Embedded Analytics

5 Requirements for Selecting an Embedded BI Reporting Tool

By Michelle Gardner
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In recent years, the business intelligence (BI) market has exploded. But there’s a big difference between traditional BI reporting tools that live as standalone applications versus embedded analytics and BI reporting solutions that put insights in existing applications. If you’re an application team looking to include an embedded BI reporting tool in your product, you can choose from dozens of vendors—but you should know that not all BI platforms are created equal.

<< Related: 2018 BI Buyer’s Guide >>

When selecting an embedded BI reporting tool, consider these five requirements:

#1. Data Connection & Integration

Even the best embedded BI reporting is only as powerful as the data that fuels it. That’s why it’s imperative that the analytics tool you choose can be easily integrated to a range of data sources, including relational databases, web services, cloud apps, and proprietary data sources. Additionally, you want to be able to work with your data as is—no need for redundant data investments, proprietary layers, or dedicated repositories.

#2. Customizable User Experience

The beauty of embedded BI reporting lies in the ability to seamlessly integrate it with your exiting business applications. Ideally, you’ll present a custom-branded user interface to match your analytics to the rest of your application—so users don’t know where your application ends and the analytics begins. This capability, called white-labeling, should allow you to incorporate third-party visualizations and controls (like jQuery); implement global branding with custom themes, CSS, and JavaScript; and extend capabilities and meet unique needs with plug-ins.

#3. Self-Service

Embedded BI reporting provides value to end users by distilling large datasets into actionable information and presenting the information in the context of tools they already use. However, self-service BI—the ability for users to analyze data, visualize insights, and obtain and share reports without the help of IT—is not always a given. A good embedded BI reporting tool will empower users to help themselves to what they need. This has two huge benefits: It keeps your users in your application, and it reduces the number of ad hoc requests from users to the IT team.

#4. Write-Back

If your embedded BI reporting tool is only able to read (rather than write) from a database, it will typically lead to messy data. For truly seamless analytics, look for a solution that also allows users to write back to the database. This reduces problems like duplicate entries or out-of-date information. It may also enable your analytics to become more sophisticated, because other tools can leverage analytic outputs. Another key advantage of write-back functionality is time savings. Because users don’t have to go back to the database to update entries manually, people across your organization will spend far less time cleaning up data.

#5. Scalability & Extensibility

Scalability makes dashboards and reports available to any number of users, not just the data analysts or executives in an organization. Look for embedded BI reporting tools that support on-premises, cloud, or hybrid deployments and work with a range of servers. By choosing a tool that scales horizontally or vertically on commodity server infrastructure, you remove the burden of managing and maintaining proprietary hardware. Additionally, you want an extensible tool that allows you to add external components, such as advanced visualizations and charts (like D3), integrated workflows, and custom data connections.

Read more about how to select an embedded BI reporting tool in Gartner’s “5 Best Practices for Choosing an Embedded Analytics Platform Provider” >


Originally published October 26, 2018

About the Author

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