Business Intelligence Software (or BI software) is a class of computer applications that process and analyze corporate data to produce quality insights, and help understand the health of your business. BI software uses a variety of formulas and metrics to measure, compare, and relate business indicators, and makes it possible to distinguish the strengths and weaknesses of every company.Show more The main functions of these systems are data discovery, data management, and reporting, but some of them also evaluate functionality and employees’ performance. If you are looking for the perfect BI system for your company, we recommend you to consider our leader Sisense, and other programs discussed in this category.Show less
To prepare this ranking of best Business Intelligence Software we have examined 1,146 trending systems currently present on the market, studying their features, ease of implementation, customer support, possible integrations as well as mobile device support with our unique SmartScoreTM rating algorithm. This ranking has been prepared by Nestor Gilbert, our SaaS authority responsible for the Business Intelligence Software category.
A leading and award-winning software for preparing, analyzing, visualizing, and organizing data for your business. Sisense brings innovative and intelligent technology designed to address inquiries directly through a single channel, as well as gather and present your data as relevant insights that you can share using interactive dashboards.
Looker is a data-discovery platform that provides companies real-time access to relevant data to help them make better business decisions. A browser-based application, Looker can analyze any size of data for businesses of all sizes. It also has a user-friendly interface that even inexperienced data analysts can navigate with ease.
An award-winning tool trusted by businesses and academic institutions. Leveraging artificial intelligence in survey data analysis, this comes with advanced intuitive tools to streamline the complex research processes. Furthermore, this software provides customized solutions for different companies.
A cross-platform workflow automation tool that can handle job scheduling and workload distribution and management. It eliminates scripting through prebuilt, pretested, production-ready Job Steps for no-code workflow assembly while supporting existing script investments. This eliminates the hassle and coding associated with workflow development.
Cloud-based or on-premise data discovery and analytics platform that helps create a single source of truth for your business. CXAIR Platform is powered by features that consolidate information regardless of structure into an organized central source. Its native data discovery functionality also makes data access and retrieval faster.
Reveal enables you to analyze significant business metrics in a centralized and self-service BI platform. It delivers reports and analytics in a highly visual presentation that you can customize and embed in integrated third-party applications. Reveal's reports are also interactive and accessible in all devices along with its real-time dashboards.
A flexible enterprise-level business intelligence software. Wyn Enterprise is an intuitive self-service business intelligence solution that allows you to design your dashboards and reports. It also provides interactive dashboards accessible and viewable in most devices including mobile phones.
Periscope Data by Sisense is an advanced analytics platform where businesses can securely conduct data processing, testing, performing queries, and others. Among Periscope Data's robust features include efficient query management, data preparation, data connection and analysis, custom data visualization, multiple sharing options, data and user management, and more.
ReportPlus is an award-winning data visualization software that enables you to analyze significant business metrics in a centralized platform with self-service BI. Its interactive dashboards offer various visualization types to suit your presentation; it also has unlimited dashboards that you can embed within apps and customize for brand consistency.
A powerful business intelligence, data analytics, and online reporting tool for creating data visualizations and generating actionable business insights. Zoho Analytics' self-service approach streamlines the data analytics process in a way that can be handled by anyone regardless of their technical skills.
MicroStrategy is committed to innovation, building on its core competence – Analytics. Put the ideal analytics platform to work for your business.
The goal of business intelligence programs is to allow for the easy and deeper interpretation of large volumes of business data. Finding out opportunities to grow and adopting effective strategies based on these deep, analytical insights can provide businesses a huge competitive market edge over competitors, aside from long-term stability. Instead of relying on intuition, business intelligence solutions deliver both data and valuable insights to help you make better decisions based on actual key indicators relevant to your business.
In addition, business intelligence software platforms can provide businesses historical, current, and predictive online views of various operations of their business.
Thus, it is no wonder that a lot of businesses—whether they are a small start-up, a medium-size company, or an enterprise firm—use these tools to support a wide range of business decisions, whether they are operational or strategic in nature. It’s always a good idea to get more information on each product first. You may want to read more about the current leader in the business intelligence software category in our Sisense reviews or simply do a comparison of the most popular solutions in our business intelligence tools reviews. To help you we have prepared detailed reviews of the top 10 business intelligence software. For more refined and specific guidelines there are also top 15 data mining software systems comparisons as well as the top 15 data analysis software systems that will give you a more detailed overview of available options.
Whatever your objective for using such a software solution, it is most efficient when it combines business data obtained from the market (known as external data) with the data considered internal to the operations, including financial (known as internal data). With its capacity to combine two extremely different data sets, the best Business Intelligence software can give you a more comprehensive overview of the business.
It’s usually a good idea to try out some free trial plans or demo provided by the most popular business intelligence software providers to test the features of their software and get a better grasp on what is business intelligence software. You won’t be risking wasting your money and the test should offer you a solid look into the capabilities of each software. The best approach is to try out solutions that currently have the highest rankings in our SmartScore and Customer Satisfaction Rating in the business intelligence tools category and choose the best Business Intelligence software for your company: Sisense, Looker, Domo, Birst, Tableau or QlikView.
Departmental buyers and business users: These buyers opt for small data-discovery apps and BI tools over big BI systems. They look for ease-of-use and fast deployment, and do not worry much about robust functionality and integration. These are normally business users and not IT staff.
IT buyers: These are traditional buyers who look for in-depth functionality and integration with the other business apps they use. For these buyers, integration across different units and entities is more vital than ease of use.
Digital marketing agencies and professionals: Companies that offer marketing services benefit immensely from an agile business intelligence solution. With its business operations reliant on data and analytics, marketing agencies and professionals will benefit from a BI software’s capabilities to organize, narrow-down, and transform data into useful insights.
Finance companies: A business intelligence software helps finance professionals implement a faster and more efficient data gathering, processing, and analysis of financial data. Moreover, BI software assists in delivering valuable insights that help in financial planning, expense management, managing and balancing cash flow, and managing revenue and profitability.
Business Intelligence Apps and systems are designed to analyze and transform big data into operable business intelligence, which is especially beneficial for large businesses with complex structure and organization. They need robust and well-integrated solutions that will reveal the whole picture of how their business is doing, in particular such that detect important trends and opportunities, and reveal risk on an early stage to help them avoid severe financial damage. Plus, large enterprises benefit from the quote-based pricing which is very typical for these products, as they obtain an individually tailored package that is priced and equipped according to their needs.
While majority of modern BI software are cloud-based, there are BI software solutions that are deployed on-premise. Some BI software systems that cater to enterprise-level needs have different deployment options.
For a wider choice, read our in-depth reviews and select from the top 15 business intelligence solutions.
Business intelligence tools can be deployed in different ways. These include:
On-premise deployment: In-house product installation using equipment owned or leased by the company. The advantage is you are assured of data security.
Cloud implementation: Public cloud, private cloud, or a hybrid cloud. The benefits are you don’t have to download any software, or worry about upgrades and maintenance.
Data Management Tools
Include the following features:
Data Discovery Applications
List of features includes:
The most typical features of a business intelligence program include:
Business Intelligence solutions are generally defined with extensive functionality and capabilities. If you are considering purchasing a business intelligence software program for your company, consider the following features before buying one:
Data management: A major consideration when selecting business intelligence programs is to check how capable a tool is in giving complex business data relevant meaning and context for your business to understand the entire situation. It means the tool you should choose should be able to make the raw and unstructured business data “analytic-ready” with its data manipulation, extraction, query, as well as business logic features.
Reporting: When choosing business intelligence, check out their reporting features as claimed by the solution’s vendor or provider. Can the tool really create and distribute business data in visually informative charts, tables, and in a specified or desired page layout. Can the tool also provide you with not just fundamental reporting but even advanced and more meaningful reporting and presentation features?
Check how the tool visualizes the business data. Features such as associative relationship displays, three dimensional images, and pivot-like, easy-to-configure interfaces should be some of the top considerations in your mind. Do these features show up on a mobile platform, particularly when you are showing these data outside your work?
Architecture: Does the business intelligence tool support scalable methods for diverse and complex data sets? For instance, if your business has a huge number of data sets that are at the same time complicated, you might consider buying a program that can effectively handle them and scales to large numbers of data sets.
Check if the tool is designed using a single code base or if it offers solutions compiled from various products that are developed independently. Check if the tool has a quick development cycle, provides your business tightly integrated solutions, and offers amazing user experience.
Can the tool be embedded with the information technology systems you are already using? Does it provide you with solid data security? Can the tool restrict business data view and functionality to a select number of users or user groups?
Does the tool provide you with consistent data backups? If it isn’t, then your business data might get leaked or lost when serious technical glitches happen.
Predictive Analytics: This feature is a more advanced function that uses machine learning technology. Predictive analysis feature helps in analyzing customer behavior which helps in developing strategies and and effective marketing campaigns.
Any company that wants to buy a business intelligence software program needs to consider the functionalities that can help it to become more competitive in the market and really succeed in the industry.
Four major benefits and requirements should be in your mind when reviewing a program’s core features.
Ability to integrate information from different business systems
Strategic business insight generally needs data across various systems. For example, operational results of your company will need a financial perspective. Therefore, your business intelligence software solution should have the capacity to quickly and dynamically integrate information from different sources so you will get answers to a number of business questions.
Outstanding reporting and analysis
When looking at programs, always remember that the solution should offer you more knowledge about complex trends and views in your company. Do not stick with a business intelligence software application that can merely report the business data it mined. You should look for a tool that offers you an explorable capacity, letting you to understand different actions or strategies you can take to predict different scenarios and look for the best ways to achieve success.
Historical analysis and reporting
Ideally, the business intelligence program you should invest in is one that will be able to give you a deeper insight into the company’s overall performance over time and the causes for that positive (or negative) performance. Successful decision-making, in general, needs to have a thorough and critical understanding of the growth of your company over the years and the reasons behind it. In short, your program should have the capacity to map and analyze historical data that may be complex over time, even years. This means you should also get a tool that has the capacity to extract, manipulate, and understand possibly a lot of information. In a lot of companies, millions of database entries are a normal thing.
Future projection and forecasting
The tool’s capacity to analyze and report historical data enables you to project business findings into the future. It will enable you to look at present opportunities and forecast the next possible steps for your company. The ability to forecast and project scenarios in the future should always be among your top factors when it comes to success.
A good business intelligence software systems are designed with collaboration in mind. A number of leading BI software make sharing reports, data, analytics, and insights easier through available channels. This function is particularly helpful during the brainstorming process.
Huge industry – As a market industry, the business intelligence sector is a huge one. Based on a Market Share Analysis: Business Intelligence and Analytics Software report, companies worldwide spent about $14.4 billion that year, an increase of eight percent from the total $13.3 billion spent by firms the previous year.
Big Data – The Internet is fast creating huge amounts of data. This phenomenon is called “Big Data” and business analytics software vendors are enhancing their analytics and data warehousing capabilities to meet the demand. Fortune 500 companies are expected to invest a lot in BI tools to harness the large amounts of data. They will also consider buying dedicated IT security apps to take care of their computer security requirements.
Mobile BI apps – The widespread use of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets is pushing vendors including Oracle and Microsoft to develop mobile business intelligence apps that can be used on the go. Mobile BI is expected to expand the number of BI users to mainstream sections.
More advanced NLP systems – BI software systems today are adopting natural language processing (NLP) system more and more into their interface. The application of NLP into the BI system paves the way for more natural interactions between the applications and their users. NLP technology is evolving as it gains context-based understanding which gives it capabilities to conduct analytical conversations with the end-users.
Steep learning curve – Business intelligence apps can be difficult to learn for lay users. Select an app that has a simple interface design and is easy to learn and use effectively. Invest heavily in training your employees to use the app to ensure you get the expected returns from shelling out for the BI app.
Needless features – Do not get taken in by the gimmicky features offered by some vendors. You may end up not needing them at all. Plus, if the software is hard to use, your employees may not take to it resulting in low adoption rates. The solution is priority-based configuration to pick and choose the functions you need, while omitting the features you don’t need.
Wherever sensitive data exist, threats are likely to follow. This is even more true now that business intelligence solutions are migrating to the cloud platform. In spite of international data privacy and compliance, valuable insights can still remain vulnerable to hackers. Cybersecurity is a real threat, which is why modern BI software systems have layers of tight security in place.
Data encryption is a data security requirement and something that must be carefully assessed with the help of an expert if a BI software’s encryption process is strong enough for your business. There are BI systems that enforce end-to-end data encryption, and while this sounds ideal, it does not necessarily apply to all types and size of business.
Access permission, on the hand, is a user-accessible security feature. This allows you to determine who can access specific data, reports, and insights as well as what actions they can do. This feature allows you to limit the access to valuable information and keep track of those who can access them to prevent information leak.
Whatever the security measures are in place, data security and business intelligence, business intelligence and data security are inseparable entities. Understanding how they work together plays an important tole in keeping your valuable insights safe from cybersecurity threats.
Decision-making is a critical aspect of business management and operations. While there are experienced businessmen who will depend on gut instinct, savvy entrepreneurs will use solid data as a basis. But unlike popular belief, data and analytics are not coming after your experience-based instincts. In fact, solid data and the insights derived from there are here to help you figure out if your gut feeling is worth following.
Hybrid decision-making combines both data science and gut feeling. In this process, an experienced entrepreneur’s intuition can help in laying out initial plans and course of action. BI software, on the other hand, helps by bringing in cold hard facts to the table. Data can either support the intuition or not, but it plays a major role in determining what the next steps are and what direction to follow.
There are plenty of cloud-based SaaS solutions available in the market and this makes it hard for a company to select a suitable tool for their needs. The first aspect to consider is usability. Be certain about the changes needed for your team’s procedures and workflow when you implement the software. Purchase a system that adapts to your processes and not the other way around.
The second functionality to consider is the user interface. It should be uncomplicated and easy to use so that your employees get the hang of it quickly. Get them involved in the selection and usage process, and evaluate their daily requirements to find a good fit. Make the users view the demos and try out the free trials and get their feedback.
The third important feature is scalability. Select a tool that can grow with your organization. Though many SaaS vendors offer enterprise plans, these are expensive for a lot of firms. So, check if the product allows you to export your data and move on to another software if required. In fact, select a vendor that allows you to export your data as you can trust their honesty and they are the correct type of SaaS brands you should look to partner with.
The best business intelligence software on our list is Looker. A data-discovery application for small and large businesses, Looker provides real-time access to information using its innovative data exploration features. Its browser-based platform allows it to process any size of data with accurate and efficient results.
Another advantage of Looker is its user-friendly interface, which does not require IT expertise to use. Even without advanced SQL knowledge, you can learn to manage workflows and utilize other functions. Looker’s self-service functions also help in its eas of use.
Other valuable features of Looker include customizable charts and reports, drag-and-drop function, self-learning database, and customizable dashboards.
Business intelligence software are built to help companies process data and make more informed decisions. But to break down its features, here is a list of core features a good BI software must possess:
Seamless integration with other applications and systems. While a BI software has its specific role and function, it can work more efficiently when connected to the other systems in your business operations. This way, gathering and processing data from different sources can go smoothly and efficiently than when you are manually feeding data to your BI software.
Exceptional reporting and analytics. If there is one thing that BI software system does best, it is detailed reporting and analytics. Your BI software does all the works and shares the results in an organized, detailed, and attractive presentation. Real-time reports are also available in times when you have to make immediate decisions.
Detailed historical record keeping. The focus on real-time information does not make historical data insignificant. Revisiting past records can lead to discovering insights that are just as relevant as new ones. This is why an ideal BI software system must be able to help you map your historical data.
Reliable forecasting. The ability to see far into the future gives your business advantage as long as your projections are close to accurate if not completely correct. With reliable insights from the business intelligence gathered, you can project realistic scenarios based on actual information and prepare for what may occur in the near future.
Business intelligence software systems are not created equal, but they share similar features, which include the following:
Dashboards. BI software dashboards are your mirror to your data and insights. The technology used in BI software dashboards varies as some have the standard static dashboard, while other software systems provide interactive ones. Regardless of the level of sophistication, dashboards play a significant role in keeping everyone informed about what is going.
Collaboration. An ideal BI software allows you to work with others on its platform. Collaboration features start with the ability to share reports and even insights with others, so you can all be on the same page and using the same data.
Data management. This feature is important especially for businesses that work with big data. A good BI software does not only gathers and processes information, it also keeps them organized and even segmented for ease of access.
Scalability. As your business grows, the data you need to process also grows. BI software systems have their limitations but there are those that can scale along with your business and adapt to the changes in your business intelligence needs.
Security. Sensitive data and business insights are valuable assets. A good BI software does not leave your data vulnerable to threats regardless of your BI software system’s deployment. Before purchasing a BI software, check the security measures in place and this is where the understanding of cybersecurity helps.
The easiest BI software to use are those that have streamlined design and self-service features. Here are some of them:
Looker. This BI software does not require its users to have technical expertise. It utilizes the drag-and-drop design when it comes to creating personalized visualizations and workspaces. Although it helps if you have basic SQL knowledge, Looker provides a library of learning resources for users to learn and improve their SQL skills.
Sisense. Sisense is a leading BI software that caters even to non-tech-savvy users. A robust but easy to use system, Sisense harnesses the power of its proprietary technology to make data gathering, processing, reporting, and sharing simple and straightforward.
Zoho Analytics. Zoho Analytics is another self-service BI system equipped with robust AI-assisted features. Zia, its smart assistant, is one of Zoho Analytics’ prominent features. It delivers quick responses to inquiries, which include navigating the system and accessing reports.
Business intelligence software can be a costly investment but there are applications that offer free versions without sacrificing core functionalities:
Zoho Analytics. This BI software system’s free version is available for a maximum of two users and has 10,000 rows/records limit. It also provides a maximum of five workspaces and three query tables, and unlimited reports and dashboards. Zoho Analytics’ free version is also accessible on mobile devices.
Qualtrics Research Core. The free plan provides features and functions ideal for small and startup businesses that are still exploring the advantages of a BI software system. Among the features included are survey logic and randomization, summary reports and filtering, online reporting, and more.
QlikView. The basic plan offered by QlikView is free and includes fully interactive apps, sharing capability with up to five users, and free access to Qlik DataMarket.
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