Sql Business Intelligence Developer – Everything about the past and current state of your business is recorded as bits of data. Marketing numbers, human resources, company budget, sales volumes – anything you want. The number of company domains from which the data comes can be large. But, as a business, you may be interested in extracting value from this information instead of just collecting it. Be grateful that there is software for everything.
Business intelligence (BI) is a set of technologies and practices for turning business information into actionable reports and visualizations. Born in the early 1980s and developing over time as an industry in its own right, BI has given rise to numerous roles and professions. We have already explained the role of an ETL developer. This material reveals the specifics of the underlying BI data infrastructure, so we suggest you read it to get a deeper insight into the topic.
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Today we will discuss the role of a BI developer, their typical responsibilities, background and required skills. We will also define the difference between other standard roles involved in building BI systems and specific cases that require hiring a BI developer.
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A business intelligence developer is an engineer 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, since we are talking about business intelligence, we must give a more rigorous explanation of this technological concept.
The entire BI system can be divided into its internal part and the actual user interface for interacting with the 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 warehouse layer, and a reporting layer. Let’s analyze them:
It’s where the raw data is stored. These are your databases, cloud storage, and separate files full of unstructured data. Data sources are the starting point of any BI system because they are connected to all the following data integration tools, repositories and business intelligence user interface.
Includes all technologies that facilitate the storage process. These are both unified storage for all enterprise data and tools that perform extraction, transformation, and loading (ETL). Data is moved into a single database for a few reasons:
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Therefore, the data source and warehouse layers are considered an underlying infrastructure of the BI system. Building and maintaining it is a field of responsibility for database/ETL developers and data analysts/engineers.
Is the end point for the data. This layer is the actual BI interface that allows users to access data, dragging it from a warehouse for analysis. Analytical capabilities may vary depending on the business requirements for a system. But in the most basic scenario, these are SQL queries and simple data visualization tools.
Each software component 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. Thus, this person can be both a project manager and/or an executor.
Since we have defined the role of a BI developer across the entire BI platform, let’s take a look at this person’s responsibilities.
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Project scope defines the degree of involvement for a given role, as engineers with similar technology stacks and domain knowledge can be interchangeable. Developing BI interfaces requires deep expertise in software engineering, databases, and data analytics. Therefore, in part, data engineers with software development backgrounds and experience with BI can lead the interface development process.
However, business intelligence tools can include many industry-specific features. BI developers are also aware of the peculiarities of the business domain: this allows them to understand business requirements, implement appropriate data models and data representation solutions. Therefore, the responsibilities of the BI developer are:
Business intelligence is always tied to the actual business domain and a specific organization’s requirements for data analysis. This means that BI tools can be totally different from company to company. Suppose there are two projects:
In both cases, the final product will be a BI platform. But, in the first case, much more advanced options for data analysis will be needed, as there are simply more dimensions to analyze. The data itself may require image recognition, as it can be provided 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 that a BI developer should be aware of. Because they will determine the number of reporting structures, their modules and additional functionality.
After the business requirements are collected and documented, a number of data engineers/ETL/front-end developers are tasked with translating them into technical tasks. A BI developer in this case is responsible for articulating tasks covering a user interface and reporting functionality. To be more specific, a BI developer will describe whether a user interface should be an interactive dashboard with a drag & drop interface or a set of pop-up fields with data properties, whether a system needs data visualizations, and how a user will also interact with it.
All these decisions will be transformed into actual tasks for the ETL development team and BI team (front-end and back-end). The development phase can also be controlled by a project manager or BI developer.
As mentioned, a BI developer can play a technical lead role within the development team or share in the developer’s actual tasks. But a BI developer can make strategic decisions about the developed software and manage the entire process until its implementation. Testing and debugging can also be the responsibility of a BI developer in the pre/post-launch phases.
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Reporting is a separate task that is not so much about engineering, but rather about working with databases and data models. Using a BI interface, users query the database to retrieve some information. Then this information is formatted into a visual form (for example, a pie chart) or a textual summary based on the properties you specify.
While a user configures what to drag 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 by which data is stored in the database.
Data models are defined and applied to the database by data analysts and ETL developers. However, a BI developer is the one who provides the reporting requirements, so this will be a determining factor for a future model. These models represent the objects in the database and the relationships between them, so they will determine how the data can be queried. And this is part of the skills of a BI developer.
Logically, a BI developer will also check how the data is queried, whether it is valid and how the reporting works.
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There are many approaches to creating a unified storage space for all your business information. We discussed these approaches in an article dedicated to warehouses. While the architectural style of a data warehouse does not directly influence reporting, a BI developer can take part in the design process.
This point goes hand in hand with the previous one. A BI developer may be involved in documenting a warehouse’s data structure, as well as metadata (additional information about the data). This documentation will be used throughout the development process and will help make decisions about required reporting options.
Any system requires technical documentation. While a BI developer doesn’t introduce users to the platform or show them how to use it, they are responsible for providing guidance in document form. This documentation covers the scope of use for regular users and the technology. personal, e.g. API documentation, known technical issues, etc.
BI developer skills may vary depending on the project. In some cases, a BI developer may have minimal interaction with software engineering and act as an SQL specialist to ensure correct querying. But for a complete description, we will list all possible skills that fit typical responsibilities.
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Experience with BI tools. First, every BI developer should have experience developing BI products for clients or configuring existing ones. If building a custom BI product, knowledge of Python, scripting languages, and experience with data visualization libraries are required. A solid understanding of all underlying infrastructure is also required: this includes understanding 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 needs to know the corresponding technology stack. These depend on the vendor, but the most popular solutions covering data pipelines, reporting, and database operations are Amazon products (such as QuickSight), the Hadoop platform, or Apache technologies (such as Apache Superset).
DB/DBA Background. The main reason why a BI developer should have experience in database management is that the main topic of concern is SQL/noSQL queries. BI systems often require managing databases, data models, or distributing data across multiple databases.
BI developers may also be involved in designing and building tools for online analytical processing (OLAP cubes). This is an advanced option for multidimensional analysis using non-relational databases.
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Background of the data analysis. Although it is not necessary to have been a BI developer
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