In a recent article, I explained a couple of ways that embedded BI is typically used. Software companies embed third-party BI tools in their software to quickly add new capabilities. Internal IT staffs use embedded BI to solve user adoption problems.
Open architecture is the most important aspect of embedded business intelligence. Software built using open architecture and standards is very customizable and works well with other software, which is the whole point of embedded BI.
White labeling (or re-branding) means that the software can be customized to look and feel as though it’s your own. If you’re building business intelligence software into your current software, you want the user experience to remain consistent. It should be free of vendor branding and be completely indistinguishable from the software in which it’s embedded.
User, distribution, or run-time fees
Many vendors charge a fee for every place the BI apps are distributed, or for every user that uses them. This is where embedded BI can get very expensive in a hurry. Think about it for a minute: If you’re embedding BI software into your current software, you probably plan on distributing it to customers or pushing it out to many users. If you have hundreds of users or customers, this gets expensive quickly. Going forward, it means that if you gain more customers, you must pay more fees. When looking for embedded BI, search for a solution that doesn’t charge these fees.
Good BI software will work with any database or platform. It should also create BI applications that can access multiple data sources at once. Even if you only use one database now, broad database support will save you from headaches in the future. After all, if you eventually decide to add or switch to a new database, you certainly don’t want to be limited by your BI software.
This should go without saying, but some BI software still doesn’t offer real-time data. With analytics, data should be pulled in real-time straight from your database. It shouldn’t be days or hours old. It should be real-time.
If you’re looking around for an embedded BI solution, do your homework. You’ll find that solutions vary greatly by vendor. However, if you pay attention to the 5 features listed above, you’ll be well on your way to choosing the solution that fits well with your business and your bottom line.