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third-party applications.

With regards to self-service BI dashboards, the key value is typically threefold:

  1. First, they don’t require database expertise to use. You’ll probably (though not always) need your database professional’s help to set them up and connect them to all of the data sources you need. After all, compliance and security issues still remain. IT usually gets involved at least to the point of resolving those issues, determining who gets credentialed access, and how much data they can see.Once that’s done, these tools provide varying degrees of simplicity when it comes to writing your own queries. Some still work best if you know some SQL, but others work entirely using natural language syntax, rendering SQL knowledge unnecessary. However, most do require a good understanding of statistics. This necessity is not strictly from an operational standpoint, but because errors can be made in the interpretation of the outputs if the user lacks a basic understanding of statistics. Just because the software made you an excellent visualization of the machine’s answer does not mean that you asked the right question.
  2. Second, almost all of them can act as a unified front end to multiple databases and data types. This is primarily due to the rising popularity of Big Data, which is typically a combination of relational data (generally SQL-based) and unstructured data found in disparate sources both inside and outside the company’s walls. By providing support for various kinds of data, these tools allow folks without database expertise—but with direct, front-line job experience—to ask questions directly against the organization’s data.