Today, data is a bit of an esoteric concept. Data is contextual and you need to understand the data that’s important to you. For instance, cost data.
Cost insight has given companies the ability to make informed engineering, product, and business decisions like rearchitecting software or pricing your product for higher profitability. However, to do this optimally, you’ll need to establish the right systems and practices.
This is where business intelligence (BI) tools come in. The following guide will explore some of the very best available to your organization.
We’ve painstakingly ensured that this list is as comprehensive as possible. You’ll find more than 40 different BI tools categorized into several sections. Since every tool has its strengths and weaknesses, these sections should make it easier to determine which ones are suitable for your organization’s needs.
What Is Business Intelligence And Why Is It Important?
Business Intelligence involves harnessing the data that your business produces in all aspects of its existence. This data is then taken and visualized to gain actionable and valuable insights into how your business is performing.
You can then leverage your decisions using these insights and help your business grow and evolve. These are the basic principles of BI. Thus, three main tenets of BI are:
- Data gathering
- Data analysis
While in theory, it all sounds very straightforward, but in practice, it may present many challenges…
BI Tools Fundamentals
Modern companies produce enormous amounts of data. For enterprises existing in the information age, data has become far too complex and unwieldy for simple Excel spreadsheets and SQL-based databases. This can be attributed to the advent of platforms such as cloud-based business services and social media.
They all generate gargantuan amounts of data. This is what necessitates more sophisticated business intelligence. Particularly because most (if not all) of this data lives separately in what is known as data silos.
How data is compartmentalized makes it difficult to acquire an exhaustive view of how your organization is performing in all aspects. You could gather a large set of reports that may only be accessible using different software tools but this is inefficient and often time-consuming.
Thus, the key task of BI is to find a way to unify all these data sources and analyze them together. We should then be able to access all this information from a single dashboard. Additionally, BI services and software tools may also feature primary functions such as:
- Reporting and querying
- Expansive data visualization
- Predictive analytics
- Data exploration
- Data cleaning
Some BI tools are only suited to one of the above functions. Thus, organizations may find it necessary to incorporate multiple BI software solutions.
Nevertheless, we’ve used these functions as categories and listed each BI software solution under each one.
Reporting And Data Visualization
Some companies may be aware of where their data is stored. However, they need to sort through it and make sense of it.
In such cases, it’s best to invest in a BI tool that primarily focuses on extracting crucial insights from your data and presenting it in a way that’s easy to understand. This section is dedicated to these tools.
Sisense allows you to expose crucial business insights from large complicated pools of data. Sisense gives you full control of how and when reports are generated and distributed. Sisense features fully interactive reports that populate their fields from dynamic real-time data.
In addition to their advanced reporting tools, Sisense also features KPI dashboards, multiple device and platform support, and end-to-end reporting.
2. SAS Visual Analytics
SAS is well-known for its suite of cloud-based and AI-driven BI tools. SAS Visual Analytics is one of these tools. Where SAS Visual Analytics shines is in its simplicity. It provides users with a clean minimalist interface that helps them schedule and generate HTML-based reports using a low-code methodology.
Reports generated using SAS Analytics’ many templates are well organized, simple, and easy to digest. What’s most appealing about SAS Analytics is its low learning curve. But to help you along, SAS provides you with a collection of detailed tutorials in document and video form.
3. Dundas BI
As a company, Dundas has been around since 1987. This makes them one of the oldest companies to specialize in data visualization — at least on this list. As with most modern BI vendors, they’ve moved away from desktop computer software to SaaS cloud-based reporting.
Much like SAS Visual Analytics, Dundas BI uses simple and clean designs for its reports. Additionally, they use dynamic widgets, icons, and controls to represent dynamic and changing data. Where Dundas outperforms most of its competitors is in support. They will actively guide you through the report building and generation process.
4. Oracle BI
Oracle’s Business Intellect Suite was developed and released in 2013. Since then, they’ve managed to refine and polish their reporting and analytics tools. Oracle BI’s software focuses heavily on user independence and self-service. However, it also supports governed and centralized models too.
Oracle BI provides organizations with a report-building toolkit replete with a variety of visual elements to help make sense of vast amounts of data. As with Oracle’s many other products, it also provides software developers with API access so you can integrate Oracle BI into your company’s software products. Oracle is an industry-leading brand and it’s hard to go wrong with any of their products.
5. SAP Business Objects
SAP is another highly esteemed company with years of experience to back up its reputation. SAP Business Objects is their highly scalable business intelligence suite. It features flexible licensing with a heavy emphasis on self-service. The service can be deployed on-premise or via the cloud. In addition to its rich reporting tools, it features:
- Embedded analytics
- Large-scale data analysis
- Customizable dashboards
- Cross enterprise sharing
- Microsoft Office integration
Again, SAP has proven to be a leader in business software, successfully catering to some of the largest companies such as Vodafone, Allbirds, and the Mercedes-EQ Formula E team.
You cannot compile a list of the best BI tools without including Tableau. In fact, thanks to its highly advanced reporting and visualization features, it is one of the most popular entries on this list. Tableau is primarily made for mid-size to large enterprises.
It allows companies to distill information from raw data and translate it into easy-to-understand charts, graphs, and reports. Where Tableau may lose its appeal for many people is in its price tag.
Tableau Creator costs $70 per user (per month). This can be steep for organizations that require 50-100 licenses. However, Tableau’s reputation suggests that the cost is well worth it.
7. Domo BI & Analytics
Domo hasn’t existed as long as companies such as SAP but its simplicity and collection of features make it a credible contender. It allows you to collect and unify data from your silos and visualize it all in a way that’s meaningful to your organization.
What makes Domo unique is its data storytelling feature. It provides report builders with a wide variety of visual elements to map data and make it more substantive. It features thousands of icons, widgets, custom maps, and at least 150 different chart types. And of course, Domo regularly updates its toolsets. Domo makes generating reports an enjoyable and breezy experience.
There are many cost uncertainties related to running modern businesses. Data and business intelligence can help us predict future costs by using available information to run test cases.
Additionally, when assessing new tools to incorporate into your company’s financial software stack, we must evaluate how much it will either benefit your company or potentially cost it.
You can’t have true business intelligence with comprehensive cost analysis. There are a variety of BI tools that can provide you with this capability and more. In this section, we’ll cover some of the best.
CloudZero is a cloud cost intelligence platform that aligns cloud spend to the business metrics you care about. CloudZero uses a code-driven approach to organizing cloud spend — allowing organizations to understand their costs without weeks and months worth of painful tagging exercises.
Using CloudZero, you can see precisely how costs connect to business outcomes — versus simply seeing how much you spend each month on your AWS bill.
For example, you can understand and measure important unit cost metrics like cost per feature, per product, per customer, per environment, per team, and more.
CloudZero helps you empower engineers to see the cost impact of their work and make cost-aware decisions, gives you the ability to measure unit cost and COGS, and helps you better monitor, predict, and report on cloud spend to finance.
Harvest is advertised and marketed as a time-tracking solution for businesses. However, under the hood, it can be used as a powerful cost tracking solution too. Harvest’s timesheets can help you track and compare employee work hours. This is particularly useful for companies with a hybrid, remote or mobile workforce.
You can use data gathered from Harvest to analyze how productive employees are and how they impact company costs. Furthermore, you can also use Harvest to manage and assess project costs.
Avaza is an extensive project management solution. It allows you to schedule resources, track expenses, invoice costs, create timesheets and manage employee tasks. Since it’s a cloud-based software suite, Avaza can be accessed from nearly every internet-enabled device. Avaza’s user interface is nearly uniform on all platforms.
It’s cleanly designed, well organized, and easy to use. Additionally, Avaza has a slew of affordable packages. It’s a great all-in-one solution for companies looking to track expenses while managing resources.
11. AWS Budgets
AWS Budgets is a service that helps you plan service usage, service costs, and instance reservations. AWS Budgets notifies and alarms you when you go over budget. Users can create up to 20, 000 budgets. The first two budgets are free. AWS Budgets allow you to set up alerts that will trigger if you exceed or approach your defined budget.
There are three types of budgets you can create. They include cost, usage, and reservation. While AWS Budgets don’t provide you with some of the same automation that other tools in this guide do, it’s affordable and empowers you with full control over your costs.
12. GCP Billing
GCP Billing is Google’s built-in cost management tool, primarily made for their cloud products. You get a top-level view of how your cloud spending is segmented. It offers tools such as regular reporting, budgeting alerts, spending analysis and tips on how to prevent overspending.
Additionally, Google provides you with its API. This allows you to integrate it into your other BI tools (at least the ones that support it).
13. Azure Cloud Cost Management
Azure Cloud Cost Management is a native Azure service that allows customers and partners to gain complete visibility and control of their cloud spend across Azure and AWS.
It is primarily designed for managers, finance users and app teams. Azure Cloud Cost Management facilitates a continuous iterative process between these three personas. You can essentially track where charges originate from and how they relate to your invoice. It also allows you to break down and analyze that data.
14. Power BI
Power BI is a fully-fledged BI solution provided to you by Microsoft. It’s an interactive reporting platform that provides you with powerful tools for data and business analytics.
You can use Power BI to create stunning reports, allowing you to easily visualize and showcase important cost data. Power BI allows you to pull data from a multitude of sources such as SAP, Oracle, data warehouse, offline documents, etc. Again, Power BI is an all-rounder that goes beyond cost analysis.
Microstrategy is an open enterprise data analytics platform designed to enrich websites and applications with business intelligence. It allows you to protect your data from being siloed while ensuring its integrity.
Microstrategy connects every user and every application to all your data. It allows you to visualize cost and data through its unique semantic graph. Which helps you visualize how data flows from and through your business. It can be quickly created and re-used which will allow you to accelerate the collaboration and development of your suite of BI applications.
Dashboards are another way to access important analytics from your pool of data without generating reports in file form. For instance, if you’re trying to obtain crucial information such as key performance indicators (KPI), your dashboard BI solution can easily make it available in real-time.
Most dashboard BI solutions have highly customizable but intuitive user interfaces. They allow you to specify the number of panes, widgets, sources, etc. You can present data in the form of dynamic and static lists, tables, and charts. This section will cover some of the best BI dashboard tools.
Geckoboard was initially set up to cater to small-to-medium-sized companies. Today it supplies its software to some of the biggest organizations in the world. It allows you to construct dashboards to visualize shifting data in real-time. Data and metrics such as KPI can be transformed into trade screen-like dashboards. These dashboards can be viewed by your entire team in real-time so everyone can stay on track.
Additionally, Geckoboard allows companies to integrate elements from external data sources such as social media. For instance, you can track and view Facebook usage data in real-time. Geckoboard provides you with access to over 60 different data sources.
Cyfe is a great alternative all-in-one cloud-based BI solution for creating dynamic dashboards and screens. Its user interface is intuitive and easy to master. However, it does sacrifice customizability for simplicity. This shouldn’t be a problem for most users.
Cyfe provides support through an email help desk, voice calls, forums, a knowledge base, and a live chat. Additionally, Cyfe supplies training material through webinars, documentation, and videos. Cyfe is one of the straightforward and easy-to-use BI tools on this list.
Databox has one of the best-looking dashboards on this list. Its dashboard customization screen is clean and easy to use. Not only can you visualize internal data with Databox but it also facilitates integration with over 70 different external sources. From Shopify to PayPal. Outside of simple dashboard creation, some of Databox’s most notable features also include:
- TV dashboards
- Calculated metrics
- Looped data boards
- Real-time notifications and alarms
Compared to the other products on this list, Datadog is a more no-nonsense and serious dashboard BI solution. It doesn’t have a long list of fancy widgets or controls. Instead, it focuses on conventional hard graphs and charts. Organizations that specialize in software development and distribution will most likely benefit from Datadog the most. Its primary focus is on tracking faults and failures. Databox core features include:
- Alarms and notifications
- Incident management
- Database monitoring
- CI visibility
- Network monitoring
- Real-time user monitoring
While Datadog isn’t the most feature-rich dashboard BI solution, it has some of the most flexible and affordable pricing. It’s one of the few BI solutions that offers a free plan that supports up to 5 hosts.
20. Zoho Analytics
Zoho Analytics is a cloud-based BI solution for dashboards and reporting. You can analyze and view data from multiple sources including cloud drives, locally stored files, databases, and business applications. Like most of Zoho’s products, Zoho’s Analytics dashboard uses a simple but engaging flat design.
It gives you access to various widgets, charts, and graphs to display all your important data in real-time. Dashboards can be easily built and customized through Zoho Analytics’s drag and drop interface.
Monday is more of a project management tool with integrated elements of BI. It allows you to create dynamic dashboards that visualize your company’s monthly production information as well as q2 production. Each user can also create their own personal dashboard that keeps them up to date with the progress of projects, collaborations, personal and company-wide information.
Monday isn’t as all-enveloping as the other tools in this section. However, if you’re looking for a lightweight dashboard application to help you run your business, then look no further than Monday.
22. Corporater Business Management Platform
Corporater Business Management Platform is a BI solution that primarily specializes in integrated software solutions. Its business dashboard solution allows organizations to construct advanced dashboards that visualize all business framework data. Corporater has a very professional and sterile look-and-feel in its UI presentation.
This is perfect for companies looking for an efficient no-nonsense dashboard application that isn’t overblown with unnecessary controls and widgets. However, dashboards built with Corporator are beautifully responsive, clean, and simple.
Since history tends to repeat itself, we can theoretically predict the future by looking at the present and the past. On a basic level, this is the premise predictive analytics function on. They involve using a large pool of data to forecast future outcomes under a specific set of rules and circumstances.
For instance, we can use them to determine how seasonal change may influence customer behavior and attitudes towards a product your business sells. You can then run what-if scenarios to simulate future outcomes.
23. IBM SPSS Statistics
IBM SPSS Statistics is an advanced data analytics tool. What makes it so popular is its simplicity. Most users require very little experience with data analytics to understand and use IBM SPSS Statistics.
Nevertheless, IBM SPSS statistics offers 24/7 user support to further reduce the learning curve. Another area where this solution overshadows the other entries in this guide is its flexible deployment and variety of affordable options.
While other solutions may only offer integration with their own proprietary software, IBM SPSS Statistics offers open-source integration with programming environments like Python or R. Furthermore, IBM SPSS has access to over 130 plugins and extensions for statistical algorithms. It’s a very accessible service, not just for businesses but for individuals trying to learn more about data science.
24. SAS Advanced Analytics
SAS has been a player and leader in analytic software for over 40 years. SAS Advanced Analytics is a testament to its excellence. It provides users with tools for data mining, forecasting, text analytics, statistical analysis, optimization, and simulation. SAS Advanced Analytics will allow you to create more efficient business models that can help you prolong your business’s life cycle.
25. TIBCO Statistica
TIBCO Statistica is a data analysis tool that allows you to use AI-driven algorithms to refine your business’s workflow. In addition to its many advanced data analysis features, users can construct their analytics and visualize data through reports and dashboards.
Where TIBCO may fall flat is in its usability. Its user interface is quite complex and requires a bit of time to master. Its report building section is a bit clunky too. Unlike most of the tools in this guide, it comes as a desktop application. Thus, it requires on-premise installation. This can either be seen as an advantage or disadvantage. Nevertheless, despite these faults, TIBCO Statistica is a great system for predictive analytics.
H2O.AI is an open-source AI and machine learning platform made for enterprises. Even start-up companies who may not be able to afford advanced predictive analytic software should have options right? This is where H20.AI comes in.
H2O.AI offers a deep neural network and a multilayer perceptron in addition to a large collection of machine learning algorithms. It’s a flexible service that can be used to produce business models. While it takes some time to set up for business’s predictive analysis requirements, it’s free.
Emcien is a highly reputable predictive analytics solution that is primarily used for web app integration. They primarily cater to large organizations and agencies. Because Emcien is cloud-based, it intrinsically features multi-platform support. However, it also features dedicated applications for Android, Windows, and Mac.
Alteryx offers a wide variety of BI essentials. It allows you to take your pool of data and parse, blend, and distill it. Additionally, Alteryx also features reporting tools to help you visualize and share your data. With Alteryx, you can automate the entire analytic process. Most predictive analytic tools can be overwhelming.
Alteryx uses a flat design for its user interface. Alteryx does have a few limitations. For instance, it comes in the form of a desktop application that only supports Windows operating systems.
29. SAP Analytics Cloud
SAP Analytics Cloud is the second SAP tool to make an appearance on this list. It’s an all-in-one analytics solution that uses machine learning to help enterprises create sustainable roadmaps for their products. In addition to its predictive analytic features, it also comes with:
SAP Analytics Cloud has full Microsoft integration along with embedded analytics that allows users to construct what-if scenarios in real-time.
Not all data is important. In fact, bad data can often poison good data. Or it can at least slow down your attempts to educe timely analytical information from good data.
Thus, you need a business solution that will eliminate redundant and incorrect records. This section is dedicated to such tools.
30. Tibco Clarity
Because of its simplicity, Tibco Clarity is one of the best data preparation solutions on the market. It’s completely cloud-based, so it’s accessible from nearly any internet-enabled modern computing device.
You can gather and edit data from disparate sources. Clarity allows you to manage duplicates and ensure data integrity. While its user interface is intuitive, some of its more complex configurations will take some training and practice to grasp.
Most users may find the rule logic a little hard to grasp at first. However, you’ve mastered the technicalities, you should be able to automate your organization’s entire data cleansing procedure.
Xplenty is an all-in-one cloud-based data integration platform presented through a simple user interface application. The application is divided into three core parts:
Sources allow you to define where your data lives i.e., cloud storage or local databases. Transformations allow you to dictate what happens to your data i.e., cleansing. Destinations allow you to define where your data goes after the transformation process.
Xplenty guides you through the entire process with their wonderfully organized application. The entire process involves little to no coding thanks to Xplenty’s drag and drop interface. Xplenty is the perfect BI tool for users who are looking for simple and fast data cleansing.
32. RingLead Cleanse
Ringlead Cleanse is a cloud-based data cleansing solution that focuses heavily on eliminating duplicate data and other unusable records from B2B databases. It can help you optimize missing, unstandardized, and inaccurate data.
Ringlead Cleanse can automate your data cleaning and update tasks. It can be integrated with your salesforce and marketing automation platform to decrease the number of unusable records in your data pool. Ringlead Cleanse’s user interface isn’t as fancy as Xplenty’s. However, it still offers a wizard to help guide you through the integration and data cleansing process.
33. Informatica Cloud Data Quality
Informatica Cloud Data Quality is an enterprise-level data quality assurance tool. It’s a more complex alternative to drag-and-drop-driven data cleansing tools like Xplenty. Informatica cloud data quality caters more to power users. It supports both cloud and on-premise data sources. Some of Informatica Cloud Data Quality’s most notable features include:
- Iterative data analysis
- Reusable data discovery and cleansing rules
- Seamless integration with Apache Spark
- Real-time data monitoring and notifications
- AI-driven insights
If you’re looking for a data cleansing tool that allows you to control how your data is transformed, then we highly recommend Informatica Cloud Data Quality.
34. Oracle Enterprise Data Quality
Once again, another Oracle product makes an appearance on our list. This time, it’s Oracle Enterprise Data Quality, Oracle’s data extraction, transformation, and loading (ETL) solution. It is well-suited to companies that manage large sets of data daily.
Organizations can utilize it to parse through multiple data sources and eliminate duplicates and correct errant records. It also features templates, pre-built processes, data visualization tools, and a quick-stats overview that helps you understand and cohere the data circulating in and around your business.
35. SAS Data Quality
SAS Data Quality is a data validation tool for enterprises. In addition to its ETL and data cleansing capabilities, SAS Data Quality can assist companies with data model governance.
If your business runs complex prediction models, you can use SAS Data quality to monitor real-time data and fix any errors it encounters. This can make your predictive analytics more accurate. In fact, you can include it in your SAS package and run it alongside SAS Advanced Analytics.
36. IBM InfoSphere Quality Stage
IBM InfoSphere Quality Stage is a flexible enterprise data validation solution. Companies can choose to deploy it as an on-premise desktop application or a cloud-based application that can be accessed through a web portal. It features intense data profiling that can help you understand how your records relate to each other as well as identify which records are corrupt or missing.
Data discovery is arguably one of the most important facets of data science and business intelligence. It primarily describes the process of acquiring new data sources and streams. Is your pool of data enough?
Is there any gap in your company’s knowledge base? Data discovery and exploration will help you answer these questions. A good BI-based data discovery and exploration tool makes hiring dedicated data analysts unnecessary. Again, this section is dedicated to seven of the best.
Looker is a data discovery and analysis platform that’s driven to make data exploration more accessible to non-data professionals. It uses rapid deployment and is compatible with almost any analytic database.
As a young company, Looker endeavors to make it easy to define your data and identify worthwhile business metrics that your entire company can access and rely on. In addition to its data discovery capabilities, Looker also allows you to build dashboards, construct workflows and embed some of its analytic tools in your software products.
Hexomatic is another data discovery platform built to uncomplicate business intelligence. It allows you to pull data from almost any website and use it to draw insights. Hexomatic offers over 60 different ready-made automations to help you build a data scraping routine. It’s completely cloud-based and customization can be done through simple point-and-click instructions.
39. Qlik Sense
Qlik Sense is a data discovery and analytics software solution that is built on an associative engine. Qlik Sense eliminates unnecessary coding. It uses its AI to identify which data is relevant to your business and then constructs associations accordingly.
It uses color-coding to help distinguish between data that is relevant or irrelevant to your business. Again, it’s a cloud-based solution so it can be accessed and configured from any computing device.
40. Wolfram Mathematica Software
Wolfram Mathematica is a little different from the other tools in this section. It’s a general system for computation that you can use for BI and data discovery applications. It has flexible deployment options. It can be deployed on the cloud or as an on-premise solution.
The biggest downside of Mathematica is the high learning curve. It takes effort and time to set up. But if your company is looking for a tool that allows you to dictate how your data is discovered and analyzed down to every minute detail, then this service might be for you.
41. Sinequa Software
Sinequa is an enterprise data search engine that allows all your company’s employees to access crucial business intelligence. It uses over 200 connectors and built-in converters to index all your organization’s data.
The platform uses AI to transform all your abstract data into relevant information and actionable insights. In addition to this, Sinequa uses natural language processing to enrich and cleanse your data. Its beautifully crafted and well-organized user interface helps employees understand your data as frictionlessly as possible.
42. Mozart Data
Mozart Data is an extremely lightweight BI solution that helps you discover and manage your data. It has over 140+ connectors which allow you to index and pool data from a wide net of sources.
However, you’re not limited to the connectors Mozart has on offer. You can use the service to create your very own. Mozart also has ETL capabilities. You can schedule and dictate how your data is extracted and transformed from its simple user interface.
43. Acterys Software
Acterys is a dynamic and extended planning analytical platform. It allows you to forgo the long and costly integration of data sources. It completely automates their entire integration process, so you can scrape and discover data as quickly as possible.
It achieves this through end-to-end apps that give you access to everything from complex data loading to interactive pre-made dashboards. Acterys also features integration with other proven BI platforms such as Microsoft BI and Excel.