What is BI Developer: Role Description, Responsibilities, and Skills

blog
Logo NIX

Today, data is at the heart of any business. Within a business, every interaction and every process generates data. Whether it is customer escalations to a support team, sales lead in your funnel, invoices and accounting information, or any of a myriad of other touchpoints, the common factor is that they are all bits of data that you can use to become more efficient. When this data is visualized in the proper way, then it eases deciding based on facts. This is where a Business Intelligence developer or BI developer comes into the equation.

Businesses around the world run on data but understanding all of this information requires a unique set of skills and technologies. Business Intelligence (BI) came to the fore in the 1980s to make sense of the volume of data businesses at the time were generating

Since its launch, it’s spawned many roles based on specific expertise that companies have come to realize is necessary. One of the key roles that we’ll be focusing on in this article is that of the BI developer. This position is a primary member of a BI team and can be instrumental in analyzing and optimizing a vast amount of data. BI developer handles usability of the gathered data. 

Content:

Components of BI

Before discussing the actual role of a business intelligence developer, it is important to understand the different components of BI that create a complete system. There are three different sections as described in further detail below:

What are the BI developer skills needed for a career in BI

Data Layer

The data layer is where all the data that is compiled gets stored. This information can come from any of your internal and external sources and can include database storage, stand-alone files with information, or cloud storage. The data layer is the starting point of your BI system, as it is connected to all of your other tools. 

This function is performed by Extraction, Transformation, and Loading (ETL) developers. They work with the data layer to design data storage solutions and for coming up with different ways of accessing business data from multiple different systems.

Warehouse Layer

The warehouse layer unifies data from multiple sources into a single database. This lets end-users query any data from a single location.. This requires the help of the ETL developer whose role description usually includes formatting the data to a single standard so that it can be accessed more easily by users. 

Reporting Layer

The reporting layer is where the BI developer prevails. This is where they access data from the warehouse and use different analytical tools to provide the business with actionable intelligence. Analysis of information varies based on the tools available. 

Some of the BI tools that a BI developer provides simple yet powerful dashboards that are easily customizable. However, even without those tools, BI developers can use SQL queries to extract answers to specific questions.

BI Developer Responsibilities

A BI engineer needs to understand not only how to generate and analyze data but also needs to have a grasp of business fundamentals. Knowing the peculiarities of a business will allow them to implement the correct data models the organization needs to best represent the data. 

Some of the key responsibilities of a BI engineer include:

  • Defining business requirements for BI tools – tools vary from company to company as do the specific requirements for data. A BI developer needs to understand this distinction and what the best solution is to make sure that they are meeting the company’s underlying goals and objectives;
  • Interfacing with the business – when business requirements are gathered, a BI developer works with other internal teams to help translate these into the technical requirements necessary for development. They will work on the UI design as an example and ensure that a user has access to the fields they need to work;
  • Working with reports – a BI developer is responsible for the creation of the different reporting requirements in partnership with the business. They control how the data is gathered and presented and will also validate its accuracy;
  • Documentation on the BI interface – a BI developer is not responsible for actually training people on the platform. They are, however, the owner of the technical documentation and are in charge of its accuracy and upkeep.

Some other responsibilities of the role include helping with the design of the data warehouse, as well as guiding the development of BI software. 

BI Developer Activities

There is a host of different areas where a BI developer can affect a project. Some examples include:

  • Leading the migration of SQL databases from SQL 2005 to SQL 2008
  • Developing dashboards that provide companies with the ability to drill down into specific information through the use of list boxes and other filters
  • Developing custom applications that synchronize data between different systems to help improve security, for example, to avoid HIPAA violations

Who Can Become a BI Developer?

What are the BI developer skills needed for a career in BI

What are the BI developer skills needed for a career in BI

To have a successful career in business intelligence, it is good to have an interest in patterns and business. BI developer skills vary based on the project and specific requirements with some roles requiring greater technical competence than others.

For people new to the industry a focus on business management and information technology proficiency is very useful. More senior roles might require an MBA to provide a more in-depth understanding of business requirements.

This is an in-demand sector in the technology economy and in the US alone, there is a severe shortfall of trained and knowledgeable individuals with relevant qualifications. For people already in a data role within a business, switching careers in business intelligence is possible with no need to return to college. 

Some of the key reasons to consider a career as a BI developer include:

  • Demand – there are a wealth of opportunities around the world in a variety of industries for this skill. Payment for BI developer skills is very well compensated globally.
  • Flexibility – BI does not restrict you to any specific field or vertical and the only requirement is the enjoyment of data. 

BI Developer Skillset

When considering a career as a business intelligence developer it is important to understand if you want to focus on the back-end or the front-end. 

A back-end developer is generally more technical, while a front-end developer is more concerned with how to present and communicate data. The choice of path does not have to be hard and fast as it is possible to switch streams as you progress in your career.

What are the BI developer skills needed for a career in BI

However, regardless of the path chosen, some competencies are an absolute must. These can be broken down into soft skills and hard skills:

  • Soft skills – a BI developer needs to have excellent communication abilities so that they can share their findings with others. For front-end developers, this is especially important as some individuals might lack technical expertise and will require help to understand technical jargon.

    Another soft skill that is required is attention to detail. BI developers often need to look for the “needle in a haystack” and without this skill, they might miss what they are looking for. Finally, BI developers need strong problem-solving skills. They need to not only understand what data the business needs but why it is useful so that they can create actionable intelligence.
  • Hard skills – a key hard skill that is needed with this role is technical knowledge. This includes knowledge of different scripting languages like JavaScript, Python, and Typescript and familiarity with databases like SQL. The BI developers need to have experience with data visualization libraries like D3.js, Matplotlib and RGL as well.

    Other required hard skills include an understanding of different ready-made BI tools like Power BI, Quicksight, Apache Superset, and Hadoop. The BI developer should also have testing and debugging experience that they can call upon when needed.

Summary

Understanding data is essential in today’s business world. Companies that fail to take advantage of the data that is available to them will struggle to beat their competition. If you are looking for help for your organization and want to benefit from the professional qualities of a BI developer, get in touch with us.

A BI developer can help you make sense of data and present it in a form that helps you make the right decisions. Having this information can be crucial for your business and can often be the difference between success and failure. The right BI developer can provide data visualization tools that are simple and easy to use.

Hiring a BI team can be an expensive undertaking when done from scratch. Using an outsourcer like NIX can save you time and money. NIX’s team of developers and project managers can work with you to come up with a plan that makes sense for your business now and will grow with you into the future.