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A Low Code Option for the Complex Data World

Let’s Go Car Shopping!

When you go car shopping what is it that you’re looking for?  Maybe a kid-hauler or maybe it’s a fun sports car now that they’re out of the house….but either way you have something in mind and a price range you’re trying to work in.  So what is it that you’re really buying?  A car!?  But is that really it?  Not quite.

Let’s say it’s your first car.  With that car comes the purchase of a driver’s license, maybe some training costs to get it, new car insurance, and the acceptance of future purchases for gas and maintenance to use it.  It may also come with additional subscription services for radio and internet connectivity to improve your experience while you own it.  So although you wanted to just buy a car, you may end up purchasing a lot more, even if you are paying for them later.

Technology shopping is very similar.  You may have executives and other stakeholders telling you that the company needs a new BI Solution, or as they may say “we need better reporting”, and a lot of the times depending on what your company is already using you may have a tendency to favor one solution over another.

Decisions, Decisions

For example, you’re an IT Director for a company that is very familiar and ingrained in Microsoft technology.  You have some SQL Servers but your company each year is getting into more SaaS solutions each year (SalesForce, Adobe, Jira, etc).  Your team now finds it difficult to see your company’s progress in one place.  So a natural inclination for you may be to reach out to Power BI.  A good solution, and you won’t get fired for making it, but what’s your overhead going to look like for making that decision, and will those stakeholders really ever know or care?

For you to successfully implement your Power BI solution you may also need to make sure you purchase and build an Azure SQL DW.  Not a big deal if you have the budget and some folks that can ensure proper configuration, make the connections to all those cloud resources, and management of solution for security and availability purposes.

Don’t forget, now that you’ll be trying to get a lot of data into this DW you’re also going to need an ETL layer.  So that is another possible solution you’re going to need to budget for and configure.  Again, not a huge deal, but you’re now talking maybe a few FTEs that you’re expanding your team with.  So with the Azure DW, an ETL tool, and Power BI to visualize your data you may be looking at being able to produce repeatable wins in about a year.

Squeaky Wheels

From my experience, if people are barking about changes to reporting, they have a pain point that is bothering them today.  So telling them that they’ll have a solution in a year may get you removed from their Christmas card list.  Even if you go this route, there is a strong chance they will find a way to get it done without your help using a solution they found and you may not be able to support.

So what about Tableau?  I mean every company under the sun seems to dabble with Tableau to some extent right?  It must be super awesome and easy to use.  But what about scalability?  What about complex ETL work?  Will you rely on just Tableau to make that happen?  Probably not.  Again, you’ll need a solid DW and an ETL solution before Tableau does its magic.  With this route, you are probably looking at that full solution going online to start winning in about six months.

Tableau and Power BI are great tools.  Their downside is that they may come with the need for other solutions to ensure you get what you need.

Born in the Cloud, for the Cloud

Now let’s look at Domo.  Thinking back to our car shopping analogy, they are what I would call the Everything Car.   One person may look at Domo as a nice viz tool, another person may look at it as a great DW and ETL solution, while another person may look and be amazed that it connects to 1k other solutions that you already use.   For your BI solution, Domo is the one-stop-shop for you.  No need to worry about a storage solution, no need to worry about finding an ETL solution, everything you need is on board.  Another thing about this is the quick time to value.  You could have data wins coming out of Domo in a matter of weeks.  Which would be music to the ears of anyone currently struggling with data/reporting needs.

Power BI and Tableau are great enterprise solutions.  But don’t overlook the fact that sometimes you can take the low code approach to something complex and have the results be spectacular.  Depending on your workforce, the size and skillsets of your Data Engineering Team, the technical ecosystem your company is in, and how quickly you want to see value in your investment, are all important considerations to take into account when determining the best BI solution.

Take a look here at the Fall 2019 BI Platform report from G2.


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Matthew Newsom

Has 20 years of experience in IT/Data and hasn't thrown a computer out the window yet. Now helping clients with their BI needs as a Solutions Architect.

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