An Operating System For Your Business Domo’s Business Cloud is the world’s first open, self-service business intelligence platform to run your entire organization. The Business Cloud brings together the data, the people, and the insights executives need to find answers to critical business questions, for faster, better-informed decision making and best use of business intelligence software to improve business performance. Whether you're wanting to use existing business intelligence (BI) data to see marketing's contribution to sales, or manufacturing's labor cost per unit, or look into the nuts and bolts of data warehousing, the business analytics information you need is always at your fingertips. With Domo’s winning business intelligence and analytics solutions, busy intelligence analysts can sort out operations with business intelligence dashboards, break opens silos with data mapping, and generally improve the e-discovery ability of an enterprise.
Dundas BI is a flexible, browser-based business intelligence and data visualization software that includes integrated dashboards, reporting tools and data analytics, all in one fully embeddable BI platform. With Dundas BI, all common BI needs are under one roof - data connectivity, data preparation, presentation of different views (dashboards, paged reports, scorecards) and self-service data analytics. You can create interactive, customizable dashboards, build your own reports, run ad-hoc queries and analyze and drill-down into your data and performance metrics. Dundas BI lets you connect and integrate with any data source in real-time, on any device. With the touch-based interface and responsive design, you can create and view dashboards and reports on any device from desktop to mobile. Dundas BI easily integrates into your existing systems, administration and applications for real-time access to all your data.
BOARD is the #1 decision-making platform for organizations of any size. Founded in 1994, BOARD International has enabled more than 3000 companies worldwide to rapidly deploy Business Intelligence, Corporate Performance Management and Predictive Analytics applications on a single unified and programming-free platform. 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. Thanks to its programming-free toolkit approach, global enterprises such as H M, KPMG, DHL, Mitsubishi, NEC, Puma, Siemens, Toyota have rapidly deployed end-to end decision-making applications in a fraction of the time and cost associated with traditional solutions. Headquartered in Chiasso, Switzerland, and Boston, MA, BOARD International has 21 offices around the world and a global reseller network. BOARD has been implemented in over 100 countries.
"The only business intelligence and dashboard software that lets you join, analyze, and visualize all the data you want. We’re talking multiple, big data sets at record-breaking speed."With a user-friendly interface, in-memory database tools and other proprietary functionality, Sisense business intelligence software allows companies to view big data in a flexible way. The Sisense interactive dashboard provides mid-sized business and larger enterprise the insights and analysis that the company needs to succeed.Sisense's interactive report dashboard is designed for quick and easy business intelligence user experience. This resource gives businesses a simpler way to look at everything that's going on through data visualization. With instant deployment through a single stack architecture, Sisense offers the ability to glean information from SQL servers and other data sources, letting business users focus on what's most important.Sisense Prism is a business intelligence tool that offers the power of true data visualization to meet any need. The innovative Sisense in-chip engine promotes versatility, answering questions without intense data integration burdens. With SDK and API design, you’ll get embedded analytics and reporting through this comprehensive and easy-to-use BI solution.Data governance technology is also built into Sisense, allowing for identity access management. Create permissions on different levels and customize Sisense dashboards to serve C-level users, business analyst or anyone else requiring access and reporting. Use Sisense's data engine for projects that handle enormous amounts of data. Request pricing or a demo above to see how Sisense compares to other top businesses intelligence solutions.
Looker is an inventive software company that’s pioneering the next generation of business intelligence (BI). We believe that businesses can only thrive when data is consistently defined and easily accessible across the entire organization. Our web-based platform powers the work of data analysts while fueling (and fulfilling) the business user’s curiosity.
Exago BI is a 100% web-based, seamlessly embedded business intelligence solution expressly designed to meet the needs of software companies operating in multi-tenant environments. With no need for plugins or desktop downloads, Exago BI enables end users to easily create their own ad hoc reports, dashboards, and business analytics directly within the host application. Its single sign-on system inherits the host application’s authentication protocols, maintaining preexisting security features. Exago BI’s architecture and open API allow for advanced customization, extensions, and scaling, helping the host application achieve its desired user experience, performance, and growth.
Power BI is a cloud-based business analytics service that gives you a single view of your most critical business data. Monitor the health of your business using a live dashboard, create rich interactive reports with Power BI Desktop and access your data on the go with native Power BI Mobile apps. It’s easy, fast, and free.
Empower your people with 24/7, user-friendly access to the business intelligence (BI) and Big Data mining tools they need to make faster, more informed decisions. Use capable, comprehensive business intelligence solutions to drive decision making, aggregate big data assets, and grow a business soundly based on BI applications and systems that will assist with the sophisticated data mining and business analytics that make companies great in the new “age of data.”Our self-serve business intelligence software and solutions – including ad hoc reporting, self-service data visualization and business intelligence dashboards, predictive analytics, mobile apps, and more – can help business users improve performance and become more effective in everything they do. From data warehousing to physical business processes, having good business intelligence and analytics tools can make all the difference in how a leadership team delivers value for a growing company. Get teams of intelligence analysts to work on self-serve BI tools and see how the results foster agile responses in competitive industries.
Slemma is a data analysis tool that 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. 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.
Halo is an end-to-end supply chain management and business intelligence platform that helps in business planning and forecasting inventory for supply chain management. The system uses data from all sources - big, small, and in-between - to form a cumulative view of all business information.By combining the BI data analytics with a social platform, companies can use the data to spark dialogue between employees, helping to generate ideas and guide business decisions. Deployment options for Halo include on-premise, SaaS (Software as a Service) or PaaS (Platform as a Service, which allows users to develop, access and run custom apps in the cloud).This system is suited for mid-size companies in several target verticals, including manufacturing and distribution.
Grow is built for executives and teams of small to medium businesses who are frustrated by having to run time-consuming reports with scattered information that’s quickly out-of-date. With Grow’s software, you can get the information you need, how and when you need it, and share it so everyone knows the score.
Periscope Data enables analysts to transform their SQL queries into interactive dashboards, charts and reports for data consumers with frequent data needs. Periscope Data's breakthrough data warehouse infrastructure quickly connects to your databases to offer blazingly fast query processing with low overhead.Unlimited users and no query limits remove workflow barriers and promote data literacy across your entire organization.
Developer Grade Analytics:The Logi Analytics platform is specifically designed for product managers and developers needing to rapidly build, deploy, and maintain engaging, secure, and smarter mission-critical applications. Logi is purpose-built to serve the embedded model, so our clients increase the likelihood of building valuable, long lasting applications. Our product innovation investments are concentrated on enriching embedded analytics capabilities, so your applications become more valuable, faster. By allowing customers to leverage their existing data and infrastructure combined with new ways to author visualizations and query data, Logi delivers the analytics platform required by application teams.
icCube is a high performance and real-time analytical and visualization engine. Their largest division is focused on embedded analytics that provides a solution to companies looking to integrate an advanced analytics solution in their own platform. icCube is already integrated at stock exchanges, banks and is embedded by many IT consultancy companies in different verticals like transport, healthcare and ecommerce.Cloud On-premisesicCube can be deployed in the cloud and on-premises. In both cases the sever and reports are fully configurable from the browser and reports can be viewed from desktop, tablet and mobile. Dedicated layouts tied to different screen-sizes guarantee performance on all devices.Integrate in your own solutionFits all web and cloud solutions because of the OS independence and variety of possibilities to embed the solution in your own application.End to end BICombine data, benefit from the ETL layer and run advanced analysis with R, MDX++, Java, SQL or make use of the drag and drop user interface.On the fly authenticationWith up-to cell level security and on the fly authentication icCube seamlessly integrates with any existing user authentication system you have in place and is scalable to support and unlimited amount of end-users.Redesign the dashboards to your brand experienceAllows to create 100% custom interactive dashboards for a unique brand experience.
Solver’s BI360 is a complete Business Intelligence (BI) and Corporate Performance Management (CPM) suite for reporting, budgeting and dashboard applications. The BI360 suite also offers a data warehouse to combine data sources to empower all business users and provide analytics critical to decision making.
BroadPoint offers all the end-to-end business software solutions you need to run a business efficiently, effectively and to get ahead of the competition. BroadPoint has been successfully providing business software solutions to companies of all sizes in the mid-Atlantic region since 2001. Find out more about our solutions, including how you can quickly and securely deploy your business software in the cloud.
Yellowfin is an award winning Business Intelligence platform that empowers business users across job functions and industries by making data incredibly easy to consume and analyze. No matter whether you're a casual business user or the CIO, Yellowfin makes it easy for you to unearth the insights you need from your critical data assets.
It’s your business and it’s your data; get as much as you can from it!Get Access to a Powerful, Easy-to-Use Business Intelligence Data Visualization Reporting ToolTake the time and stress out of collecting, analyzing and reporting on data from different systems. Now you can have everything you need to connect your data, clean it, mix it, set up visual indicators, key metrics and KPIs, and then easily share your results with your customers, co-workers and partners.Data is merely numbers when it lacks the right tools to extrapolate connections, meaning, and insights. ClicData allows you to transform data into dashboards through our powerful interactive dashboard designer. Start visualizing performance, trends, forecasts and results with charts, gauges, indicators, tables and much more.Our drag-and-drop dashboard designer lets you create a dashboard in just a few minutes.With 100s of native connectors and thousands of visualizations, realtime becomes “now-time” and you can know where to spend your time, improving your business.
Every organization faces critical challenges – from data inaccessibility and data overload, to trying to determine how to best utilize and collaborate around data to make decisions. Success is determined by how quickly and effectively these challenges are addressed. Answering business questions requires data from a variety of sources. And making sense of all that data requires time, know-how, and resources. When multiplied across your organization, the effect can be crippling.Domo was created to solve these problems.Domo is the first solution designed to empower everyone in the organization. It brings together the information you need in one place, enables real-time collaboration around live data, and delivers out-of-the-box and expertise and best practices.
cBEYONData is a results-driven firm that provides Business Analytic solutions to Government CFO Offices and end-user missions. cBEYONData ensures our customer’s analytical, compliance, and reporting requirements are met by utilizing Agile processes to deliver our effective and efficient solutions. Our CFO Control Tower™ toolkit solution provides financial reporting, audit readiness, GTAS DATA Act analytics, procurement external reporting, dashboards, analytics, visualizations, and geo-mapping. cBEYONData is committed to customer success, as demonstrated by our strong customer retention rates, references, and awards. We specialize in supporting the highly secured information assets of government agencies; the majority of cBEYONData’s team has the necessary credentials to work on sensitive projects as well as over 20 combined years of service in the Department of Justice and Department of Defense.
CHAMPS Analytics specializes in showing companies how to turn their data into actionable decisions that impact the bottom line. Through the power of data and analytics, our solutions provide you the insights you need for better decision making in real-time.By partnering with the leading Business Intelligence (BI) vendors, CHAMPS Analytics delivers high quality solutions in a quarter of the time and half the cost of traditional BI vendors.Our customers realize that data is the new currency and there are millions of dollars of ideas that can be unleashed through the power of analytics.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Analyzer provides powerful, self-service business intelligence that allows users to explore, visualize, publish and share data in minutes. With Analyzer™ business users are able to make better decisions based on real time data through a secure, scalable and social business intelligence solution
Incorta takes you from wondering about your business to knowing your business. One day analytics means that if you show us your data in the morning, we'll have you live in the afternoon (not in three months). Real-time information means live analytics against your up-to-the-second data (not the data since last night's refresh or whatever you have downloaded to your machine).
Artus®, Bitam's fully integrated business intelligence platform, provides organizations with access to the information they need and when they need it in order to make comprehensive and effective business decisions. Unlike other business intelligence solutions, Artus® provides management dashboards and ad-hoc analysis within one product, thus providing a single solution for all of your business intelligence needs.
ThoughtSpot Relational Search Appliance brings the ease of search to enterprise data analysis. It includes a new kind of search engine, tightly integrated with large-scale, in-memory computing. The result is a consumer-class user experience combined with enterprise-class scalability. All while maintaining enterprise data governance and manageability for IT.
We have got agile easy to use BI for true business users. Discover data. Get the insights. Share, comment, filter KPIs or time-series. Improve customer services and become metrics driven with ready-made customizable analytics apps.
Automated data retrieval from 1000s of data services (with more added every day). Klipfolio is backed by a simple, flexible data architecture. That means you can upload any data source to the dashboard, automate its retrieval, and use (and reuse) that data to build visualizations and dashboards for your team.
How to Compare Business Intelligence Software
Business Intelligence (BI) software is one of the hottest software technologies on the market today. In fact, in a survey of more than 10K technology executives, 23.5% responded that a BI or BA (business analytics) platform is their next planned software purchase.
Why do organizations need and use business intelligence software?
- 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.
It can be difficult or overwhelming to evaluate the myriad of options available, but if you know from the outset what your company's goals are for the software, you will be able to narrow your search to the top BI tools for your business:
Key features to consider when evaluating business intelligence software options
Visual Analysis Summaries / Interactive Visualizations Tools
The 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 often times the reports that the BI summary creates will need to be seen by other people – executives, future vendors, investors, etc. Not everyone that sees your reports will be as tech savvy as you are; it is imperative to choose the best business intelligence software that presents your data in a way that is easily digestible.
Data analytics may already be off putting to many professionals, which is why choosing business intelligence tools that are not dependent on your IT department is crucial. The best BI solution for your business should have data analytics tools that various people at your company are able to use efficiently.
Some BI solutions will require the user to be able to write code to make use of the software. This means that any reports, spreadsheets, or specific analytics would require the use of one of your IT professionals. Unless you are willing to employ a programming specialist whose only job is to run your BI software 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.
Perhaps the most well-known and traditional of all BI tools, 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.
The best BI solutions will provide their end-users with plenty of options for generating reports about their business data:
- Ranking reports can show users the top- or bottom-ranked performers in a variety of fields, from sales to marketing to production.
- Interactive reports and data visualization can pull together data from many sources into charts and graphs that are much more easily interpreted.
- Operational reports give your organization’s executives a detailed summary about the day-to-day operations of your business, identifying areas of strength or weakness.
- Ad-hoc analysis reports let your end-users generate their own reports by determining which elements they would like to focus on.
- Real-time data reporting, aka agile BI, can create a competitive advantage and is often a key decision when selecting the best BI software for your organization. Depending on the architecture of your analytics software and how your data warehouse extracts, transforms, and loads (ETL) data to that system, your BI solution may or may not have the ability to report in real time.
Online Analytical Processing
Online analytical processing, or OLAP tools, allow users to more easily work with vast multidimensional sets of data. Metaphorically speaking, the data is conceived of as a cube, which can be sliced and diced to eliminate particular dimensions and focus on certain aspects of the data. Users can also roll up by summarizing all the data along a certain dimension, and drill down or drill up, navigating among data levels.
Digital 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, like sales or IT; 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 that the information you reference frequently is always readily available, saving you valuable time and money.
Data mining is the technological advancement that makes BI solutions 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, turning the data into a more comprehensible format. Large corporations that perform hundreds of thousands or even millions of transactions every day need to be conscious of the latest data mining techniques in order to most efficiently and rapidly extract the information that they seek.
A data warehouse is a central repository for all or significant parts of the data that 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. Before deciding on a storage tool you need to know exactly how much data you need to store as data warehouses are complex systems that allow you to store any information from multiple data sources that you would like to later reference or analyze.This aggregate information can take up massive amounts of space as time passes and as your company grows. It is important you make sure that the BI applications you are evaluating can accommodate the amount of data that you anticipate storing, whether it’s now or later.
Alongside real time reporting tools is also the availability of mobile BI information. We all know everyone is more on the move, checking their mobile devices for key information to make on-the-fly decisions. As mobility increases, so will the need for BI information, including easy to understand data visualization on any device size.
When it comes to selecting the best business intelligence tools for your business, consider which of the tools mentioned above are most relevant for your needs. If your organization is relatively small, for example, you may not need the high-powered tools for data mining and OLAP that a bigger business would require. Carefully consider which tools are the most important to you in terms of functionality, and then consider which vendors will provide you with the highest-quality tools in that regard.
Because 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 the performance of 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 your company already has in place. This saves time and money by allowing workers to import existing data and visuals.
In order to be competitive, a good BI suite must be versatile. The 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 as well. A major purpose of utilizing BI tools is to streamline the process of making informed decisions.
In order to be useful, the data available must be up-to-date at all times.The majority of top companies today conduct a significant portion of their business via smartphones and tablets, which means that the business analytics software you choose should reflect that paradigm shift. The best BI tools will perform well across multiple devices, so be sure to check for cross-platform compatibility.
Security and Data Reporting
These two features are equally important when comparing BI tools. Every 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. Another feature to look for is compound reporting options. This will give your company the ability to perform real-time analyses without the hassle of integrating with a third-party reporting tool.
OLAP (Online Analytical Processing) is accelerating an inflection point in Business Intelligence (BI) and analytics platforms towards more self-service based approaches to data preparation and visualization. By enabling analytics dashboards, data sharing and collaboration, OLAP is enabling BI to be free from IT and excel at a line-of- business focus. Microsoft Power BI and TIBCO are examples of BI vendors are helping to accelerate the inflection point OLAP is enabling.
Considering the increasing popularity, knowing the advantages business intelligence software affords organizations is useful. We’ve compiled 4 of the key advantages organizations benefit from implementing BI software:
Advantages of BI Software
Improve the Decision-Making Process
Business intelligence software provides real-time analysis, historical data, integration between data sources, forecasting, trending, and predictive analysis, all helping to 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 short list of BI apps you consider in your purchasing decision. OLAP is enabling more unified reporting, dashboards and scorecards while also accelerating the development of more intuitive budgeting, planning and forecasting BI applications.
This connection and evolution of BI tools into big data and data mining has transformed the ability for organizations to better analyze the bigger picture of their business and the overall business environment in which they operate.
Another advantage of 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 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
Between have more access to a wealth of data, the speed in which you can access and mold all of this structured and unstructured data into useful insights and instant access to pre-existing report templates, efficiencies tend to skyrocket.
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.
There are advantages to using business intelligence software beyond what we’ve described here. However, these 4 key advantages should be enough to convince you that it’s worth investigating BI software further.
How to Evaluate BI Tools
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 vendors on the market, each offering a different solution. Fortunately, SelectHub is here to help.
To properly evaluate BI tools in the context of your organization, ask 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 features?
What kind 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, 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 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?
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 intelligence suite. There are hundreds of criteria to choose from, but the framework can be broken up into seven main categories:
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 integration can also include flat files, other, non-warehouse databases, VSAM files or IMS databases.
Data manipulation tasks include information updates, workgroup databases and data warehouse write back. Two important features to consider are interactive updates and batch updates. Interactive updates will allow users to view and change information in real time, while batch updates will 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 warehouse write back allows users to make changes to information and then upload them back into the warehouse.
Important data analytic 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.
There are many different types of reporting, and it's important to be sure your BI software includes the most frequently needed features for your business:
It may be easy to overlook the aesthetic functionality of reporting tools, but it is important to remember that the majority of BI users prefer graphically-pleasing data. This means that 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.
Data visualization tools are necessary when dealing with large quantities of data, or when dealing with complex sets of data. While some 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 allows reports to only 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.
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.
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.
Questions to Ask During BI Demos
How is the data visually expressed?
One of 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. If your team needs real-time access to the data, however, you’ll need to let your IT professional know.
Can BI help me evaluate my inventory and fulfillment?
Although most businesses are already utilizing some form of inventory management software, comprehensive BI solutions will not only help you become aware of how your inventory is moving, but also track fulfillment frequency and correlate with inventory history.
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?
Speaking of the future, the best BI will help companies decide what new products to implement and when or support decisions to open a new location. 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. Find out what the limitations are on data capacity so you can make an adequate decision about whether the software is right for you.
Pricing Considerations When Buying Business Intelligence Software
Business analytics tools and business intelligence (BI) applications continue to rapidly evolve based on innovations driven by customers’ unmet needs and requests. These new innovative features, apps, and BI platforms are opening up entirely new markets that prefer to purchase software using different subscription and pricing models than have been available in the past. As a result, software vendors are broadening the scope of pricing options they offer to all customers.
Every analytic tool and BI vendor relies on a range of pricing models to sell their software applications. Depending on the customers’ usage, budget, number of employees using the application and preferred deployment model, a different pricing model will be presented to a given customer. Knowing this going into pricing negotiations can help to save tens of thousands of dollars over the lifetime of using any business analytics software.
It’s important to keep the following key points in mind regarding pricing for analytics or BI application you’re considering for your business:
- The proliferation of pricing models for analytics and BI apps is putting the buyer in control and often getting maintenance bundled in. A few of the many SaaS pricing models include freemium, concurrency-based (multitenancy), role-based pricing, named user, free/open source, per user, per user/per month, per feature, subscription and perpetual. With analytics and BI being a very competitive market, nearly all vendors are bundling in a baseline level of maintenance and support.
- Analytics and BI vendors want to get away from large up-front license fees and charge maintenance fees instead, which is making subscription-based pricing even more affordable. Analytics and BI apps that are cloud-based are designed to scale to the specific workloads and needs of customers, keeping track or metering how many resources are used in completing tasks. Subscription-based models are predicated on the ability to meter usage, which is a foundational benefit of cloud-based BI apps. Analytics and BI vendors working to get free from their legacy on-premise pricing models are relying on and driving the prices down of subscription models to grow new revenue streams. In negotiating pricing with a vendor who is migrating from on-premise analytics and BI apps, keep that in mind and negotiate fro bundled service, support, and maintenance.
- To reduce the lifetime cost of analytics software, start thinking about and tracking the following costs now while comparing vendors. To best plan and manage the purchase of any new analytics or BI app, it’s good to create an Excel spreadsheet to track the following: the quoted license cost per use; maintenance or recurring fee per user over the life of the agreement; initial implementation cost (also broken out by user); infrastructure per user with maintenance, ongoing implementation costs (over the life of agreement); and Full Time Equivalent (FTE) user costs for three years.
- Low up-front costs do not always translate into the lowest total cost of ownership (TCO). Just because an application has a low up-front cost as many SaaS and cloud-based analytics and BI apps do doesn’t translate into a lower total cost of ownership over the long term.
- Cloud-based analytics and BI apps and platforms save infrastructure costs and can contribute to lower IT spending. Select Cloud-based analytics and BI apps if you are focused on reducing your in-house IT infrastructure costs and want to gain access to a continual stream of innovations without having to upgrade your existing infrastructure.
- Open source analytics and BI platforms often end up having the highest TCO. The low up-front costs of open source analytics and BI apps and platforms need to be balanced with the long-term maintenance, upgrade and customization costs. Often companies find open source analytics and BI apps have the highest TCO over the long-term.
- The largest analytics and BI vendors will have the lowest price per user, yet often the highest initial license fees. The most common strategy of large-scale analytics and BI vendors is to charge low per-seat and per usage, license fees to keep TCO down while having the higher initial license, maintenance, and hardware costs. These larger vendors manage accounts like a financial annuity and front-end load contracts and pricing to realize revenue earlier. If you are considering a large analytics or BI vendor, look at their pricing strategy with a three-year horizon and attempt to get the maintenance fees trimmed for doing to a longer-term contract.
Choosing a BI software provider is a task that should be given serious consideration. This business intelligence software comparison is meant to be used as a starting point to guide IT professionals who are tasked with making this decision.
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