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Embedded BI

1 March 2013
Anat Bielsky

Embedded BI is an incorporation of reports and analytical abilities in existing operational systems that serve the workers during their ongoing work. This sort of BI is incorporated in the operative world and assists in making better decisions in real time.

Embedded BI should be:

  1. Relevant Content: so it presents not only generic historical information (e.g. general data from the last 12 months) rather data that enables analysis and 'deeper' dimensions that teach us of the affect certain factors have on the results.

  2. Relevant timing: received fast enough; the later in the mission the information is received, the worse the potential decision made may be.

  3. Action oriented: the BI should direct the worker towards the required action and sometimes present the worker with alternative paths.


The main advantage of incorporating BI features in existing systems is derived from the fact that this incorporation allows the user to access reports and/or analysis from the ongoing operation system and does not require shifting to another system in order to perform business analysis. This in practice reduces the number of actions required in order to receive information and increases the chance of using the BI reports.


This situation also enhances the users' sense of security and assists in making decisions based on data analysis. The suppliers of BI tools incorporated in the ongoing work systems usually create friendly intuitive work interfaces. This is noteworthy since the operation of traditional BI tools is considered complex and generate reluctance to use said tools on behalf of the users. Additional advantages to using Embedded BI according to the Aberdeen survey, in which 420 organizations were asked about their experience n the field of BI out of which 174 organizations implemented Embedded BI, include:

  1. It is easier to assimilate the tool in the organization's system.

  2. Flexibility: it is possible to create customized analytical abilities.

  3. It is more easily instilled by users.

  4. It provides added value to existing programs.

  5. It bridges the gap between "information" and "action": this tool assists users in understanding the connection between business data and the operational processes and allows them to react faster to potential threats or business opportunities.


According to the survey, the systems in which BI is incorporated are:

  • 65% CRM systems

  • 56% ERP systems

  • 49% monetary & accounting systems

  • 26% Supply Management systems

  • 24% operational systems


There are three approaches to the implementation of Embedded BI in an organization:

  1. Purchasing from an external supplier: purchasing an operational systems including BI abilities. In this case, the system supplier purchases a tool from a BI tool supplier. This approach requires the supplier developing the system to choose a suitable BI infrastructure, one easy to incorporate and adapt in the system as well as supply a user friendly interface that includes the tool's required level of functional abilities. If needed, these abilities may be expanded.

  2. Internal organizational development: developing "in-house" BI functionalities for an existing BI operational system. This approach seems cost-effective in the short run yet requires much expertise in this field on behalf of the IT department as well as a long term commitment regarding the maintenance and constant improvement of BI abilities.

  3. A synthetic approach: purchasing designated tools/infrastructures from an external supplier that allows its incorporation in an operational system while the adaptation and actual assimilation is performed by the organization's IT. This approach enables organizations to rely on Bi suppliers for maintenance, ongoing support and improvement of the BI abilities, yet requires monitoring the integration since both the operational system and the BI abilities are developing as time passes. According to the Aberdeen survey, 43% of 174 organizations that implement Embedded BI have chosen the synthetic approach and a similar percentage have decided to purchase from an external supplier.     


In conclusion, Embedded BI enhances the use of analytical thinking in the organization as well as distributes the use of tools to an increasing number of personnel in different fields of the organization which results in more informed decisions made based on data. Every organization considering the implementation of Embedded BI should check which way is the most efficient one in order to produce the product suitable for the organization.

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