Business Intelligence Developer Microsoft Speak With Concerns – Everything about the past and current state of your business is recorded as bits of data. Marketing numbers, human resources, company budgeting, sales volume – you name it. The number of business domains that the data comes from can be large. But, as a business, you may be interested in extracting value from this information instead of just collecting it. Be thankful that there is software for everything.
Business intelligence (BI) is a set of technologies and practices for turning business information into actionable reports and visualizations. Established in the early 80s and developed over time as a separate industry, BI has given rise to numerous roles and professions. We have already explained the role of an ETL developer. This material explores the specifics of the underlying BI data infrastructure, so I suggest you read it to gain a deeper insight into the topic.
Business Intelligence Developer Microsoft Speak With Concerns
Today we will discuss the role of a BI developer, their typical responsibilities, background and required skills. We will also define the difference between other standard roles involved in building BI systems and specific cases that require hiring a BI developer.
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A business intelligence developer is an engineer who is responsible for developing, implementing and maintaining BI interfaces. Those include query tools, data visualization and interactive dashboards, ad hoc reporting, and data modeling tools. But, as we talk about business intelligence, we need to give a stricter explanation of this technological concept.
The entire BI system can be divided into its internal part and the actual user interface to interact with the data. Why is this division so important? Regardless of system complexity, a typical BI platform has 3 layers: a data source layer, a warehouse layer, and a reporting layer. Let’s find out:
Is where the raw data is stored. These are any of your databases, cloud storage, and separate files full of unstructured data. Data sources are the starting points of any BI system because they are connected to all the following data integration tools, warehouses and business intelligence UIs.
Includes all the technologies that facilitate the warehouse process. These are both a unified storage for all corporate data and tools that perform Extraction, Transformation and Loading (ETL). Data is moved to a single database for a few reasons:
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Therefore, the data source and warehouse layers are considered an underlying infrastructure of the BI system. Build and maintain is a field of responsibility for database developers/ETL and data analysts/engineers.
Is the final data point. This layer is the actual BI interface that allows users to access data, pulling it from a warehouse for analysis. Analytical capabilities may vary depending on the business requirements for a system. But in the most basic scenario, these are SQL queries and simple data visualization tools.
Each piece of software that makes up the reporting layer is the responsibility of a business intelligence developer. Within the scope of a business intelligence project, a BI developer takes on engineering, management and strategic planning responsibilities. Therefore, this person can be either a project manager and/or an executor.
As we have defined the position of a BI developer in the scope of the entire BI platform, let’s take a look at the responsibilities of this person.
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The scope of the project defines the degree of involvement for a certain role, as engineers with similar technology stacks and domain knowledge can be interchangeable. Developing BI interfaces requires deep expertise in software engineering, databases and data analysis. So, in part, data engineers who have software development backgrounds and experience with BI can lead the interface development process.
However, business intelligence tools can include many industry-specific features. BI developers are also aware of the peculiarities of the business domain: This allows them to understand the needs of the business, implement appropriate data models and data representation solutions. Therefore, the responsibilities of the BI developer are:
Business intelligence is always related to the current business domain and the needs of a specific organization for data analysis. This means that BI tools from company to company can be totally different. Let’s assume that there are two projects:
In both cases, the final product will be a BI platform. But, in the first case, it will require much more advanced options for data analysis, since there are simply more dimensions to be analyzed. The data itself may require image recognition, since it can be given in any format such as radiography, MRI or ultrasound.
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This is the difference in understanding the business needs for the platform that a BI developer should be aware of. Because they lead the number of reporting facilities, their forms, and additional functions.
After the business requirements are gathered and documented, a number of data engineers / ETL / front-end developers are tasked with translating them into technical tasks. A BI developer in this case is responsible for the articulation of activities covering a user interface and reporting capabilities. To be more specific, a BI developer will describe whether a user interface should be an interactive dashboard with a drag & drop interface, or a set of fillable fields with data properties, if a system needs data visualizations and how a user has to be. interact with it as well.
All these decisions will be transformed into the actual tasks for the ETL development team, and the BI team (front and back-end). The development stage can be controlled by a project manager or a BI developer.
As mentioned, a BI developer can perform a technical leadership role in the development team, or can share the actual developer tasks. But a BI developer can make strategic decisions about the developed software and manage the entire process until its implementation. Testing and debugging can also be a responsibility of a BI developer in the pre’ / post-launch phases.
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Reporting is a separate duty that does not concern engineering as much, but rather working with databases and data models. Using a BI interface, users make queries to the database to retrieve some information. Then this information is formed in a visual form (say, pie chart), or a textual summary from the given properties.
While a user configures what it drags and how it is formatted, a software would be responsible for finding this information and recognizing the necessary data. This can be done with the help of the data model – a structure from which the data is stored in the database.
Data models are defined and applied to the database by data analysts and ETL developers. But, a BI developer is the one who provides the reporting requirements, so it will be a determining factor for a future model. These models represent the objects in the database and the relationships between them, thus determining how the data can be queried. And this is part of the expertise of a BI developer.
Logically, a BI developer will also control how the data is queried, whether it is valid, and how the report works.
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There are several approaches to building a unified storage for all corporate information. We discussed these approaches in a dedicated article on stores. While the architectural style of a data warehouse does not directly influence reporting, a BI developer can participate in the design process.
This point goes hand in hand with the previous one. A BI developer can be involved in documenting the data structure of a warehouse, as well as meta-data (additional information about the data). This documentation will be used during the development process and helps to make decisions about the required reporting options.
Every system needs technical documentation. While a BI developer will not onboard users to the platform, and will show how to use it, he/she is in charge of providing a guide as a document. This documentation covers the scope of use for the usual user and the technology. personal, e.g. API documentation, known technical issues, etc.
BI developer skills may vary depending on the project. In some cases, a BI developer may have minimal interaction with software engineering and operate as a SQL specialist to ensure a correct query. But for a complete description, we will list all the possible skills that fit the typical responsibilities.
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Experience with BI tools. First of all, every BI developer should have experience in developing customer BI products or configuring existing ones. If building a custom BI product, knowledge of Python, scripting languages, and experience with data visualization libraries are mandatory. A solid understanding of the entire underlying infrastructure is also required: This includes knowledge of data integration tools, ETL/ELT processes, data formatting and warehouse architecture.
If we are talking about a product that uses a BI solution from a vendor, then a BI developer must be familiar with its corresponding technology stack. These depend on the vendor, but the most popular solutions related to data pipelines, reports and database operations are Amazon products (such as QuickSight), the Hadoop platform, or Apache technology (such as Apache Superset).
DB/DBA background. The main reason why a BI developer should be experienced in dealing with databases is that the main subject of concern is SQL / noSQL queries. BI systems often need to deal with databases, data models, or distribution of data across multiple databases.
BI developers can also be involved in the design and creation of tools for online analytical processing (OLAP cubes). This is an advanced option for multidimensional analysis using non-relational databases.
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The background of data analysis. While you don’t need to be a BI developer to be