One of the biggest obstacles facing small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) on a daily basis is that they typically compete on an uneven playing field, where larger enterprises have the advantages of size, time and economies of scale that are not afforded to SMBs. This is perhaps most resonant in the field of Business Intelligence (BI), an industry that has traditionally been served by complex (and very expensive!) legacy platforms. The SMBs willing to delve into BI and sales analytics were being priced out, with their limited IT resources and budgets…until the relatively recent introduction of cloud-based self-service BI platforms designed specifically for these SMBs. Now, the playing field is being leveled, where SMBs could gain access to even more powerful self-service BI tools that better-suit their needs.

Read on to learn more about why your SMB needs self-service.

What is Self-Service Business Intelligence?

Self-service business intelligence is an approach to data analytics that allows for all levels of the organization – not just the IT department or a dedicated data analysis team – to delve into the data and analytics. Each employee should have full access to the analytics and reports. More importantly, all employees should be able to find actionable insights that directly impact them. Sales reps should know all of the important sales metrics that measure their performance, while looking for potential areas of improvement, as revealed in the data. The marketing team should use the data to guide their strategies and tactics.

At InsightSquared, we call this democratized analytics – analytics for all the people. Employees should not only have access to the analytics and reports but be able to create their own personalized reports and drill-down on the metrics that they are interested in or that will directly benefit them. Democratized analytics shouldn’t just be accessible – there for you, IF you want it – but should be an asset, a truly powerful tool in any sales organization’s toolbox.

How to make Self-Service Business Intelligence work for your company

The first step is to outline a goal for what you are trying to accomplish with self-service BI. Do you want your customer service team to study the use habits of your current customers to figure out how they can better take advantage of your product? Do you want your marketing team to track the ROI of various lead sources to better hone in on the most efficient lead generation efforts? Do you want your sales team to study their own historical sales funnel conversion rates so that they can diagnose – and fix – the weaknesses in their own sales processes? Does the Sales VP need a better understanding of their customer relationship management (CRM) software?

Self-service Business Intelligence - Sales Funnel

Answering these questions is critical before investing in your self-service BI solution. One of the big keys to self-service BI is getting full buy-in from all your employees. They must be legitimately invested in using self-service BI to improve their work efficiency and effectiveness. As a Sales VP or a CEO, it’s up to you to demonstrate the immense benefits of having improved analytics capabilities and outline the company’s goals for investing in self-service BI.

A good way to get buy-in is to point out how self-service BI solutions will be able to solve existing pain points. For example, does your company’s current analytics strategy involve working in Excel spreadsheets? Your data administrator or analyst surely knows all the struggles that come with working in Excel. Dealing with un-intuitive syntax, a high risk of data quality errors and difficulties in sharing and reporting is no fun for any data champion working in Excel.

But wait! What if you can introduce an option for data analysis and reporting that doesn’t require the use of Excel? Imagine the relief and excitement that your data analyst must feel when given such a great solution. Demonstrating how self-service BI can directly solve pain points is the best way to get full company buy-in and make sure the people who stand to benefit the most are using these tools.

Finally, it is critical to note that self-service BI is exactly that – easy enough to be serviced and used by each individual employee. While there might be brief explanations of the specific analytics and reports that each separate team might need, there shouldn’t be a steep learning curve. The whole point is that the business intelligence tool is so intuitive and straightforward that literally anyone in the company can use it to its maximum capabilities.


At the end of the day, self-service business intelligence is becoming increasingly democratic and accessible. With the right easy-to-use and out-of-the-box tools – like InsightSquared! – companies won’t have to worry about complicated legacy platforms, having an expensive consultant on the payroll or facing adoption resistance from employees.

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