looking at ways to decentralize access to data and lessen the dependency on already overstretched IT resource to meet the demand. However, a Gartner report that interviewed 3,000 CIOs predicts reductions in IT budgets on an average, by 2-3% per year. In the same report analytics and business intelligence was ranked as a priority for organizations and the implementation of Self-Service BI becoming increasingly necessary and important. PWC’s 2016 Global Data and Analytics Survey is a proof to the rising importance of BI, as it highlights that highly data-driven organizations are three times more likely to report significant improvement in business decision making.
Before we dive into this, it is important to look at the differences between traditional BI and Self-Service BI. In a nutshell, with traditional BI, tools and processes are available to the BI team or IT resource, to provide data analysis in a consumable format for the end users. The end user would raise a request, if approved, it would be forwarded to the BI team and data will be extracted often from multiple data sources. This is followed by working with IT to cleanse and transform this data and store into a data repository or data warehouse, the BI team would then produce reports, visualizations and dashboards, a process that can take weeks or months depending on the nature of the request, the complexity of the requirement and bandwidth of the IT/BI teams.
A successfully implemented Self Service BI Platform, with a user-friendly interface on the other hand puts the power back in the hands of the end user and enables them to run queries themselves directly across the data sources allowing them to create their own visualizations and dashboards with minimal training and little dependency on IT or expensive BI experts.
Following Gartner’s report on constant reduction in IT budgets, deployment of a self-service BI tool for any organization is even more relevant. In traditional BI environment, each layer in the tool requires a specific skill set. Starting from connecting the data sources to maintaining the data in Data Warehouse and then transforming the data into relevant reports involves minimum of 20 resources at any given time. Not only is it cost heavy but a large BI team means multiple points of failure lowering the success rate of the BI project. However, a self-service BI solution has all layers inbuilt and can be performed with a few clicks requiring a lean team for implementation and maintenance. It can bring the cost down by over 50% while significantly improving the adoption rate due to its simplicity and instant reports. This is a game changing factor for a CIO in enabling cost efficiency, better use of IT and BI resources and bringing much superior results to the table.
The role of a CIO doesn’t end at bringing in the new technology to the business. Infact, it’s only half the battle won. One of the biggest challenges businesses face with the successful implementation of BI tools is the adoption of new technology and the transformation it brings about for people in the organization. Not everybody feels equally excited about adopting digital transformation while many executives could feel even threated or intimidated by new ways of working.
The role of a CIO extends in such a scenario to aiding a cultural change by highlighting the objectives and benefits that can be achieved by every business function with the new technology. It is important to go over the current challenges of each stakeholder, and how a self-serving business intelligence tool can help them improve productivity and decision making with realtime data analysis. Perhaps, even focus on the cost of not adopting new technologies in today’s dynamic and competitive business landscape. A CIO may adopt Organizational Change Management (OCM) approach, using concepts such as gamification, data-driven outcomes, social media sentiment analysis, predictive decision-making through real-time insights and visual boards.
The global CIO survey by Deloitte in 2018 states, “in a business-led, technology-enabled mindset, we need to ensure business needs are at the forefront of technology investment and that CIOs have representation in the right forums to support this decision-making process”.
In this data driven world, a modern self-service BI solution is the only way ahead for businesses to make information-led daily decisions and lead by exception. The benefits of self-service BI are numerous, including improved productivity, superior end user experience, shorter timeframes to access business insights and improved decision making, providing competitive advantage, and CIOs are leading the way.
– Jackie Gates