Embedded Business Intelligence

Embedded business intelligence is a functionality that is becoming more and more mainstream. Many business applications today need stronger requirements for the reporting and business intelligence end of things. Embedded BI can be a viable solution.

One of the downfalls of many a good business application is the end reporting and data management. “Looks great”, says the CIO, “but how do we report out of it.” “How do we get at the data?” These are questions that would stump many a salesperson as they point at the limited pre-canned reports.

Many open-source vendors offer their solutions as part of a reporting package for an OEM solution. A software vendor may want to offer reports, for example, included within their software package. Using an embedded solution can enable the vendor to add a lot of reporting functionality without creating a lot of work from scratch. It’s a lot easier to use an existing report or OLAP engine than try to re-create the wheel. They are compatible with most data format inputs and are flexible with most data outputs. Jaspersoft, BIRT, and several other open source providers offer this type of service, and have found a nice niche here.

Most of the emphasis for embedded systems is on real-time or operational BI. A CRM system, for example, needs to have real-time reporting ability. Deep OLAP analysis would be a complex undertaking, and probably better for the main BI system to do against an optimized data warehouse.

You will find very few, if any, larger vendors who offer an embedded solution. Simply put, their systems are built to be independent BI repositories for larger organizations. They are strong on analysis, visualizations, complex calculations and OLAP. These types of functions are tough to do in a real-time basis. While many of the big players do offer APIs and customization options, it's generally made to get an organizations other apps to play with the BI infrastructure, not to put the BI engines and functionality inside other apps.

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