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What Is an Analytics Platform? Comparing BI Options

By Michelle Gardner | August 3, 2017
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The world of BI comes with a variety of options. In technology as in life, many of the best solutions come from the combination of different tools that each offer their own advantages (as well as their own drawbacks).

What is a data and analytics platform? It helps to first explain what it is not.

Traditional BI tools exist as a standalone portal or data discovery application. Some of these tools bolt-on to other applications, providing a quick and easy way to provide some semblance of embedded analytics. When an organization purchases a bolt-on solution, its most talented developers don’t have to spend hours writing and re-checking lines of code. Analytics arrive ready to go, right out of the box.

>> Explore Your Analytics Options in the 2017 BI Buyer’s Guide <<

The flip side of that equation is that bolt-on solutions allow almost no customization. In many cases, the dashboard components and reports that come standard may not quite match the user’s needs and are difficult to tailor. Additionally, giving non-technical end users the power to customize their reports and dashboards to their individual needs—as with self-service analytics—becomes nearly impossible. Another important point to consider is that it’s often difficult to keep analytics branded consistently with the applications they are embedded in.

Homegrown analytics solutions are built from the ground up. This approach essentially offers the exact opposite benefits and disadvantages of a traditional BI solution. Customization is practically unlimited, but advanced developers—who could be working on other projects more crucial to the business’s core application—are forced to spend time building code and combining open source analytics components. Not only does this limit the time these developers have for other mission-critical tasks, it may also lengthen the development cycle. Even after the BI tool has deployed, this model requires development or IT teams to do ongoing maintenance and support for as long as the application is live.

An analytics platform offers the best of these two worlds. By partnering with a third-party data and analytics platform, a company gets the freedom to customize their solution without the risks and long-term maintenance costs that go along with building one. What’s more, they gain the security of working with a trusted partner without the limitations that go with most out-of-the-box products.

A platform provides a library of elements—charts and other data visualization tools, dashboard components, customization themes, and the like—that serve as a ready-made infrastructure which developers can customize and build upon. A modern analytics platform also supports self-service analytics by making it easy for end users to build their own dashboards and reports to meet their needs without support from developers or IT. Users can use drag-and-drop tools to manipulate dashboards or visualizations without coding expertise.

Best-of-breed analytics platforms can also pull in data from external sources like a relational database or CRM, meaning the data does not have to be recreated in the analytics platform. Other advantages of leveraging an analytics platform include:

  • Automatic updates to feature sets, taking the onus off internal IT or dev teams
  • Turnkey security that integrates with existing frameworks, enabling single sign-on, one place for user access control, support for multi-tenancy, and more
  • Knowledgeable, reliable technical support to guide users and developers quickly through any questions or challenges that may arise
  • Flexible architecture that supports any IT model—on-prem, cloud or hybrid—and your existing tech stack

Does the flexibility and convenience of an analytics development platform seem like a good fit for you? Get a demo of Logi’s platform >

 

About the Author

Michelle Gardner is the Director of Corporate Marketing & Communications at Logi Analytics. She has over a decade of experience writing and editing content, with a specialty in software and technology.

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