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How to use cloud BI to improve application design

Thanks to cloud BI tools, developers have easier access to historical business data that can help steer application design.

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Business intelligence (BI) dashboards have been used predominantly by management teams to view business data in...

order to make sound, strategic business decisions. However, they may also be used by software development teams to drive and enhance new development design and direction.

In the past, development teams and design architects have been left to design without the benefit of useful and accessible data. For software development, data views must be tailored so developers and architects, at a glance, can analyze useful data from all available sources. The BI data display must be functionally relevant and focused on pure data rather than flashy, colorful charts.

The growing presence of BI cloud applications has made it easier for developers and architects to use generated data views to significantly increase the relevancy of application design. Cloud BI tools give developers and designers easier access to BI-related data such as dashboards, key performance indicators and other business analytics. Cloud BI applications are accessible on multiple devices and web browsers, circumventing traditional software barriers such as the requirement to access the application on-site. BI information gathered from cloud analytic tools empowers innovation among development teams and architects. Access to historical data gives them the necessary background and factual business information they need in new application development, as well as for identifying failing portions of an existing application.

Empowering design innovation

Access to historical data gives [developers and architects] the necessary background and factual business information they need in new application development.

Frequently, architects and development teams find themselves coding to a vision that isn't clearly defined. The application may be breaking new ground, providing a service that hasn't been successful in the past or bringing legacy systems into the API and mobile age. Whatever the design challenge, it benefits everyone involved when development teams have access to business data. The team can use the data to make design decisions based on factual, historical results rather than anticipated use. Historical data also provides the development team with scope and direction when details are sparse and the charted path is not fully defined.

For software maintenance, cloud BI analytics can help developers spot where an application lags or where problems occur. Typically, cloud BI tools are self-service and include XML report templates that produce visual charts and tables editable by formulas similar to those found in Excel. Using these templates, development teams can manipulate data to gather additional information as needed.

Cloud BI tools also add value by enabling developers to set personalized notifications or alerts. By setting alerts and notifications, developers can manage conditions or be notified automatically when certain data conditions arise. For example, the development team might be adding a third-party application or trying out a message queuing system. By setting alerts they will be notified when configured data conditions are met, and they can gather results immediately. Another example: The development team needs a cost-effective way to test code experiments, trial deployments or database table additions. Notifications let the developers focus on their work while waiting for the alert. Once the alert occurs, they can analyze the data while the results are fresh.

Cloud analytics data is valuable to management as well as to software development teams. Cloud services are creating BI tools that are open to all users across an organization's structure. They allow data sharing and greater data access to influence application design. BI cloud analytics makes the power of data more accessible, allows organizations to get the most out of their data across departments and leads to improved application relevance and quality.

Next Steps

Well-planned cloud architecture is key for data analytics apps

Cloud BI and analytics grow in popularity

This was last published in November 2014

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Has your company experienced any benefits from cloud BI? If so, what are those benefits?
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In my business I work with a wealth of different business owners and I have found that their goals are always the same; they'd like to find ways to increase productivity while also finding methods of being more cost efficient. Many companies are beginning to integrate cloud BI into their businesses and the feedback has been very positive. The reoccurring themes in their feedback is that first and foremost the cloud has cut down on the costs of maintaining networks themselves and has also made it possible to increase productivity because they are able to securely access data from anywhere.
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The ability to set a condition in the BI application to message me when the condition is met allows me to see the data immediately.
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