Data is an important part of any business. However, data itself is useless until it is analyzed which makes data analysis the core operation of any organization. Due to the bulk of data that organizations deal with daily, many data analytics tools help businesses make fast and reliable analyses from a large chunk of data.
However, the needs of the business world have expanded more than tools for data analysis. Businesses and organizations now require tools that allow them to make accurate decisions from analyzed data. This gave rise to the invention, use, and adoption of business intelligence tools, also known as BI tools.
Data analytics tools only convert data in their unstructured format into a format that is meaningful and understandable to users. The real analysis is done by business intelligence software, as they show trends and patterns in the data while aiding the decision-making process.
In this article, we will discuss seven of the best business intelligence tools and the features that make these tools rank better than other tools.
As much as it is important to know the best business intelligence tools, it is more important to understand what business intelligence tools are and how they are different from basic data analytics tools. The term “Business Intelligence” was first used in 1865 by Richard Devens who used the term to describe how a banker used the analysis of his environment to gain an edge over his competitors and make huge profits.
While it is a common and standard procedure, data analytics involves the restructuring of raw data into a form that is not only meaningful but also useful for further analysis. This process is important in an organization where there is a need to change the business model.
With data analytics, the business can analyze both historical and current data to identify the trends that would affect the new changes to be made to the business model.
On the other hand, business intelligence allows the organization to make more detailed analyses, perform data mining and develop reports. These activities ensure that the organization doesn’t only make informed and accurate decisions, but also improve its operational capabilities. While business intelligence uses only historical data, it is usually implemented in an organization where the main aim is to meet the business goal set by the organization. Here is an interesting read on how big data will help healthcare service providers in facing future challenges. With business intelligence, organizations can identify the errors and loopholes in the data management process, and proffer solutions by providing decision-making scenarios.
These are some of the core differences between business intelligence and data analytics.
These differences also extend to the tools used to carry out these processes. From these elucidations, it is clear that business intelligence is a more serious process than data analytics. While both processes are important and integral to the success of any business, there is no doubt that organizations employ the use of business intelligence at a more complex and advanced point in their operations.
It is a common belief that when the platform upon which a product is built is strong, the product is usually very good. This is exactly what Microsoft Power BI offers. The business intelligence software combines a near perfect and easy-to-use user interface with power analytics features and a world class data visualization.
In a bid to serve a wide spectrum of users, Power BI has the limited free version and the Professional version. While the free version is best suited for individual users, businesses and corporate organization will enjoy the Professional version for its superior features and offerings.
The limited free version of Microsoft Power BI provides 1GB of space and daily refresh cycles. However, with the Professional version, businesses and corporate enterprises can enjoy about 10GB of space, hourly refresh cycles streaming data consumption and many more impressive features. The Professional version also have an effective collaboration tool, and ranks as one of the top BI products in the world.
Data discovery and visualization are the core features and capabilities of Tableau. The list of top-rated business intelligence tools is never complete without Tableau. It is one of the most popular tools around, and rightly so, the software offers multiple functionalities such as analysis visualization and sharing of data without the use of too many technicalities. The software also supports many popular data sources such as Google Analytics, MS Excel, Oracle, Salesforce, and MS SQL, among others.
Users also get to enjoy dashboards that are aesthetically pleasing and easy to use. This is why many people prefer Tableau because of the ease with which it operates. Tableau also comes as standalone products which include Tableau Server, Tableau Online, and Tableau Desktop. Tableau Server is useful for analytics run within the organization, Tableau Online is used to host analytics for other organizations, and Tableau Desktop is available for anybody to use.
If comprehensive data analysis, reporting, and interactive data visualization are what you are looking for, then SAP Business Objects is one of the best software for you. This BI tool has a lot of categories covered such as CRM, ERP, Customer Experience (CX), digital Supply chain, and many more. Another impressive feature of the software is the self-serving dashboards it offers. With these dashboards, users can create dashboards and applications that suit their needs with custom-made features for their business or organization.
Because of these features and many others, the SAP Business Objects is perfect for different uses which include IT, management purposes, and end-uses. The complex nature of the software and its numerous functionalities makes its price somewhat expensive.
As much as Looker is a competent self-service business intelligence tool it does have a sole purpose; to solve the problem of tracking different data sources, both the SQL based and NoSQL Based data sources. This is why the software works differently from other software in the business intelligence space. Instead of providing a visually appealing visualization of data collected and analyzed, Looker help users understand the relationship between data structures and how they operate from the SQL command line.
High speed and multiple functionalities are some of the core features that many organizations consider before choosing a business intelligence tool. This is one of the reasons why MicroStrategy is one of the most popular BI tools around. Apart from its high speed and impressive power, MicroStrategy offers functionalities such as hyper-intelligence, data analytics, and cloud solutions. The software possesses features that allow users to identify trends, improve productivity and capitalize on new opportunities.
Other features include the ability to integrate with other data sources, regardless of where it is coming from. Whether the data is coming from cloud-based platforms, spreadsheets, or enterprise data software, MicroStrategy offers a way for the data to get integrated perfectly into your dashboard. What’s more, the BI tool is compatible with use on both desktop computers and mobile devices. The only glitch is that the setup process involves multiple parties and extensive knowledge of the technicalities.
One of the selling points of this BI tool is the multiple functionalities. The software combines machine learning with visualization and collaboration and analytics. As a result of these functionalities, many people use Yellowfin BI as a business intelligence tool and also an analytical platform. The software allows you to use its intuitive filtering feature to filter through a large stack of data without missing out on an important one.
Apart from the intuitive filtering feature, there is also the flexible accessibility feature that allows users to open dashboards just about anywhere on the software. This feature holds for both the mobile version and the desktop version. While almost all BI tools offer data visualization and dashboard capabilities, the dashboard and data visualization offered on Yellowfin BI is more advanced than many of its competitors, and it uses little or no code to activate these capabilities.
Apart from being a top-rated business intelligence tool, one of Sisense’s most loved features is its user-friendliness. Almost anybody can use this software, regardless of their level of technical knowledge. The software allows organizations to merge big datasets, analyze and also visualize the analyzed data. As with many other BI tools, Sisense allows you to integrate data from many sources. Some of the sources compatible with Sisense include Google Analytics, Adwords, Salesforce, and others.
Another impressive feature is the high speed with which the software processes data. This high speed is due to the in-chip technology used by the BI tool. As a result of these features and capabilities, many industry experts regard Sisense as the best cloud-based analytics platform. Some of the experts with this notion include Dresner, G2, and Gartner.
The software also offers flexibility, trust and the ability to scale seamlessly due to the use of multi-cloud architecture. More than the flexibility offered to individual users, it is also perfect for organizations and enterprises.
The aforementioned business intelligence tools are some of the best seven BI software in the industry at the moment. Other notable mentions include SAS Business Intelligence Software, QlikSense, Oracle BI, Clear Analytics, and Zoho Analytics, amongst others. With all these tools, businesses and organizations can carry out advanced analysis on large chunks of data, visualize the processed data and proceed to make informed decisions about their business and organization. Hence, the increased adoption of Big Data in the various sectors like finance, healthcare, etc may further enhance the effectiveness of the sector and data intelligence and related services will be the most-sought after services in the near future.