Don’t Import It, Embed It! 5 Reasons to Embed Business Intelligence into Your Enterprise Applications

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In this special guest feature, Daniel Jabaraj, Vice President of Syncfusion, Inc., discusses the 5 important reasons analyst firm Gartner lists embedded BI as important emerging tech, and reasons why it has the power to significantly affect how business is conducted in the future. Daniel is a software engineer, developer, and executive leader with over 30 years of experience in the software industry. At Syncfusion he leads product development and strategic planning and execution. Daniel has a passion for active engagement with customers, ensuring that each new product adds value ad improves his customers’ businesses. Daniel holds an M.S. in Industrial Engineering from Clemson University.

There’s a great divide in business intelligence. On one side—stand-alone applications designed solely for business analytics, such as Tableau or Power BI. End users bring their data—often from many different sources—to the stand-alone app to perform analyses and gather BI. On the other side are apps with embedded analytics, which include the industry-leading customer relationship management application Salesforce. When BI is embedded into an application, analytics can be conducted within the application itself.

Will you keep BI separate from your application or will you embed BI within your app? In this article, I provide five reasons to embed BI directly into your enterprise apps.

1.  Embedded BI Enables Broader Adoption

For decades, BI was limited to power users and senior decision-makers. Business analysts would prepare dashboards and reports and deliver them to the C-suite for high-level strategic discussions. Real-time data and BI weren’t readily available to other employees.

Now though, businesses understand the value of BI and are looking to take advantage of the massive amount of data they’re accumulating to drive actionable insights. For that to happen, BI has to leave the confines of the boardroom and become a regular component of work across the organization. Active collaboration needs to happen around real-time data and BI.

While the goal is to put BI in the hands of more users, it’s unrealistic to expect everyone to have the technical skills needed to navigate a complex stand-alone BI application such as Tableau or Power BI. However, by embedding BI into your application, analytics become more intuitive, familiar, and thus accessible to the average user.

2.  Embedded BI Maintains Context

When data analysts were the only ones pulling reports, switching contexts—moving from the business app to the analytics app—wasn’t a serious hindrance because these analysts spent most of their time in the stand-alone platform and thus were very comfortable with it.

Today, however, users across the organization want to own their data—and their data analytics. But, as noted above, the average business user isn’t specially trained nor do they have the time to learn a standalone app. If data analytics is embedded within the apps they already use—the apps they know well and are comfortable with —BI becomes a natural part of their day-to-day functions.

3.  Embedded BI Simplifies Security

Stand-alone BI apps often require a separate set of permissions because when raw data is exported, it typically loses its security context. That security context has to be re-established in the stand-alone application. Embedded BI, however, automatically operates with the same permissions as the rest of the application. Therefore, your customers don’t need to involve IT and work through complex integration and permission issues that take months to resolve—a definite plus in today’s fast-paced, competitive environment.

Embedded BI also allows an organization to keep their data entirely on-premise, which eliminates the regulatory or privacy worries that can come when moving secure data to and from the cloud. Specific users can be given access to data to summarize, visualize, aggregate, filter, and slice and dice that data at will, with less fear of subjecting the organization to breaches.

4.  Embedded BI Streamlines Deployment

Since embedded BI lives within the deployment environment, if a customer deploys your app on the cloud—whether public or private—the embedded BI is deployed with it. If the app is deployed on-premise, the embedded BI is on-premise, too. Embedded BI puts your customers in control since they can deploy your app as they wish, rather than being dictated by the requirements of stand-alone BI software.

Switching environments is also simplified for your customers since embedded BI is provider-neutral. Businesses can readily move from AWS to Google Cloud to Microsoft Azure as they desire, without affecting the embedded BI. This is huge in today’s market, as organizations want the flexibility to move between cloud providers as their needs change and new technology emerges.

5.  Embedded BI Lowers Costs

Finally, embedded BI can resolve concerns of scalability and cost by addressing licensing issues. Most BI solutions are licensed on a per-user basis, regardless of whether the software is treated as a stand-alone application or embedded into your enterprise application. This makes scaling an issue, as license costs are greater and potentially unpredictable.

You can, however, choose to embed a BI solution into your enterprise app for a fixed monthly cost. In this optimized model, you and your customers can scale as rapidly and broadly as desired without worrying about escalating licensing costs.

In conclusion, organizations can make BI broadly available, easy to use, secure, streamlined, and cost-effective when it’s embedded within apps versus exporting to a standalone app. It’s possible, and honestly necessary in today’s business environment, to put BI at the fingertips of users across an organization. Users who have access to the data in an application can visualize and analyze that data as well. They can readily create and share elegant dashboards with others to aid collaboration and support decision-making. Ultimately, when you embed BI, you empower your users across your company to analyze data and use the insights gained to fuel data-driven decisions.

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