Our relationship with analytics is changing, and our organizations need to change with it. As our employees become increasingly skilled at manipulating data, how do we create self-serve interfaces they’ll actually use? What happens when we don’t?

The problem with the traditional BI model is that it presupposes facts that are no longer true. In the worst case scenario, IT departments are still building analytics on demand. Then there’s the issue of inflexible or outdated analytics tools. These at least allow some self-serve access, but tend to be designed around traditional ways of looking at data.

An increasing number of our employees go far beyond being mere consumers of data, and they’re not satisfied with these offerings. They’re accustomed to gathering an enormous amount of data at ever-increasing speeds. They have unprecedented access to data in their off time, whether they’re looking for a restaurant or buying a house, so outdated, clunky interfaces and processes not only frustrate them, but actually hinder their accustomed workflow enough to derail them completely.

That’s a serious problem. You need the insights of these power users! You hired them for their ability to anticipate the market, to innovate, and to be early adopters of what’s next. They need to be able to put data sets together in intuitive ways.

So, now you know that you’ve probably got a bunch of frustrated power users. When they hit a BI roadblock, do they throw up their hands in defeat? No. Which leads us to the most important point you need to know:

Faced with systems that don’t meet their needs, your best employees will find workarounds. They create the analytics they need on the fly to avoid derailing their process. They rearrange information in new and intriguing ways as they ask questions.

Great, right? Wrong.

If you’re not properly serving your power users’ analytics needs, the most interesting BI you’ve got, from the most innovative employees you’ve hired, is trapped in a data silo where you may never see it.

If you make BI DIY, the data that might literally take your organization to a whole new level ends up sitting on a hard drive instead of percolating through the ranks. When BI isn’t shared, the ability to take action on it is limited to the sphere of the employee who created it. They may communicate it to their immediate team or supervisor, but there’s no way for that employee to fully anticipate who might find it useful.

Power users need a flexible BI platform with portal access. Instead of focusing on building traditional, anticipated end results, IT needs to develop a platform anyone can use to enter data, rearrange it, and display it in a variety of ways. This allows power users to cut out the middleman and have a powerful relationship with data in a shared environment, maximizing benefits across the company.