In order for an organization to achieve a data-driven culture, employees throughout the organization need access to information that enables them to make data-driven decisions, in any given situation.
With a growing interest for data among business users, so-called self-service BI-technologies have evolved quickly. Tools such as Power BI, Qlik Sense and Tableau allow users without extensive IT-knowledge to collect data directly from various data sources such as their ERP-system, transform it to the desired format and display it in reports with powerful visualizations. Download this article as pdf
“As more and more business users in an organization start creating reports, all pulling data from the same sources, some issues with the self-service BI-approach will become apparent.”
However, as more and more business users in an organization start creating reports, all pulling data from the same sources, some issues with the self-service BI-approach will become apparent. Extracting data can be a too complex task for a business user, and numerous data extractions from e.g. the business ERP system may affect its performance. Not to mention, report creators will waste time doing the same data transformations as their colleagues as they must be performed once for every report. Then, what happens if one employee does a transformation slightly different than their colleague? Reports will show inconsistent numbers.
Complement to data warehouses
In a traditional BI-system, these issues are solved using a data warehouse, which stores data in the correct format and can be used as the organization’s single source of truth. Business users can connect reporting tools such as Power BI to the data warehouse and avoid slowing down the ERP system or having to deal with inconsistent reports. Setting up a data warehouse can however be connected to large perceived and actual costs, especially for smaller businesses. In an attempt to close this gap, Microsoft announced their new self-service data prep tool for Power BI, called Power BI Dataflows, in July 2018.