Analogies are an effective way to help illustrate a point, so let’s use one to illuminate the self-service vs. as-a-service debate.
Some folks like to wash their own car, mow their own lawn, and do their own home improvement projects. They have the skills, aptitude, and preference for self-service in these areas and they’d much rather do it themselves than pay someone else to do it for them.
Others, however, will gladly pay to have their car washed, their lawn mowed, and their home improved—even while they may have the skills to do these things well themselves.
People with a do-it-yourself approach to domestic chores may think this way because they believe they can do a better job than someone else, or simply because they take pride in self-sufficiency. Both are good reasons, and such people often know exactly what they want and how they want a job performed—and they’re totally fine handling it on their own. For them, it’s a belief that, “If you want a job done right, do it yourself.”
Likewise, it’s often not the case that “do-it-for-me” people don’t have the skills or fortitude to handle a job on their own. Rather, they believe they have other more important things to do with their time, or understand that someone who specializes in certain tasks can be more efficient and effective than themselves. It’s a worldview that, “I should focus on what I do best and not spend time on things that I don’t personally need to do on my own.”

Which Is Better?

Is one approach better than the other? I don’t think so—that is, assuming the strategy you choose aligns with your goals, skills, and priorities.
For example, if I spend time doing something that is not truly necessary for me to do (say, mowing the lawn or trimming the shrubs around my house) and simultaneously I am not spending time on another task that only I can do (such as improving my health by going to the gym and exercising), then that may not be a good match because I’m achieving one goal (nice yard), but not two (nice yard plus good health).
Taking care of the landscaping—something I could probably pay someone to do—can be personally rewarding, but if by doing so it means I’m not taking care of my health, then there’s a mismatch between total resources allocated and total benefits gained.

Choosing the right analytics approach for your requirements is important because time is limited to do every task ourselves.

What About Analytics?

So, what does any of this have to do with analytics? Answer: choosing the right approach for your requirements is important because there is limited time for us to do every task ourselves. Good news: you now have choice!
Some analytic workloads warrant a self-service approach because it’s easier or faster to do it yourself, or because you may not know exactly what you’re looking for and so spending time hands-on “in the weeds with the data” is a great way to really steep yourself in the insight-gathering process. In these cases, you’re wise to focus on self-service; it’s the right “tool” (approach) for the job.
Other analytic workloads, such as maintaining an always-on production system where the day-to-day operational tasks are necessary—but don’t require that YOU do them—may benefit from an as-a-service approach. In these situations, letting someone else run the environment may be a smarter use of your limited time so that you can focus on things that only you can do; like ensuring that your colleagues are aware of, and using, the latest public or partner data sources which can be joined with existing organizational data to yield even more relevant insight for the firm.
Which approach is right for you? It depends, but one thing about this analogy is certain: the grass and shrubs are going to continue growing, and we’re going to continue eating and aging, so we’d better figure out the right allocation of our time and effort so we don’t maximize one set of goals at the unnecessary expense of others.
To learn more about self-service vs. as-a-service, I encourage you to follow the conversation at #CloudExperts or #BuiltForTheCloud, or reach out to your Teradata account executive.

Brian Wood
Brian Wood is director of cloud marketing at Teradata. He has over 15 years' experience leading all areas of technology marketing in cloud, wireless, IT, software, and data analytics. He earned an MS in Engineering Management from Stanford, a BS in Electrical Engineering from Cornell, and served as an F-14 Radar Intercept Officer in the US Navy.
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