Business Analytics Software Tools Comparison

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Board

BOARD is a full-featured business intelligence system which offers functionalities of Business Intelligence, Enterprise Performance Management and Business Analytics in one platform. This product serves mid to large companies in various industry segments. BOARD product offers a self-service data-discovery environment. By using this environment user to easily search for information, interact intuitively with their data, and perform in-depth analysis. The product offers the capability to create an interactive and customizable dashboard, featuring drill-down and drill-through capabilities from KPIs to the lowest level of details. The BOARD platform allows companies to achieve a single, accurate and complete view of business information and a full control of performance across the entire organization, from strategic formulation down to operational execution.

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Domo

Domo is a cloud-based Business Intelligence (BI) platform, suitable for company sizes ranging from small businesses to large enterprises. With 500+ data connectors, Domo integrates with various data sources and enables easily bring in data directly from spreadsheets, databases, social media and any existing cloud, on-prem, or proprietary systems. Domo offers a solution for every role in an organization by facilitating engagement with real-time data analysis and insights. Domo makes it easy to create meaningful and intuitive visualizations with its 300+ prebuilt, interactive and mobile-friendly charts. Domo's Dev Studio offers flexibility to develop custom visualizations using HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and just about any web technology. Domo cloud's architecture scales elastically and automatically to safely store billions of rows of data and query it all at sub-second speeds.

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Sisense

Sisense is an end-to-end business intelligence solution that provides advanced tools to easily prepare and analyze complex data and it caters to the full life cycle of data analytics from data extraction, data processing, data mining, data visualization to data storytelling. It is designed specifically to handle all sorts of data, from small datasets to complex unstructured big data. It provides ETL capabilities and visual data management environment for managing complex data models. Sisense includes functionalities for a variety of dashboards and visualizations to display the data through charts, maps, KPIs, scatter plots, trends and more. The web-based dashboards can be accessed from any device and are easily exportable. Sisense is suitable for companies of all sizes across various industry segments.

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Microsoft Power BI

MS Power BI is a business intelligence service provided by Microsoft. The BI tool can be broken down into several tools such as Power Query which is used to extract and transform data; Power Pivot is mainly used to model and analyze data and Power View and Map tool is used to visualize data. It provides interactive visualizations and self-service business intelligence capabilities which enables users to create reports and dashboards by themselves, without the support of IT or database and system administrators. It provides a cloud-based BI service which is known as "Power BI Services", also providing a desktop based interface which is known as "Power BI Desktop". It offers data warehouse capabilities such as data preparation, data discovery and interactive dashboards. It is also popular for its ability to load custom visualizations.

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IBM Business Analytics

IBM's next-generation business analytic solutions help organizations of all sizes make sense of information in the context of their business. You can uncover insights more quickly and more easily from all types of data—even big data—and on multiple platforms and devices. And, with self-service and built-in expertise and intelligence, you have the freedom and confidence to make smarter decisions that better address your business imperatives. If cost and deployment are a concern, IBM offers software as a service options for business analytics.

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Dundas BI

Dundas BI is an award-winning browser-based business intelligence and data visualization software which secured first place in Product Satisfaction, Performance Satisfaction and Embedded BI in the prestigious BARC BI Survey 17. It not only examines data but also structures the data for easier processing.The user doesn't need to depend on multiple tools as Dundas BI has a variety of built-in functionalities, agile data flows adapted to the user's skills and fully open APIs. Dundas BI is popular for its comprehensive features such as dashboards, data visualization, reporting, mobile, analytics, and integration.

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Tableau Big Data Analysis

Tableau makes it easy for people to rapidly transform data into smart business analytics. What data? Any data of any size, format, and subject. Tableau simplifies the way data is explored communicated. It’s a new kind of business intelligence software—rapid-fire business intelligence.

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QlikView

QlikView, a product of Qlik is rapidly growing as one of the fastest BI and data visualization software. It is gaining popularity among companies as the product can be deployed quickly, can be used and learned easily. It is known for its powerful data discovery and interactive guided analysis. The product is the leader in the market for its data discovery feature. In the current highly competitive market, QlikView to meet the demands such as management and scalability needs of most enterprises has developed a highly advanced enterprise-class architecture. To ensure the quality of interactive data discovery, it provides a highly scalable, secure, and manageable environment. No matter where the data is located, data is file-based, on-premise, in the cloud, or in big data sources, it can access, combine and load the data from their exact location.

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Exago BI

Exago BI is a flexible and web-based embeddable BI solution that requires no plug-ins or desktop downloads. The product is designed for web applications, specifically for SaaS applications operating in multi-tenant environments. Exago's open API, extensible features, and fully customizable UI provides flexibility and control to integrate the product with the applications and multiple data sources. The features of the Exago include pixel-perfect reports, express reports, crosstab reports, report formatting templates, linked reports and drill-downs, customizable dashboards, dashboard designer, charting and graphing, geographical maps, administration via the web interface, OLAP and data blending. Its single sign-on system inherits the host application’s authentication protocols, maintaining pre existing security features.

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Halo

Halo is an end-to-end supply chain management (SCM) and business intelligence (BI) platform assists in business planning and forecasting inventory for SCM. It is a unique self-service BI tool assisting in identifying advantages, risks and opportunities while providing an engine for collaboration along the distributed supply chain. The product encompasses automated data transformation processes with assisted manual data manipulation to ensure high quality of user’s data. Halo can be deployed on-premise, Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS), allowing users to develop, access and run custom apps in the cloud. Halo's interactive BI software environment offers data visualization tools for sorting, charting, slicing, graphing, drill-down and drill-up. The product is popular for its features such as Demand Planning, Supplier Management, Sales Operation Planning and Financial Analytics in Supply Chain Analytics; Dynamic Visualization, Data Warehousing Automation, Self-Service Data Analysis and Big Data Analytics in BI and Order to Cash, Procure to Pay, Record to Report, Plan to Deliver in Business Processes.

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Looker Data Platform

Looker is a cloud-based business intelligence and analytics application for data discovery and visualization. It provides a responsive, mobile-friendly web-based interface which can be utilized by business users to analyze the data and derive meaningful insights. Users can view the source of visualizations to understand the source of the data and how it is processed. Looker is used by users of various business units in companies of all sizes and industry segments. Looker harnesses the power of the user's own database rather than using data extracts or parallel data pipelines. Looker connects to any relational database and automatically generates a data model from the database schema. Users can self-serve by refining the model to reflect the company's business logic and create various KPI indicators and dashboards to derive unique metrics.

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Slemma BI

Slemma is a user-friendly business intelligence and data visualization tool designed specifically for startups and small to medium enterprises. It enables users to create simple, easy-to-use and dynamic data reports from multiple data sets. The web-based tool connects to over 75 data warehouses, databases and cloud service solutions. Slemma’s step-by-step Chart Wizard makes report generation quick and seamless, allowing anyone to visualize their third-party data in minutes. Dynamic reports can be shared to both clients and colleagues alike and exporting dashboards and reports to PDF is very convenient. User permissions ensure that sensitive data can only be accessed, viewed and edited by individual members. Slemma’s data dashboards can be accessed on virtually any device for easy presentation.

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Grow BI Dashboard Software

Grow is an intuitive business intelligence (BI) solution having the most hands on/ dedicated on-boarding team in the entire space. Grow provide the enterprise solution to the small-medium space. With the help of its easy-to-use features, it allows small to mid-sized businesses to unite and blend scattered data from multiple sources which include spreadsheets, databases, and SaaS applications such as Salesforce, Zendesk, QuickBooks. Grow is an innovative BI solution that allows companies to easily access and analyze real-time data. It is one of the rare applications which can pull data from a wide variety of sources, which makes it a key player in the current competitive BI market. The product offers BI features such as accessing the product by unlimited users, simple and easy data manipulation, historical snapshots, unlimited real-time updates, sending automated email reports, expert on-boarding teams, more than 300 pre-built reports, exporting data, more than 150 instant integrations, fully-customizable analytics and SSL encryption.

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Periscope Data

Periscope Data enables analysts to transform their SQL queries into interactive dashboards, charts and reports for data consumers with frequent data needs. In Periscope Data, it is really easy to view what tables are available and perform queries against them. If a user is proficient with SQL, this tool is very powerful.It caters to all types of customers including SMBs and large enterprises. The product provides many features such as sharing, reporting, analytics, unlimited access to team members, custom filters, dashboards, pivot tables, scalability options, quick chart creation, materialized view, CSV upload, automatic data update, advanced SQL editor, scheduled reporting, automatic cache data, data cleansing, templates, collaboration, cloud data store, custom filters, end to end workflow, drag and drop customization, data access control and data mining.

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Logi Analytics

Logi Analytics, a computer software company headquartered in McLean, Virginia, United States offers interactive data visualization products for business intelligence and business analytics. It caters to SMEs, business units of large enterprises and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). It offers many features such as Low-Code Development, Open Web Architecture, Security Options, Single Sign-On Support, Themes Library, Theme Editor, Custom Styling Branding, Custom Plug-Ins, JavaScript Embedding API, Interactive Dashboards, Reports, SVG Charts, Data Blending Co-Presenting, Self-Service Analysis, Client-Side Interactive Visualizations, Exporting Capabilities, Workflow Management. Logi Analytics comes with four primary products which are combined as a single advanced BI tool capable of providing advanced BI features. The four products are Logi Info, a business analytics platform offering self-service analytical capabilities. Logi Vision, a data discovery application designed for business users specifically non-technical users to shape, analyze, and visualize data without IT assistance. Logi DataHub, a data virtualization product that connects, acquires, and blends data. Logi Ad Hoc, a self-service Web application that enables business users to create, manage, and share dashboards and reports.

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icCube – Embedded Analytics

icCube is a company founded and based in Switzerland provides BI software of the same name which can be fully embedded as an integrated solution and can also be hosted in a managed environment or installed locally, on premises. It applies cutting-edge advanced QA processes that ensure 100% client satisfaction. It strives for simplifying our client’s life with MIS or integrated Business Intelligence needs. It allows end-users to create or edit dashboards themselves and is capable of processing data from multiple sources in real-time. It is implemented in Java and follows J2EE standards. For the latter, it embeds both an HTTP server (Jetty) and a servlet container to handle all the communication tasks. Being an in-memory OLAP server, its server does not need to source its data from a RDBMS; any data source that exposes its data in a tabular form can be used. It uses Multidimensional Expressions (MDX) as its query language and several extensions to the original language such ad function declarations, vector, matrix, objects, Java and R interactions. icCube patented an MDX debugger. icCube supports a standard interface and a proprietary one. It is quite popular because of its unique and powerful BI features such as Interactive customizable dashboards, Drag-and-drop dashboard builder, Real-time analytical server, Embedded analytics for any program or application, White labelling, Up-to-cell level security, Integration with Enterprise or OEM architectures, Native R integrations for advanced forecasting, Real time-in memory server, Made for very sparse high dimensionality systems, Dynamic creation of new classifications / hierarchies (real time), Direct access to Java R from MDX, XMLA interface to integrate with external tools, PDF Printing, Corporate identity, Creating your own widgets, High-quality support and Quote-based pricing.

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Solver BI360

Solver BI360 is a very broad BI suite designed to boost business performance, efficiency, and productivity throughout a user’s enterprise. It is a powerful excel The product comprises powerful features and seamless out-of-the-box integrations with many third-party systems and applications including Microsoft Dynamics, Intacct, NetSuite, and Salesforce. The product comes with a multitude of capabilities and functionalities that allow users to gather and thoroughly analyze information harvested from multiple data sources. The features that differentiate BI360 the most from other BI applications are Third generation Excel add-ins for simple or complex reporting and budgeting processes and Pre-Configured and extensible “smart” data warehouse. The product provides BI features such as Reporting, Budgeting, Modeling, Dashboards, Data Warehouse and Collaboration. The product calls itself more than just a BI platform. It is a complete corporate performance management solution and an advanced BI tool with financial reporting consolidations, budgeting forecasting, and dashboard modules. It caters to all types of business from SMEs to large enterprise.

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Yellowfin BI

Yellowfin is a business intelligence, dashboard, reporting and data analytics software vendor. The BI software allows reporting from data stored in relational databases, multi-dimensional cubes or in-memory analytical databases. It emphasizes user ability to create their own reports while maintaining IT governance. It also offers more functionalities within the platform, such as connecting from multiple data sources on the fly, the ability to drill anywhere within the data, and advanced calculations. It has over 50 data visualization types for users to choose from. It has introduced its new content-creation module for streamlining BI steps and includes easy-to-configure formatting controls for mass distribution in Yellowfin 7. The product offers powerful and advanced BI features such as Dashboards, Data Discovers/Data Discovery, Data Visualization, Storyboard, Mobile BI, Collaborative BI, Mapping and Complete Platform. Another unique feature that the product has recently introduced is its Location Intelligence. The Location Intelligence functionality allows users to see their data in map form, in addition to charts, graphs, etc.

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Birst

Birst provides a next generation, cloud-based platform for Networked Business Analytics. Built with patented technologies, Birst puts the power of analytics in the hands of every information worker and dramatically accelerates the process of delivering insights.Birst’s unique Networked Analytics approach, helps organizations achieve a new level of trusted insight-driven decisions, by using smart technology to connect data silos and analytics from centralized and decentralized teams, into a trusted fabric of analytical insights for company-wide consumption and decision making. Networked Analytics has helped many Birst customers make better decisions, to improve profitability, reduce costs, increase revenues and transform the way they do business. Birst delivers the fastest time to value in the industry. Most Birst customers are in production and can see value from their data, within 90 days. Try Birst for free to see what it can do for your organization.

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FinancialForce Financial Management

FinancialForce Financial Management can accommodate the most diverse and complex financial needs. The perfect complement to Salesforce CRM, it brings back office data to the front, allowing companies to align sales, services and finance on a single cloud. It includes advances like a single ledger design and a multidimensional chart of accounts, which give you real-time business intelligence and help shorten period close cycles.

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MITS Distributor Analytics

Over 500 distributors are using MITS Distributor Analytics to empower everyone—from the CEO to purchasers to sales reps—to make better decisions with tools designed specifically for their role. By combining flexible, user-friendly business intelligence tools with premade and customizable reports, dashboards, and scorecards ready to run for your business systems, MITS helps users quickly gain value from their analytics and business system investments through improvements in cash flow, profitability, and business growth.

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ClicData Business Intelligence and Data Visualization

ClicData is a BI dashboard solution specifically designed for various types of businesses. It caters to industries of all sizes from online retail, hospitality, and healthcare to software development, marketing, consulting and public services. It is capable of providing intuitive, flexible, and dynamic functionalities which enable users to master the metrics and data of their business operations, sales performance, and team productivity. The product’s robust reports and actionable information helps users to accelerate their success. Users can integrate their data from various sources such as Google Analytics, Facebook, Salesforce, Oracle, MySQL, Dropbox with the product. It allows users to create live dashboards to centralize their data. The product is popular with companies because it provides powerful and advanced BI features such as Data Management, Data Manipulation, Data Clean, Normalize and Standardize Data, Data Merge, Data Transform, Data Warehouse, Data Connectors, Data Synchronization, Publish and Share Dashboards, Dashboard Email Delivery, Automated Reporting, Create Dashboards, Interactive Dashboards, Business Analysis, Activity Monitoring, Project Tracking, eCommerce Management, Multi-Data Sources, Predictive Analytics, Real-Time Analytics and Real-Time Updates.

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Federal Solutions Provider for Analytics and Data Management

cBEYONData is a purpose-built professional services company that specifically caters and supports mission-driven agencies and organizations with the enhancement and automation of business processes by providing products and services which are related to business intelligence, agile project and process management, geo-mapping, cloud migrations , dashboards, data management and data analytics. It offers various reporting, and visualization services for their customers. They brought rapid deployment of specific financial management reporting and compliance solutions to agencies and organization required specially for the CFO Offices. They capitalize these features to improve their own customer’s return on investment, thus achieving higher success and their own customer’s mission. They work closely with customers to refine their vision and address their challenges to ensure delivering the most appropriate solution to meet their customer’s business intelligence needs.

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Pyramid

Pyramid 2018 is a tier one, enterprise-grade Analytics Operating System that scales from single-user self-service analytics to thousand-user centralized deployments—covering simple-but-effective data visualizations to advanced machine learning capabilities. The agnostic Analytics OS features a universal client for any device and OS. It can be installed on most platforms—both on-premises or in the cloud—and it can operate against and with most popular data stacks. Pyramid 2018 is an adaptive analytic platform that provides different capabilities and experiences based on user needs and skills, all while managing content as a shared resource. It is designed to support your organization’s entire decision workflow, and give everyone the tools to conduct self-service analytics. Importantly, the Analytics OS solves the “last mile problem,” closing the gap between your organization’s stated analytics strategy and actual analytics implementation.

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Orbit Reporting + Analytics

Fast, Flexible, Self-Service Reporting:Orbit makes it easy for you to find a quick answer to any business question.With Orbit, you can build both operational and ad-hoc reports – at any time and from any device. You can run reports that you have already created or choose from the 1,000+ pre-built Finance, Supply Chain, and HCM reports that come with Orbit.Orbit’s user-friendly interface allows you to build, run, edit, and analyze reports – without help from IT. Orbit makes it easy to gain the insights you need to improve your processes and meet your business goals.

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SAP Analytics Cloud

Experience the benefits of integrated BI, Planning and Predictive capabilities – together on one simple cloud. A solution that provides everyone in your organization, from the boardroom or the front lines, the ability to discovery actionable insights.

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Corporater

Corporater is a global software company that empowers medium and large organizations to evaluate, manage, and continually improve business performance by providing a business management platform that adapts to client's unique business model, out of the box.Corporater’s Business Management Platform is a revolutionary platform that enables businesses to link multiple management disciplines, including compliance, risk, strategy, operations, quality, projects, processes, HR and finance within a single interface to provide the right business context to make the right decisions.Using Corporater, you can create your own business management solutions for business dashboards, strategy management, KPI management, corporate performance management, BI analytics, employee performance management, corporate reporting and more. Corporater's 250 ready-made business objects, out of the box, supports any full business framework – from data to business outcomes.

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GoodData Enterprise Analytics

GoodData unites more data sources than any provider, so your enterprise analytics team can collaborate and move forward with confidence. In the fight for competitive advantage, you don’t need a BI vendor, you need an analytics ally. With the skills and expertise to design a solution custom fit to your unique needs, we’ve got what it takes to help you reach BI nirvana.

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SAP Lumira

Bring your data to life with SAP Lumira – data visualization software that makes it easy to create beautiful and interactive maps, charts, and infographics. Import data from Excel and many other sources, perform visual BI analysis using intuitive dashboards, and securely share insights and data stories with your team.

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Entrinsik Informer

Informer helps organizations get the most out of their data by providing critical insight into all aspects of business operations. Regardless of job role or technical experience, Informer’s reporting and business intelligence platform ensures your organization has the agility required to react to dynamic business conditions and ever increasing sources of data.

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MicroStrategy

MicroStrategy is a leading global provider of enterprise business intelligence software platforms, as well as mobile intelligence and network applications. MicroStrategy Technology Services ensure the success of your investment in our technology. In supporting the range of business intelligence tools and other resources that we offer, we provide unmatched customer service through commitment to customer satisfaction and personalized support.

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Jaspersoft Analytics Software

Jaspersoft's data analytics software is used to model, manipulate and visualize any flavor of data using OLAP or in-memory analysis in order to identify issues, spot trends and make better decisions quickly.

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Last updated on November 12th, 2018

Business Analytics Software Buyer’s Guide

Business Analytics Gives Users Knowledge Through Data

Smart business software is smart business. Business analytics tools help users optimize their business practices by making data-driven decisions. It collects, organizes, visualizes and extrapolates data taken from your organization’s operations to explore trends and make predictions. BA is an offshoot of business intelligence focusing on how to apply your findings from your data.

Executive Summary

  • The best business analytics software gives businesses a competitive edge when making decisions by offering proven data
  • With the insights gained from business analytics, companies can make better decisions to increase sales, improve operations and become more profitable.
  • Before selecting BA software, you need to form a checklist of requirements and questions to vet vendors from your list of business analytics software
  • Business analytics is a rapidly growing industry that will have a significant impact on your organization if properly implemented

Quick Navigation of this Guide

Functions and Benefits of Business Analytics Software

Implementation Goals

Requirements Gathering

Key Features to Consider

How to Evaluate & Compare Business Analytics Tools

Questions to Ask

Final Word

Benefits and Functions of Business Analytics Software

Business analytics software benefits provide a range of useful functions for your organization. Here are just a few:

  • Helps users measure operational, financial and selling performance against their goals
  • Allows you to gain greater insight into why customers buy which products and when
  • Determines the best possible marketing campaigns and promotions to increase sales
  • Helps users find out which customers are most and least likely to buy a new product
  • Helps sales reps successfully upsell and cross-sell customers on products
  • Get a steady stream of descriptive statistics on operations performance of a company
  • Predicts when machines will need to be repaired and spare parts ordered
  • Determines the best possible price for a product given its competitors and market demand
  • Tracks supply chain performance to see what’s working and what isn’t
  • Tracks supplier quality levels with dashboards and discovers which are the best
  • Helps users better manage selling and distribution networks by offering greater visibility into sales
  • Predicts the optimal price for services
  • Improves eCommerce and online selling strategies by providing the best mix of products
  • Helps sales teams meet their quotas by understanding where they need to focus
  • Improves customer satisfaction by measuring which services programs are working and which aren’t

Business Analytics is Big Business

The global business analytics software and services worldwide revenues will grow from nearly $122 billion in 2015 to more than $187 billion in 2019, an increase of more than 50 percent over the five-year forecast period according to International Data Corporation. Just the cloud-based business analytics market size will be worth $4 billion in 2017, growing at a faster compound annual growth rate than the rest of the market through 2019.

Analytics is quickly progressing beyond providing a rear-view mirror of what happened in the past to companies and provides a more predictive glimpse into the future. There are a wide variety of solutions, and all of them share a common set of business analytics features that enable them to provide descriptive, predictive, prescriptive and cognitive analytics.

The most advanced enterprise analytics software includes support for Big Data analytics that relies on large-scale data sets. Some are already supporting machine learning algorithms that seek to find the best possible answer to complex business questions, often hidden in these large-scale data sets. The entire area of business analytics is proliferating today, and there is an abundance of innovation in this field, so be sure to evaluate more than just a handful of business analytics vendors when choosing a solution.

Business Analytics Software Implementation Goals

Improve Business Performance with Greater Insights
Business analytics can provide a wide range of ways to view your company’s operations, ranging from descriptive statistics to suggestions for how best to optimize the performance of your supply chain. Analytics can also provide useful insights into how your overall business is functioning from a financial standpoint, showing how production is impacting revenue, costs and profits. There is a wide variety of business analytics in use today, limited only by the types of measurements of performance (sometimes called metrics or KPIs) that are available in business analytics systems.
Better Understand and Serve Customers
Imagine being able to understand who your customers are, what they are buying, why and when they will buy again, and then predicting which approaches will work best to service them? Business intelligence and analytics applications are capable of providing all these insights about customers in addition to helping businesses understand what their ideal customer is. The best predictive analytics tools, part of business analytics, build propensity models that provide insights into customers’ intentions and behaviors, helping companies define the best possible approach to selling more and delivering more value.
Know Which Areas of Your Business to Improve First

Every business has areas of strength and weakness, and analytics are very powerful in understanding which of the areas any company needs to improve. Often, senior management has rough data or evidence that a given area is in trouble. But business analytics can take that intuition and evidence of a problem, pinpoint exactly what is wrong, and provide insights into how best to fix it, making data-driven decisions a reality.

This is how business analytics can revolutionize a company and help maintain its profitability, generating revenue over time. Senior management teams often use business analytics to track areas they suspect may be struggling. It is common for senior management teams to regularly review metrics and KPIs of these areas and make sure overall company performance is on track. In this way, business analytics becomes an early warning system to senior management regarding given areas needing attention, working to reduce inefficiency and mistakes.

See How One Area of Your Business Impacts the Other

For many companies, it’s easy to get into a siloed view of each area of the business without seeing how each area impacts the other. Current accounting and reporting systems in many companies reinforce this siloed view of business, making it that much more difficult to see how tradeoffs impact various sides of the business. Business analytics that can span across departments, divisions and processes are enabling a more accurate view of overall company performance that was not possible before.

Advanced business analytics applications also are capable of providing customized metrics and KPIs for tracking individual process performance. Management teams use these to track specific processes that rely on the orchestration of several departments. An example of this is tracking order management and fulfillment and then determining how this process can be improved by automating and streamlining reporting from each department involved.

Predict How Successful Programs and Products Will Be
Often, companies launch products or new programs and are not completely sure if they will succeed or not. By combining business analytics and market research techniques, companies can find out which programs and products have the greatest probability of success. This is critically important from a business operations standpoint, as having this information generated from business analytics can help define forecasts for suppliers, determine how best to scale the company to manage the impact of the programs and products’ activity, and help plan further strategic steps.

Key Business Analytics Software Features to Consider When Evaluating Options

Self-Service Data Preparation
Advanced business analytics solutions are beginning to shift from catering to IT to focus on business analyst needs. One of the most powerful benefits coming out of that shift is the jump in self-service business intelligence and data preparation workflows and usability. This area is flourishing right now in business intelligence and business analytics and will continue to grow as open-source programming languages including AngularJS become more pervasively adopted. All of this is very good news for companies looking at new business analytics apps as the usability continues to improve and interactive visualization tools and views become standard.
Natural Language Query and Search
The largest vendors in the BA space already have this capability, while the mid-tier and smaller business analytics companies are investing in creating or partnering with companies that offer this functionality. This is critically important for organizations that have a wide variety of data sets based on complex, distributed business models comprised of hundreds or thousands of products. For service-based businesses, this is also essential as it can drastically reduce the time it takes to complete queries.
Ease of Use and Responsive Design, Including Dashboards
As business intelligence and analytics vendors have shifted their emphasis on application design to the needs of business analytics first, ease of use and support for responsive application designs that scale for any device is now a reality. AngularJS, HTML5 and advanced programming languages that business analytics vendors are using today ensure that mobile, tablet and laptop application performance will be fast, accurate and customizable to your needs. Be sure to ask to see product demos about creating a dashboard, metrics, key performance indicators (KPIs) and workflows for tracking common business processes. Also, ask to see the demo run on a smartphone, and that will show just how responsive the design is for the business analytics app you are evaluating. The bottom line is that the workflows should all be orchestrated to a common series of dashboards that can quickly be updated through inbound data integration streams, ensuring you have an accurate, up-to-date view of your business.
Ease of Cloud and Legacy Data Integration
The key to getting the most value out of a business analytics application is the support it provides for integrating with cloud and legacy-based databases, datasets and systems. Cloud-based business analytics vendors often rely on a set of application programming interfaces (APIs) to enable more efficient integration of their platforms and applications with the cloud, legacy and third-party applications. If your company has a wealth of data and is also using cloud-based, legacy on-premise and third-party data, be sure to ask your business analytics vendor if they have an API strategy in place. This area is pervasively covered in high-end business analytics platforms. It is also referred to as Extract-Transform-Load (ETL), where the business analytics application extracts data from databases, cloud, legacy on-premise and third-party systems.
Cadence of Application Updates
The level of innovation intensity in business analytics today is unlike any other area of cloud and enterprise software today. True cloud-based business analytics products will have quarterly releases, achieving a cadence of four releases a year. It’s becoming so competitive that on-premise business analytics vendors have to issue more updates to their applications to stay in step with their cloud competitors. This competitive dynamic between cloud-based and on-premise vendors benefits end-users because there is a continuous stream of new features. A true cloud-based business analytics vendor will have four major releases a year and also provide you with periodic updates that deliver even greater value.
Customer Service and Support
There needs to be an escalation path provided by support accessible online, in addition to a knowledge base that provides responses to common questions. Ideally, there also needs to be remote automated agents on the website of the business analytics vendors you’re considering. Data analytics software tools are becoming increasingly self-service oriented, with vendors hoping their applications will be as intuitive as possible. In complex scenarios including integration and ETL, it’s imperative to get support and guidance.
Security and User Administration
Cloud-based business analytics vendors often have more robust security models than their on-premise counterparts, and the latter are easier to hack while on a company’s internal systems. Security and user administration, at a minimum, needs to include role-based authentication, support for selective workflow and resource assignments, and administrative control over auditing and traceability. Security also needs to include advanced authentication and verification techniques, as well as full backups of all data on a regular basis.

How to Perform a Business Analytics Software Comparison

Selecting the best possible business analytics system for your company needs to begin with a clear series of objectives that encompass the core strengths of your business from an analytics and reporting perspective. Analytics has the potential to revolutionize the performance of any company, so it’s important to get started with a solid set of questions and a framework to determine which business analytics platform, solution or application is best for your needs. There are hundreds of business analytics providers selling systems today. The process can seem daunting, but there are some great resources below to help you gather requirements, compare business analytics software vendors and find the perfect fit for your organization.

Business Analytics Software Requirements Gathering

Every business has a unique set of needs, so the first step in a software selection project is to create a checklist of what your company needs most from a business analytics system. There are hundreds of criteria to choose from, but the framework can be broken up into five main categories:

Analytics Dashboards

All business analytics applications today include support for basic dashboards, yet the most valuable have the flexibility to define metrics or measures of performance that are specific to your business. Ask to see how dashboards can be shared in a secured area of the application and check to make sure the dashboards support responsive design, meaning it is optimized to look and function correctly on any device. Analytics dashboards are often bundled with advanced data visualization tools as well.

Data Source Connectivity Including API Support

This is critically important for scaling a business application and enabling it to meet as many unique needs as possible. The greater the number of integration points supporting a business analytics system, the higher the potential for a positive return on investment. Data source connectivity and API integration also need to focus on how the data will be imported from the legacy third-party systems to the business analytics application. Often, there are shell scripts created that regularly query a specific location or subdirectory and move files into the business analytics application working directories. Advanced technologies include ETL, where data is extracted from individual files.

Interactive Visual Exploration

Best-in-class business analytics applications include interactive visual exploration functionality that makes it possible to query datasets and navigate through their representations in real time. For companies that have thousands of products in their catalog, this is a must-have feature as it allows for aggregation and easier analysis of product sales data. Interactive visual exploration is also used to complete contextual analysis of data sets and present them in meetings to simplify complex concepts. As companies using business analytics mature, this business analytic feature becomes increasingly important.

Self-Service Data Preparation

Preparing data for use in any business analytics application needs to be self-service. This will drastically reduce the time required to populate dashboards and glean value from data. The shift away from building business analytics applications for IT to manage them so business analysts can get work done quickly is also fueling more support for self-service data preparation. From the relatively simple routines of importing data files to more advanced ETL workflows, business analytics applications are often differentiated by how pervasively they support this feature. It is a must-have in any enterprise that utilizes legacy systems and databases that need to be included in the business analytics application.

Data Security and User Administration

Being able to define security rights by role is fundamental within any business analytics application today. At a minimum, there needs to be support for creating role-based access and defining profiles for various types of business analytics software users. The administration function also needs to support the customization of each user’s online experience, in addition to defining which features will be enabled for each user. There needs to be auditing and traceability of system events on the control panel as well, including support for configuring third-party add-on modules or applications that are needed. All of these functions will ideally be cloud-based in order to enable administrators to manage a broad base of users quickly and without constraints.

Questions to Ask During Business Analytics Demos

First, it’s important to address your organization’s needs from a BA system. Here are some questions to ask yourself when choosing business analytic tools:

  • How could your current approach to managing data reporting and business analytics be improved?
  • What are the biggest challenges you face with your existing approach to data reporting and business analytics?
  • Which metrics and KPIs have you been looking into that you would like to include in your new data reporting and business analytics system?
  • What’s the current budget for your business analytics system and what’s the operating budget?
  • Is your company considering an on-premise or cloud-based business analytics system?
  • What devices will the business analytics system need to run on throughout your company?
  • Are you considering having dashboards shareable by role across the executive and management teams of your company?
  • How much customization do you expect your business analytics system will require before installation?
  • What support or training will the vendor provide during and after installation?
You should also have key questions and concerns for vendors prepared beforehand to ensure you understand what each different BA system can do for you, as well as if it fits your needs. Here are some questions and expectations to present a vendor:

Please show the workflow for creating a new dashboard and populating it with metrics and KPIs.

This workflow will show how effective the business analytics system is at producing the most commonly used area of any business analytics system: the dashboard. Be sure to ask for specifics of how metrics, KPIs and information sources are integrated into the dashboard workspace, what the latency or speed of updates are, and how dashboards can be modified in the future to support new metrics.

How can I publish analytics content without paying more?

Instead of paying for an extra module or feature to print from your business analytics application, ask to see the baseline app produce all the reports you need. There is a wide variety of publishing options for business analytics reporting tools today, and it’s best to make sure every report option and potential workflow are covered in a product demo before you purchase the application. It’s also a good idea to check and make sure the business analytics system supports responsive design so it can scale across every device, delivering excellent performance on each.

How does interactive visualization work and does it require additional software?

This is an area where the majority of business analytics applications are attempting to differentiate themselves by building in basic interactive visualization capability. Ask to see a demo of what the baseline application can provide, but also ask about what additional modules or add-ons are required to get advanced data visualizations. Also, ask if the demo can include your company’s data to see how and if this feature of business analytics will deliver value to your company.

Does the software integrate data from multiple departments?

When you can combine information from different areas of the business, you can analyze factors like how much the latest new product development costs and how they are impacting revenues and profits. Using business analytics, it will be possible to view the impact of business strategies across all operations. Ask to see a demo of how the new product development and launch process can be tracked in the business applications you are interested in.

Will it grow with my business?

If you’re investing in a business analytics system, you don’t want it to be obsolete in a year. Plan to implement software that will last at least ten years. The business analytics system you select for your business needs to be scalable. Find out what the limitations are on the scale and reporting capabilities of your system so you can make the best decision about whether the software is right for you.

Final Word

Choosing a business analytics software provider is a task that should be given serious consideration. This data analytics software comparison is meant to be used as a starting point and tutorial to guide IT professionals who are tasked with making this decision toward finding the top business analytics software for their needs. Check out our pricing guide to find out which BA vendors are in your price range.