Junior Business Intelligence Designer

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Junior Business Intelligence Designer – Everything about the past and current status of your business is recorded as bits of data. Marketing numbers, human resources, corporate budgeting, sales volume – you name it. The number of business domains from which the data comes can be large. But as a business, you may be interested in extracting value from this information rather than just collecting it. Be thankful that there is software for everything.

Business Intelligence (BI) is a set of technologies and practices for transforming business information into actionable reports and visualizations. Established in the early 80s and developed over time as a separate industry, BI has given birth to many roles and professions. We have already explained the role of an ETL developer. This material explores the specifics of the underlying BI data infrastructure, so we suggest you read it to gain deeper insight on the topic.

Junior Business Intelligence Designer

Today we will discuss the role of a BI developer, their typical responsibilities, background, and required skills. We also define the difference between other standard roles involved in building BI systems and specific cases that require you to hire a BI developer.

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A business intelligence developer is an engineer who is responsible for developing, deploying and maintaining BI interfaces. These include query tools, data visualization and interactive dashboards, ad hoc reporting, and data modeling tools. But as we talk about business intelligence, we need to give a more strict explanation of this technological concept.

The entire BI system can be divided into its inner part and the actual user interface for interacting with data. Why is this division so important? Regardless of the complexity of the system, a typical BI platform has 3 layers: a data source layer, a storage layer and a reporting layer. Let’s break them down:

Is where the raw data is stored. These are one of your databases, cloud storage, and separate files filled with unstructured data. Data sources are the starting points of any BI system because they are connected to all the following data integration tools, storage and business intelligence UI.

Includes all technologies that facilitate the storage process. These are both unified storage for all company data and tools that perform extraction, transformation and loading (ETL). The data is moved to a single database for several reasons:

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So, data source and storage layers are considered as the underlying infrastructure of the BI system. Build and maintain it is an area of ​​responsibility for database/ETL developers and data analysts/engineers.

Is the last point for data. This layer is the actual BI interface that allows users to access data, pull it from a warehouse for analysis. Analytical capabilities may vary depending on business requirements for a system. But in the most basic scenario, these are SQL queries and simple data visualization tools.

Each piece of software that makes up the reporting layer is the responsibility of a business intelligence developer. As part of a business intelligence project, a BI developer takes on engineering, management and strategic planning responsibilities. So, this person can be both a project lead and/or an executor.

As we have defined the place of a BI developer within the framework of the entire BI platform, let’s look at the responsibilities of this person.

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The project scope defines the degree of involvement for a certain role, as engineers with similar technology stacks and domain knowledge may be interchangeable. Developing BI interfaces requires deep experience in software engineering, databases, and data analysis. So, in part, data engineers who have a software development background and experience with BI can lead the process of interface development.

However, business intelligence tools can include a lot of industry-specific functionality. BI developers are also aware of business domain specifics: this allows them to understand business requirements, implement proper data models, and data representation solutions. So, the responsibilities of the s BI developer are:

Business intelligence is always tied to the actual business domain and requirements of a specific organization for data analysis. That means from company to company BI tools can be very different. Let’s assume there are two projects:

In both cases, the final product will be a BI platform. But in the first case, it will require much more advanced options for data analysis, because there are simply more dimensions to analyze. The data itself may require image recognition, as it may be given in any format such as X-ray, MRI or ultrasound.

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This is the difference in understanding the business requirements for the platform a BI developer should be aware of. Because they lead the number of reports, their forms and additional functionality.

After the business requirements are collected and documented, a number of data engineers / ETL / frontend developers are in charge of translating them into technical tasks. A BI developer in this case is responsible for articulating tasks that cover a user interface and reporting capabilities. To be more specific, a BI developer will describe whether a user interface needs to be an interactive dashboard with a drag & drop interface, or a set of fields filled with data properties, whether a system needs data visualizations and how a user will interact with them as well.

All these decisions are transformed into the actual tasks for the ETL development team, and the BI team (front- and back-end). The development stage can also be controlled by a project manager or a BI developer.

As mentioned, a BI developer can perform a technical lead role in the development team, or can share the actual developer tasks. But a BI developer can make strategic decisions about the developed software and manage the entire process up to its deployment. Testing and debugging can also be a responsibility of a BI developer in the pre’/post-launch stages.

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Reporting is a separate duty that does not concern the engineer so much, but rather working with databases and data models. With a BI interface, users make queries to the database to retrieve some information. Then this information is formatted into a visual form (e.g. pie chart) or a textual summary of the given properties.

While a user configures what to draw and how to format it, a software would be responsible for finding this information and recognizing the required data. This can be done with the help of data modeling – a structure through which the data is stored in the database.

Data models are defined and applied to the database by data analysts and ETL developers. But, a BI developer is the one who provides reporting requirements, so that will be a determining factor for a future model. These models represent objects in the database and relationships between them, so it will determine how data can be queried. And that is part of the competence of a BI developer.

Logically, a BI developer will also control how the data is queried, whether it is valid, and how reporting works.

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There are many approaches to building unified storage for all corporate information. We have discussed this approach in a special article on warehouses. While the architectural style of a data warehouse does not directly affect reporting, a BI developer can participate in the design process.

This point goes hand in hand with the previous one. A BI developer can be involved in documenting a warehouse’s data structure, as well as meta-data (additional information about data). This documentation is used during the development process and helps with decisions about the required reporting options.

Every system needs technical documentation. While a BI developer will not onboard users to the platform and show them how to use it, he/she is responsible for providing guidance as a document. This documentation covers the scope of use for common users and tech. Staff, e.g. API documentation, known technical issues, etc.

The BI developer skills can vary depending on the project. In some cases, a BI developer may have minimal interaction with software engineering and operate as a SQL specialist to ensure correct queries. But for the sake of a full description, we will list all possible skills that fit typical responsibilities.

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Experience with BI tools. First and foremost, every BI developer should have experience developing client BI products or configuring existing ones. In the case of building a custom BI product, Python knowledge, scripting languages ​​and experience with data visualization libraries are mandatory. Solid understanding of all the underlying infrastructure is also required: This includes understanding of data integration tools, ETL/ELT processes, data formatting and warehouse architecture.

If we are talking about a product that uses a BI solution from a vendor, then a BI developer must be familiar with its corresponding technology stack. These depend on the vendor, but the most popular solutions related to data pipelines, reporting and database operations are Amazon products (such as QuickSight), Hadoop platform or Apache technologies (such as Apache Superset).

DB/DBA background. The main reason why a BI developer should be experienced in dealing with databases is that the main topic of concern is SQL / noSQL queries. BI systems often require dealing with databases, data models or distribution of data in different databases.

BI developers can also be involved in the design and construction of tools for online analytical processing (OLAP Cubes). This is an advanced option for multidimensional analysis that uses non-relational databases.

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Data analysis background. Although it does not require to have been a BI developer

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