/ What to think about when you implement embedded BI
What to think about when you implement embedded BI
Embedded business intelligence is quickly becoming the most popular way for businesses to implement their BI strategy. The power of embedded BI is extremely appealing to businesses that want to make the most of their data.
However, a business can’t just implement an embedded BI strategy overnight. The nature of embedded content is inherently different from regular BI content, and businesses that try to roll out their embedded BI in the same way they roll out their regular BI tool will fail.
This is especially true for businesses that struggled with their original BI implementation. If they can’t make regular BI work, then they need to change their strategy for their embedded BI.
Businesses that are new to business intelligence in general also need to think carefully about their embedded BI execution. Many businesses are jumping right to embedded BI without working with regular BI beforehand.
This isn’t inherently a problem, but it can make things more difficult. Businesses that choose that path need to figure out how to leverage embedded BI at the same time that they’re learning how to use BI in general.
Regardless of the situation, businesses that want to implement embedded BI need to build their embedded strategy with care and thought. Otherwise, they won’t see the unique benefits of an embedded implementation.
What is embedded BI?
Embedded BI is an approach to business intelligence that allows businesses to embed their BI content on external sites and apps.
Instead of all BI content living within the BI tool itself, businesses can build their analytics, visualizations, and dashboards right into other sites and apps. This may not seem like a massive advantage, but it can bring huge benefits.
First, embedded BI saves a business money on user access. When a business uses an embedded approach, they don’t need to pay for as much access to their BI tool as they would otherwise.
Since the average employee can view their important dashboards and visualizations without actually logging into their BI tool, businesses don’t have to give them credentials to access BI content.
With an embedded approach, businesses can limit access to their tool to just those people who actively need to edit, build, and power their BI content.
Second, businesses can streamline their workflows using embedded BI. In regular BI, data access takes work. Users have to log into their tool, find the dashboard they need, and then use that dashboard for insight.
Since the process is complicated, many users completely ignore their data tools as they progress through their workflows and accomplish their tasks. Businesses pay all this money for a BI tool, and then their employees don’t even use it.
To effectively boost employee buy-in of their business intelligence tool, businesses need to meet their employees where they are. Embedded BI can do that.
Lastly, embedded BI can help facilitate data communication with stakeholders that are outside your organization. It makes communicating data to clients, customers, investors, and other interested parties much easier.
One consistent problem with regular BI is that it makes sharing data externally somewhat difficult. If a business wants to share data with a client, they don’t have a lot of options.
They can offer the client access to their BI tool, but that’s costly, risky, and may reveal too much about internal operations. They can share the data through an email or file sharing service, but that can’t deliver dynamic data updates.
Embedded BI provides a better solution. Instead of trying to share data in a clunky and manual way, businesses can just give their external stakeholders access to their embedded content.
Businesses can go even further by building user portals that require credentials to see sensitive data. This way, they can share data with multiple clients through the same embedded content without accidentally sharing data.
Embedded BI can deliver all of these benefits and more, but businesses need to effectively plan and execute a well-thought-out embedded strategy to make it happen.
What should an effective embedded strategy include?
Embedded BI is inherently different from regular BI. Businesses that have had previous success with their regular BI implementation need to rethink their BI strategy when they move to embedded content.
Businesses have two crucial questions when they start to formulate an embedded BI strategy. First, how does embedded content differ from regular BI content?
Second, how can they mitigate and leverage these differences to ensure success?
To build an effective BI strategy, businesses need to answer these questions both generally and in the context of their business. Here are a few tips to get started.
The most basic and obvious difference between regular and embedded BI is how users access data.
Data access within a BI tool is heavily controlled, and businesses have many strategies they can use to manage it. Embedded content, on the other hand, is free to view for anyone who can access the page it’s embedded on.
This massive difference in who can access data and how they do it means a lot for an embedded BI strategy. It means if you don’t want users to view sensitive embedded content, you need to put in more work.
The section of BI that concerns how users access and share data is called data governance. Businesses working towards an embedded BI implementation need to come up with effective data governance strategies.
With embedded BI, it’s much more difficult to implement consistent data governance in an effective way. There are some solutions for limiting access to embedded content, but it’s much harder than limiting access within a tool.
For instance, a business could implement a user portal that limits access to certain data sets to just those with the correct credentials. This can help to manage data, but it removes many of the workflow optimization benefits.
Maybe the best strategy for maintaining control over data is just not embedding sensitive information. You can embed data that’s useful in a general sense but keep sensitive information within the BI tool where it can be more closely managed.
Audience and goals
Businesses that implement embedded BI need to realize that the goals and audience of embedded content are very different from regular BI content.
First, the audience is much broader than with regular BI. With regular BI, businesses can control data access down to specific employees. That means it’s much easier to tailor content to the people who need it.
With embedded BI, it’s much harder to know who’ll be viewing your content and what they’ll be using it for. That makes tailoring your dashboard more difficult; with embedded content, broader is often better.
In addition, deciding on one concrete goal for an embedded dashboard can be very difficult. Since different users might be viewing the dashboard for different reasons, an overarching goal for the dashboard might be hard to figure out.
Still, it’s much more effective to have dashboards constructed for specific purposes and deliver clear insight. You can’t broaden your dashboards too much; otherwise, they won’t be useful for anyone.
With a regular BI implementation, your BI vendor has to manage traffic to and from your BI instance. You don’t have to worry about downtime or site management; all that’s managed for you.
In embedded BI, your BI vendor isn’t responsible for managing anything. You have to manage your own site traffic and ensure that dashboards are accessible around the clock.
For some businesses, that might be second nature at this point. Businesses that already manage websites and apps know how to do this stuff. However, some businesses might be thinking about site infrastructure for the first time.
If you want to implement embedded BI successfully, you need to ensure that your sites and apps can actually handle the increased traffic that BI content will provoke.
Embedded BI — a new kind of BI implementation
Embedded BI can be a very powerful tool for businesses looking to streamline their BI strategy. It can even improve the data effectiveness of businesses that have previously failed to make BI work for them.
However, businesses that want to use embedded BI need to make sure that their embedded strategy can actually lead them to insight. Without a good strategy, businesses won’t see any benefit from embedded content.
Businesses need to carefully think about the challenges and benefits of embedded BI before they start the implementation process. That way, they can effectively use the technology to make decisions and drive insight.
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