Ensuring all business processes are under control is getting harder each year since the massive volumes of data challenge businesses of all sizes. Ultimately, organizations and companies need certain help when it comes to making sustainable and profitable decisions. By utilizing modern and professional BI tools, each challenge can be addressed promptly, without the need for massive IT involvement.
These tools step up into collecting, analyzing, monitoring, and predicting future business scenarios by creating a clear perspective of all the data a company manages. Identifying trends, enabling self-service analytics, utilizing powerful visualizations and offering real-time online data analysis are becoming the standard in business operations, strategic development and, ultimately, indispensable tools in increasing profit.
Here we will explain what is a BI tool, offer the most prominent benefits that a company can obtain by using them and provide a list of the best BI tools on the market with a review of each. We also took into consideration Capterra, as one of the most prominent websites for software comparisons and user reviews, also part of the Gartner family, the world’s leading advisory and research company.
BI tools are types of software used to gather, process, analyze, and visualize large volumes of past, current, and future data in order to generate actionable business insights, create interactive reports, and simplify the decision-making processes.
These tools include key features such as data visualization, visual analytics, interactive dashboarding and KPI scorecards. Additionally, they enable users to utilize automated reporting and predictive analytics features based on self-service.
But what are the exact benefits of these tools and what do they offer that traditional means of data management cannot? It all starts with technology.
Professional software and tools offer various prominent benefits, here we will focus on the most invaluable ones:
1. They bring together all relevant data: Whether you work in a small company or large enterprise, you probably collect data from various portals, ERPs, CRMs, flat files, databases, APIs, and much more. You need to obtain a high level of data intelligence to be able to manage all these sources and develop a better understanding of the collected information. That’s why utilizing modern data connectors will help you in centralizing the disparate sources and provide you with a single point of view on all your business processes. That way, identifying issues, trends, and taking action are closely connected and based solely on data.
2. Their true self-service analytics approaches unlock data access: When each person in the company is equipped with modern business intelligence software that will enable him/her to explore the data on their own, the need to request reports from the IT department is significantly reduced. This self-service BI approach gives organizations a competitive advantage because each employee will be equipped with the right amount of data analytics skills that will, ultimately, save the company’s time and resources while unburdening the IT department, hence, enabling them to focus on other critical tasks.
3. Users can take advantage of predictions: Predictive analytics doesn’t need to be a specialty of data scientists or analysts. With the integration of forecast engines business users can generate insights for future scenarios that will help them in adjusting current strategies to deliver the best possible results. On the other hand, if a business condition changes, intelligent data alerts safeguard the anomalies that can occur while you manage huge amounts of data, and discover new trends and patterns that will enable you to react immediately.
4. They eliminate manual tasks: While traditional means of business management encourage the use of spreadsheets and static presentations, modern software eliminates endless amounts of rows and columns and facilitates the automation of processes. Need a report? The tool updates your KPI dashboard itself with real-time data. Besides, you can automate the reporting process with specified time intervals and purely look at the results. Need a presentation? Simply drag-and-drop your values and see how you can easily create a powerful interactive dashboard that enables you to directly interact with your screen.
5. They reduce business costs: From sales planning and customer behavior analysis to real-time process monitoring and offer optimization, BI platforms enable faster planning, analysis, and reporting processes. In fact, according to a survey conducted by the BI survey, more than 50% of business intelligence users reported that these are the most prominent benefits that helped them reducing costs, and increasing revenues. If you can work fast and accurate, you can achieve far better business results and make profitable adjustments.
6. They’re constantly at your service, 24/7/365: Various organizations require various needs and the Software-as-a-Service model offered by these tools will provide a full SaaS BI experience, with all the data hosted in a secure online environment. According to your needs, the software can scale or de-scale, thus, adjusting to the specific needs of a company. Since the data is stored on a cloud, you have non-stop access to the software, where you can fully explore various self-service analytics features no matter if you’re a manager, data scientist, analyst or consultant.
These business intelligence benefits are focused both on small companies and large enterprises. If you need to control your data and know what’s going on in your company, BI is the way to do so. To help you on the way, we have created a business intelligence tools list that not only will ensure your data management and discovery become intuitive and easy to use, but also stay secured and guarantee a higher level of productivity, and, consequently, increased profits.
We have chosen the top 12 BI tools that are leaders in the business intelligence community, often mentioned in industry articles, and obtain a favorable level of user reviews on Capterra, as mentioned. The order of the tools is random and doesn't represent a grading or ranking system in any form.
datapine is a BI software that lets you connect your data from various sources and analyze with advanced analytics features (including predictive). With your analysis, you can create a powerful business dashboard (or several), generate standard or customized reports or incorporate intelligent alerts to get notified of anomalies and targets. This tool, rated with outstanding 4.8 stars on Capterra, is a powerful solution for businesses of all sizes since datapine can be implemented for various industries, functions, and platforms, no matter the size.
The tool offers features for both advanced users such as data analysts and average business users. The SQL mode enables analysts to create their own queries while, on the other hand, the intuitive drag-and-drop interface ensures a visually intuitive way of entering your values and creating powerful charts and dashboards, simply by using effective visual analytics.
Intuitive drag-and-drop interface: Simply drag your KPIs into the interface and see how your charts and graphs transform into a professional dashboard without any IT involvement or advanced coding.
Easy-to-use predictive analytics: Advanced analytics features, including predictive analysis based on a forecast engine, where you simply select the KPI, determine the number of data points you want to forecast, specify the previous data points for the calculation, and finally define the model quality by appointing the desired confidence interval.
Many interactive dashboard features: Dig deep into each part of the dashboard with advanced dashboard software features such as drill-downs, chart zooms, widget linking, hierarchical filters, among others, that will ensure a detailed data discovery process.
Multiple reporting options: Take advantage of BI reporting tools and create standard or customized reports by sharing via URL, enabling viewer access or sending an automated e-mail report which you can automate on specific time intervals. Additionally, you can embed datapine into your own application.
Smart insights and alarms based on artificial intelligence: They alert the user if a business anomaly occurs or generate multiple types of insights, including growth, trends, value drivers, what-if scenarios, among others.
They do offer mobile access, but the dashboards are not directly accessible unless you download their app and customize them within the mobile view.
SAS Business Intelligence is a software solution offering numerous products and technologies for data scientists, text analysists, data engineers, forecasting analysts, econometricians, and optimization modelers, among others. Founded in the 70s, SAS Business Intelligence enjoys a long tradition in the market, building and expanding its products every year. With a Capterra rating of 4.3*, this software enjoys a decent level of users’ trust and satisfaction.
5 main subjects: SAS offers different BI products and technologies that are focused on visual data exploration and easy analytics, interactive reporting and dashboards, collaboration, and mobile apps.
Data exploration supported by machine learning: SAS’ data exploration offers automated analysis supported by machine learning compiled in interactive visualizations that answer business questions such as: “Where do my customers come from?”
Text analytics capabilities: Interesting features are text analytics that enables you to gain insights from text data such as social media and location analytics that combines data in a geographical context.
Reports and dashboards across devices: Dynamic visuals are organized into interactive reports and dashboards, similar to other tools in our lists, and you can access them also on mobile and tablet devices (both Android and iOS).
Integration with other applications: You can integrate SAS with Microsoft Office applications such as PowerPoint, Word, SharePoint or Excel with their Office Analytics solution which enables you to view your results directly in Microsoft Office Suite.
Considering the complexity of the product and its offers, the higher price range and limited customization options can be huge factors in deciding if this tool would be the right choice, as most users indicate on Capterra.
Clear Analytics is a tool that consolidates data from internal systems, cloud, accounting, CRM, and allows you to drag-and-drop that data into Excel. It works with Microsoft Power BI, using Power Query and Power Pivot to clean and model different datasets. Capterra gives a high user review of 4.5 stars making this tool also one of the highest-rated on our list.
Reports delivered to Power BI: It delivers self-service ad hoc reporting directly to Power BI, hence enabling non-technical users to explore data stored in databases with their drag-and-drop interface and dynamic query designer.
Connected with Excel: It bolts right into Excel, where you can specify end users’ viewing rights based on a user or role level, and manipulate formulas freely, whether you need to perform basic or advanced analysis.
Sharing on mobile devices: You can use Power BI features such as Power Maps, Pivot and Desktop, where you can share your insights also to mobile devices, including iWatch.
A full audit trail: They offer a full audit trail that enables you to know where the data came from, what filters were applied, who ran the report, and when the data was extracted.
Fetch data elements with a semantic layer: A semantic layer will enable you to fetch data elements and organize them with modeling, visualizing, and transforming data to generate needed insights.
This software is based on Excel, meaning spreadsheets are the backbone of their solution which might not be the best and sustainable option for the future.
SAP BusinessObjects is a business intelligence suite designed for comprehensive reporting, analysis, and data visualization. They provide Office integrations with Excel and PowerPoint where you can create live presentations and hybrid analytics that connects to their on-premise and cloud SAP systems. They’re focused on business categories such as CRM and customer experience, ERP and digital core, HR and people engagement, digital supply chain, and many more. To be accurate, more than 170M users leverage SAP across the world, making it one of the largest software suppliers in the world. On Capterra, the company obtained a review of 4.2 stars, confirming its well-established place in the market since 1972.
A BI enterprise reporting system: Reporting and analysis are done with ad hoc queries and a complex BI enterprise reporting system designed to guide your overall company strategy.
Self-service, role-based dashboards: Analytics applications and data visualization are focused on self-service capabilities, similar to other tools, where you can build your own role-based dashboards and applications to assess risks, for example.
Cross-enterprise sharing: You can create a cross-enterprise sharing functionality that will enable you to communicate your findings with other stakeholders and partners.
Connection with SAP Warehouse and HANA: Multidimensional data analysis enables you to filter and manipulate data with real-time analytics when you connect with SAP Business Information Warehouse (SAP BW) or SAP HANA.
Integration with Office: By using Microsoft Excel with SAP, you can analyze larger volumes of data, and embed analytics in PowerPoint, making this solution easily integrated with Office.
Some reviews report that extensive analysis functions are rarely usable without additional user training. In addition, the costs for the individual modules are relatively high and there are comparatively few feature updates.
Domo is a BI solution comprised of multiple systems that are featured in this platform, starting with connecting the data, and finishing with extending data with pre-built and custom apps from the Domo Appstore. You can use Domo also for your data lakes, warehouses, and ETL tools, alongside with R or Python scripts to prepare data for predictive modeling. Similar to other tools, you can connect the data across your enterprise, utilize their machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities while enabling users to explore the data on their own. With a firm 4.2 stars rating on Capterra, this BI platform is also recommended by many users across the world, despite the fact that the company is one of the younger on our list – founded in 2011.
Numerous pre-built cloud connectors: Data integration works similarly to other tools, as mentioned; you can connect to more than 1000 pre-built cloud connectors, on-premise with Domo Workbench, file upload such as Excel or Google Docs, proprietary systems, and federated connectors that will enable you to query the data where it’s hosted.
Magic ETL feature: Data transformation tools will enable you to prepare your data with a drag-and-drop Magic ETL, as Domo calls it, without the need to learn SQL.
Automatically suggested visualizations: Data visualization enables you to go from raw data to charts, graphs, maps, and other visualizations which are suggested automatically by Domo after you upload your data source. You can refine the data, annotate for further commentary or discussions, or refine and control who has access to it.
Mr. Roboto as an AI engine: Predictive analysis is powered with Mr. Roboto, Domo’s AI engine, that enables data scientists to create predictive models and utilize artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing, and other AI technologies that alert and notify about changes in KPIs, for example.
Domo Appstore: Their open cloud platform is an ecosystem of pre-built apps, connector APIs and dashboards, giving you also the possibility to build your own and share it on the Domo Appstore.
Domo is not built for newcomers as the learning curve can be steep, but they do offer trainings, therefore, be prepared to learn. Their pricing models are not transparent, but you can assume it’s the most expensive solution on our list, according to the available information on the web.
Metric Insights is an enterprise BI portal that offers content organization, anomaly detection, and enterprise distribution of content under a single point of access. In essence, the company has built a portal where users can search and find BI content that is most relevant to them and save time in looking for the right information. Moreover, sending an email of significant changes makes sharing the data quite easy and fast, therefore, this tool deserves to be one of our top business intelligence tools on the market.
Business intelligence portal: The number one feature of this company is the portal that is built based on the premise that metrics, KPIs, reports, and dashboards need to be consolidated into a single portal. The portal can be used as a board of your BI data which you can easily distribute throughout your enterprise.
Anomaly detection: As with many of the business intelligence products on our list, anomaly detection is one of the key features here as well. By adding your own rules and thresholds, or using the automatic profile for detecting anomalies, the tool will send a notification via email, SMS, or mobile app.
Managed alerts: An interesting feature of this business intelligence program is the possibility to manage alerts and ensure that users are acting upon triggered data. By creating and assigning workflows, team members can take ownership while the tool will keep the history so you can access the completed workflows at any time.
Portal pages: One of the most interesting features that this solution contains is the portal pages where users can create user-designed pages that feature highly relevant data. In essence, you can build a single or multi-page website, hosted by Metric Insights, as well as contact them if you need a customized layout solution.
Chatbots integration: If you want to go a step further into the automation process, Metric Insights is another business intelligence platform that offers integration with chatbots with Slack and Microsoft Teams being the most prominent ones. You can build a Slack app with bot functions or connect the Microsoft Team Bot App with the portal.
There aren’t many reviews about the software so we can’t rely on real-life user experience, although there are reports about difficulties in communication with the company. There is also no trial period so you would need to schedule a demo to see how the solution actually works.
We continue our BI tools list with Zoho Analytics. Although the company offers many products ranging from CRM, bundles, and apps, here we focus on their BI and analytics solutions as the most relevant for our topic. With more than 500 integrations for your business apps, more than 10 000 customers worldwide, and a strong 4.3 stars rating on Capterra, this is one of the business intelligence reporting tools worth taking into consideration.
Blending and visualizing data: Similar to other tools on our list, their most prominent features focus on blending data from multiple sources, and visualizing them through reports and dashboards via their drag-and-drop designer. But not only, as you can also feed data from their online storage service Zoho Docs.
Intelligent assistant Zia: If you’re looking for artificial intelligence-powered analytics, Zoho has created Zia, an intelligent assistant that you can ask questions in form of natural language, and you will immediately receive the answer in the form of reports and KPI widgets. Zia is based on natural language processing and machine learning technologies to help the user search for data faster.
Commenting section in sharing options: If you opt for a shared view of your reports, you can enable commenting in real-time of elements such as charts, pivot views, tabular views, tables, or dashboards. The people that you collaborate with will be immediately notified and you can develop a complete thread as well as attach files, crop your screen, or use different formatting options.
Geo visualization: Apart from various visualization options such as charts, widgets, pivot tables and tabular view components, geo visualization is a feature that will enable you to analyze the geographical data with interactive map charts across countries, states, regions, and even latitudes and longitudes.
Spreadsheet-like interface for deep analytics: If you’re a fan of spreadsheets, then Zoho’s interface for deep analytics will definitely look familiar. Designed for users acquainted with Excel, this kind of analysis will give you a well-known look and feel for analysis and reporting, although they promise many more features than Excel.
There are reports that you will need additional development knowledge if you want to utilize more advanced tasks. Additionally, it will take time to get familiar with organizing your workflow, and connecting the dots before you can fully take advantage of their features.
Hyperintelligence pulls your data: Their hyperintelligence feature pulls the data from various sources and puts them into relevant, zero-click insights, whether it’s a card on a website or integrated with a voice-over assistant. An interesting fact is that they provide contextual insights, you simply need to hover with your mouse, and the software will recognize the relevant data, directly in the website, applications, and devices you use.
Federated analytics: It provides a common data glossary, no matter the tools you use, built on an enterprise semantic graph that indexes all the disparate data systems and enables visualizations of the same data.
Mobile deployment: As mentioned, they also offer mobile deployment that enables users to leverage existing reports, dashboards and visualizations in real-time, from any location and device, with the possibility for code-free app development and design.
Integration with voice technology: Powered by natural language processing and machine learning, you can also integrate voice technology and chatbots such as Alexa or Google Home.
Cloud technology: Microstrategy offers a range of solutions to deliver scalable, secure, flexible and extensible cloud solutions that meet the needs of both business departments and IT.
Some users report a complex initial setup since it involves many parties and in-depth knowledge of the application itself. Ease of use is certainly an aspect that the software lacks – you will need very knowledgeable staff to “get it up and running.”
GoodData is a business analytics software that provides the tools for data ingestion, storage, analytic queries, visualizations, and application integration. You can embed their analytics into your website, desktop or mobile application or create dashboards and reports for your daily activities, without the need to obtain a Ph.D., as stated on their website. Also one of the younger software solutions on our list, founded in 2007, GoodData received a stable 4.3 stars review on Capterra as one of the great tools to “manage your business.”
Customers can publish their own reports: Embedded analytics can be delivered at scale, for each customer you might have, with a wide range of customizations (custom data models and analytics) that let customers publish their own reports and dashboards.
A modular data pipeline: They offer also modular data pipeline for fast data integration with an on-premise or cloud warehouse, no matter if the data is structured, semi-structured or unstructured. You can also use tools such as SQL, Python, R or Ruby for flexible data processing.
Additional support: They offer additional services and support for the complete data and analytics lifecycle, including development, testing, launch, and maintenance.
4 Data centers: GoodData has 4 different data centers: two in the USA (Chicago and Dallas) and one in the EU and Canada, although the exact locations in these two regions are not specified. Existing projects can be transferred from one data center to another at any time.
Some users report it's difficult to use despite completed training sessions and a higher price range for small businesses.
Part of the Microsoft family, IBM Cognos Analytics is a cloud-based business intelligence software that utilizes AI recommendations when creating dashboards and reports, geospatial capabilities to overlay your data with the physical world, and enables you to ask questions in plain English to communicate with the software. A robust solution from one of the industry leaders in software development, IBM Cognos Analytics received a sturdy 4.1 stars review on Capterra.
Search mechanism: A new Cognos Analytics search mechanism that enables users to access, discover and access recently used content within the software, where you can filter and save your searches.
A single data module: Multiple data sources are joined into a single data module that doesn’t replace the IT department but allows users to generate and work with insights on their own.
Interactive data visualization: Interactive visualizations are coupled with embedded geospatial mapping and advanced analytics.
AI assistant: Enables users to communicate in plain language: simply ask a question, and the assistant will recommend the most suitable visualizations.
Extensive knowledge center: A comprehensive knowledge center, community, and support for learning and understanding their product.
It will take a while to get familiar with all the features and capabilities this solution has on offer, and if you look for comprehensive dashboard features, this tool would not be suitable, as many users reported.
QlikView is one of BI applications offered by Qlik as part of its data analytics platform focused on rapid development and guided analytics applications and dashboards. It’s built on an Associative Engine that allows data discovery without the need to use query-based tools, eliminating the risk of data loss and inaccurate results. A decent rating of 4.3 stars on Capterra, users are quite satisfied with this product and its features, making it one of the top BI tools on our list.
Associative exploration: Qlickview's Associative Exploration feature is based on simple selection and search functions that can be entered by end users of all experience levels. This makes it possible to view the relevant company data from various angles and to gain new insights ad hoc.
Visually highlighted dashboards: Dashboards and guided analytics are visually highlighted for the user during the data exploration process.
Associative Engine: Advanced data preparation and connectivity with their Associative Engine combines all the data sources you might have, without limits, disregarding imperfections, and updating with each click within the interface.
A dual-use strategy: Qlik offers its customers the ability to extend QlikView with other products from their portfolio, enabling the development of individual dual-use strategies.
Developer’s platform: Various tools and resources are provided for developers, such as the Qlik Branch Community, the Qlik Knowledge Hub, the Qlik Branch Playground (which they announced soon to be retired) and the Qlik Core documentation.
You will need to be willing to learn to utilize this software as it requires technical expertise at many points, and small to midsize companies might find it quite pricey.
Last, but not least on our list of business intelligence software we’ve dedicated to Yellowfin BI. A suite of products consisted of dashboards, signals, stories, data discovery and data prep, this BI analytics tool offers numerous features, including a mobile app available both for Android and iOS devices. Capterra users gave a strong rating of 4.6*, hence, it makes sense to take a closer look at what they have on offer.
5 main products: The Yellowfin BI suite combines 5 main products to connect, transform and understand your company data: Yellowfin signals, stories, dashboards, data discovery, and data prep.
3 areas of BI and analytics: They are specialized in 3 main areas of BI and analytics solutions: enterprise analytics, embedded analytics, and analytical application builders.
Yellowfin signals via smartphone: Benefit from the automated detection of trends and anomalies in your data thanks to the Yellowfin signals, which are based on powerful, AI-controlled algorithms and enable immediate, personalized notifications directly to your smartphone.
Persuasive data stories: Yellowfin stories enable users to combine data with a written narrative, video, and images to build trusted data reports, that put people first.
Smart tasks: They offer trigger-based smart tasks that are automatically sent to the relevant person if a KPI falls below a standard. This enables everyone within the company to take the right action at the right time.
Some users wrote in their reviews that some essential analysis functions are not available that can be found in other BI tools. They also reported performance problems when dealing with larger data sets.
Big data is all around us and steadily increasing with each year. By utilizing business analytics tools and BI, you stand to reap great rewards – your data management will become more cohesive, stable, agile, and predictable with numerous features that these tools have on offer. Our aim was to help you to consider the best tools on the market, and we hope we have provided an extensive review of each product that will inspire you to start exploring business intelligence tools and find a perfect fit for your company or department.
If you want to start with a modern BI solution, which covers nearly all of the discussed product functions, you can test datapine 14 days free of charge and with full functionality.
Take advantage of modern BI software features today!