/ Why self-service cloud BI is what your business needs now

COVID-19 has had a profound impact on how organizations are spending on projects and technology as well as on how business leaders perceive the importance of data access and business intelligence.

Now more than ever, everyone from executives to frontline workers need to be able to get at timely and relevant information that is easily digestible—and get at it quickly.

Those were some of the key takeaways from Dresner Advisory Services’ latest reports on cloud computing and BI, which the firm’s founder, president and chief research officer, Howard Dresner, shared during a recent “Get Leverage” webinar with Domo.

“Even though many projects have been put on hold, data is still the way forward,” he said. “It allows you to get a real grasp on what’s going on within your business and execute with precision. And during difficult times like this, when there is way less margin for error, that’s critical.”

The best way to begin leveraging data is to not only get it in the cloud, Howard said, but in the public cloud, through a software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider.

“Especially now, with so many people working from home, cloud computing is key,” he said. “I think the SaaS model best addresses what people need. It’s able to pull in and integrate data from all kinds of sources—including all kinds of interesting external sources—so you can gain the level of perspective you need in order to do your job.

“It’s also the safer way to operate. Whenever there are data breaches, it’s with on-premise services. The truth is, anyone that offers SaaS in the cloud spends a ton of money and resources on securing that data because that’s their core business—and they can do it far better than your own enterprise can.”

But what may just be as important in the overall cloud equation is the concept of self-service BI, said Howard, who coined the term “business intelligence” all the way back in 1989. And it’s supported by his firm’s research.

“Our findings over these last few months show self-service in general has become really important to organizations,” Howard said. “Given the degree to which so many companies are embracing the idea of remote work because they’re seeing that people can actually be more productive in a home environment, we think that’s going to persist.”

Ben Schein, Domo’s VP of data curiosity and a participant in the discussion, agreed.

“COVID-19 has undoubtedly been a shock to the system for all of us,” he said. “But I also think it’s given birth to more individual exploration, and to a lot of great collaboration—facilitated, of course, by technology.”

There are a number of reasons why self-service cloud BI is gaining in popularity, Howard said. But collaboration, governance, and data storytelling capabilities are the leading factors.

“We can’t just walk over to someone’s desk anymore,” Howard said. “So being able to co-create information, share that information, comment on it, annotate it, and keep it in the context of the analytical environment that you’re working in—all of that has risen to ‘Very Important’ or ‘Critical’ if we look at how the majority of business leaders are rating those types of things in our surveys.”

“And for the organizations that really value sharing and transparency, from the top on down, collaboration software and collaborative BI capabilities become even more powerful in nature.”

Regardless of what cloud BI model organizations are partial to, investing in data and analytics on a wide-scale basis now is what is most important, Howard said.

“It’s what’s going to help us manage the next cataclysmic event,” he said. “We don’t know when that will be, and we don’t know what the scope of it will be, but it will happen, and therefore we’ve got to get prepared now, when there’s impetus to do so.”

To hear more of Howard’s and Ben’s thoughts on cloud BI, including how it alleviates some of the stress that today’s businesses face and the roles embedded and data science can play in bolstering its effectiveness, watch a replay of the webinar here.

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