Business intelligence with Metabase

Nida Rashid
Jul 18, 2018 · 3 min read

Let me introduce you to a little known but powerful business intelligence tool called Metabase. It is an open-source tool designed for non-technical users to provide big data insights and visualizations.

Data can tell a vivid story about a business, with a variety of touchpoints. Metrics from email campaigns are a part of that story, along with information from sales and revenue, as well as customer feedback and support. Because data may live within different platforms, it is often analyzed within a single ecology.

But how can you tell a valuable story for your business with missing pieces? It is a widely accepted notion that compiling all of your information in one place is extremely valuable to the business. Data can be stored and analyzed in one place with a tool like Metabase. It is powerful, simple to use, and can provide useful information for any driven member of the team.

I tested out Metabase for myself, and have provided quick notes to get you familiar with with this product.

The data

As long as you bring your own data to Metabase, the software will help you analyze it. You can connect data types from Google Analytics, Crate, Mongo, etc.

Once your data is added, Metabase can do the following:

  • Set standard metrics to observe your data overtime and see trends
  • Create custom metrics or questions and see trends
  • Create your own SQL or native query to answer more complex questions

When analyzing your data, you can “Ask a Question.” This feature applies filters and runs a query to find an answer for all your data-related inquiries. You can save these questions and answers to a dashboard for review. And you can share the same dashboard across multiple teams. Metabase makes sharing and analyzing data very simple.

The visualizations

Tables are key, but charts help visualize a story. The basic data visualization principles that I am familiar with are ones I’d apply to Excel charts (a classic approach.) At this time, Metabase does not support direct import from Excel sheets, but I’m going to apply the same principles to pretty much all visualizations:

  1. Show your data
  2. Reduce the clutter
  3. Include text

These principles are applied to the auto-generated sample chart from Metabase below. First, the data range supports key takeaways. The data is also visualized concisely, with no clutter or extraneous information. And finally, descriptive text is included when you hover over the chart to better understand each data point.

Overall, Metabase is a useful tool for your BI needs. And because it is open-source, Metabase is always improving. It can house information in a central place, connects various touchpoints to tell a complete story, and provides quantifiable value to your business.

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