In a world with an explosion of data and constant changes, the speed of accessing actionable insights is paramount for businesses. 

However, many with small-to-medium sizes are lagging behind. They often do not have the financial means to develop the infrastructure and assemble the team needed.  

INDUSTRY-FOCUSED BI AS A SERVICE (I-BIaaS)

One solution is the Industry-focused Business Intelligence as a Service, aided by cloud technology. 

By focusing on a particular industry, the BI service provider can fully integrate the unique business logic into the solution, freeing the resources at the client-side from transforming data, calculating metrics, and developing the final reports altogether. 

Here we use an example to illustrate how it works, discuss the pros and cons, and argue why this would be a great opportunity to democratize business intelligence to all businesses.

A MORTGAGE LENDER CASE

In this case, a regional mortgage lender wants to understand the latest trend of its own portfolio, also in comparison to the industry. 

Without a strong technical team, the lender turns to an I-BIaaS solution. 

Architecture

As the architecture graph shows, the mortgage records, stripped of PII (personally identifiable information), are fed into a cloud environment (Microsoft Azure) managed by the service provider on a monthly basis. 

A SQL Server database is used to host the data and create a mortgage data mart in the Microsoft Azure environment. 

To present the intelligence, Microsoft Power BI is deployed to connect with the SQL Server data mart and create the final dashboards.

Business Intelligence in Various Forms

Through discussions with the client, the delivery of the business intelligence is determined to be in two forms: dynamic BI dashboard and static reports.

Dynamic BI Dashboard

For end-users who would like to have the capability to perform their own analysis, a dynamic BI dashboard is developed. Such a dashboard allows end-users to select predefined filtering criteria. 

For example, in a monthly mortgage origination dashboard, a user can choose one or multiple of the following filters to understand the composition of the volume: 

▪ Mortgage type

▪ Property type

▪ Geographic area of the property

▪ Number of applicants 

▪ Origination FICO range

▪ Origination APR 

Static Reports

There are also cases that the end-users only want the straight-up information without the drill-down capability needed. 

Under this scenario, a static report with predefined tables and graphs is produced and sent to the end-user. 

Multiple Role Profiles 

Because the end-users could come from different functional groups, they have different requirements in terms of which business intelligence information to receive. 

For example, the business team is more focused on mortgage loan origination volume by region.

The Risk team is interested in the delinquency and loss related risk metrics. Meanwhile, the Compliance team wants to see any outliner against the lender’s policies.

To address such diverse needs, different role profiles are set up. Each role profile receives a specific set of BI reports, which is only relevant to the particular function. 

Automatic Refresh 

Whether dynamic BI Dashboards or static reports, they are set up to be automatically generated whenever new data comes in. 

Flexible Delivery Method 

Note that Microsoft Power BI can deliver reports in both Desktop and Mobile versions; therefore, end-users can choose their preferred delivery method and view dashboards on different types of equipment. 

PROS

Evolving Features

I-BIaaS can be easily augmented with new features without any additional work done on the client-side. 

When features are presented as options, a client can simply choose desired ones in order to maximize the business insights extracted from the solution. 

Cost Savings

By deploying the I-BIaaS solution, the lender client has avoided the cost to build and maintain data infrastructure, as well as the cost to assemble a team of database engineers, business analysts, and BI Report Developers. 

The total cost savings could be as high as 30 percent-60 percent, depending on the scope of the project and the complexity of the required BI information.

Access to Industry Knowledge 

Another benefit of I-BIaaS is that a business client can leverage industry expertise from the service provider. 

There are often additional analytical perspectives that one institution does not possess yet. Such gaps can be easily bridged by leveraging a comprehensive I-BIaaS solution, which is built on industry knowledge from subject matter experts from the service provider and other clients. 

“By focusing on a particular industry, the BI service provider can fully integrate the unique business logic into the solution, freeing the resources at the client-side from transforming data, calculating metrics, and developing the final reports altogether.”

CONS 

Limited Customization Capabilities

One limitation is that the client still does not possess the capabilities to conduct customized analysis. However, remember that the client did not have such capabilities in the first place. 

Solutions do exist, though. The flexibility of dynamic analysis can still be achieved via a well-designed customized dashboard or parameter-driven system. 

CONCLUSION

Overall, I-BIaaS could be a great cost-effective solution to satisfy common needs from small-to-medium businesses in a variety of industries. 

The maturation of such services will democratize the BI capabilities to small-to-medium-size clients, reduce overall cost, and propel the advancement of decision-making.