Data Analytics for uninitiated
As the need for quick access to business intelligence has grown at an unprecedented pace, usability and consumability have become the Key Success Factors. Self-service Business Intelligence & Analytics can be defined as the set of facilities that enables Business users to rely more on their capabilities and less on IT organizations. That answers the increasing demand for data-driven business decisions needed to keep up with fast-changing requirements.
To serve business users, self-service analytics solutions need to reduce the technical skills and learning necessary to use them at the minimum level. Microsoft Power BI aims at fulfilling such a purpose. It offers a solution that steepens the learning curve while leveraging its similarities with Microsoft Excel and providing advanced enterprise features. This article describes the advantages for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) of moving to modern self-service analytics tools – such as Power BI – and how to use them to increase profits via enhanced financial monitoring & controlling.
Self-service Analytics for SMEs
Driving and restraining forces behind widespread adoption
The professional services industry is the one that makes the most prominent use of business intelligence and analytics tools, followed by technology, retail, and financial services . Indeed, as companies need more data-informed decisions to keep up with a fast-moving market, professional services firms need to provide data-driven advice to their clients. Furthermore, to help customers improve or manage their processes, professional services companies need to exploit all the available information to describe the current situation and forecast possible developments.
Although the need for BI & Analytics is well rooted in modern businesses, some factors still slow down their widespread adoption, especially among SMEs. They are the high cost connected with the development of centralized analytics solutions and the shortage of qualified experts. In such a context, it is unsurprising that self-service analytics is becoming popular among data consumers. Indeed, such products provide environments in which data and information can be discovered, accessed, explored, and shared quickly, at a low cost, and with basic analytical skills. Already in 2011, a survey conducted by The Data Warehousing Institute showed that among 587 business and technical professionals, 78% required “faster time to value from BI solutions” . Nowadays, the expectation of users is even augmented by the seamless features provided by modern premium applications.
Top Industries using
Market Share by Industry
Source: Slintel 
Microsoft Power BI
An effortless transition to modern Analytics
Furthermore, when it comes to self-service analysis and reporting solutions, comparison with MS Office Excel comes almost naturally. Excel is a great tool for calculating analytical measures, automating processes, and presenting data with excellent visualization capabilities. However, when it comes to BI, not being specifically designed to produce BI reports may be a downside for Excel. Power BI shares some functionalities with Excel, though it is specifically designed to meet state-of-the-art BI standards and requirements. The similarities between the two applications are found mostly in the import of the data and the general design of the user interface. On the contrary, the main differences are identifiable in Data Visualization, integration with Machine Learning suites, and Sharing Capabilities regarding input data and results.
Top 5 Business Intelligence
and Dashboard Technologies
supported by Power BI
DATA STRATEGY QUICK CHECK
Check your data maturity with our free tool developed by leading business analysts and get actionable insights.
Although Excel sharing capabilities have improved since its first release in 1987, it does not fully support a modern workspace. On the contrary, Power BI is designed to maximize shareability. It is based on the principles of ‘common input‘ and ‘shared output‘. The former refers to the fact that, unlike Excel, Power BI offers the possibility to leverage a shared repository in which a large amount of data can be loaded and presented through different reports. The latter refers to reports and dashboards being spread across the web or integrated into the organization’s collaboration infrastructure.
The following article of this series will point out how modern analytics tools, such as Power BI, facilitate the transition from spreadsheets to self-service BI and analytics. Indeed, Power BI grants a steeper learning curve for users familiar with the Office Suite while providing a wide range of advanced enterprise-level capabilities to small and medium-sized enterprises at an affordable cost.
 Fortune Business Insights, “Business Intelligence (BI) Market Size, Share & COVID-19 Impact Analysis, By Component (Solution, and Services), By Deployment (Cloud, and On-Premise) By Enterprise Size (Large Enterprises, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs))[…], and Regional Forecast, 2021-2028” , 2021.
 Slintel, „Business Intelligence (BI),“ [Accessed on 2022].
 C. Imhoof and C. White, “SELF-SERVICE BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE – Empowering Users to Generate Insights,” 2011.
HOW WE CAN HELP YOU FURTHER