Business Intelligence Software Tools Comparison

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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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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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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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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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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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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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SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence

SAP BusinessObjects is available in numerous packages with different tools for companies of various sizes. The analytics platform of the product can increase responsiveness, reduce IT costs and workload and can easily discover and share insights to make better decisions. SAP BusinessObjects has In-built drag and drop interface for developers and end-users. It offers self-data analysis without requiring much technical knowledge. The product’s business intelligence and analytics feature include APIs, alerts, application integration, auditing, customizable and interactive reporting, data manipulation, lifecycle management, real time analytics, real-time monitoring, real-time reporting, single sign-on, visual analytics, web analytics and more.

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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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AnswerRocket

AnswerRocket supports some of the largest brands in the world with augmented analytics. Users type or speak business questions and get answers instantly. Answers are provided as interactive visualizations, accompanied with AI-generated insights that can be drilled into for deeper exploration.

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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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Windward Studios Report Designer and Report Engine

Windward Studios is an on-premise reporting and data management solution that offers embedded reporting and document generation solution for Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), Independent software vendors (ISVs), system integrators and enterprise users. It provides template building for reporting and document generation in a Microsoft Office interface. It allows its users to easily design and customize templates with their data thus enabling them to generate and edit reports and documents faster. It enables users to aggregate multiple data sources in one place, and the solution can also be embedded into an existing platform. It offers tools for the free-form design of reporting templates. Reports can be exported in DOCX, RTF, pdf, HTML, XLXS, PPT or direct-to-print. The product offers support via phone, email, product tutorials and other online resources.

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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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Vena Solutions

Vena Solutions redefines how medium and large sized companies manage their budgeting, planning and revenue forecasting. Vena combines a centralized database, sophisticated workflow, powerful reporting and advanced analytics with Excel to create a cloud-based corporate performance management (CPM) solution. The best companies in the world use Vena to get trusted numbers and insights fast. Vena is the fastest growing cloud CPM company and the only one to embrace – not replace – Excel.

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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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JReport

JReport is built on a proven foundation of high-performance, scalability, and an enterprise-ready reporting engine using technologies including in-memory cubes and fully distributed server clusters. JReport's intuitive. With its Java-based architecture, JReport seamlessly embeds into any application through an extensive API set. JReport also provides interactive data visualization with customizable ad hoc reporting and dashboards that empower end users through the Web and mobile devices.

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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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Rapid Insight® Veera

Rapid Insight® Veera™ eliminates the complexity of working with your data with an easy to use visual interface. Create a repeatable process without the need for complex programming.

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SAS® Business Intelligence Software

Self-service BI drives decision-making. The use of real-time analytics with a mobile strategy helps to move collaborative innovation, with each member of a team holding all of the keys to change in his or her pocket. Business intelligence tools give companies the resources to look at aspects like governance, the use of centralized metadata, and scalability, to figure out how to utilize a data warehouse, implement effective business intelligence dashboards, and keep data flowing instead of trapped in silos.Vendors provide business intelligence solutions in many different ways. While some are really predictive, others might not offer the types of analysis that truly empower customers. SAS Business Intelligence enables clients to understand the past, monitor the present and predict outcomes as the business grows, with BI applications linked to a sound and capable architecture.

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Cloudera Enterprise

Cloudera Enterprise helps you become information- driven by leveraging the best of the open source community with the enterprise capabilities you need to succeed with Apache Hadoop in your organization. Designed specifically for mission-critical environments, Cloudera Enterprise includes CDH, the world’s most popular open source Hadoop-based platform, as well as advanced system management and data management tools plus dedicated support and community advocacy from our world-class team of Hadoop developers and experts.

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BIME Analytics

Deliver fast, easy and powerful Business Intelligence to your organization with only a browser. BIME allows you to connect to both the online and the on-premise world in the same place. Create connections to all your data sources, create and execute queries and view your dashboards easily - all within BIME's beautifully intuitive interface.

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Last updated on October 23rd, 2018

Business Intelligence Software Buyer's Guide

Business Intelligence software is all about discovering insights.

Business Intelligence (BI) software is one of the hottest software technologies on the market today. In fact, in a survey of more than 10 thousand technology executives, 23.5 percent responded that a BI or BA (business analytics) platform is their next planned software purchase.

Why do organizations need and use business intelligence tools?

  • Make better decisions, faster.
  • Improve efficiencies in generating meaningful reports
  • Understand trends: markets, leads and customer behavior.
  • Benchmark and track goals/progress more diligently.
  • Identify money-making and saving opportunities.
  • Improve overall employee and organizational productivity.

Executive Summary

  • Business intelligence software provides a context for data, answering questions and guiding decision making.
  • Visualization features make it easy to present data and share findings around your organization.
  • Equally as essential as standard features are the technical considerations that build the functional framework of the software. This includes deployment and security measures.
  • Business intelligence program integration capabilities bring data analysis to all of your applications. Meanwhile, Big Data integration provides access to databases, adding an extra layer to analysis.

What this Business Intelligence Guide Covers:

Benefits of Business Intelligence Software

Improve the Decision-Making Process

Top business intelligence software provides real-time analysis, historical data, integration between data sources, forecasting, trending and predictive analysis, all helping improve decision making across all departments at all levels.

Intelligent Data Availability

Digital dashboards and ad-hoc reporting are now at the fingertips of everyone who requires it. With BI software, you can evolve from a reporting/analyst team needing to prepare all the requested reporting requirements. Instead, users at all levels of the organization can log in and analyze their KPIs, access their respective BI dashboards, quickly run ad-hoc reports and share their findings with ease.

Not only is it easy for organizations and users to access advanced data and reports with ease, but the overall BI data environment has been transformed. Organizations can now feed data into the BI platform from a variety of sources, including existing internal databases, data warehouses and 3rd-party sources.

Be sure also to check and see the extent of support for OLAP on the business intelligence tools list of solutions you are considering in your purchasing decision. OLAP is enabling more unified BI reporting, dashboards and scorecards while also accelerating the development of more intuitive budgeting, planning and forecasting BI applications.

This connection and evolution of business intelligence tools into big data and data mining has transformed the ability of organizations to better analyze the bigger picture of their business and the overall business environment in which they operate.

Data Visualization

Another advantage among top BI software is the ability to format information into rich data visualizations that are easy to understand and outline a deeper story more quickly. Tables have their place in business reporting, but interactive data combined with useful and interesting visuals makes the data more consumable and actionable. Trends and connections that go unnoticed in traditional reports can now be discovered with data visualization within top BI tools.

Depending on the platform, data visualization options are extensive. From simple bar and line graphs to complex visuals like heat maps, geographic overlays and performance gauges, all provide important insights for their intended use cases.

Overall Efficiency Improvements

Top business intelligence tools enable quick access to structured and unstructured data. With the software, users can mold this data to translate it into actionable insights. This greatly increases efficiency for companies with BI systems in place.

Again, users at all levels have this information at their fingertips so they can make faster decisions. In many business environments, real-time decision making is essential and commonplace. Being armed with a BI platform that helps make those decisions easier is a guaranteed efficiency improvement. Not only that, but a lot of redundancy and extra work is eliminated by having this kind of technology in place.

Data Inquiry

Business intelligence functions like data import and retrieval, ad-hoc inquiries and information integration from outside the data warehouse are all part of data inquiry. Data import and retrieval can be broken up further into specific criteria like small versus large packet retrieval, detailed, transaction-level information, aggregate summary information and import of information on an individual PC level for specific analyses.

Ad-hoc inquiries can be simple or prompted, depending on the user base. There is also an option for scheduled data extracts, which can be useful for scraping data at predetermined intervals.

Finally, integration of information via external sources includes everything from individual spreadsheets to full catalogs and files from outside vendors or suppliers. External business intelligence integration can also include flat files, other, non-warehouse databases, VSAM files or IMS databases.

Data Manipulation

Data manipulation tasks include information updates, workgroup databases and data warehouse write back. Two important features to consider during your BI tool comparison, are interactive updates and batch updates. Interactive updates allow users to view and change information in real time, while batch updates store those changes for later processing.

Workgroup databases are important for businesses that need the ability to access data warehouse information and store it locally for periods of time. Data warehouses allow users to make changes to information and then upload them back into the warehouse.

Data Analysis

Important data analytics software features are forecasting, budgeting, scenario modeling, regression analysis, advanced statistical functionality and segmentation. Forecasting and budgeting are universally important tools, but it is still necessary to include them in your checklist framework. Not all forecasting and budgeting tools are made equally, so be sure to flesh out any specific functions your company needs.

Mathematical functions are another aspect of BI to consider. Certain functions like regression analysis and time series analysis allow for outcome prediction based on specific variables. These tools also allow users to analyze how particular variables will affect an outcome, so they can be used in conjunction with other modeling features. Other mathematical tools like statistical functions and financial functions are potentially useful additions to keep in mind while choosing a BI solution.

Reporting

There are many different types of reporting, and it's important to be sure your BI product includes the most frequently needed features for your business:

Cosmetic Controls

It may be easy to overlook the aesthetic functionality of BI reporting tools, but it is important to remember that the majority of BI users prefer graphically-pleasing data. This means it is worthwhile to consider cosmetic tools like font size and color, specialized formatting, the ability to add text and graphics, and even features like report template creation.

Graphics

Data visualization tools are necessary when dealing with large quantities of data, or when dealing with complex sets of data. While some business intelligence features like 2D versus 3D charts are largely aesthetic, other features like chart types, scaling, text placement, mapping, customization and automatic updates all deserve serious consideration. This is especially true if your business deals with a lot of data.

Other Commonly Used Reporting Features

Aside from the cosmetic aspect of data reporting, it is important to consider what other reporting functions are most needed for each department. For example, aggregation and database publishing allow users to create spreadsheets driven by report data. Exception reporting only allows reports to be generated when user-specified problems arise, which keeps reporting streamlined. Features like controlled calculations, reporting preferences and prompted reports allow executives or project leaders to have a greater degree of control over report formatting.

Automation

Scheduled and advanced automation are helpful features for corporations that need simple or complex tasks performed repetitively. These features are useful for data scrapes or status updates that need to be performed multiple times a day. Certain suites even give users the ability to set up scheduled tasks according to business events.

Portability and Accessibility

A good business intelligence platform will be compatible across all devices, including iOS and Android smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Users should be able to remotely access most, if not all, BI tools from any network they are connected to. In addition, both internal and external collaboration features should be present so internal and third-party users can contribute to projects.

Data Security

The final section of your BI requirements checklist is data security. These features deal more with securing data inter-departmentally than securing it from outside sources. Security levels can be as broad as entire databases to as specific as fields or field content, where specified data can only be viewed by particular departments or personnel.

Implementation Goals

Goal 1

Gain Insight into Business Processes

Data from sales, budgeting, marketing metrics and more is analyzed by BI software and interpreted into meaningful findings. Going beyond the numbers, a business intelligence tool attributes meaning to your data.

Goal 2

Illustrate Data Findings

Visualization features translate data into graphs, charts and maps. When compiled into a dashboard or report, data is presented in a format that is shareable and easy to understand for stakeholders.

Goal 3

Make Decisions

The analysis of the current business climate and future possibilities determined by forecasting features guide decision making. With the insights provided by business intelligence systems, your teams have the tools to make informed choices.

Goal 4

Seamlessly Integrate with Existing Systems

 BI software can be embedded into third-party applications, analyzing data from all areas of your business.
When evaluating software, keeping implementation goals in mind helps decide which features are required to accomplish those goals. Constructing a requirements list will provide a framework for the kind of BI solution your business needs.

Basic BI Platform Features & Functionality

Standard BI functions aid in report creation and presenting data. The most basic features streamline the user experience and protect data, making the system accessible, safe and simplified.

User Experience

Data analytics may already be off-putting to many professionals, which is why choosing from the many types of business intelligence tools that are not dependent on your IT department is crucial. The best business intelligence software for your business should have data analytics tools that various people at your company are able to use efficiently.

Unless you are willing to employ a programming specialist whose only job is to run your BI products or you have a surplus of coders, it is best to invest in a software that gives the user full access without the knowledge of a programming language.

DashboardsDigital dashboards are user interfaces that give a graphical summary of an organization’s current status and historical trends. Dashboards can be specialized, providing information about a certain facet of your business,  or they can be generalized, giving your high-level executives a quick overview to facilitate their decision-making. With a configurable and real-time dashboard, you can ensure the information you reference frequently is always readily available.
SpreadsheetsPerhaps the most well-known and traditional of all business intelligence solutions, spreadsheets remain a popular way to group and analyze organizational data. Pivot tables, which can extract the most relevant pieces of data from a table and perform calculations on them, are just one example of a powerful spreadsheet tool that can provide your business with a wealth of insight.
ReportingThe best business intelligence tools provide their end-users with plenty of options for generating reports about their business data. Interactive reports and data visualizations can pull together data from many sources into charts and graphs that are much more easily interpreted. Potential report types include ranking reports, operational reports and ad-hoc analysis reports.
MobilityAlongside real-time reporting tools is also the availability of mobile BI information. As mobility increases, so will the need for information sourced from a mobile BI tool, including easy-to-understand data visualization on any device.
SecurityEvery decent business intelligence solution will have security features like privilege parameters that executives or department leaders can set. This ensures that sensitive data cannot be accessed, transmitted or modified by any unauthorized personnel.

Advanced Business Intelligence Product Features to Consider

More advanced BI features serve the analytical purposes of the software. These tools work to manage the data, allowing actionable insights to be pulled from the information.

Data MiningData mining is the technological advancement that makes business intelligence products possible. The term refers to the process of computationally uncovering patterns and trends in large data sets that could not be analyzed by human effort.
Data WarehousingA data warehouse is a central repository for all or significant parts of the data an enterprise’s various business systems collect. They are distinguished from databases because data warehouses are dedicated to analytics, rather than the basic transactional queries that a traditional database would support. Data warehousing is a necessary tool for any business system. It is important you make sure the business intelligence applications you are evaluating can accommodate the amount of data you anticipate storing.
ScalabilityBecause workplace technology solutions are always evolving, your company needs software that can accommodate these changes without interrupting the flow of business. A good BI provider is one that frequently updates its existing platform. Another expansion feature to look for is an open architecture framework. Choosing a software that is free from proprietary code allows easy and streamlined integration between any existing software.
AgilityThe best BI tools are the ones that support access to multiple data sources, including data warehouses, internal databases, the cloud and data marts. In addition to supporting various big data sources, the applications must give users real-time updates. Performance across multiple devices is important, so be sure to check for cross-platform compatibility.
Visual Analysis Summaries and Interactive Visualizations ToolsThe best BI solution for your business should allow you to view your data in multiple ways. A large table with copious amounts of numbers and words may get the job done. But, let’s be honest, a color-coordinated graph that you can read in real time is easier to digest and more fun to look at. The readability and visualization of the data your BI collects is not only advantageous for your tech team but executives, future vendors, investors and other viewers as well.

Compare Business Intelligence Services

As you can see, there are a number of different business intelligence capabilities available among the best BI software systems. Many come standard, but a lot of BI vendors offer add-on packages so you can customize the software to suit the needs of your business. Additionally, third-party application functions are incorporated into the BI tool with integration capabilities — another important feature to consider for your BI tools list. Determining necessary features (as well as “nice-to-haves”) is the first step toward choosing from business intelligence software companies. With our in-depth business intelligence software comparison matrix, start weighing your chosen features and find the vendor that is right for you.

Questions to Ask Yourself

Selecting a business intelligence solution is a unique process for each organization, and what works best for one business may be totally wrong for another. To make matters worse, there are countless business intelligence companies on the market, each offering a different solution. Fortunately, SelectHub is here to help. To properly compare BI tools in the context of your organization, ask yourself the questions below:

What’s wrong with your current solution?

  • If you have a BI solution in place, ask yourself why you are looking to make a change.
  • Who uses the system and what is their current opinion of it?
  • What are your system’s users trying to achieve by using the solution, and how well can they carry out their goals?
  • Is the system not cost-effective for your current uses? Are you paying too much in monthly or annual fees for unused BI capabilities?

What kinds of database technology will you need/do you use?

  • What are your current business needs for a database? Are you expecting growth in future years, which will require your solution to be scalable?
  • What kind of database systems do you need to integrate with, e.g. SQL Server, MySQL, Amazon database servers, etc.?
  • How many users and data sources do you anticipate now and in the future, and what will the volume and complexity of the data be?
If your needs are limited throughout your business intelligence comparison, consider whether you need a full data warehouse or only a simple data mart, which lets you focus on a single area such as sales or marketing.

How will the solution perform once deployed?

  • What does the solution offer in terms of collaboration, modeling and visualization features?
  • Will the solution be easy to use for technical and non-technical users alike?
  • Will it perform data operations quickly enough for your needs?
  • Can the BI system generate reports that are easily comprehensible for executives of your organization?
  • How will the system integrate with your current technology?
  • How well will it replace the functionalities of any existing BI solutions you have?
  • What support or training will the vendor provide during and after installation?

Questions to Ask Business Intelligence Vendors

BI vendor comparison based on requirements is a crucial component of the software selection process. Having a conversation with potential vendors can illuminate whether or not they satisfy your requirements. These conversations may also include discussion of deployment options and infrastructure requirements, as well as general questions about how the software can benefit your business.

How is the data visually expressed?

One of the benefits of BI is its ability to help you understand complicated data. Statistics should be easy to pull into visual form, such as charts and graphs. If you still can’t make heads or tails of the information even after it has been consolidated, is it really worth implementing the software? Probably not.

Can I access the data on the road?

In today’s global work environment, software that can only be accessed from one computer or within one office isn’t all that useful. Make sure you can pull reports from any device and access the data whether you’re in the office or on the road.

How quickly can I access data?

Most BI updates the data regularly on a scheduled time frame, such as once a day or every hour. Some business intelligence vendors provide real-time access to data if that is what your business needs.

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 the latest marketing campaign affected sales and whether you had enough inventory to support that growth. This can also help you forecast growth and tailor protocol to the way you predict the company to operate in the future.

How can the software forecast growth?

Intuitive BI apps help companies make business decisions such as new product implementation timelines or office expansion. Amazon uses technology like this to recommend additional products to its customers. If you can predict that customers who purchase toaster ovens will also be in the market for a stove within the next year, you can target your marketing campaigns accordingly.

Will it grow with my business?

If you’re investing in a BI solution, you don’t want it to be obsolete in a year. Plan to implement software that will last at least ten years. BI should be scalable. In your BI tools ranking of solutions, find out what the limitations are on data capacity so you can make an adequate decision about whether the software is right for you.

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