How to Build Better Business Intelligence Software?
It is hard to deny the importance of analytics in improving business performance and making well-informed decisions. Unfortunately, most companies do not use their own experience and fully take advantage of their accumulated data throughout their career. The reason is simple - analysis of large amounts of different data from various sources is a very time consuming and inconvenient process. Often we don’t have the time and resources for it.
In order to create a single sales report or to process data, analysts have to match them manually, wasting time which they could better use to perform other tasks. Of course, we can outsource to other companies, but their services are often expensive and do not always satisfy the customer's' criteria for quality or meet their deadlines.
With the advent of business intelligence software alternative, opportunities have opened up for businesses. To determine the principles of the custom BI software development, we need to clearly understand the difference between concepts such as Data, Information, and Knowledge.
Data are the values that the computer receives, processes and stores. This is the starting material. Information is what a person is able to understand about data. And knowledge is what is used for decision-making in business.
Information itself is not suitable for decision-making due to its huge volume. The cleaning, transformation and integration of data from different sources into a convenient format for analysis is an important factor in a BI-system. Thus, business intelligence can be described as the process of transforming data into information with a view to support and improve the decision-making process.
Business Intelligence Software Features
In order to develop business Intelligence software, it should be understood what tasks the system has to perform. Based on this, let's figure out what functionality a BI-system has to provide to its users.
The data used for business intelligence must be organized into special storage facilities (data warehouse, DW). These are vast arrays of information that cover all aspects of the company’s activity and allows us to consider all aspects of the business’s operation. The information in the data warehouse is collected from a variety of systems and structured in a special way for more efficient analysis and requests processing.
Many companies that receive the data from different sources face the problem of transforming this data into a common format. Data integration can be implemented in the following ways:
Tools for SQL can be used, allowing users to directly access the data. These tools are focused on untrained business users rather than professional IT specialists.
A virtual metadata layers can be used. This prevents business users from having to deal with the intricacies of information storing, processing, and facilitates changes. These tools do not require any physical operation on data movement and processing.
Enterprise portals can be created for data integration, providing interconnection between data and business processes. These portals provide shared access to the information.
Online analytical processing tools (OLAP) need to be used in modern BI systems for a comprehensive data analysis. They allow us to consider various data segments and identify trends and dependencies (by time, regions, products, customers, etc.). Support of OLAP-cubes greatly accelerates processing requests and calculations.
Such tools also allow us to plan our data processing. Thus OLAP can be implemented through different architectures and either on disk or in-memory data storages.
Blocks for deep data research (data mining) should be included into the most advanced BI-solutions. They will help reveal hidden patterns, simulate processes, and draw forecasts. These tools are based on scanning and statistical processing of large datasets. Neural networks and decision trees are used in this instance.
Information panels are common tools of data visualization in modern BI systems where the results are presented in the form of scales and indicators. They allow us to monitor the current values of the selected indicators. The following types of data visualization can be used:
Interactive visualization. The data is presented as clearly as possible using a variety of interactive images, charts, and graphs instead of the usual tables with regular rows and columns.
Indicator maps. Help monitor the progress of the strategic plans and the achievement of key performance indicators of business efficiency. Maps of indicators are designed to compare current and planned performance and reflect the dynamics of these indicators over time. They are more personalized, configurable according to specific user roles and tasks (financial management, supply, sales, etc.).
Possibilities of integration
Custom BI software development should provide both users and developers with a set of tools for dealing with BI-applications that can be integrated with each other and line up in the business processes.
In some cases, the BI-platform is used as an intermediate tool to perform analytical tasks. It is necessary to ensure full integration with the operating system, including the support of formats of documents, formulas, summary tables, and data update mechanisms.
At the same time, at least some of the tools must be available on an intuitive level that does not require programming skills.The development environment must support web-based services for performing such tasks as management and administration, information delivery, meeting deadlines and work regulations. All BI software tools should use common metadata, models of security, administration, portal integration, and the common engine.
A BI-platform should comprise of tools for the exchange of information. It can be panel discussions and conferences. In addition, BI-applications should be able to assign tasks to specific users and track their performance. Sometimes the use of separate and distinct applications is required for the successful implementation of these tasks.
The best BI-platforms should give users the opportunity to make and perform their own unique and specific requests. This is accomplished by using semantic layers that help find and retrieve the desired information from existing sources. Tools for the audit of these requests in the system can verify the accuracy of their performance.
It is possible to add the search indexes to structured and unstructured data sources to let the users easily navigate and explore the data through the search interface.
Also, high-quality BI-platforms should provide the possibility to be used on mobile devices. This function is implemented by the development of the functional tool units, which delivers reports and analytical content panels to smartphones and tablets.
Furthermore, for data sharing, you can use the interactive features of devices, and other options that are usually not available on desktops and laptops (geolocation, for example).
Cloud based BI solutions for business
Data transformation for businesses is just an intermediate step in a number of other tasks that are the part of this global project.
For example, every three days an online store receives price lists from different suppliers in their own formats. Each price list includes thousands of items, and the company should load the data into the system in a certain unified format.
But if you only want to convert, and not match the data, the task is just to download data from existing directories and it can be performed in a short time. After installing the BI software, it takes less than 10 seconds to convert each file.
The use of cloud-based technologies can solve a bunch of problems connected with data analysis and transformation. This is especially relevant for those companies who are looking for an efficient solution at low cost. Also, cloud-based solutions are able to withstand heavy data loads.
Price for the use of such tools can be tied to the number of processed records. Like with mobile phones: you pay only for the things you need.
One important feature to add into a Business Intelligence software is a free trial period, during which a potential customer can evaluate the product features and see if they need it. This is especially true for startups.
As we have seen the creation of a business Intelligence software allows companies of different levels to improve their business efficiency and reduce complexity in their processes. It is very easy to understand all the benefits of BI solutions - just calculate all the labor costs you spend on data transformation without using a BI system and you will see the difference.
If you need to process large amounts of data for your business, Archer software can create a business Intelligence software that can work for you. Our company has been offering high-quality IT-solutions for startups and large companies for more than 15 years. Our managers will provide you with all the necessary information as well as provide guidance on the calculating costs to build a cloud-based business Intelligence software. firstname.lastname@example.org.