Business intelligence implementation tips

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Business intelligence implementation is no longer optional for competitive businesses. In successful companies, you’ll hardly see a decision made without data. This became possible thanks to self-service BI software available in the form of independent solutions or embedded features inside other business applications.

Business intelligence (BI) is a set of technologies and practices that transform raw data about business activities into visual reports to help decision-makers get actionable insights and optimize business performance.

We should thank the guild of data and BI engineers for enabling us to use all the BI software that helps us make informed decisions. Those people solve complex technical problems of collecting, storing, processing and visualizing information daily to democratize the access to data for professionals from every industry.

Now companies can use business intelligence tools without the need to build their own BI systems from scratch. They can rely on vendors selling off-the-shelf technologies and providing help with BI implementation.

Still, sometimes companies decide to hire in-house business intelligence developers or freelancers. Some need those specialists to help them adopt the BI software to their specific needs, support and optimize it. Others need them to develop BI capabilities into other software solutions.

Let’s consider how in-house or freelance data and BI developers can help your company with implementing business intelligence.

Do you need software engineers to implement BI?

Today’s BI products became low-code solutions that are easy to set up. Their interfaces are friendly enough for users to interact with data directly. Those two factors removed the need for having technical employees act as intermediaries between the reporting tools and users. The focus for in-house technical BI employees now has shifted to building custom solutions.

If you are introducing BI for the internal needs of your company, data analysts would be able to integrate and configure a third-party platform relying on its documentation and support. They’ll cope just fine until they want to push the boundaries of the platform’s capabilities. It means that at later stages of BI implementation, analysts may need help from either data engineers or BI developers to build advanced features.

Data engineers are in charge of the data source and warehouse layers of the BI software. They build algorithms and pipelines for data extraction, transformation, and loading (ETL) and manage the data storage and processing infrastructure. Business intelligence developers are responsible for the reporting layer of the BI software. They build, deploy, and maintain BI interfaces (interactive dashboards, querying, and ad hoc reporting tools).

If you are going to build a BI tool for your own customers and integrate it with the software solution you are selling, it’s a different story. Most probably, from the very beginning, you’ll need to hire both BI and data engineers to build customized solutions on top of third-party BI platforms or frameworks. In this scenario, they can not only be executors but also advisors because they have the practical and technical knowledge needed to implement your BI strategy.

Let’s zoom into those two cases when you want to create a custom BI system for your employees or embed BI tools in the software for your customers.

Engaging developers for BI system customization

When introducing BI for your company needs, you’ll start with selecting vendors and technologies. You’ll have to choose one of the end-to-end solutions that provide the whole BI architecture. Those can be Microsoft Power BI, Sisense, Tableau, or the like.

After your data analysts set up their first version of the BI system using the default functionality, they may encounter some difficulties, for example:

  • Data flows and transformations become too complex and slow down performance.
  • The warehouse is growing and the BI system becomes too costly to run.
  • Business-specific queries require building custom data ingestion pipelines.
  • Available visual data representations don’t satisfy the company’s reporting standards.

Resolving those and other difficulties may require programming skills. This is when data and BI engineers can join the team and help your analysts become more productive and bring additional value to the company. Their main responsibility would be building tools for analysts to eliminate inefficiencies and add missing functionalities. To customize your BI system, developers may:

  • Use APIs and SDKs provided by the BI vendor to extend the system’s functionality.
  • Integrate additional libraries and frameworks (Hadoop, Pig, Apache Spark, etc.)
  • Write custom code for data processing (Python, R, Scala, C/C++, or Java).
  • Introduce new ways of how data can be queried and modeled.
  • Write JavaScript code to create new interactive UI elements.
  • Test, troubleshoot, and maintain the new BI system functionalities.

A data engineer can save you from storing and paying excessive and useless data. A BI developer can ensure you can easily make all types of queries you need and receive meaningful and informative reports. It means that after the augmentation of your BI team with technical specialists, your company may win from cost optimizations, higher efficiency, and more valuable data insights.

Building embedded BI tools for business apps

Most business applications benefit from adding analytics capabilities. In-app real-time reports let users access the data they need to make better decisions within the right context. If you plan to add BI tools to your app, you'll need to engage a BI developer in your project.

Even when it comes to building an embedded BI tool, your developers won’t have to create it from scratch. To make dashboards that seamlessly fit into your app interface, they can choose a white-label BI solution, customize it, and integrate it with the core app. Following this approach, you’ll get rich reporting functionality in your app in a matter of weeks.

Embedded BI is the integration of self-service BI tools into business applications to enhance user experience and provide additional value. Embedded BI tools improve user engagement and give opportunities to introduce workflow automation backed by data.

When working on your project a BI developer will have to study the user workflows in your app and business requirements for the future BI features. Then they’ll translate those into technical requirements and select the most suitable BI solution to customize. Finally, they’ll build and deploy the BI app alongside your core app and integrate it. To use a white-label solution they’ll need to:

  • Set up an account and create an app workspace with the chosen BI platform.
  • Connect the platform to data sources and create required data models by transforming and cleaning the raw data.
  • Use vendor’s JavaScript APIs to create a custom graphical user interface with self-serve capabilities and visuals that fit into your app’s UI design.
  • Connect the core app to the BI service via the vendor’s REST APIs.
  • Use the vendor’s cloud-based deployment features to publish the BI app to production.

Being knowledgeable about the existing embedded BI solutions, SDKs, and APIs, business intelligence developers will cope with the task faster than generalists.

Looking for developers to implement BI?

If you want to rapidly build robust analytics apps for your company or your customers, is the right place to find BI developers for this task. Send us your talent request and we’ll match you with a candidate from our pool of vetted BI specialists.

With you’ll engage an experienced developer in your business intelligence project within the next two weeks at rates starting from 29€ / h.

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