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What is Embedded BI?
As is often the case with software terms, “embedded BI” can mean different things depending on who you ask. To help you understand the nuances, let’s start with an authoritative definition from Gartner:
“Embedded analytics is the use of reporting and analytic capabilities in transactional business applications.These capabilities can reside outside the application, reusing the analytic infrastructure built by many enterprises, but must be easily accessible from inside the application, without forcing users to switch between systems.”
Sounds straightforward, but embedded BI often vary in what they embed, how they embed, and where they embed.
What gets embedded?
This is an important question to ask as you evaluate potential embedded BI solutions, as “reporting and analytic capabilities” can refer to any or all of the following:
Which is to say that some applications support embedded report builders while others embed only the reports themselves. Those looking to offer self-service reporting and dashboard design should ask specifically about embedded analytics studios.
How is it embedded?
Embedded analytics must be “easily accessible from inside the [host] application” and not require the user to “switch between systems.” Still, some embedded BI applications may require your users to:
Download a software plugin.
Sign in to an analytics portal after logging in to your application.
Contend with reporting tools that don’t look or behave like your application.
And that’s probably not your idea of easy. Avoid these user experience pitfalls by looking for 100% web-based, single sign-on embedded BI with a robust API and white labeling capabilities.
Where is it embedded?
How a solution embeds will impact where users may access it. The first thing to determine is whether or not the solution is modular.
Non-modular solutions must be accessed in a centralized location, such as through a link or menu option. BI components and host application components cannot appear on the same page without use of an iframe.
Modular solutions may be broken up into their component parts and distributed throughout an application. BI components and host application components may appear on the same page in any configuration.
Your Embedded BI Checklist
So what should you look for in an embedded analytics solution? Here’s a handy checklist:
- Embeds output (charts, reports, dashboards)
- Embeds studios (report and dashboard builders)
- Single sign-on
- 100% web-based (no plugins)
- Robust integration (open API)
- White label (open CSS, full localization)
Stick to these standards, and your users will have no idea they’re using a third-party solution.