Expert Interview Series: Nikhilesh Tiwari of Helical Insight on the Benefits of Open Source Business Intelligence

Nikhilesh Tiwari

Nikhilesh Tiwari is a BI and analytics veteran and the co-founder of Helical Insight, an open source business intelligence platform, and Helical IT Solutions.

We recently asked Nikhilesh for his insight on how organizations should approach building and using BI frameworks. Here’s what he shared:

How do you think organizations overcomplicate data management? What could they be doing differently?

Not having proper clarity about the end objective of BI can often result in an incorrectly designed data warehouse or reporting database. We always advise clients to have a very clear objective and their requirements which can help in designing a correct and scalable solution.

What does an effective and efficient BI Framework look like to you? 

The speed at which technology is changing is immense. Every other day there is some new technology– be it in data processing or data storage or data visualization or analytics– we are seeing a lot of innovation.

For me, a BI framework should be able to extend and scale-up with new technologies. A BI framework should be so flexible that a client’s own developers should be able to extend the functionalities to accommodate for every changing technology landscape and business requirement. This was the entire thought process behind developing our open source BI product, Helical Insight.

Why is it so critical that businesses invest in a better BI Framework? What happens when they don’t?

As mentioned earlier, the technology landscape is changing very quickly. If organizations do not invest in a BI framework, than as soon as technology changes all of their investment on their existing BI and analytics stack will become outdated. They will again have to invest in product and services. That’s the primary reason we do not see any reporting or analytical solution built in 90s still being used today. These kinds of situations can be avoided if companies invest in purchasing and using a BI framework for their reporting and analytical needs.

What considerations do companies need to make when setting up a framework that will suit their needs? What types of questions should they be asking themselves?

One of the most important considerations they need to make is whether to build versus buy. Building a future-ready BI framework can be a very time-consuming process. If it is being produced in house, than a lot of time should be spent on designing the architecture (both from the backend and the frontend) with well supported APIs and modular design to make it future ready.

What are the most common mistakes or oversights you see clients making in setting up and/or using BI? What should they be doing differently?

One of the most common and biggest mistakes made while setting up BI is not having a clarity on the requirements. I have personally came across many situations where the clients are not very sure about the end requirements and as the solution is being built they come up with more and more requirements. This often results in some changes in the data model. Also, at times I have seen a lot of customers confusing BI analysis and analytics. Client should be crystal clear about their end objective from their BI so that they can choose the correct tool and the correct reporting solution can be built.

What trends or innovations in BI Are you most excited about right now? Why?

I am really excited about the speed at which Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are maturing. We at Helical Insight are also investing a lot of our time in building a feature called Instant BI that can allow organizations to ask questions from their data in natural English language. When this reaches maturity this could lead to a paradigm shift in the way people are using BI and reporting and every user, be it technical or non-technical, can be a data analyst. Also, with machine-learning algorithms in the future, the reporting application itself will be able to predict anomalies, issues and trends.

Tell us about the mission at Helical Insight? How are you trying to impact the way businesses operate?

Helical Insight is an open source Business Intelligence product. With our product organizations can make sense out of their huge data sets and do data analysis on it. What we are creating is a scalable, future-ready platform with inbuilt machine learning and workflow. Designed in the form of a BI framework, Helical Insight, can not only fulfill the current set of requirements, but is also future ready for new technologies as well. Thus, an organization’s investment does not get wasted and the solution can always be scaled up.

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Jeremy Goodrich
Jeremy Goodrich
Jeremy Goodrich is a marketer with a deep interest in technology, social media and developing websites that fulfill business goals.
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