There is no argument that spreadsheets cannot be trusted when it comes to the gargantuan tasks of financial reporting and analysis.
Error-prone, cumbersome, lack of security, and poor data integrity are few of the many problems associated with reliance on spreadsheets. This is why many business intelligence (BI) and Corporate Performance Management (CPM) vendors make self-service analysis and reporting their main selling point when talking to business executives.
True enough, business executives do enjoy seeing product demos where they are shown colorful graphics and promised speedy set-up. Over the years, the idea of the vendors/developers has been to put analytics in the hands of day to day business users to allow these regular, non-technical users to uncover certain trends/patterns in data and to make the insight from the financial information actionable without the participation of IT or expert analysts. In short, self-service analytics.
Can Self-Service Analytics work without Expert Analysts?
To be able to attain this goal of self-service analysis and reporting, the developers have mixed countless testing, machine learning methods, high powered computers, and graphic user interface design to complete the data mining package.
While this has been largely successful and established to date, putting the power of sophisticated analytics fully in the hands of regular business people or executives has realistically not been met.
There are several factors to this but the main being – the secret to data mining success will always be learning how to do it properly. While this training is not hard and is doable in just a couple of days, the truth of the matter is that executives (especially the higher ups like finance managers and CFOs) do not have the bandwidth to do this. They want to but they haven´t or they just can´t.
Usually, senior managers send their regular staff to attend the training which works for these people and they are able to add more valuable work but to say these accountants or analysts will go on to become data mining specialists is a stretch of reality.
The problem is not because self-service analytics is hard or because people can´t seem to learn the tricks of data mining, it is simply because they have more than enough tasks to do. This just becomes an add-on task for them and truthfully, this may not even interest them.
Self-Service Analytics´ Bump on the Road
To be clear, no vendor has given up on the industry. Self-service analytics not being fully in the hands of business users today (despite the original ambition) is just a bump on the road.
Many developers are tirelessly looking for ways to innovate, to make it more efficient, to make it more adoptable, and to make it more relevant day in and day out.
The painful truth that business users who don´t analyze data for a living are not likely to be interested in it or spare time to learn to be better at it – is a constant reminder to many vendors and decision makers that it really isn´t realistic to expect self-service BI to replace expert analysts.
There was, is, and will always be a human factor to it no matter how powerful your newly purchased self-service analysis and reporting solution may be.
The Road Ahead for Self-Service Analytics
Just how do we get business users to use self-service analysis and reporting solutions? Simple. We try our best not to make them do many unnecessary steps and we put information in a place where you know they will need to access anyway.
Lastly, we also simply accept the fact that regardless of breakthrough features, we will always need to invest in people´s skills. Either we ensure our executives or senior managers find the time to learn it, we send interested staff to attend training, or we just accept that we´ll need to continue to invest in people who make analysis of data a living.
That being said, it is a good idea still to find a capable self-service analysis and reporting solution or self-service BI solution because your regular business users, even the expert analysts, still abhor the idea of doing repetitive tasks so any solution that decreases reliance to spreadsheets and removal of repetitive tasks will always add value to the business.
Solutions like Performance Canvas by DSPanel is one that promises self-service analytics. One that does not assume your way of doing things is wrong, just that it can be improved and made more efficient.
Performance Canvas solutions offer as short as 30 minutes in house training time for your business users to enhance the chances of adoption and it promises removal of mundane tasks to give way to deeper analytical tasks. To learn more about this self-service financial solution, visit www.performancecanvas.com or email [email protected].
DSPanel offers cutting edge technology platform for business analytics, planning, and visualization. DSPanel designs, builds, and operates with the end users in mind. Performance Canvas was created by DSPanel to answer the unarticulated needs of the market not addressed by previous available solutions. With Performance Canvas, information is transformed into valuable business insights for the business executives to utilize in their decision-making process. DSPanel currently has over 2500 organizations deploying their solutions.