The embedded business intelligence guide
Business intelligence, data analytics, data visualization, embedded business intelligence,… There are dozens of terms, but don’t they all just mean the same thing? 🤷♀️ If it were only that simple.
To find out which type of business intelligence is right for you, there are some important nuances to be aware of. In this article, we’ll zoom in on embedded business intelligence, the new kid on the block in BI.
Learn what embedded BI means, how it’s different from traditional BI, and if it’s right for you.
What is embedded business intelligence
Embedded business intelligence is the process of embedding analytics capabilities into existing business applications. This could be a SaaS product, web application or any online portal. It gives product users access to information they need to make smarter decisions.
In common terminology, business intelligence encompasses the entire data supply chain. That includes everything from data connection to data modeling and data visualization. Where embedded business intelligence should excel, however, is in the data visualization process.
And even beyond data visualization alone, embedded BI can add self-service analytics capabilities straight into the apps and platforms we use on a daily basis. Whether it’s a marketing tool, an accounting program, or a cash register system. Anyone can create reports, interact deeply with data, and get notified of trends. All in an easy and intuitive way.
Imagine embedded business intelligence as your software product’s “control center”. You can compare it to the control panel on your car’s dashboard. It shows your speed, gas level, and alerts you when something is wrong. It would be impossible to drive without a control panel inside your car. And dangerous too!
Embedded business intelligence works the same way. It’s difficult to make confident business decisions without insights at hand. And too often, business users have to switch to between their work apps and dedicated reporting tools. As a result, they make crucial decisions at a much slower pace.
How are embedded BI and traditional BI different
Traditional business intelligence is almost a privilege for data scientists and people with technical knowledge. Traditional BI software is complex to learn if you don’t know data science or coding. It takes a long time to create reports. And often, the people who end up using the reports are not even involved in that process.
Because of this limitation, data scientists often need to start all over again. With so much ad-hoc data analysis, it takes months before businesses can make critical decisions they should make within hours. And with a shortage of good data scientists, it strains your most scarce resources. And it’s insanely expensive too!
The intuitive visualization of embedded BI cuts out the middleman. No more back and forth on reports between IT and business teams. With the use of intuitive tools, business users can slice and dice their own data. With this empowerment, they reduce the time to make a decision from months to mere hours.
From that perspective, the biggest difference between embedded BI and traditional BI is the user experience. Insights are now embedded into the daily workflows of any person. Data scientists no longer need to be involved in the creation of the actual visualizations. And business users no longer need to learn clunky BI tools. Finding insights is now an intuitive process that is part of their day-to-day.
Embedded BI is like eating farm-to-table. Ingredients come straight from the source, cutting out intermediate suppliers. You pay less for better quality. With embedded BI, you get your insights straight from the source. At a faster pace, a lower cost, and with less margin for error.
The benefits of embedded BI
SaaS product builders enjoy many advantages when using embedded business intelligence.
- Enrich product. Reporting and analytics is rarely a SaaS product’s core focus. By enriching your app with BI capabilities, your product becomes more feature-complete.
- Save time. Off-the-shelf embedded BI software are easy and quick to install. Especially compared to building the whole thing in-house.
- Increase stickiness. Product users no longer need to leave their favorite software apps to make informed decisions. They spend more time on your platform, boosting usage and loyalty.
- Monetization. Enhanced BI features are a top reason for customers to upsell. Or sold as an add-on, it becomes a new revenue stream.
Your product users will also reap the benefits with this new way of analyzing their data.
- Intuitive exploring. Non-technical users can drill down deep into their data with a simple and fun user experience.
- Integrated experience. Product users no longer need separate business intelligence programs. Insights are available in their favorite apps, tightly aligned to their business processes.
- Self-serve interface. Business users don’t need to rely on data experts. By taking the reins, they work more independently and efficiently.
- Better decision-making. With this new transparency into their data, users feel more empowered and confident when making decisions.
The capabilities of embedded BI
The following capabilities make embedded BI stand out from other approaches.
- Seamless integration. Bi features integrate natively with the look and feel of any software product or web app.
- Highly interactive experience. Users interact with their data through filters, drill-down, and smart action triggers.
- Ad-hoc report creation. Besides interactive embedded analytics, embedded business intelligence also lets even create and save their own reports and dashboards with simple drag and drop.
- Real-time notifications. Get notified when there are important changes or outliers. Alerts heavily reduce the time to respond to incidents or opportunities.
- Multitenant analytics. Within a software context, embedded BI allows you to scale BI to thousands of users. Build a dashboard once, and show every user only the data they are allowed to see.
- Predictive analytics. Although not always, some embedded bi tools make predictions based on historical data.
- Adaptive reports. Embedded BI is versatile for the global business user, always on the go. Dashboards adapt to the right language, timezone, currency, and device.
- Connect to major data sources. Embedded BI tools connect to more than the common databases and data warehouses. Easily hook up proprietary data sources, including your own public or private APIs.
Misconceptions about embedded business intelligence software
Product and engineering teams are still hesitant to adopt embedded business intelligence software. Engineers often prefer to stitch their own solution together instead. Even though low-code software can save them months of time.
The most common misconceptions of using a third-party embedded business intelligence software are:
- fear of the limitations of low-code
- fear of not having 100% control over every feature or detail
- fear of incompatibility with their current tech stack
- conviction that it’s better suited for in-house development
The product teams who build instead buy analytics often delay their roadmap. You need a specific skill set to build business intelligence and big data features. If your team lacks the expertise, you are draining your resources for months to come without realizing it.
For this reason, product teams often postpone or halt analytics development cycles. And that leaves engineering teams with nothing but technical debt.
Which embedded business intelligence software is right for me
Compare sites like G2 are a great starting point to find the right embedded business intelligence software. But keep in mind that not every tool listed will specialize in embedded BI only.
For example, BI platforms like Tableau or Power BI are market leaders in traditional BI. Even though they allow embedding, their core focus is still traditional BI. As a result, the user experience caters to data-savvy users. Although very powerful, these tools may be less accessible to non-technical personas.
We recommend starting free trials to assess which software is right for your use case. Browse their websites to get an idea of their capabilities. Gather all your findings in a vendor comparison matrix like the example below. This canvas is helpful for comparing embedded business intelligence software objectively.
Getting started with embedded BI
Building business intelligence features for your SaaS product is an exciting journey. With the right resources, you’ll quickly get the hang of it!
Below are a few resources on embedded business intelligence that will set you up for success.
- Embedded BI course: level up your customer-facing analytics in less than 1 hour
- Embedded analytics whitepaper: how to build a winning SaaS analytics experience
- Embedded analytics case studies: case studies and sample dashboards of other SaaS builders
If you’re curious to try embedded BI software yourself, Cumul.io offers a free 10-day trial. Or sign up for a product demo from one of our embedded BI experts.