Self-service BI is about allowing the user to decide how to best show the data relevant to the problem they are trying to solve.
The Post-Modernism of BI
Modern business intelligence has its start in spreadsheets, and lots of them. There were technical limitations to how one’s data could be shown but like the Modernist movement, there were (and are still) people thinking their view is the authoritatively correct view and prescribe it to others. This idea that there is only a single version of the truth in how to arrange the data is outdated. How I want to arrange objects for my data analysis might not work for you and that’s OK. This Post-Modernist approach says that individuality & diversity is not only accepted but encouraged and it’s the direction BI is moving. Self-service, or autonomous BI, is about allowing the user to decide how to best show the data relevant to the problem they are trying to solve.
The world of data analysis is moving into a world very different from the past. New forms of software are certainly a large part of this, but the ability for users to arrange and explore the data in a manner that works best for them is where we are headed. The pendulum is swinging away from the top-down model of being handed the tool to use. You are still solving the same problems but how you do it is up to you. If you are on the design side, creating apps for others to use, you should embrace that different users will use your app in different ways. There are no wrong methods just wrong answers.