Our world is run by Low-Code Development Platforms (LCDP). There are many notable platforms powering critical applications that we benefit from every day. Notable platforms such as Shopify, Wix, Unity, and even AWS have changed the way we shop online, build webpages, play video games, and ship business software.
Business Intelligence (BI) systems, on the other hand, are still built with legacy technologies. With visual programming components, dedicated servers, and a request-and-publish model, BI dashboards as we know them are utilized less and less. If you’re looking to construct a powerful interface that tracks, analyzes, and distributes your business insights, how would you leverage an LCDP to maximize the value of your data? This article will walk you through the genesis of building a BI application with a LCDP.
General Benefits of a LCDP
A common benefit of Low-code Development Platforms (LCDP) is that a wider range of people can contribute to the application's development - not only those with coding skills but also people who understand governance, client needs, and other business requirements.
In traditional software development, collaboration is confined to the design phase. Once coding gets started, developers tend to focus on their respective product responsibilities while they cannot communicate in-depth until their codes are merged, or features are published. This of course causes issues when business requirements change.
In an LCDP, design, and collaboration are continuous since the actual engineering takes less effort with greater tolerance. Even with a more rigorous product development timeline, most tasks done in an LCDP can be divided into sub-tasks with independence. This makes larger-scale product development less challenging than a traditional development process.
Delivery is always one of the more challenging phases of the traditional software development process since many things can go wrong, or worse, undetected all the way till the last minute. The experienced team would phase delivery in different stages such as Alpha and Beta with internal testing such as BlackBox and WhiteBox testing. Having a more structured and rigorous delivery process can avoid fatal errors, however, it’d inevitably slow down delivery to customers.
This is much less of an issue for an LCDP since the deployment environment is typically more consistent with the features and services available on the platform. There are typically fewer moving parts in an LCDP than in a self-constructed codebase. For example, third-party package imports and dependencies are typically less of a concern with LCDP. Security is another area where LCDP may help streamline over a custom codebase. Most security loopholes, errors, and vulnerabilities are caused by humans. Having a robust platform can reduce these mistakes to varying degrees.
Traditional software development involves a complex process of specifying, designing, programming, documenting, testing, fixing, and deploying. It is a high labor and capital-intensive endeavor that would require a high level of commitment from the beginning. Without adequate resources, the software may often miss or fall short of user needs.
This nature of developing software, therefore, demands that the engineering team needs to understand user needs before committing to shipping features. To achieve this, extensive communication between the engineers and users is often beneficial. However, traditional software development is a highly technical, and convoluted process that may prevent users from getting involved. Increasingly, engineers are too overburdened with the technical infrastructure and tooling to have a sufficient understanding of user needs.
Then came Low-code Development Platforms (LCDP), which typically come with a highly vertically-integrated development environment for shipping mission-critical applications. This removes the needs for laying out a technical foundation for most teams. Furthermore, it helps shift the engineers’ focus to addressing user needs as opposed to solving tough technical challenges.
Most applications we use are already built with LCDPs. Imagine building a SaaS application before public cloud, a Virtual Reality game before game engine, or an E-Commerce store before web builders. The costs would have been insurmountable.
Leveraging an LCDP for BI applications
Vertically-integrated Data Infrastructure
Compared to traditional BI dashboards, an LCDP provides more flexibility for utilizing business data. It gives a free-form approach to data construction, allowing users to collect and merge data from different sources. An LCDP may also offer low-code integration capabilities for organizations to connect disparate on-premises and SaaS-based systems. This ultimately helps business teams develop a unified view of their data. Having a built-in data infrastructure also means fewer breakages, delays, and missing data that would otherwise happen in a third-party connection.
Since most toolkits offered in an LCDP are vertically integrated, anyone with proper training can take advantage of this flexibility to develop BI dashboards relevant to the organizational, departmental, and individual level. Even for someone without extensive technical experience, a LCDP can function as a GUI-based interface for anyone to get involved in the design process.
Higher Scalability Beyond Dashboards
Shifting to an LCDP enhances agility and scalability. This approach has an immediate impact on application delivery and future product iteration. It allows IT departments to minimize technical debt as fewer moving parts lead to functional simplification.
Moreover, low-code integrations allow systems to adapt to the idea process a business requires despite having to adjust your processes to system functioning. This flexibility provided by low-code business intelligence platforms is essential in today's highly dynamic environment.
To overcome slow development, leading companies implement solutions that break from traditional approaches. Businesses are pushing forward with self-service BI, data virtualization, data discovery, agile data warehouse development tools, etc. And in these cases, using a LCDP for BI has become beneficial.
Enhanced User Experience for Better Adoption
A traditional BI dashboard is highly deterministic and optimized for charting and visualization. This of course makes data points exciting and intriguing enough for many end users. However, it will quickly become dispersed, repetitive, and extraneous for most people since it lacks highly interactive features, personalization and critical services.
With a LCDP however, it is possible to deliver consumer-grade web experiences to an end user as long as the development team commits to the productization for the features and functionalities their users may want. Also, a LCDP relieves developers from updating existing programs and resolving errors. This way, creators can spend more time focusing on business requirements, and user experience.
Operational Capabilities Based on Business Intelligence
Most BI dashboards are not optimized for real-time operational processes. Despite having advanced charting and visualization capabilities, dashboards typically do not stream data very well. This is acceptable for ad hoc reporting, and periodic analysis. For real-time operations such as answering a customer ticket, or notifying developers a service breakage, BI dashboards may fall short on their performance side.
On an LCDP, real-time data can be built and deployed with the proper toolkits. It may take a bit more effort from the development team to make sure everything is punctual and reliable. The operational value of a BI app built with LCDP may trump a traditional BI dashboard by a wide margin. Few businesses can rely on their BI dashboards for managing day-to-day business processes. This will change with more and more BI leaders looking for more beyond dashboards.
Ready to Build a BI Application With Acho?
Acho is building the most scalable LCDP for BI applications, and we aim to provide maximum scalability and performance to our customers. The platform unlocks more value from your data in the business application and your teammates might never want to go back to a dashboard.
Contact us in the chatbox on the bottom right corner of this page if you have any questions!