Guide: Analytics & BI for Business Analysts


Business Analysts are the heavy-lifters of the analytics frontlines. Business users need insights to make data-driven decisions, but when they have a tough technical question, it falls on the shoulders of hard-working analysts to dig deep and get answers. Doing this means digging up deep insights that draw from all your data, easily, without reliance on IT. The world of data is only becoming more complex. As an analyst, you need a business intelligence solution that is robust enough to handle all your different datasets, allowing you to mash them up, easily extract insights, and stay on top of vital KPIs.

Even if you’ve worked with analytics and BI tools before you may have run into an array of issues that kept you from being super efficient. First off, you could end up with restricted views and small datasets, meaning you can’t run the complex analyses you want in order to dig up deeper insights. Or maybe your system needed help from IT to add new datasets or required a new data model for each new question you wanted to ask it, slowing down your turnaround time and creating a bottleneck in the form of your overworked IT department. Or maybe you just couldn’t drill down easily on your own into granular views of your data.

Whatever your previous challenges, Sisense solves them. Read on to dig into how Sisense helps you get more from your data without relying on IT, provides deep insights quickly, and allows for robust, flexible data discovery.

Getting the Most from Your Data

“We have a dedicated team member who builds and maintains the data model based on our needs and can make changes to it on the fly without going back to IT. When I need changes made in a single business day, they can handle it themselves without going outside the team for help. For instance, when creating a new way to look at win-rate required adding a dimension to our existing model, they were able to add it quickly and within hours we had the view we wanted.”

Elastic Data Hub

When you have a new analytics challenge, your first question is probably something along the lines of: “How am I going to make this work?” You have to choose between loading data extracts into memory and only getting limited historical data from a few tables, or you could go to IT and have them start the project for you, creating views on your data warehouse, giving you access to the complex data you want, but shackling you to IT and saddling you with query speeds only as good as the underlying database’s limitations.

Enter the Sisense Elastic Data Hub, giving you freedom and power. You can create Live and Accelerated ElastiCube data models, which deliver improved performance via Sisense’s proprietary In-Chip™ performance accelerator technology. Pull in data from multiple sources, spanning hundreds of columns and tables, and create models that can respond quickly to new questions without the need to go back to IT every time or deal with limited data. It’s a game-changer.

Now Business Analysts and Users alike can access underlying historical datasets to the record level, not just aggregated averages and subsets of data. Perform complex calculations, multipass and aggregate filtering, and drill down to a granular level on any widget. Additionally, the Elastic Data Hub makes managing security and access a breeze: create one dashboard and the system automatically applies data governance to each business user according to their preassigned clearance. Whatever you’re trying to accomplish, the Elastic Data Hub makes it quicker and easier.

Data Libraries

You don’t want to have to build a new data model every time you have a new analytics challenge to tackle. The Elastic Data Hub eliminates lengthy back-and-forths with IT by serving as a reusable data library for everyone who needs questions answered from a model, no matter how different those questions are. Build multiple dashboards capable of deep data exploration off of the same data model and deliver them, at scale, to your entire organization. ElastiCube Data Models draw from multiple data sources and hundreds of tables and columns, while Live Data Models are able to support multiple databases, tables, and fields from a data warehouse. Wherever your data is stored, the Elastic Data Hub handles it and turns your custom model into a reusable library to serve your whole organization.

Fast Time-to-Insights

“What’s awesome about Sisense is that analysts can be completely independent and answer a very wide range of business questions in a short amount of time. No single dashboard gives you all the deep insights you want in one single view. Sisense gives you the flexibility you need to find whatever you’re looking for.”

Complex Calculations

Complex business analyses require complex, custom calculations, and you want to handle them with business logic, not complex programming languages like SQL and LookML. Sisense lets you leverage your Excel expertise via menu-driven formulae that help you perform aggregate, multi-pass, and statistical analysis across your entire data model, without writing a line of code. Customize your formulae via an easy-to-use editor using any filter, variable, or condition at any level of data granularity, then save them for later and use them across multiple dashboards. Combining fields from multiple data sources together in one formula is also a snap.

Quick Functions

In addition to menu-driven formulae, Sisense also allows Business Analysts to instantly add commonly used time dimensions to existing values or formulae with one click. This replaces the time-consuming and complex process of using SQL for time-based analysis and lets analysts quickly respond to new business questions. Plus the ElastiCube data model continues providing fast query responses thanks to In-Chip™ performance accelerator technology.

Easy and Extensive Reporting

You serve a variety of teams, all with different preferences when it comes to how they absorb the information they need, and how often they want it delivered. Keeping up with all these different preferences can be maddening and time consuming. Sisense simplifies all these competing factors by allowing you to effortlessly schedule reports from any dashboard. Send any report as a PDF at any time interval, laid out exactly how the recipient wants to see it. Create custom-formatted email reports and PDFs without having to change the underlying dashboard layout or functionality. Customize the layout, headers, footers, and content. Export entire sets of dashboards as a single PDF or single-tab CSV files. Whatever you need to serve all your stakeholders, you can easily customize and automate reporting, simplifying your life and freeing up your valuable time.

Robust Data Discovery

“As the leader of the business operations team (not technical at all), the ability for me to answer deep, complex questions and perform ad hoc analysis is a must-have. When I got an email from the CEO with a red flag for a business issue, it took me just 20 minutes to drill into the KPI in question and dig up the root issue that needed to be addressed. ”

Drill into Anywhere

Tired of your teammates coming to you to drill down into KPIs that they should be able to handle on their own? Sisense’s Drill to Anywhere feature empowers users of all kinds to drill down to the report-level on any KPI (programmatically restricted based on their security settings, of course), answering ad hoc questions without having to go to an Analyst every time. Analysts no longer need to consider every permutation of a question when setting up a dashboard. Just build the robust dashboard you want, and let your users take the wheel. This also leverages the flexibility and power of the Elastic Data Hub and multi-use data models by letting users drill into the entire historical data set. It’s an overworked analyst’s dream come true.

Smart Field Suggestions

Building reports can be tedious and repetitive. However, you can use this repetitive process to your advantage. Sisense speeds up the process by leveraging machine learning to understand which fields have been used most often before, which ones go together, and which widgets are paired with which visualizations. The more dashboards you build, the better the system gets at understanding how to help you put them together. Smart Field Suggestions even learns to suggest relevant fields including complex calculations and filters. You can even see your own list of suggested fields, based on Sisense’s algorithm for calculating field suggestions, via the exposed POST/suggestions API endpoint in the Sisense 1.0 REST API. Save time with the power of machine learning.


As you’ve probably noticed by now, Sisense is all about customization. We’re also about empowering every team member to be a builder. You can build the dashboards and reports you need and extend and customize Sisense to suit your needs. Add-Ons from Sisense and the larger user community allow you to easily build new and customize existing widgets, tweak the out-of-the-box visualizations. Extensibility is part of Sisense thanks to an Open-API framework. Customization is a snap, and Add-Ons can be easily added, disabled, or scaled from the Add-On Management screen. Your imagination is the limit when it comes to what Sisense is capable of. Build boldly!

Wrapping Up

As a Business Analyst, you have a heavy weight on your shoulders. You need to create custom dashboards and reports to serve a variety of stakeholders and empower them to answer rapidly-changing business questions. Sisense helps you use your time more efficiently by building reusable data models that allow other users to drill down to any level they have access to, all without going back to IT every time. Machine learning elements help simplify report building and a wide array of customization and automation features ensure that you can deliver the data and insights people need, how and when they need them, without reinventing the wheel or doing tons of heavy lifting every time. If you’re ready to take your analytics to the next level, you’re ready for Sisense.

See Why Sisense Is Awesome for Business Analysts.