MS BI Workshop #5 – Why Business Intelligence from a BI Developer’s Perspective
Here is my notes #5.
Tons of books and articles and seminars have been produced telling us why we need BI. But why do I want to pursue a career as a BI developer? This is a question I often ask myself.
A few years back, I was offered a job as a MicroStrategy developer, and I turned it down. My reasoning at the time might sound a little absurd to some people. Based on the training I received at the time, I strongly believed that a BI software like MicroStrategy was created for end users, not for IT professionals who have passion for technology. I even felt threatened as a SQL developer, because I believed that BI software will eventually “replace” developers. The end of hand written queries.
How wrong I was. After many years working on MS BI platform, I’ve developed passion for what I do, because I now clearly see where I stand in the whole BI business.
From a developer’s perspective, BI is about Data Quality
BI is about data quality, period. But from a BI developer’s perspective, this definition means a change of paradigm in our daily work. If I see the journey of the data starting from the source, to the data warehouse, to the staging, to the data mart, eventually to the cube, as a journey of data cleansing, I can clearly see my role as a BI developer.
From a developer’s perspective, BI is about Eliminating Query Time
Why do we need STAR schema? Why do we need to spend so much time to design our dimensions, hierarchies and roll up/aggregations correctly? All is because we don’t want our business users to wait for some long running (sometimes badly written) queries when they need data. All the effort we put in during our design and ETL process, with the help of the BI interface application, will eliminate the need for queries in production. This is a huge gain for our business users.
From a developer’s perspective, BI is about Data Integration
As an independent BI developer, I’ve worked on more projects than average. It’s not unusual for me to hear stories about developers who left soon after project started. One of the common frustrations we’ve all faced was to sort through data coming from many disparate data sources. If we understand this aspect of BI, maybe we would be more patient and more diligent in our work.
The last one I’d say is BI is about data profiling. I don’t want to list this as a heading because in some organizations data profiling is BA’s responsibilities. There are also many tools, even in MS BI stack that can help us with our data profiling task.
These are my thinking about why we need BI from a developer’s perspective. I am hoping that you can list a few reasons why we need BI from your perspective.