Navigating the fast-paced landscape of the business world is determined by the ability to swiftly sort through and comprehend a large amount of data. Information has assumed the role of the lifeblood that fuels decision-making, and those who harness its power gain a distinct competitive advantage. Embedded Business Intelligence (BI) is a small attempt at integrating this analytical prowess into the very fabric of organizations.
Gone are the days of isolated data silos and cumbersome reporting tools. Embedded BI revolutionizes the way we consume information, empowering stakeholders at every level to make data-driven choices with confidence. Whether you’re a seasoned executive, a department manager, or an ambitious entrepreneur, this ultimate guide serves as your compass in unlocking the untapped potential of embedded BI.
We’ll delve into the inner workings of embedded BI, exploring its transformative impact on businesses of all sizes. Additionally, we will also address the feasibility of building your own embedded BI tools, the differences between traditional and embedded BI and the capabilities and advantages of investing in BI to effortlessly embed analytics into your applications, leverage real-time insights, and drive actionable results.
What is Embedded Business Intelligence?
Embedded business intelligence (BI) refers to a set of actionable AI tools that bring the benefits of data analysis and insights directly into the applications and systems that people use every day. It goes beyond traditional BI approaches by integrating analytics capabilities within the context of existing workflows and processes. In essence, embedded BI empowers individuals to make data-driven decisions without the need to switch between different applications or platforms.
Simply said, this intelligence can assume several forms and can be beneficial to both the company and their customers. For example, embedded BI tools can analyse the consumer purchasing patterns for the company, while also giving insight about the same to the customers themselves or it can collate information into charts and tables within seconds. Frankly speaking, there is very little a well-designed, customised embedded BI cannot do for you and your business.
Traditional BI tools are generally referred to as self-service BI, which, so far, have been successfully employed in real-time business applications. However, one of the biggest drawbacks of self-service BI tools is the need to switch between one tool to another to satisfy different business needs.
If we were to follow the age-old adage, 'time is money', this erratic switching between applications is a waste of both time and money.
Embedded BI platforms allow you to integrate all these self-service BI tools into a commonly and easily accessible digital space, often a comprehensive dashboard with all the required information including relevant data, charts and tables and reports.
Unlike standalone BI tools that often require users to leave their familiar environments, embedded BI allows for a more streamlined and efficient experience. It eliminates the need for users to manually extract, manipulate, and analyze data in separate tools, saving valuable time and effort.
One of the key advantages of embedded BI is its ability to democratize data access and analysis. It breaks down information silos by providing users at all levels of an organization with access to critical data and analytics, regardless of their technical expertise. From executives seeking high-level performance metrics to frontline employees tracking operational efficiency, embedded BI enables everyone to leverage the power of data to drive informed decision-making.
Benefits of Embedded BI
Assists Businesses Working in a Remote Environment:
In today’s remote work environment, embedded BI software provides a centralized platform for accessing and analyzing data, regardless of location. It enables remote teams to collaborate effectively, share insights, and make informed decisions based on real-time data, fostering productivity and agility.
Faster Time to Insights:
Embedded BI software empowers organizations to extract valuable insights from complex data sets quickly. By providing intuitive visualizations, interactive dashboards, and self-service analytics capabilities, it enables users to explore data in real-time and make data-driven decisions promptly. This accelerated access to insights leads to improved business outcomes and a competitive edge.
Lowered Total Cost of Ownership (TCO):
Embedded BI solutions offer cost advantages in multiple ways. Firstly, they often have lower initial costs compared to developing an in-house analytics solution from scratch. Additionally, they reduce ongoing costs by eliminating the need for dedicated teams to build, maintain, and update a custom BI system. With an embedded BI solution, organizations can leverage the vendor’s expertise and shared infrastructure, resulting in a more cost-effective approach to business analytics.
Enhanced Collaboration Capabilities:
Embedded BI platforms enable seamless collaboration among teams and stakeholders. Users can easily share reports, dashboards, and insights with colleagues, facilitating cross-functional collaboration and aligning efforts towards common goals. This collaborative environment fosters knowledge sharing, improves communication, and promotes data-driven decision-making across the organization.
Economical and Easy to Set Up:
Implementing embedded BI software is relatively straightforward and requires minimal infrastructure investment. These solutions are designed to integrate smoothly with existing systems and data sources, ensuring a quick and efficient setup process. This ease of implementation translates into cost savings and faster time-to-value for businesses.
Saves Time and Resources:
By leveraging pre-built analytics capabilities, embedded BI software saves organizations significant development time and resources. Rather than starting from scratch, teams can focus on leveraging the features and functionalities provided by the embedded solution, accelerating the deployment of analytics capabilities within their applications or products.
Embedded BI empowers users, including non-technical individuals, to create interactive dashboards and managed reports without extensive coding or technical expertise. This self-service approach reduces dependency on IT teams, increases productivity, and enables business users to independently access and analyze data, fostering a data-driven culture throughout the organization.
Creates a Data-Driven Culture:
Embedded BI software promotes a data-driven culture by democratizing data access and analysis. By providing users with intuitive tools for exploring and understanding data, it encourages data-driven decision-making at all levels of the organization. This data-centric mindset empowers employees to base their actions on insights and fosters a culture of continuous improvement and innovation.
Embedded BI vs. Traditional BI
Embedded business intelligence (BI) and traditional BI are two distinct approaches to harnessing the power of data analysis and insights. While both aim to provide valuable information for decision-making, they differ in their implementation, integration, and user experience.
Embedded BI: Seamlessly integrates within existing applications, workflows, and systems, providing a unified experience without the need to switch between different tools.
Traditional BI: Typically operates as a standalone system or tool, requiring users to access a separate platform for data analysis and reporting.
Embedded BI: Allows users to access data and insights within the context of their familiar applications, eliminating the need for additional training or software adoption.
Traditional BI: Users need to learn to navigate a separate BI platform, potentially leading to a steeper learning curve and reduced adoption rates.
Embedded BI: Offers highly customizable dashboards, reports, and visualizations tailored to specific user roles and needs.
Traditional BI: Provides a set of predefined reports and visualizations, often with limited flexibility for customization and personalization.
Embedded BI: Enables users to access data and insights anytime, anywhere, including on mobile devices for real-time decision-making on the go.
Traditional BI: Primarily designed for desktop use, limiting accessibility and the ability to make timely decisions outside the office environment.
Embedded BI: Facilitates collaboration by embedding analytics within shared workflows and collaboration platforms.
Traditional BI: Collaboration requires users to manually export and share reports or insights, potentially leading to slower collaboration cycles.
Ultimately, embedded BI offers a more integrated, user-friendly, and accessible experience, incorporating data analysis and insights into the fabric of daily operations. By breaking down barriers and streamlining workflows, embedded BI empowers organizations to make data-driven decisions faster, more efficiently, and with greater precision than traditional BI approaches.
Should You Buy or Build Your Own Embedded BI Tools?
If you are a product manager for any organisation, we can already hear the first question that probably crossed your mind: should we invest in pre-built embedded BI tools, or can my team build a customised tool that meets the specific demands of the organisation?
Don't worry, you are not alone in this. The simple answer is that your team is more than capable of building this customised, perfectly unique tool that fits all the needs of an organisation, but the real question is, 'Is it really worth it?'.
There are a few significant factors that need to be considered when attempting to build or buy embedded BI solutions. We have narrowed them down for you:
- Time and Resources: Building an embedded BI tool requires significant time, expertise, and resources. It is necessary to understand the bandwidth and skills available and necessary to undertake such a project, including software development, data integration, and ongoing maintenance.
- Cost: Building a custom solution entails higher upfront costs compared to buying a pre-built tool. Evaluation of the existing budget constraints and associations with long-term value and return on investment (ROI) of building need to be addressed.
- Expertise: Developing an effective embedded BI tool requires expertise in various areas, such as data modelling, visualization, and security. Assess whether your organization has the necessary skills or if it would require hiring or training resources.
- Scalability and Updates: Purchasing a pre-built embedded BI tool often ensures scalability and regular updates. Consider whether your organization can keep up with evolving technology and maintain the tool’s functionality and security over time.
- Features and Flexibility: Evaluate the features and customization options offered by pre-built tools. Determine whether they align with your specific requirements or if building a custom solution would offer more tailored functionality.
- Time to Market: Buying a pre-built tool can significantly reduce the time to market, enabling faster deployment and immediate access to BI capabilities. Narrow down the urgency of your BI needs and the competitive advantage gained from a faster implementation.
- Support and Maintenance: Consider the level of support and maintenance provided by vendors when purchasing an embedded BI tool. Evaluate the availability of technical assistance, bug fixes, and upgrades to ensure smooth operations.
The decision to buy or build your embedded BI tools depends on factors such as time, resources, cost, expertise, scalability, flexibility, time to market, and ongoing support. While building a custom solution offers the potential for tailor-made features, it requires considerable investment. On the other hand, purchasing a pre-built tool provides a faster and more cost-effective option with ready-to-use features and ongoing support. The key is to recognise your organization’s specific needs and capabilities that align with your organisation’s long-term goals.
Things to Consider When Buying or Building BI Tools
Whether you are contemplating buying pre-built business intelligence (BI) tools or embarking on the journey of building a custom solution, careful consideration of various factors is essential. Here are key points to keep in mind:
- Business Requirements: Understand your organization’s specific BI needs and goals. Identify the critical metrics, data sources, and analytics capabilities required to drive informed decision-making.
- Scalability: Consider the scalability of the BI tool. Will it accommodate future growth in data volume, user base, and complexity? Evaluate the tool’s ability to handle expanding needs and ensure it can seamlessly integrate with evolving technologies.
- Integration Capabilities: Assess how well the BI tool integrates with your existing systems and data sources. It should have the flexibility to connect to various databases, applications, and APIs, ensuring smooth data flow and consolidation.
- User-Friendliness: Evaluate the tool’s usability and user interface. It should be intuitive, allowing users to explore data, create reports, and visualize insights with ease.
- Customization and Flexibility: Determine the level of customization offered by the BI tool. Can it be tailored to fit your organization’s unique requirements?
- Security and Governance: Data security is paramount. Ensure that the BI tool provides robust security features, including role-based access controls, data encryption, and compliance with privacy regulations.
- Total Cost of Ownership (TCO): Evaluate the long-term costs associated with buying or building a BI tool. Consider not only the initial investment but also factors such as licensing fees, maintenance, upgrades, and support services.
- Vendor Reputation and Support: When buying a pre-built BI tool, research the vendor’s reputation, experience, and customer reviews. Assess their level of ongoing support, availability of documentation, and responsiveness to inquiries or issues.
- Future Proofing: Anticipate future needs and trends in BI. Evaluate the tool’s roadmap, the vendor’s commitment to innovation, and their track record in adapting to evolving technology.
Debunking Misconceptions about Embedded BI Software
Misconceptions about embedded business intelligence (BI) software can hinder the adoption of such solutions by product and engineering teams. These misconceptions often arise from fears and a lack of understanding of the benefits provided by third-party BI software. Let’s elaborate on each of the mentioned misconceptions:
- Fear of the limitations of low-code: Some engineers may be hesitant to adopt embedded BI software because they fear that the low-code nature of these solutions will limit their ability to customize or extend functionalities. However, modern embedded BI platforms often offer a high degree of flexibility and customization options, allowing developers to tailor the software to their specific needs. Additionally, low-code solutions can significantly reduce development time and effort, enabling teams to focus on core product development rather than building BI features from scratch.
- Concerns about lack of full control over features: Engineers who prefer to build their own solutions may have concerns about relinquishing control over the BI features and functionalities they develop. However, partnering with a reliable embedded BI vendor can provide a balance between customization and control. Vendors often provide robust APIs and SDKs that allow developers to integrate and extend the BI software seamlessly. By leveraging the expertise of a specialized vendor, teams can benefit from continuous updates, improvements, and support, while still maintaining control over important aspects of the software.
- Fear of incompatibility with the current/available tech stack: Another common misconception is that embedded BI software may not be compatible with the existing tech stack or infrastructure. This concern is often unfounded, as modern BI platforms are designed to be highly adaptable and can integrate with various data sources, databases, programming languages, and frameworks. Moreover, many embedded BI solutions offer flexible deployment options, including on-premises, cloud-based, or hybrid setups, ensuring compatibility with different infrastructures.
- Conviction that it’s suitable for in-house development: Some product teams may believe that building their own analytics capabilities in-house is the superior option. However, this approach can be resource-intensive and time-consuming. Building and maintaining a robust BI system requires specialized skills and expertise in data modeling, visualization, and data governance. By relying on a third-party embedded BI solution, teams can leverage the vendor’s expertise and focus their resources on core product development, resulting in faster time-to-market and reduced technical debt.
Postponing or halting analytics development cycles due to misconceptions about embedded BI software can have negative consequences. It can lead to missed opportunities for data-driven insights, delayed product roadmaps, and increased technical debt. One should understand the capabilities and benefits of third-party embedded BI software, product and engineering teams to make informed decisions that align with their business goals and leverage the expertise of specialized vendors to accelerate their analytics initiatives.
5 Best BI Tools Available in the Market in 2023
Tableau is an embedded BI tool that harnesses the power of their data for deep, actionable analytics. With Tableau, users can perform ad hoc analysis, visualize data, and explore different views with ease. It supports drag-and-drop functionality, allowing users to combine multiple databases effortlessly. Tableau is designed to address complex problems while being accessible to Excel users, enabling them to uncover valuable insights with measurable business impact. The tool offers flexible deployment options, including fully hosted, on-premises, or cloud-based solutions with AWS, GCP, or Azure. If you want other Tableau alternatives than you can check other listed tools
- Customised reports interface and dashboards
- User-friendly access to graphs, charts and scorecards
- Self-service-based calculated fields, data discovery, collaboration and workflow, search, data column filtering and aeromodelling.
- Can perform advanced analytic functions including predictive analytics, big data services and data visualisation.
Pricing: Tableau offers customised plans to all users and follows a 'pay as you go' scheme. Contact the sales team for comprehensive details about pricing.
2). Amazon QuickSight
Amazon QuickSight is an embedded BI solution that empowers data-driven organizations with unified business intelligence at hyperscale. With QuickSight, users can meet diverse analytic needs through interactive dashboards, paginated reports, embedded analytics, and natural language queries. It offers a comprehensive BI solution that delivers insights to all users, whether through modern dashboards, embedded analytics, scheduled reports, or machine learning-driven insights. QuickSight accelerates development with a unified authoring experience and seamless integration of rich analytics and natural language query capabilities. As a serverless solution, it efficiently scales to accommodate tens of thousands of users without the need for server management.
- Allows for the creation and delivery of paginated reports
- Enables users to ask questions in natural language, leveraging ML-powered intelligence for quick answers.
- Organizations can differentiate their applications with interactive visualizations, dashboard authoring, and natural language query capabilities.
- Helps with data preparation, governance, querying, blending and filtering.
Pricing: Starts at $24 per month for every 30-minute session.
ThoughtSpot is an embedded BI service that leverages natural language search capabilities and artificial intelligence to empower users with powerful analytics. With ThoughtSpot, businesses can unlock the value of their contemporary data stack, automate processes, and expand data access to partners and consumers. It offers web and mobile applications that enable better decision-making for employees and allows integration of consumer-grade analytics into SaaS products. ThoughtSpot’s low-code development platform facilitates the creation of interactive data apps for engaging consumers.
- Provides a familiar search experience.
- Enables users to detect anomalies and trends instantly, generate on-demand insights, and analyze large volumes of data.
- Users can access personalized and actionable insights from anywhere
- Allows for scaling up efficiently to meet business needs through their big data services and data visualisation.
Pricing: Starts at $95 per month
4). Microsoft Power BI Embedded
Microsoft Power BI Embedded is an embedded BI service that uses Microsoft’s extensive analytics expertise and continued investment in analytics and AI. With Power BI Embedded, users can visualize data using out-of-the-box, certified, and custom-built visuals, optimized for desktop and mobile devices. The service offers flexible pricing options, starting as low as $1/hour, with no requirement for end-user licensing. By embedding fully interactive reports and dashboards into applications, businesses can differentiate themselves, impress customers, and create new revenue streams.
- Provides control over the user experience, allowing customization of visuals, dashboards, and analytics menus.
- It offers easy deployment and management through APIs, SDKs, and wizards
- Enables developers to focus on the core application
- Ensures data privacy and scalability to meet demand.
Pricing: Starts at $10 per month
5). Google Looker
Looker is an embedded BI tool that offers a comprehensive platform for gaining insights and building data-powered applications. Similar to how Google organizes and makes information universally accessible, Looker does the same for your business data, enabling you to build workflows and applications powered by insights. With Looker, you can access, analyze, and act on up-to-date, trusted data, delivering trusted data experiences at scale from your preferred cloud environment. Looker’s data model provides a real-time view of data from multiple clouds, ensuring consistency and governance. Looker, built on Google Cloud infrastructure, is seamlessly integrated within the Google Cloud portfolio of services, providing users with a unified experience.
- Encourages fast, proactive insights by embedding them into the places you work.
- Offers proactive alerts and deep integration.
- Simplifies the creation of reports and dashboards, leveraging LookML, a powerful SQL-based modeling language.
- Allows users to connect to Looker’s semantic model and analyze and visualize data.
Pricing: Starts at $30 per month
Empowering Organizations with Embedded Business Intelligence
In this ultimate guide to embedded business intelligence, we explored the seamless integration, customizable dashboards, and real-time insights that embedded BI offers. We have also addressed essential capabilities, comparing embedded BI with traditional approaches, examined the considerations when choosing to buy or build BI tools, and explored the unique features of industry-leading solutions like Tableau, Microsoft Power BI Embedded, Looker, and Amazon QuickSight.
Armed with knowledge, it’s time to harness the untapped potential of embedded BI within your organization and empower your teams with access to actionable insights, enable collaboration, and drive informed decision-making at all levels. With embedded BI, you can break free from siloed data and cumbersome reporting tools, revolutionizing the way you consume and leverage information.