Need some guidance in making business decisions? Then you might want to think about employing a business intelligence tool or BI tool for short. Business intelligence tools are all about helping you understand trends and gaining insights from your data so that you can make tactical and strategic business decisions. From startups and smaller-size businesses through to large enterprise, you have all the same thoughts… “These tools are way too advanced and complex for my company." Wait you couldn’t be more wrong. Nowadays BI tools can help businesses of all shapes and sizes make sense of complex, big data and drive profits! Easier user interfaces and client-centric focus means the brainiac bit is presented in laymen terms and easy to use dashboards.
In fact so many SMB businesses are hopping on the BI bandwagon, following the surge of big data, that the options are growing and the days of the needing a hefty manual have gone.
Why use business intelligence tools?
One of our most common questions... How else do you do "Data discovery"? This used to be limited to the expertise of advanced analytics specialists, like spanscom, but now something everyone can do using these tools. And not only that, these tools give you the insights you need to achieve things like growth, resolve issues that are urgent, collect all your data in one place, forecast future outcomes and so much more. Of course, there are always a few of you that need a little expert help, but our aim is to get you doing your own analytics and learning your data.
In this article, we will provide you with a rundown of the top best Business Intelligence tools. Keep in mind: these all vary in many ways from each other. Think of this as a guide to whet the appetite. Oh, if you want the shortcut, drop us a line at Spanscom and we will be happy to help.
Platforms: Mac, Win, Linux
Deploy: Cloud/On Site
Funnel Dashboards & Reports is a cloud-based marketing analytics and reporting software for online advertisers and e-commerce companies. The software automatically collects data from all advertising platforms and allows marketers to send and visualize this data.
Funnel is not a "BI tool" in the traditional term, it really is more like the glue that sticks some sense into the job. Ever thought you are missing something that could collect data from MailChimp and add this data to your Report tools? Welcome to Funnel. It connects to so many things, really you need to check this out. Get data from services like Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and pull those metrics into tables for your reporting dashboards. We like this tool as it does so many things easily, like 140 data sources. Even the Swiss Army are jealous!
Platforms: Mac, Win, Linux
Deploy: On Site
Dundas BI is a flexible, browser-based business intelligence tool that lets users connect to many data sources in real-time. It offers great visualisations in charts, tables and graphs that are customisable and can be viewed from both desktops and mobile devices. You can also build your own reports and drill-down into certain performance metrics for analysis. It provides you with the ability to create interactive, customizable dashboards, build your own reports and run ad-hoc queries. With the touch-based interface and responsive design, users can create and view dashboards and reports on any device from desktop to portable devices.
We like this tool set for so many reasons, ok, not the most sexy or connected app out there, but it has some snazzy features! Do you need to make dynamic pages that lets users twiddle and fiddle? Dundas does this out the box, we did like the way making interaction was as simple as clicking on the settings and saving the page. Easy enough no? get sharp, clear reports with selectable and tunable data in minutes!
Platforms: Mac, Win, Linux
Deploy: Cloud/On Site
TIBCO Spotfire is a self-service business intelligence tool that offers executive dashboards, data visualisation, analytics and KPI push to mobile devices. It complements existing business intelligence and reporting tools, while midsize organizations can use dashboards and analytics tools. It keeps the total cost of ownership low by allowing users to build once and publish to thousands of users over internet or intranet, as a PDF or as MS PowerPoint reports.
This tool is great for collaborating with your digital team as users can define their own KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and send alerts to mobile devices. Not only is it cross team centric but Spotfire can be integrated with many CRMs, ERPs, and of course Excel and Access. Low cost of entry, deployment and the simple "across all team" visualisations and notifications makes this a useful tool. Especially if your team is needing live data in multiple locations.
A short list of some other great BI and analytics tools
Sisense. Not really tech-savvy? Then the Sisense business intelligence tool might be for you. This user-friendly tool allows anyone within your organisation to manage large and complex datasets as well as analyse and visualise this data without your IT department getting involved. It lets you bring together data from a wide variety of sources as well including Adwords, Google Analytics and Salesforce. Sisense allows businesses to combine data from many disparate sources and club them into a single database. Once done, the solution itself rearranges data into a predefined standard format. Users can then perform slicing and dicing over the complete data set using multiple filters and built-in analytic tools.
SAP Business Intelligence offers several advanced analytics solutions including real-time BI predictive analytics, machine learning, and planning & analysis. The Business Intelligence platform in particular, offers reporting & analysis, data visualisation & analytics applications, office integration and mobile analytics. SAP is a robust software intended for all roles (IT, end uses and management) and offers tons of functionalities in one platform.
MicroStrategy is a business intelligence tool that offers powerful (and high speed) dashboarding and data analytics which help monitor trend, recognise new opportunities, improve productivity and more. Users can connect to one or various sources, whether the incoming data is from a spreadsheet, cloud-based or enterprise data software. It can be accessed from your desktop or via mobile.
Yellowfin BI is a business intelligence tool and ‘end-to-end’ analytics platform that combines visualisation, machine learning, and collaboration. You can also easily filter through tons of data with intuitive filtering (e.g. checkboxes and radio buttons) as well open up dashboards just about anywhere (thanks to this tool’s flexibility in accessibility (mobile, webpage, etc.).
Hevo Data is a rather new business intelligence tool that is catered heavily towards data integration. It can be connected instantly to hundreds of data sources, including databases, blogs, websites, cloud-based apps and more. Not only that but this data syncs across all systems so that multiple teams and people can view data in real-time. This helps avoid using different versions of data for daily tasks. Hevo Data also has comprehensive reports and analytics available.
Tableau is a Business Intelligence software for data discovery and data visualisation. With the software you can easily analyse, visualise and share data, without IT having to intervene. Tableau supports multiple data sources such as MS Excel, Oracle, MS SQL, Google Analytics and SalesForce. Tableau is free for personal use. However, if you want more, the price can go up quickly. But of course, this will give you something in return: well-designed dashboards that are very easy to use. Additionally Tableau also offers three standalone products: Tableau Desktop (for anyone) and Tableau Server (analytics for organisations), which can be run locally and Tableau Online (hosted analytics for organisations).
Oracle BI is an enterprise portfolio of technology and applications for business intelligence. This technology gives users pretty much all BI capabilities, such as dashboards, proactive intelligence, alerts, ad hoc, and more. Oracle is also great for companies who need to analyse large data volumes (from Oracle and non-Oracle sources) as it is a very robust solution.
QlikView is a Business Intelligence data discovery platform that offers unique data discovery and global search. It provides users with customer connectors so that they can import data when they need it from sources such as Salesforce, Teradata and Hive. It also gives users complete control over their data, a secure working environment, flexibility (gives you the tools you need to build your workspace and process data your way), and consistent reporting which can be sent to Microsoft Office docs.
Collating data from different sources is great, but is there something missing?
Business Intelligence Tools are, as you can see, very versatile and provide you with a lot of useful information regarding your business’ performance and where it’s headed. However, while great for collating data from various sources and helping you make headway into your newly formed data playground, you may still need some help making sense of it.
For friendly advice, guidance and sanity always feel free to reach out to us, at Spanscom we are always happy to wade through the data to get the dashboards that count.