Traditional BI vs. Self Service Analytics – What You Need to Know


Swati GuptaSenior SEO Analyst at SplashBI

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

To make better-informed decisions, you need a comprehensive set of analytic tools. But which business intelligence solution should you choose - traditional BI or self-service BI?

Article 4 Minutes
Traditional BI vs. Self Service Analytics – What You Need to Know
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Organizations across the globe monitor their networks, applications, and other IT components in real-time using different kinds of IT tools. Structuring or Monitoring IT in this way leads to the formation of data islands, which don’t give a full picture of your IT.

For organizations to make informed decisions, they require an analytics tool that can analyze data from multiple sources, which enables them to spot trends on the go and help them make the right decisions quickly. There are many different types of analytics tools in the market. However, the majority of them are either costly or complicated.

Gone are those days when getting business insights for users were time-consuming and inflexible. Business Intelligence or BI is for everyone, not just limited to data scientists and IT. These days, business analytics serve a broader area and serve multiple functions. It has led organizations to turn to a more comprehensive set of analytics tools.

Choosing the right BI reporting tool depends on various factors like:

  • Budget
  • Use cases
  • IT expertise

Based on what suits the organization the best, you have the choice between Self Service BI or Traditional BI.

Here are some of the fundamental characteristics of each BI each tool:

Self-service BI

Power BI and Tableau are the best examples of Self-Service BI. They quickly adapt to the changing business needs. These tools are user-driven and leverage the strength of web and mobile technology.

Self-Service BI enables users to make informed business decisions by giving them the required data quickly.

Fundamental characteristics

  • Self-Service BI enables users at different levels to access data quickly and on the go. Users need not work on spreadsheets
  • Users don’t need any technical expertise such as coding. It allows us to generate reports on-demand without the use of Excel
  • The total cost of ownership (TCO) and total cost of change (TCC) are significantly less for Self-Service BI as compared to traditional BI
  • Self-Service BI has a short development cycle as compared to traditional BI. They’re easy to deploy on multiple devices and platforms
  • Self-Service BI is easy to use for any non-technical user because of its rich user interface
  • You can pull data from different sources within the organization when required. It helps organizations in overcoming hurdles, like data processing and data extraction
  • Once a data-model is in place in self-service BI, users can get their answers without spending too much time on data processing
  • Self-Service BI provides quick and affordable ways to enforce data governance. It helps in ensuring consistency across different areas of the business

Traditional BI

With traditional BI, the IT teams create the reports and dashboards. Almost every interaction with data is pre-defined. Traditional BI doesn’t allow users to explore data freely as they’re highly dependent on IT.

Fundamental characteristics

  • Traditional BI is very expensive to maintain, so the total cost of ownership (TCO) is higher, and subsequently not affordable for most organizations today
  • Traditional BI serves a broader environment. It’s scalable to handle an extensive amount of data and help a significant number of users
  • They offer a broad range of features for organizations to cover a full spectrum of reporting types and an array of use cases
  • Traditional BI doesn’t help in connecting varied data sources rapidly. Developers and users have no flexibility to experiment with different approaches
  • Traditional BI isn’t web or app-based, and hence they’re not accessible through smart phones and tablets. It’s not a viable option for an increasingly mobile business environment
  • Organizations that use traditional BI require a dedicated IT team to maintain the tool

The bottom line

Traditional BI is slow, rigid, time-consuming, and places a burden on your IT. However, self-service BI is user-friendly, insightful, easy to access, and very interactive. Although both traditional and self-service BI has their respective pros and cons, many organizations prefer to combine both. It helps them meet all possible varied use cases that exist within the enterprise.

The choice of BI depends on the budget allocated to the organization. Those with a lesser budget tend to opt for self-service BI. In contrast, organizations with a comparatively larger budget opt for traditional BI.

Swati Gupta

Swati Gupta is a digital marketer with 5+ years of experience in digital marketing and content writing. An avid reader who loves traveling, cooking, dancing, and currently exploring Business analytics and Business Intelligence software.


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