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What is Headless BI and Why It Matters?

Sean Zong
Cloud & Big Data Trainer
Jun. 05, 2023

As people use data-driven management, they also use Business Intelligence tools to analyze and visualize data. BI tools such as Tableau and Power BI have a limitation. Users can only utilize the metrics that they have defined in the visualization tool. Using the same metric in different places can cause problems.

This is where headless BI comes into play.

What is Headless BI?

Headless BI is a business intelligence that separates metric definition from visualization. Headless BI tools use a metric layer to separate data metrics from presentation layers. This makes it faster to implement metric definitions and keeps consistency across all analytic use cases. Headless BI is great for people who want to be agile and flexible with their data products.


Many investors and experts see the potential in the emerging field of 'Headless Business Intelligence' and share their views.

Ankur Goyal and Alana Anderson discuss this in their article, "Headless Business Intelligence". They believe that a truly scalable "Headless BI" (also known as a metrics store) represents a significant opportunity.

Headless BI Positioning (From Headless Business Intelligence by Ankur Goyal and Alana Anderson)

Benefits of Headless BI

Headless BI is a new way for companies to use data more effectively, making business operations better. The team that owns the metrics only needs to define them once with headless BI, and they can use them in many different ways. Headless BI simplifies the use of metrics in other tools like SaaS integrations and API systems. This allows for new uses that weren't possible with visualized-first BI, while also reducing inconsistencies.

Let's take a closer look at some of its benefits:


Making metrics reusable

Headless BI makes it easier to analyze data by using the same metrics and definitions everywhere. This helps people make better decisions and follow the rules better. Also, because everyone is using the same set of definitions, teams can work faster, reduce costs, and avoid defining the same metrics repetitively.


Resiliency in data engineering

Headless BI provides resiliency for data engineers by allowing updates to the underlying data structure or migration to a different data warehouse without disrupting end-users or tools that depend on those metrics. This allows data engineers to build a more robust and easier-to-maintain system. It also streamlines testing and deployment procedures, as updates can be made without interrupting the user interface layer.


Agility for business users

Previously, the definition of business metrics was limited to one specific way of consuming them - data visualizations - which restricted the scope of BI tools. By contrast, Headless BI enhances agility for business users by providing a new way to consume their business metrics.  


This new approach allows business users to access data from multiple places, especially within the business applications they use daily. For example, a marketing person might want to consume the metric "lead scores" in the marketing automation tool in order to define an email marketing campaign based on the contact's lead score.


Embedded analytics-friendly

Headless BI is embedded analytics-friendly, making it ideal for businesses aiming to provide a personalized customer experience and optimize their operations. Metrics formulated through headless BI are highly reusable and composable, allowing multiple uses in different contexts.  


Data engineers can build data products within business applications or build composable data products easily for businesses.


Understanding Headless BI Solutions: Kyligence Zen

Kyligence Zen is the go-to low-code metrics platform that defines, collects, and analyzes your business metrics. It empowers users to connect their data sources quickly, define their business metrics, uncover hidden insights in minutes, and share them across their organization.

  Kyligence Zen Architecture (From Kyligence)

To facilitate metrics-driven decision-making processes, Kyligence Zen offers a range of features:


Metrics Catalog

Make sure everyone is on the same page with a unified metrics catalog. Align the definition of metrics across your entire organization, from business owners to data consumers and decision-makers. Get smarter insights and make better decisions in less time.


ZenML (Zen Metrics Language)

ZenML (Zen Metrics Language) is a YAML-based descriptive language provided by Kyligence Zen. It enables the unified governance of metrics similar to managing codes and files. By converting technical data into business metrics, ZenML efficiently acquires valuable insights. It also offers a unified semantic layer for easy integration with the data-consuming side, enabling a quick implementation of metrics-driven data products.


Metrics Automation

Stop wasting precious hours crunching numbers. With Kyligence Zen's automated metrics calculation powered by a built-in industry-leading augmented OLAP engine, you can spend less time calculating and more time taking action on the data that matters most.


Metrics API

With open APIs, Kyligence Zen makes it easy to connect your organization's data and metrics with the BI and SaaS tools preferred by your business - no matter what they are. Align all of your businesses, data consumers, and decision-makers on one unified metrics platform.


Metrics Templates

Check out the extensive catalog of metrics templates created by professionals. Apply the metrics in clicks to your data sets. You can save 80% of time and energy by avoiding the need to construct them from scratch.



In conclusion, headless BI has become a popular approach for businesses to enhance operational efficiency and effectiveness through data analysis. Headless BI separates the presentation and analytical layers, providing consistency, agility, and providing opportunities to consume metrics in the business applications business user on a daily basis.


Kyligence Zen is the low-code metrics platform that takes headless BI to the next level by offering a unified metrics catalog, standard metrics language (ZenML), automated metric features, etc. When collaborating with Kyligence Zen, businesses can create metrics and associated data applications more intelligently, unlocking valuable insights more smartly.


Learn more about Kyligence Zen here or try out Kyligence Zen for free.

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  1. What is Headless BI And How Can It Help You Have Consistent Analytics (by VerbData on Apr. 11th, 2022)
  2. Headless BI: Achieve Consistent Analytics Results (by Zdenek Svoboda, GoodData on Sep. 7th, 2021)
  3. What is Headless BI And How Does It Impact Embedded Analytics? (by Yurbi on Nov. 19th, 2021)