Self-service reporting is a type of business intelligence (BI) that enables users, regardless of their technical skills, to access, analyze, and report on data without help from IT, developers, or other technical resources. The purpose of self-service reporting is to empower non-technical users to use data to answer business questions, uncover insights, create visualizations, and share analyses.
The numbers above show that while businesses are investing in data-driven solutions, many struggle to implement or utilize them correctly. The numbers above suggest that while businesses are investing in data-driven solutions, many struggle to put them to work. But those who can pull off successful implementations see enormous benefit. According to roughly 500 analytic and business intelligence experts from around the world, successful data utilization results in:
Increased efficiency and productivity
Reduced business costs
Higher customer satisfaction, acquisition, and retention rates
Increased competitive advantage
Self-service reporting helps businesses realize the full benefits of the investments they’ve already made into their data tools.
Traditional BI reporting vs. self-service reporting
Traditional BI refers to the traditional, long-standing process of gathering, analyzing, and reporting on business data using a centralized data tool or warehouse and IT-driven processes. Self-service reporting, on the other hand, takes a more modern approach. It allows everyone, regardless of their role or technical skill, to access and analyze data without help.
Traditional BI reporting
People have to ask IT or other technical experts to generate reports or dashboards.
The IT team provides employees access to the data reporting tool, and the employee creates reports or visualizations themselves.
Specialists must gather data and create data models.
Employees use filters and other tools to create data models on their own.
The requester then reviews the report or visualization and requests changes—and the process starts again.
Employees can change or adjust models or reports to meet requirements.
Advantages of self-service reporting
Until recently, only large, technically savvy companies could access data insights and use them to increase their competitive advantage. Now, thanks to self-service reporting and analytics, companies of any size can empower their employees to put business and customer data to work. In addition to decision-making support, self-service reporting provides the following benefits:
Empowers business users
Self-service reporting allows employees to ask and answer their own questions on the fly, without having to wait on busy IT teams. The intuitive nature of self-service reporting tools enable those with no technical knowledge to create the data reports and visualizations needed to answer business questions.
Faster access to data
Self-service reporting tools provide instant access to company or customer data (within the governance guardrails that the IT team sets up). This allows employees to create reports or dashboards more quickly.
Greater flexibility and customization
Each team can use self-service tools to customize data reports to their exact needs. This also provides a deeper understanding into data and company performance.
Improved data accuracy
Most modern self-service reporting tools provide advanced AI-powered insights that clean and verify data during the gathering process. This assures users are only viewing and reporting on up-to-date, error-free information.
Better customer satisfaction
Internal employees aren’t the only ones who can benefit from self-service reporting tools. These tools can be made available to customers for resolving their own issues—or at least getting a start before contacting your support team. Customers will feel more satisfied, and your organization can improve satisfaction metrics.
Increased company revenue
With the entire organization making better, more informed decisions, revenue and ROI stand to increase. This makes it easier for organizations to meet revenue goals and maintain a competitive advantage.
Self-service reporting best practices and how to implement them
Self-service reporting empowers employees across your organization to proactively ask and answer questions that are backed by data. Building these habits can result in higher productivity, fewer errors, increased customer retention and satisfaction rates, and so much more.
To realize these benefits, the tool needs to be successfully implemented into your existing reporting environment. Here are a few best implementation practices:
Provide training and support for business users
Your employees may feel wary of yet another tool. Some may not use a new tool at all if they don’t understand the importance behind it. Take the time to provide training on using the tool and ongoing support after implementation. This will increase utilization rates and help you get the most out of your investment.
Consider data governance and security
Your organization is likely storing sensitive or confidential data that isn’t meant for all business users. Consider implementing user access policies to protect this data. These policies determine who has access to what data down to a granular level, ensuring only authorized users are viewing and reporting on data. Additionally, you’ll want to ensure the self-service tool is compliant with appropriate regulations.
Be proactive rather than reactive
The biggest drawback to traditional business reporting systems is they aren’t efficient enough to report on the latest company data. Instead, they pull in data that may be days, weeks, months, or even years old. Self-service tools ensure only the latest data is utilized, maintaining decision credibility and trustworthiness.
Create a centralized data repository
Rather than sending users to multiple places to report on data, create a centralized data repository. Here, users should be able to view the most up-to-date information and collaborate on it with fellow colleagues. This decreases the likelihood of errors or misinformation being shared. Additionally, a single data repository makes it easier for higher-ups to monitor who is accessing what data and when.
These are just a few of the advantages that self-service reporting can bring to organizations. By creating a strong foundation for better decision-making, the benefits of utilizing these powerful data tools are seemingly endless.
Unlock the Power of Your Data
Self-service reporting democratizes data, leading to more insightful, data-driven decisions that strengthen business performance. By freeing your technical experts from answering every support ticket or report request, they now have the time to focus on more proactive, strategic projects—ones that could be the next big thing for your business.
Take Domo, for example. The data experience platform offers self-service solutions that empowers people across your organization to make better decisions by providing fast and easy access to data. With data available in a centralized repository, people have access to a single source of truth containing real-time data insights. From here, your employees can create stunning data visualizations and dashboards that can be shared throughout the organization. The best part? All of this is done with minimal to no involvement from your IT team.
Self-service reporting FAQs
Have more questions on self-service reporting or how to choose the best platform? We’ve got you covered. Find answers to the most commonly asked questions about self-service reporting below:
What is a self-service dashboard?
A self-service dashboard is a digital interface where users can gather, analyze, manipulate, and report on data without support from IT professionals. Most self-service dashboards feature interactive tools or charts that help users explore data, visualize insights, and create reports.
What is the opposite of self-service reporting?
Traditional reporting is considered the opposite of self-service reporting. The process relies on IT teams or other technical experts to gather, clean up, and report on business data.
What is meant by self-service analytics?
Self-service analytics is essentially another term for self-service reporting. The process refers to the ability to access and analyze data without help from IT or BI specialists.
What are self-service reporting tools?
These are tools that allow users to access and manipulate data. Common examples include dashboards, reports, data alerts, and embedded analytics.
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