BI Developer Role Explained: Skills, Responsibilities and When to Hire One?

MARYNA DEMCHENKO

Published: 22 Nov 2020

Data science

Data is a reflection of your past and current business activities. Think HR financial materials or any other company assets. Now, imagine being able to uncover and find hidden patterns and trends that could grow your topline. 

Developing strategies and tools to glean actionable insights is the general responsibility of the Business Intelligence Developer. This post will overview the tasks, requirements, and skills of a BI developer. 

What is Business Intelligence (or BI)?

It's a technology-driven process for analyzing data and presenting actionable information that helps executives, managers, and other users make informed business decisions.

The term is first used in the 1958 article "A Business Intelligence System" by Hans Peter Luhn and was officially established and coined by the Gartner Group in the early 1990s.

BI encompasses various tools, applications, and methods that enable companies to collect data from internal and external sources, prepare it for analysis, reporting, dashboards, and data visualizations. BI developers analyze the results of the analysis to make it accessible to decision-makers in companies as well as to operational employees.

Key BI components

Business Intelligence is a three-fold concept, with each component requiring a separate specialist. Here's a breakdown of the BI components. 

Data source. Data needs storage like the Cloud, a database, or Exel files. Typically, ETL developers are responsible for building infrastructure for data storage. The data source is a crucial component since it's the foundation for the next BI concepts. 

Data warehouses. At this level, data is transformed to be collected in one place - a database. That is where data is standardized so it can be accessed from the database. Warehousing systems are build by ETL or database developers and engineers. 

BI reporting. At this level, data is visualized through a BI interface. Reporting is the concern of BI developers and their primary responsibility. 

Business intelligence developer responsibilities

Generally speaking, BI developers translate a company's data into useful insights that enable stakeholders to make the right business decisions. With this in mind, BI expert develops strategies and roadmaps that address the company's data challenges. 

On a technical front, BI developers are tasked with building a BI interface that will enable them to collect data and make hypotheses. It requires business acumen since different businesses take different approaches to data visualization. Ultimately, BI developers must use their research results to develop viable concepts beneficial to the company. 

Another area of responsibility is managing data initiatives across an organization. The Business Intelligence Developer acts as a supervisor and coordinates the project team's development efforts with the help of target-actual analyses or other data tools and systems. 

A BI developer does not necessarily work alone and is often at the helm of the data project.

Typical responsibilities in this role include: 

  • Defining a BI interface

Business requirements and the company's domain are the foundation for the BI interface choosing. BI developers consider them when deciding what data will be visualized and what format will suit the end-users better. 

  • Setting tech demands

After aligning business requirements, BI developers translate them into technical requirements to create an interface with an end-user in mind. Here BI developers need to decide on the type of visualization and how users will interact with visualized data. They also oversee the development process of the BI interface.

  • Development 

A BI developer is responsible for the end product of the development effort. He or she is a key decision-maker who also performs testing and maintenance of the product. 

  • Object relations reporting

Data models in a database contain a variety of interrelated objects. Relations between these objects define how data can be presented to end-users. A BI developer is concerned with correct relations between objects within data models. 

  • Warehousing system development 

Together with the ETL developers, a BI expert can take responsibility for building a warehouse, although its architecture won't affect data visualization. 

  • Documentation

BI experts can participate in the documentation of a warehouse system's architecture. Data documentation is extremely useful for BI developers since it covers detailed data explanations with variables, algorithms, and relations. 

  • Writing tech guides

BI developers create tech documentation to make BI interfaces understandable for end-users. Thus, their goal is to come up with a structured and straightforward guide.  

BI Developer Skills

There's no one-size-fits-all skillset for a BI developer, given that different projects present different challenges. Below, we have put together a list of universal business intelligence skills that indicate an excellent BI candidate.  

  • Sold tech background

Building a BI solution requires a strong knowledge of Python, JavaScript, and other programming languages. BI developers should also be familiar with warehouse architecture, data formats, and data visualization tools. 

  • BI tools 

BI developers need to be well-versed in their tech stack to customize BI tools like Apache Superset or Hadoop to the project properly. 

  • Strong database knowledge

It's vital since BI experts interact with SQL and NoSQL databases to build a functional BI interface.

  • Quality Assurance 

BI engineers play a key role in ensuring the quality of BI interfaces. Before presenting a BI interface to the end-users, it's crucial to make sure it's flawless. 

  • Solid software development skills

Programming skills can vary depending on the project's needs. Some require a mobile BI interface, while others use desktop ones. Thus, software development is an essential skill for this role. 

When to hire a BI developer?

Adding a BI developer to your team means becoming more data-driven than ever. Your business decisions will be based on adequately structured and efficiently visualized data. It makes it easier to strategize this way, which can bring your efforts to fruition. A BI developer here stands as a translator from data to the business language. 

To sum up, companies can hire a senior business intelligence developer when they need data presentation. The main goal of someone in this role should be building a stable BI interface for proper data visualization so that businesses can make the right decisions basing on it. 

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