Help Yourself?

When it comes to self-service, there needs to be a balance on both sides of the hyphen.

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Self-service. What does this phrase mean? Let’s break it down into two parts. The English dictionary defines self as “a person or things’ own individuality or essence” and service is “the doing of work for another or a community”. So, in simple terms we are expressing our own individuality while doing the work of another. This obviously works in the business world while finding out how you can increase revenue. Not so much at the supermarket self-service checkout.

In a fair amount of time your essence of self can be lost in the service of others. Rules and processes are pushed down to us by people who make these decisions and do so out of earshot and away from your influence. This kind of thing consciously, or not, can annoy us and doesn’t help when it comes to our eagerness to adopt new ideas. It’s natural for us to want to be part of the process when it’s a tool we will be asked to use.

Let’s use an example. You get into your place of work and everyone is ushered to a meeting room and showed the latest and greatest piece of software that will make your life easier. Not only that, but you will start using it tomorrow. TA DAH!!!!! This whole scenario highlights, bolds and underlines SERVICE but completely omits self. On its own, service is a mindless following of someone else’s self.

I am not suggesting you don’t need to have rules and that it should be a free-for-all to do whatever you want, as this pushes the balance too far the other way. I shall reach for my dictionary and bring another word into play: anarchy or lack of government or control. We need a tonal mix of all factors.

So, if we give people the ability to self-serve and explore their answers in a time that is advantageous to the business, whilst also making sure the tools are fit for purpose and sitting on a stable accurate foundation, we should be on the right track.

I think that especially in the software industry and more specifically business intelligence, this has not historically been the case.  I definitely want to open the door and usher in the self-service era and it’s about time too. Well, stop being selfish!  What are you waiting for? Now you’ve read my blog post, make sure you are able to deliver to your organization with your BI tool of choice.

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