Your Guide to Software Selection

Find the Best Business Intelligence Software

If you’ve come here to find the best-fit business intelligence software or tools for your needs, you’re in good hands. Not only have we done the research and built you a top BI tools leaderboard, we also have hundreds of BI software buyers actively using our system to define business requirements, send BI software RFPs and engage with vendors. We know what it takes to help someone find the best software for their needs.

Now, about business intelligence…

Business intelligence (BI) is a commonly considered a variety of software tools or platforms used to analyze your company’s data. It’s also a practice that includes data mining, online analytical processing, querying, reporting, dashboarding and more.

The best business intelligence software makes all of these complex practices more simple and powerful, providing substantial improvements within an organization.

Data analysis is a rapidly growing field – due to this growth, many business intelligence solutions have been developed. You may feel inundated with all the options that are available. From cloud to self-service bi, the best way to find out what is right for you is to do a BI solution comparison.

Want to skip right to our top BI recommendations? Click here for the full report.

Before comparing any BI tools, it is important that you know what business intelligence market leaders are currently offering and how it can positively affect your company.

Visual Analysis Summaries / Data Visualization

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 a business intelligence software that presents your data in a way that is easily digestible.

User Experience

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 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 data to that system, your BI solution may or may not have the ability to report in real time.

Online Analytical Processing

Tools for online analytical processing, or OLAP, 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.

Learn more about what’s the difference between business intelligence software and business analytics?


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 dashboard you can ensure that the information you reference frequently is always readily available, saving you valuable time and money.

Data Mining

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.

Learn about the difference between BI vs. Data Mining vs. Big Data.

Data Warehousing

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.

Learn more about the difference between big data, data mining and business intelligence.


Alongside real time reporting 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.

Evaluating the Best Business Intelligence Software

Business intelligence software solutions have has been incorporated in large corporation’s business models for quite some time. Small and mid-sized businesses have more recently adopted using business intelligence software. As more companies offer state-of-the-art analytics systems that are also cost effective for organizations of all sizes, the varying options can seem overwhelming.

To find the best business intelligence software for you and your company, take an in depth look at your needs and what each company can offer. With this BI solution comparison you can compare the best business Intelligence software of 2016 for free. An interactive BI requirements gathering template is also available to manage your selection project.

Top BI Tools in 2016

Now that you know some of the features to look for in the best business intelligence software, have a look at some of the leaders in the BI market.

These are part of an extensive BI Software Industry Analysis found here.

When it comes to selecting business intelligence (BI) solutions, the sheer variety of options can be overwhelming. Even finding the information you need to make your decision can be an unexpectedly rigorous task. Due to the high cost of premier BI solutions, making a wrong decision can be a costly mistake.

Fortunately, reliable comparisons and detailed analysis of the top BI software vendors are available through SelectHub. SelectHub employs comprehensive scoring metrics to weigh major BI offerings, and while many of the top BI tools are highly useful, these 10 BI tools frequently exceed industry expectations.

  1. Qlik

Among the best available BI solutions is Qlik with it’s guided tool, Qlik View and self-service BI tool, Qlik Sense. This powerful program offers fully interactive data operation, with users able to explore data at all times during input, processing and output. QlikView also offers a system memory function that displays every action that took place during analysis. Available on mobile platforms, which include the same interactive analytical tools, intuitive associative search and excellent visualization available to desktop users, QlikView is an extremely powerful BI tool with solid performance in all areas.

  1. Information Builders

Information Builders BI is another exceptionally strong business intelligence platform. In addition to maintaining speed and functionality even under exponential increase in workload, Information Builders boasts excellent geospatial integration and data visualization. It is also strong in threat and fraud detection, predictive analysis and export analytics, with steady performance in the majority of other functions.

  1. Oracle BI

Oracle BI is another top solution. While Oracle shares commonalities with QlikView, it also boasts especially strong geospatial visualization capabilities, including advanced mapping controls and fantastic dashboard integration. It also performs exceptionally well when exporting analytics reports. With Oracle BI, users can easily and intuitively interact with each other; view reports online; and publish, send and schedule reports to a variety of outputs such as SMS. While Oracle has limited benchmarking capability, its Scorecard and Strategy Management features allow users to establish goals and measure their success over a period of time, while also communicating progress and information to the entire organization.

  1. IBM® Cognos® Business Intelligence

With this platform, you can access the same information from different perspectives to make informed decisions. The interface includes dashboards with organized options for sorting and personalizing data. If you want to test ideas through social media as you make decisions, this platform makes that possible. Business metrics are analyzed and presented in easy comparison format.

  1. Microsoft Power BI

Microsoft Power BI earned a top score in several areas, including interactive visualizations, predictive analytics, mobile access, export of analytics reports, big data integration and storyboarding, ensuring this solution is a powerful data visualizer. While overall a very strong option, Microsoft BI has limited social media and web analytics.

  1. SAP BusinessObjects

SAP received a perfect score in Hadoop, exporting analytics reports, mobile access, and storyboarding, with strong performance in visual querying, geospatial integration, and interactive visualizations. However, its benchmarking capabilities are very limited, as is its ability to monitor regulatory compliance.

  1. MicroStrategy Analytics

For users who want a customized interface, this platform is a good option. Since the company is known for its excellent personalized customer service, this is a good choice for beginners. The platform provides helpful insights through customized dashboards and powerful tools. There are also plenty of resources for fueling quicker success of an application.

  1. SAS Visual Analytics

To get simple answers from complex data analysis, this is a good platform choice. With fast processing and guided exploration, you can see a clear picture of the information you need instantly. Learn to build better models with a simple feature based on tested techniques, and put the models into service faster without any headaches.

  1. WebFOCUS BI

By fueling a proactive business culture, WebFOCUS BI from Information Builders allows you to consistently make smarter choices. This product can also reach your customers. They will have access to easy-to-use apps for better organization and more informed decisions. To minimize IT costs, this platform can also be deployed in the cloud.

  1. Tableau Desktop

One of the most popular BI tools, Tableau Desktop is a commonly sought after and used BI platform. It’s simple enough that non-technical users can easily create customized dashboards and other reports to easily convey valuable information. Tableau is so popular, that many people consider it the de facto and search to understand the difference between Tableau and the competition.

Other common questions regarding BI software include:

These questions are part of a bigger requirements gathering exercise that any organization selecting BI software should engage in.

Choosing the Right BI Solution

Ultimately, the business intelligence application you select will depend on your needs. While any strong BI solution must possess the ability to process information, allow users to explore raw and processed data and offer strong visualization data output, different businesses require different functionalities, features and capabilities from their BI software.

Research is key to determining the best BI fit and we’ve done the research on the top business intelligence software platforms. Check out our leaderboard.


SelectHubFind the Best Business Intelligence Software

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