Business Intelligence Developer Speak With Concern – Everything about the past and current status of your business is recorded as data. Marketing numbers, human resources, company budget, sales volume – you name it. The number of business domains from which data comes can be large. But as a business, you may be interested in extracting value from this information instead of just collecting it. Be thankful there is software for everything.
Business Intelligence (BI) is a set of technologies and practices for transforming business information into actionable reports and visualizations. Founded in the early 80s and evolving as a distinct industry over time, BI has spawned many roles and professions. We have already explained the role of an ETL developer. This material will reveal the specifics of the BI data infrastructure, so I recommend you read it to get a deeper insight into the topic.
Business Intelligence Developer Speak With Concern
Today, we’ll discuss the role of a BI developer, their typical responsibilities, experience, and skills required. We also distinguish between other standard roles involved in building BI systems and the specific cases that require you to hire a BI developer.
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A business intelligence developer is an engineer responsible for developing, implementing, and maintaining BI interfaces. These include query tools, data visualization and interactive dashboards, ad hoc reporting, and data modeling tools. But, since we are talking about business intelligence, we need to give a more rigorous 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: the data source layer, the warehouse layer, and the reporting layer. Let’s break them down:
Is where the raw data is stored. These are any of your databases, cloud storage, and individual files full of unstructured data. Data sources are the starting point of any BI system because they are connected to all subsequent data integration tools, repositories, and business intelligence interfaces.
Includes all technologies that facilitate the warehousing process. It is both a single repository for all corporate data and tools that perform Extract, Transform and Load (ETL). Data is moved to one database for several reasons:
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Thus, the data source and warehouse layers are considered the core infrastructure of a BI system. Its creation and maintenance is the responsibility of database/ETL developers and data analysts/engineers.
Is the data endpoint. This layer is the actual BI interface that allows users to access data, pull it from the warehouse for analysis. Analytical capabilities may vary depending on the business requirements of the system. But in the most basic scenario, these are SQL queries and simple data visualization tools.
All pieces of software that make up the reporting layer are the responsibility of the business intelligence developer. Within a business intelligence project, a BI developer takes on engineering, management, and strategic planning responsibilities. So this person can act as a project leader and/or executor.
Now that we’ve defined the BI developer’s place within the entire BI platform, let’s take a look at the responsibilities of this person.
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The scope of the project determines the degree of involvement for a given role, as engineers with similar technology and domain knowledge may be interchangeable. Developing BI interfaces requires deep expertise in software engineering, databases, and data analysis. So, in part, data engineers with software development experience and experience with BI can lead the UI development process.
However, business intelligence tools can include many industry-specific features. BI developers also know the specifics of the business domain: this allows them to understand business requirements, implement appropriate data models and data representation solutions. So it is the responsibility of the s BI developer to:
Business intelligence is always related to the real business domain and specific organization’s requirements for data analysis. This means that BI tools can be completely different from company to company. Suppose there are two projects:
In both cases, the final product will be a BI platform. But, in the first case, it requires much more advanced options for data analysis, because there are simply more dimensions to analyze. The data itself may require image recognition as it can be provided in any format such as X-ray, MRI or ultrasound.
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It is the difference in understanding the business requirements of the platform that the BI developer needs to know. Because they determine the number of reporting objects, their forms and additional functionality.
After gathering and documenting the business requirements, a number of data engineers/ETL/front-end developers are responsible for translating them into technical tasks. The BI developer in this case is responsible for articulating tasks that include user interface and reporting capabilities. More specifically, the BI developer describes whether the user interface should be an interactive dashboard with a drag-and-drop interface or a set of fillable fields with data properties, whether the system needs data visualization, and how the user will interact with it.
All these decisions are converted into real tasks for the ETL development team and the BI team (front end and back end). The development phase can be controlled by a project manager or a BI developer.
As mentioned, a BI developer can play a technical lead role on a development team, or can share the actual developer tasks. But a BI developer can make strategic decisions about the software being developed and manage the entire process before its implementation. Testing and debugging can also be the BI developer’s responsibility in the pre/post-launch stages.
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Reporting is a separate duty that is not about engineering, but about working with databases and data models. Using the BI interface, users query the database to retrieve certain information. This information is then formatted into a visual form (say, a pie chart), or a textual summary of the given properties.
While the user configures what to transfer and how to format it, the software will be responsible for finding this information and identifying the required data. This can be done with the help of data modeling – the structure by which data is stored in the database.
Data models are defined and applied to the database by data analysts and ETL developers. But, the BI developer is the one who provides the reporting requirements, so this will be the determining factor for the future model. These models describe the objects in the database and the relationships between them, so it defines how the data can be retrieved. And this is part of the competency of a BI developer.
Logically, the 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 many approaches to creating a single repository for all corporate information. We discussed these approaches in a special article on warehouses. Although the architectural style of the data warehouse does not directly affect the reporting, the BI developer may participate in the design process.
This point goes hand in hand with the previous point. A BI developer may be involved in documenting the warehouse data structure as well as meta-data (additional information about the data). This documentation will be used in the development process and will help to decide on the required reporting options.
Any system needs technical documentation. Although the BI developer does not install users on the platform or show how to use it, he is responsible for providing guidance in the form of a document. This documentation covers the scope of use for normal users and technical means. staff, e.g. API documentation, known technical issues, etc.
The skills of a BI developer can vary by project. In some cases, a BI developer can have minimal interaction with software engineering and work as a SQL specialist to ensure proper query execution. But for a complete description, we list all possible skills that correspond to typical responsibilities.
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Experience with BI tools. First and foremost, all BI developers should have experience developing or configuring customer BI products. When building a custom BI product, knowledge of Python, scripting languages, and experience with data visualization libraries is a must. A solid understanding of all underlying infrastructure is also required: this includes an understanding of data integration tools, ETL/ELT processes, data formatting and warehouse architecture.
If we’re talking about a product that uses a vendor’s BI solution, then the BI developer needs to familiarize himself with its respective technology stack. It depends on the vendor, but the most popular solutions for data pipelines, reporting, and database operations are Amazon products (such as QuickSight), the Hadoop platform, or Apache technologies (such as Apache Superset).
DB/DBA background. The main reason a BI developer should be experienced in dealing with databases is that the main concern is SQL/noSQL queries. BI systems often require interaction with databases, data models, or distribution of data across multiple databases.
BI developers can also be involved in the design and creation of online analytical processing tools (OLAP cubes). It is an advanced option for multidimensional analysis that uses non-relational databases.
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A background in data analysis. Although not required to be a BI developer
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