Data democracy

When business intelligence vendors talk about democratizing data discovery, they can have very different interpretations about ‘democracy’. If a business intends to provide self-serve BI tools to its employees for daily use and data discovery, it must provide true data democratization. The business user cannot be limited to viewing static dashboards developed by dashboard developers with only the most basic drill down and filtering capabilities. Business users must be empowered by true data democratization and self-serve BI tools, which, in many cases, is the original intent of a BI solution implementation. Sadly, many businesses never achieve their original goals, but rather end up with ‘packaged dashboards’, because they are hamstrung by desktop-based data discovery BI tools that require design control and intervention by dashboard developers and limit business users to packaged views and tasks.


There is no way that a dashboard developer or power business analyst can anticipate the needs of every user and design a finite set of dashboards to satisfy every purpose and function. Nor can these developers satisfy the needs of every business user in the present or future. While BI tools have become more agile, and developers can quickly develop and deploy dashboards, they cannot anticipate or execute on the daily demands for new and different ways to view and analyze data.

In a typical desktop-based BI tool scenario, a business analyst or dashboard developer will use the BI tool for data discovery and use dashboard design tools to design and publish the dashboards to a web server. Business users access the published dashboard from a browser-based interface. But, they can only see what is developed by the dashboard developers, which is a nearly static dashboard with some basic filtering and drill down capability. In other words, the business user gets a ‘packaged dashboard’ view and access without true self-serve analytical capability

Let’s Talk About Those ‘Packaged Dashboards and Desktop BI Tools’

BI solutions like Tableau and Qlikview provide these desktop-based data discovery tools, and they have some great data discovery and visualization features.

But, unfortunately, those great features are of virtually no use to business users, because:

  1. Business users typically do not have access to desktop-based discovery tools, because these tools are expensive and cumbersome to roll out to the entire organization.
  2. The average business user does not have the skills to use these developer centric tools.
  3. IT prefers not to give business users direct access to data sources because it is against established best practices in data security and data governance.

Rather than promoting self-service, the desktop-based BI tools mimic the IT solution environment of the early 2000s, wherein IT professionals had control of what business users could see and, consequently, business users were restricted to how much data they could receive, in what format, and when the information was provided. In those days, business users would provide reporting requirements, and the developers would produce the reports. When there was a need for a new report, or additional columns or formats, the users would file a new request and wait for the developers to deliver the report. This static, sluggish way of gathering, reporting and analyzing data is no longer suitable for a rapidly changing business environment or the level of empowerment or accountability established by most organizations. For a business user, there is nothing more frustrating than seeing some of the data, but not all the data you need, or in seeing data that creates more questions, and not being able to answer those questions.

Let’s Talk About Data Democracy!

With true data democratization and self-serve BI tools like ElegantJ BI, business users can access data integrated from disparate data sources through the semantic business layer, and easily design personalized dashboards with full drill-down, and deep dive analytical capability in a 100% browser-based environment that supports desktops, tablets and personal devices. Not every business user will want to personalize or customize dashboards or data views but even if the organization chooses to design standard templates, the flexibility and features included in these easy-to-learn BI tools will ensure that business users have ample access and the ability to:

  • Bring in new data
  • Add columns
  • Drill down
  • Drill through
  • Perform ad hoc query with powerful cross tab analysis
  • Change / add data operations and summary operations
  • Get ready to use KPI analytics
  • Set thresholds and alerts
  • Forecast and predict

By combining these power features and offering them to your business users in a self-serve environment, business users get Deep Dive Analytics without the need for programming or scripting expertise.

If a business truly wants to implement and deploy data democratization and a BI self-serve environment, it must provide a flexible, personalized environment where business users can share, collaborate, and analyze with data displayed in a way that makes sense for their role and function.

In other words, the business user should be in charge!

Original Source – Let’s Talk About BI Data Democracy