Business Intelligence Software Application Developer – Everything about the past and present status of your business is recorded as pieces of data. Marketing numbers, human resources, company budgeting, sales volumes – you name it. The number of business areas that the data comes from can be huge. However, as a business, you might 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 transforming business information into actionable reports and visualizations. Established in the early 80’s and developed over time as a separate business, BI gave birth to several careers and professions. We have already explained the role of an ETL developer. This material explores the details of BI data infrastructure, so we recommend that you read it to gain a deeper insight into the topic.
Business Intelligence Software Application Developer
Today we’ll discuss the role of a BI developer, their typical responsibilities, background, and essential skills. We will also explain the difference between other typical roles involved in building BI systems and specific cases where you need to hire a BI developer.
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A business intelligence developer is an engineer in charge of developing, deploying and maintaining BI interfaces. These include query tools, data visualization and interactive dashboards, ad hoc reporting, and data modeling tools. However, since we are talking about business intelligence, we need to define this technological concept more strictly.
The entire BI system can be divided into an internal part and the actual user interface to interact with data. Why is this division so important? Independent of the complexity of the system, a typical BI platform has 3 layers: data source layer, warehouse layer, and reporting layer. let’s break them down:
Where the raw data is stored. These are any of your databases, cloud stores, and individual files full of unstructured data. Data sources are the starting points of any BI system because they are connected to the following data integration tools, storage, and business intelligence UI.
Including all technologies that facilitate the storage process. These are both unified storage for the physical data and tools that perform Extraction, Transformation, and Loading (ETL). The data will be transferred to a single database for several reasons:
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Therefore, data stores and warehouse layers are considered to be the basic infrastructure of the BI system. Construction and maintenance is the area of responsibility for database/ETL developers and data analysts/engineers.
Is the last point for data. This layer is the actual BI interface that allows users to access data, pulling it from a warehouse for analysis. Analytics capabilities can vary depending on the business requirements for a system. But in the most basic setting, 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. In the field of a business intelligence project, a BI developer takes on engineering, management and strategic planning responsibilities. Therefore, this person can be both a project leader and/or an executor.
As we have defined the role of a BI developer in the field of the whole BI platform, let’s take a look at the responsibilities of this person.
What Is Business Intelligence (bi)?
The scope of the project defines the level of involvement in a particular role, as engineers with similar technology stacks and domain knowledge can be interchangeable. BI interface development requires deep knowledge in software engineering, databases, and data analysis. Therefore, to some extent, data engineers who have a software development background and experience with BI can lead the interface development process.
However, business intelligence tools can include many business-specific functions. BI developers are also aware of business domain specifics: This allows them to understand business requirements, implement correct data models, and data representation solutions. Therefore, the responsibilities of a BI developer are:
Business intelligence is always linked to the actual business area and specific organization’s data analysis requirements. That means company to company BI tools can be completely different. Let’s assume there are two projects:
In either case, the end result will be a BI platform. However, in the first case, much more advanced options for data analysis will be required, because there are simply more measurements to be analyzed. The data itself may require image recognition, as it can be provided in any form such as x-ray, MRI, or ultrasound.
Custom Business Intelligence Models & Dashboards
It is the difference in understanding the business requirements for the platform that a BI developer should be aware of. Because they manage the number of reporting resources, its forms, and additional functionality.
After the business requirements are gathered and documented, various data engineers / ETL / front-end developers are responsible for translating them into technical tasks. A BI developer in this case is responsible for expressing functions that cover user interface and reporting capabilities. To be more specific, a BI developer will describe whether a user interface needs to be an interactive dashboard with a drag-and-drop interface, or a set of fields filled with data properties, whether a system needs data visualization and user behavior. interact with it too.
All these decisions will be transformed in the actual activities for the ETL development team, and the BI team (front and back). The development phase can also be controlled by a project manager or BI developer.
As mentioned, a BI developer can fulfill a key technical role within the development team, or can share the tasks of the developer himself. But a BI developer can make strategic decisions on the developed software and manage the entire process to deploy it. Testing and debugging may also be the responsibility of the BI developer in the pre/post-launch phases.
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Reporting is a separate role that is not so much related to engineering, but to working with databases and data models. Using a BI interface, users send queries to the database to retrieve some information. Then this information is formatted in a visual form (say, a pie chart), or a text summary according to the given characteristics.
While a user is configuring what to drag and how to format it, it would be up to software to find this information and identify the missing data. This can be done with the help of data modeling – a structure with which the data is stored in the database.
Data models are defined and applied to the database by data analysts and ETL developers. However, the BI developer is the one who provides the reporting requirements, so that will be the defining feature for a future model. These models represent objects in the database and the relationships between them, so it determines how data can be queried. And that’s part of a BI developer’s ability.
Logically, a BI developer also controls how the data is queried, whether it is valid, and how reporting works.
Enterprise Application Development
There are many approaches to building unified storage for all physical information. We discussed these methods in a special article about warehouses. Although the architecture style of the data warehouse does not directly affect 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 warehouse data structure, as well as metadata (additional information about data). These documents will be used throughout the development process and will assist in making decisions about the required reporting options.
Any system needs technical documentation. Although a BI developer will not onboard users to the platform, and show them how to use it, he/she is responsible for providing guidance as a document. This document covers the scope of use for standard users and technology. employees, e.g. API documentation, known technical issues, etc.
The skills of a BI developer can vary depending on the project. In some cases, a BI developer can have minimal interaction with software engineering and work as a SQL expert to ensure proper querying. But for the sake of completeness, we will list the skills that may correspond to typical duties.
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Experience with BI tools. First and foremost, every BI developer should have experience 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 essential. A strong understanding of the entire underlying infrastructure is also required: This includes an understanding of data integration tools, ETL/ELT processes, data formatting, and warehouse architecture.
If we talk about a product that uses a BI solution by a vendor, a BI developer must know its corresponding technology stack. These depend on the vendor, but the most popular solutions related to 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 have experience dealing with databases is that SQL / noSQL queries are the main concern. BI systems often have to deal with databases, data models, or distribution of data in multiple databases.
BI developers can also be involved in the design and construction of tools for online analytical processing (OLAP cubes). This is an advanced option for multivariate analysis that uses non-relational databases.
Global Business Management Software Development
Data analysis background. Although it is not necessary to be a BI developer