Our Top Picks

Board
Board
  • Third-party integrations
  • Self-service data preparation
  • Publish & share reports
The all-in-one Board software gives business users access to intelligence, analytics and corporate performance management on the same platform, which can help raise efficiency levels and minimize compatibility issues between systems. While it’s capable of handling organizations of all sizes, including small businesses, it was initially developed for enterprise-level usage and many of its features are more suited to this larger scale.

Board is relatively user-friendly, particularly when considering the ground it covers and the depth of features, including analysis, monitoring, scorecarding and auditing. It’s also capable of predictive analytics and performing simulations based on selected criteria, and custom applications can be created with no coding or expert knowledge.

Many large businesses and organizations have used or are currently using the Board platform, such as the U.S. Navy, DHL, Nike, Puma and Mitsubishi. It’s a global company with a physical presence throughout the world, and it provides localized on-site training and customer support.

Pros & Cons

Board allows businesses to perform in-depth predictive analytics directly from the platform. It can be installed on Windows machines or accessed by browser from any operating system, and via the dedicated mobile app. On the negative side, Board doesn’t provide API access and lacks automation in some areas.

Pros

  • Predictive analytics tools
  • Mobile app

Cons

  • No API
  • No automated systems

What Customers Are Saying

A client in real estate compliments Board on its power and speed in building the data models he needed and also enjoys how the software presents itself, saying, “With a logical and very visual interface, BOARD is a pleasant environment to work in, which enhances productivity.”

Summary

  • Self-service Data Analysis
    Yes
  • Data Visualization
    Yes
  • 3rd-Party Integration
    Yes
Features
  • Third-party integrations
  • Self-service data preparation
  • Publish & share reports
ClicData
ClicData
  • API access
  • Third-party integrations
  • Self-service data preparation
ClicData is intended for small businesses on up to midsize operations. The basic plan available for this software is priced within reach of almost all who need such a solution, and it’s also capable of scaling up to a significant degree at various price points. This tool allows for collaboration and access from all modern devices — with 10 user accounts provided in the basic plan — and its reports and dashboards can be shared outside of this team via embedding and other methods.

The basic pricing plan provides 5 to 10GB of cloud-based data storage, and small businesses with large amounts of data can store up to 8TB in a private database on the more expensive plans. These larger data warehouses are dedicated to individual clients, which means all resources are fully available to the client at all times, and come with security and backup features.

Pros & Cons

ClicData is a web-based service that’s not limited to Windows or Mac and can be accessed via any modern browser or smartphone. The software has various automated systems and methods of analysis to discover trends. Phone support isn’t available outside of regular business hours.

Pros

  • Automated systems
  • No installation required

Cons

  • Doesn't provide 24/7 phone support

What Customers Are Saying

A client who has been using ClicData for 6 months since switching from another platform is happy they did and adds, “It is straightforward to use and helpful.” Another small business user says this software is more accurate than the CRM used previously and says, “You can integrate with different databases and get complex calculations sorted and real-time data.”

Summary

ClicData
ClicData
  • Self-service Data Analysis
    Yes
  • Data Visualization
    Yes
  • 3rd-Party Integration
    Yes
Features
  • API access
  • Third-party integrations
  • Self-service data preparation
CXAIR-Platform
CXAIR Platform
  • Third-party integrations
  • In-person training
  • Predictive analytics
CXAIR Platform offers deep insight and analytics that are tailored to large businesses and organizations for the most part, including customized solutions for the finance, health care and retail sectors. It provides self-service data retrieval, transformation and analytics in a consolidated environment, with fast and efficient access to a central repository that combines structured and unstructured data.

The platform works well with teams, providing access control via privileges and roles, which makes it easier for separate departments of a business to collaborate and take advantage of data without compromising sensitive information. Administrators can provide all or certain roles with predetermined reports, dashboards and analytics that each intended role can then use as needed in making decisions and preparing presentations.

As an all-in-one solution, CXAIR Platform is designed as a replacement for multiple systems, including data management, visualization, reporting, dashboard and more.

Pros & Cons

CXAIR Platform has a relatively long list of self-service data preparation features, including protections for sensitive data and other classification systems, and users are able to publish or share their results with ease. However, there is no mobile app or access to API.

Pros

  • Extensive self-service features
  • Publishing and sharing is made easy

Cons

  • No API
  • No mobile app

What Customers Are Saying

An information analyst at a large hospital says the live reports have been useful and adds, “We have managed to identify a large volume of products that are non-moving, thus allowing us to work collaboratively with clinical areas in decision making.” Others like the speed, with one saying, “Users can make a report out of it within minutes.”

Summary

CXAIR-Platform
CXAIR Platform
  • Self-service Data Analysis
    Yes
  • Data Visualization
    Yes
  • 3rd-Party Integration
    Yes
Features
  • Third-party integrations
  • In-person training
  • Predictive analytics
Datapine
datapine
  • Web-based, cloud, SaaS, and iOS deployment options, plus compatibility with Windows and Mac devices
  • Online, phone, and email support during business hours
  • Integrates with Azure, Zendesk, Salesforce and Dropbox
If you’re looking for a business intelligence tool that excels when it comes to visualization and presentation features, datapine is a good choice. The datapine tool allows users to merge multiple data sets without restructuring a database or setting up a data warehouse. Plus, it has multiple sharing and presentation options, including dashboards customized by industry type. These dashboards can be easily shared with others via a link or incorporated into a presentation using the datapine Presentation Mode option. If you want to give datapine a try before committing to the monthly fee, a free trial and demo are both available.

Pros & Cons

For a lower-priced option, the datapine BI tool has an impressive amount of functionality. It’s widely compatible with multiple systems for easy access and integrates with several popular third-party products to make merging data from multiple sources simple. However, it doesn’t offer data mining or collaboration tools.

Pros

  • Integrates with multiple third-party products
  • Rich features set

Cons

  • No data mining or collaboration tools

What Customers Are Saying

Considering that datapine is a more budget-friendly BI tool than some of the others on our list, its customers seem very satisfied with what the tool can do. One user commented, “They provide flexibility and performance speed that we’re really satisfied with, and I have to say the software delivered more than we expected.” Another user shared, “In general, it made my reporting practices way more efficient and interactive, and I got really good feedback (internally and externally).”

Summary

Datapine
datapine
  • Self-service Data Analysis
    Yes
  • Data Visualization
    Yes
  • 3rd-Party Integration
    Yes
Features
  • Web-based, cloud, SaaS, and iOS deployment options, plus compatibility with Windows and Mac devices
  • Online, phone, and email support during business hours
  • Integrates with Azure, Zendesk, Salesforce and Dropbox
Domo
Domo
  • Third-party integrations
  • Predictive analytics
  • Self-service data preparation
Domo is a cloud-based platform that is designed on a large scale to meet the needs of enterprise-level organizations as well as small to midsize businesses. Current and previous clients include eBay, Cisco, National Geographic and ESPN, with usage in various departments such as marketing, consulting and digital analytics.

One of the strong points in the Domo platform is its automated processes — powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning — which helps monitor the data, discover possible opportunities and predict the outcome of various scenarios.

Data permissions can be customized for individual users or groups, allowing restricted access to sensitive data, and the internal system of publishing and sharing will only allow the appropriate users to see privileged reports. Businesses can also continue to use an existing system to manage the single sign-on (SSO) process with an x.509 certificate if preferred.

Pros & Cons

Domo is a cloud-based service that can be accessed in any recent web browser or mobile device. It’s capable of using AI and ML in various automated features and applications. The default contract provides no support for custom solutions, and some add-ons are relatively expensive.

Pros

  • No installation required
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)
  • Live support 24/7

Cons

  • Expensive add-ons
  • Custom solutions are unsupported

What Customers Are Saying

One long-time user of Domo likes the cloud-based nature of the service and its ability to connect with other systems, saying, “Built in connectors allow for easy connections to major data sources.” Another user comments on the collaborative tools, saying, “It allows a communication flow between a work team through the private chats that it offers.”

Summary

  • Self-service Data Analysis
    Yes
  • Data Visualization
    Yes
  • 3rd-Party Integration
    Yes
Features
  • Third-party integrations
  • Predictive analytics
  • Self-service data preparation
Dundas
Dundas BI
  • Third-party integrations
  • API access
  • Self-service data preparation
Dundas BI is built for enterprise organizations and software companies that require extensive customization options and the ability to work with current applications or other systems. It’s a web-based platform with API that makes integration relatively smooth, and it provides optional Windows installation.

The platform’s ability to adjust to a specific organization is one of its core benefits, which makes it a good fit in cases that require access to data by many users. Dundas BI can also be customized to help make it more accessible to users of varying technical expertise by simplifying elements as needed.

Dundas BI offers a free trial for 25 days, which includes full functionality across the platform and access to technical support. It also has some of the most in-depth live demonstrations and consultations that are customized to the needs of potential users. The company has offices in Canada and the United States.

Pros & Cons

Dundas BI is web-based, so it can be used via almost any modern device without installation, and it can also be installed on Windows PCs. The support team can provide in-person training or live demonstrations to new customers. However, the platform lacks automation.

Pros

  • No installation required (Windows installation available)
  • In-person training and live demos

Cons

  • No automated systems

What Customers Are Saying

The self-service aspects of Dundas BI receive a lot of praise, with one client saying, “All in all, Dundas saved us a lot of time and our IT team is much happier.” Another client appreciated the onboarding process, adding, “The staff and support have been excellent.”

Summary

Dundas
Dundas BI
  • Self-service Data Analysis
    Yes
  • Data Visualization
    Yes
  • 3rd-Party Integration
    Yes
Features
  • Third-party integrations
  • API access
  • Self-service data preparation
Looker
Looker
  • Third-party integrations
  • API access
  • Self-service data preparation
Looker is a cloud-based platform that can provide all-in-one capabilities from small business and upward, including intelligence, analytics and custom applications, or integrated with an existing system. The service is also available in a package more appropriate for enterprise-level usage — particularly for organizations that will require access by many users with low privileges — as it’s capable of providing unlimited view-only user accounts. This helps with collaboration and reduces the security risks associated with shared logins and unintended access to sensitive data.

The platform is also well-suited to organizations that have only one or few experienced data analysts while also requiring access and exploration capabilities for other employees with far less knowledge. In this case, the more capable data analysts can create views that are highly customized and tailored to each role. This is generally useful for removing clutter and unnecessary features from dashboards and other parts of the platform.

Pros & Cons

The enterprise service has many useful features for large teams of varying skill and experience in data analysis. All services are cloud-based and accessible from anywhere without installation. In-person training is available. On the negative side, there is a lack of automation at the base level.

Pros

  • Large enterprise features
  • No installation required
  • In-person training

Cons

  • No automated systems
  • No predictive analysis

What Customers Are Saying

Many of Looker’s current clients appreciate the simplicity and accessibility of the platform, with one saying, “Looker is incredibly easy to use for a casual user, which most of our users are.” Another customer likes the flexibility, noting, “It could easily flex to accommodate whatever data you wanted to look at.”

Summary

  • Self-service Data Analysis
    Yes
  • Data Visualization
    Yes
  • 3rd-Party Integration
    Yes
Features
  • Third-party integrations
  • API access
  • Self-service data preparation
MicroStrategy
MicroStrategy
  • Third-party integrations
  • API access
  • Self-service data preparation
MicroStrategy is an enterprise-level software and service that exclusively caters to enterprise business intelligence needs. It has an impressive list of clients in industries such as pharma, health care, governmental agencies and banking — including Commonwealth Bank, the largest financial services provider in the southern hemisphere — with features tailored to these and other large industries, as well as guides and documentation specifically for various roles.

It’s one of the few enterprise exclusive platforms, which has resulted in a very polished and robust product as well as support staff who know exactly what they’re talking about. The platform has also grown in scalability that maintains speed and minimizes resource usage with in-memory caching and other data processing features.

As a global service provider with customers worldwide, MicroStrategy has a very large and experienced support staff in multiple countries and time zones, with many professionals available for non-English assistance.

Pros & Cons

MicroStrategy’s face-to-face live support with experts via webcam is a step up from most competitors. In-person training is available in many locations worldwide. User identification, security and tracking features are relatively unique. It has no automation on platform.

Pros

  • Live support with face-to-face video
  • In-person training
  • User identity and security features

Cons

  • No automated systems
  • No dedicated mobile app

What Customers Are Saying

A review of MicroStrategy from a data architect says it’s an in-depth platform, although expensive and adds, “The features it offers are among the most complete.” Other reviewers say it helps get things done fast, with one saying he can “add new data and objects in a matter of minutes into our production platform.”

Summary

MicroStrategy
MicroStrategy
  • Self-service Data Analysis
    Yes
  • Data Visualization
    Yes
  • 3rd-Party Integration
    Yes
Features
  • Third-party integrations
  • API access
  • Self-service data preparation
Phocas-Software
Phocas Software
  • Third-party integrations
  • API access
  • Alerts and notifications
Phocas Software is a business intelligence and data analytics platform that can be accessed from anywhere via browser or installed on computers and mobile devices. It provides businesses with extensive self-service solutions that can scale to the needs of the business and its users while maintaining instant access to data in usable form.

The platform also helps individuals and teams collaborate, plan and remain unified, which makes it much easier for leaders to manage efficiency and performance while reducing errors from outdated, mismatched or otherwise unwanted data.

Phocas Software has an in-depth system of alerts and notifications that can help users catch opportunities they may have missed. These alerts and notifications, as well as the dashboards, can be customized and simplified to varying degrees based on the skill and experience of each team member. Leaders can deploy new customized dashboards and alerts instantly across the team or per-user.

Pros & Cons

Phocas Software is available as a web-based service or via optional installations on Windows, Mac, iPhone and Android. The software has predictive analytics tools as standard. It has no on-platform automation, although it integrates well via API.

Pros

  • Available for web-based or Windows, Mac and mobile apps
  • Predictive analytics tools
  • Flexible to customize

Cons

  • No automated systems
  • Complicated user interface

What Customers Are Saying

A project manager at a building supply company says the business received significant gains from using Phocas and specifically adds, “This reduced our dependence on Excel reporting by around 60%.” Another claims over a decade using the software, saying, “We have used Phocas since 2008 and have always liked how fast we can generate reports.”

Summary

Phocas-Software
Phocas Software
  • Self-service Data Analysis
    Yes
  • Data Visualization
    Yes
  • 3rd-Party Integration
    Yes
Features
  • Third-party integrations
  • API access
  • Alerts and notifications
Qlik
Qlik Sense
  • One-of-a-kind associative analytics engine
  • Interactive dashboards
  • Data visualization
Qlik Sense is a particularly sophisticated business intelligence solution. This software's one-of-a-kind associative analytics engine allows you to discover insights that you wouldn't have been able to find with a traditional SQL query-based approach.

Many other features are included with Qlik Sense as well, including interactive dashboards, data visualization, and natural language interaction that learns based on user activity and feedback.

Pros & Cons

Qlik Sense offers a high-level business intelligence solution at a surprisingly low price. The downside is that they only offer ticket-based support.

Pros

  • Uniquely powerful analytics engine
  • Affordable pricing

Cons

  • No phone or live chat support

What Customers Are Saying

Another one of Qlik Sense's benefits is that the interface is very user-friendly. "The augmented intelligence capabilities that have been integrated into the cognitive engine make the user experience very intuitive and easy to use," wrote one customer. "Without a doubt, Qlik Sense is a next-generation BI platform that helps organizations in data literacy."

Summary

Qlik
Qlik Sense
  • Self-service Data Analysis
    Yes
  • Data Visualization
    Yes
  • 3rd-Party Integration
    Yes
Features
  • One-of-a-kind associative analytics engine
  • Interactive dashboards
  • Data visualization
Sap
SAP Business Intelligence
  • Third-party integrations
  • Self-service data preparation
  • Multi-cloud
SAP BusinessObjects products can provide one of the most wide-ranging feature sets across many sectors and in organizations big and small, although the price may place it out of reach for some small businesses. It covers the traditional business intelligence and analytics requirements and includes self-service capabilities, exploration, visualization and more. Analytics can be hosted on site or accessed via cloud.

The suite of products and solutions available via the SAP platform are designed for connectivity and harmony between networks, systems and users, which increases efficiency and reduces the amount of irrelevant and unusable data floating around.

Another key point in favor of SAP BusinessObjects is the speed at which users can access, manipulate and make use of data from a centralized platform. Users have as much or as little flexibility and authority as needed, and views can also be pared down and simplified to suit individual skill levels and roles.

Pros & Cons

SAP BusinessObjects can be accessed from anywhere via desktop or mobile without installation and has dedicated apps for iPhone and Android. The efficiency of automated processes is improved significantly with AI and ML. Documentation is available, but no in-person or online training is offered.

Pros

  • No installation required
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)

Cons

  • No training

What Customers Are Saying

One analyst at a computer software company likes SAP’s utility in many departments and in multiple worldwide locations as well as the monitoring that “crosschecks rules to ensure consistent reports.” Others praise the sharing, collaboration and team decision systems that helped with requirements.

Summary

Sap
SAP Business Intelligence
  • Self-service Data Analysis
    Yes
  • Data Visualization
    Yes
  • 3rd-Party Integration
    Yes
Features
  • Third-party integrations
  • Self-service data preparation
  • Multi-cloud
Sisense
Sisense
  • Third-party integrations
  • API access
  • Self-service data preparation
Sisense is one of the most widely used business intelligence software and service providers, with many thousands of client companies ranging from startups to enterprise-level behemoths. The platform is used by well known names in various sectors, including Verizon, Nasdaq, Fujitsu and The Salvation Army. It’s also one of the most expensive options and consequently may not be appropriate for a small business that doesn’t require such scale.

The platform’s connectivity with other systems and relatively advanced API functionality make it easier for team leaders and others responsible for developing analytic apps. Sisense apps can then be embedded or used in some imaginative ways throughout the business. Likewise, the self-service analytics capability is designed to give data access as far and wide as needed among staff members while also maintaining control, security and accuracy over many terabytes of data.

Pros & Cons

Sisense can be deployed on premise, in the cloud or hybrid and allows access via web browser, Windows and mobile devices. It has artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities right out of the box but lacks predictive analytics. Live support isn’t available at all times.

Pros

  • No installation required
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Cons

  • No 24/7 live support
  • No predictive analytics tools

What Customers Are Saying

A recent reviewer says it’s a good platform that runs smoothly and adds, “Beautiful looking. Very clean and innovative.” Others comment on the security, with one saying, “What Sisense offers with the eCube concept is a perfect way to promote creative use of the data but still control sensitive information.”

Summary

  • Self-service Data Analysis
    Yes
  • Data Visualization
    Yes
  • 3rd-Party Integration
    Yes
Features
  • Third-party integrations
  • API access
  • Self-service data preparation
Tableau
Tableau
  • Third-party integrations
  • API access
  • Predictive analytics tools
Tableau is another big name in business intelligence and analytics that has been around since the early 2000s, and it’s also one of the most versatile in scope. It’s suitable for almost any organization from small businesses and startups to multinational enterprises.

Despite the scale and complexity of systems available, it’s relatively simple for business users of all skill levels to get what they need out of the data analysis and visual exploration tools. The views and ready-to-go data preparation tools, among other functions are set by administrators for each role, which can greatly simplify the process for inexperienced users.

Data scientists and analysts will most likely dive straight into the deeper end of Tableau, using its artificial intelligence and machine learning to discover hidden insights. The platform provides many enterprise-level features at an affordable cost for much smaller organizations, including governance with row-level permission options.

Pros & Cons

Tableau is very flexible in its deployment and accessibility, with web-based access and optional installations on Windows and Mac and apps for mobiles. The artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) features increase productivity in many areas. Live support isn’t available outside of business hours.

Pros

  • No installation required
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)

Cons

  • No 24/7 live support

What Customers Are Saying

Many users comment on the aesthetic appeal, with one saying, “It makes really nice looking dashboards and views that can wow executives.” A business analyst in IT services agrees, saying, “It’s really liked by senior management as it shows each and every bit very clearly to relevant stake holders.”

Summary

  • Self-service Data Analysis
    Yes
  • Data Visualization
    Yes
  • 3rd-Party Integration
    Yes
Features
  • Third-party integrations
  • API access
  • Predictive analytics tools
Yellowfin
Yellowfin
  • Third-party integrations
  • API access
  • Self-service data preparation
Yellowfin is a full-featured business intelligence and analytics platform that is intended for use in a large enterprise and managed by experienced data analysts. At the enterprise level, the Yellowfin platform is tightly secured and governed to help ensure data security at scale and with many thousands of potential users with a dashboard tailored to their role.

The company also offers an embedded package that is designed for software companies and start-ups, which has more advanced APIs and other developer-friendly features. This embedded Yellowfin service is generally suited to developers and data analysts who are more confident than the typical business users and would like more control and flexibility.

Both of the Yellowfin platforms come with automated data discovery tools as standard as well as visual storytelling functionality and a set of analytics tools. The platforms can also monitor data in real-time to alert users or administrators of unexpected changes, outliers and more.

Pros & Cons

Yellowfin can be hosted on premises or securely in the cloud while being accessible from any modern device or computer. The training options and documentation is a step above most competitors, including online and in-person training. However, the platform lacks its own predictive analysis tools.

Pros

  • No installation required (optional apps and software)
  • Extensive online/offline training and documentation

Cons

  • No predictive analysis

What Customers Are Saying

One reviewer appreciates the online training they went through before taking the reins and adds, “Easy to setup (<4 hours), very cost effective for multiple users, easy to connect to any database.” Another customer has a similar story, claiming, “Within a few hours, we were working.”

Summary

Yellowfin
Yellowfin
  • Self-service Data Analysis
    Yes
  • Data Visualization
    Yes
  • 3rd-Party Integration
    Yes
Features
  • Third-party integrations
  • API access
  • Self-service data preparation

How We Chose the Best Business Intelligence Tools

Business intelligence (BI) tools are some of the newest and most exciting corporate software products that companies are using to transform their data analysis and reporting. To create this list of the best business intelligence tools, we evaluated companies based on what’s most important. For our list of business intelligence software tools, we based our recommendations on the quality of their analysis tools, artificial intelligence, and visualization capabilities.

Analysis Tools

Businesses can produce and collect more data than ever before, but that data doesn't have much value if you're not able to interpret what it means. Business intelligence tools should have analysis features such as trend indicators and predictive analytics. These powerful analytical tools can extract valuable insights from a massive volume of data. This helps users get relevant information in front of decision makers quickly and efficiently.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) may sound futuristic, but many BI tools are already incorporating this technology to take their analysis to the next level. Features such as data mining and machine learning make business intelligence tools much more powerful. Some BI tools even have virtual assistants to simplify searching, make suggestions, and alert users to important changes in their data.

Visualization

Business intelligence tools should be able to generate charts, graphs, and infographics that make it easier for the user to understand their and present their data. Tools that include components like drag-and-drop functionality, interactive dashboards, and scorecards with customized graphics make presentations more effective and keep clients happy. Some BI tools also have collaboration modules that make it simpler for users to share and comment on their data visualizations for improved teamwork.

What Are Business Intelligence Tools?

Business intelligence (BI) tools are specialized software products designed to collect and process large amounts of data from a wide variety of sources. These sources can include documents, spreadsheets, images, records, emails, and many other business sources. They also commonly have features to help prepare data for further analysis so that customers can create reports, data visualizations, customized apps, and up-to-date dashboards. For companies, BI tools are a valuable resource that can help them become more organized, improve efficiency, identify market trends, improve decision making, and gain important insights that may give them a competitive edge.

BI tools can vary greatly when it comes to complexity and features. The simplest ones are basically bolt-on applications that work with a company’s existing programs to better organize and visualize data. Other tools are more complex and include features like data mining, predictive analytics, and machine learning to help businesses do more complicated data analysis. A good BI tool also includes methods for improved reporting and customized dashboards, scorecards, and presentations with easy-to-understand visuals.

Benefits of Business Intelligence Tools

Companies choose to use BI tools because they understand that better, faster, and more accurate access to data can help them make better decisions. BI tools provide multiple benefits to help companies achieve this goal, including:

  • Better data quality and access.BI tools can improve reporting, analysis, planning and data quality. BI tools prevent information from becoming siloed in one area and allow data to be gathered from multiple sources to gain a more complete picture of what’s going on throughout an organization.
  • Improved coordination. Departments throughout a company can access the same data at one time and be on the same page for important meetings or presentations. When leaders can gain company-wide insights and coordinate their decision-making in this way, it’s easier to identify problems as well as areas of opportunity.
  • Better presentations.BI tools help users present data in a more appealing way, thanks to features like ad-hoc reporting, customized dashboards and data visualization. Better reports and visuals improve information sharing internally as well as with clients. Impressive, professional graphics and interactive visuals can make a strong, positive impression on both new and existing customers.
  • Happier, more efficient employees.BI tools can help organizations become more efficient. Because they simplify data management and reduce the workload on IT and analytics teams, they also contribute to improved employee satisfaction.

Must-Have Features for Business Intelligence Tools

BI tools can come with lots of different features. When you’re comparing products, it can be difficult to figure out which ones you really need. Each workplace has to examine its own goals, needs and budget to narrow down the list to the best choices.  However, for a BI tool that transforms your workplace, look for products that have at least some of these features:

  • Analysis tools.A good BI tool should make gathering and analyzing data faster and more efficient. BI tools that integrate with third-party products your company already uses, like Excel, Salesforce, Zendesk and many others, make aggregating data from multiple sources easier. Once you’ve got all that data in one place, analysis tools, like trend indicators, predictive analytics and profitability analysis, are helpful for making sense of it. With these features, you can transform your data from information into insights. Many users comment that once they started using a BI tool it was like they truly understood their business for the first time.
  • Artificial intelligence.Artificial intelligence is becoming more common in our everyday lives, and it can make BI tools much more powerful too. Some AI-inspired features to look for when evaluating BI tools include virtual assistants, natural language searching capability, data mining and machine learning. BI tools with artificial intelligence features can even offer recommendations to company decision makers or issue alerts and notifications when they detect significant changes, like outliers or new patterns in data. Some AI-based features use natural language, which makes them easier to use since customers don’t need to be well-versed in programming to run queries or interpret results.
  • Visualization.Data is more meaningful when it’s presented in a way that makes it appealing to look at and easier to understand. A good BI tool will have multiple features that help users create functional and beautiful data visualizations. Examples include charts, graphs, reports and infographics. Some BI tools also feature visualization tools for making customized dashboards, apps and scorecards, as well as presentation and collaboration tools that make sharing and discussing data easier.

The Cost of Business Intelligence Tools

It’s hard to determine an industry average cost when it comes to BI tools. For one thing, many companies choose not to disclose their pricing. Some companies charge an annual amount while others charge a monthly fee. The fees may also vary based on the number of named users. All of these factors make cost comparison difficult.

To help our readers, we broke down the cost for each BI tool on our list that publishes its pricing information to determine what the monthly fee would be. The lowest-priced option on our list was around $40 per month and the highest-priced option was around $1,400. The average monthly cost is around $450, which is helpful as a benchmark when you consider some of the lower-priced monthly options charge on a per user basis. If you want your entire workforce to have access to your chosen BI tool, keep in mind that the cost can quickly add up based on the total number of users and determine your budget accordingly.

BI tools rarely offer free versions, and those that do often lack many of the useful features available in paid versions. However, many BI tools feature free trials or personalized demos. Companies should definitely take advantage of these when deciding which BI tool is best suited to help them achieve their goals.