Business Intelligence (BI) Software

Business Intelligence Software

Do you intend to fuse Business Intelligence into your growing business? Considered generally as the third wing of Information Technology, the BI platform can be helpful to store and process a tremendous volume of information. Not just that, BI software aids businesses to transform information into noteworthy insights and settle on data-driven choices progressively. To help enterprises meet these specific business needs, GoodFirms lists some of the best Business Intelligence Software available in the market. The listed business intelligence tools are accompanied by software details and customer reviews.

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List of Best BI Tools | Top Business Intelligence Software

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Buyer’s Guide

Introduction to Buyer’s Guide for Business Intelligence Software

The digital revolution has fuelled enormous opportunities for businesses to grow at an unprecedented rate.  The organizations that are marching on this growth path have become data-driven and are investing heavily in technologies to enhance their performances. They are harnessing data technology like business intelligence software to help them in engaging customers, optimizing operations, reducing business costs, improving product quality, and making better decisions. Not just large enterprises, but small and mid-size companies are showing the same anticipation for the data-intelligence software to solve their complex issues.

With AI, cloud computing, and big data, data intelligence software has become more powerful and accurate.  The organizations are now bracing up to take advantage of these new features and make it a part of their culture.  However, before they get their hands on new features, it is essential that they get familiarized with the business intelligence software selection and need for advanced BI tools.

This buyer guide is intended to help business owners, executives, managers, data-analysts, data-scientists, and other data technology enthusiasts on the important aspects of BI software and parameters to consider while buying the software.  It envelops everything that business owners need to know about the BI tools.

What Is Business Intelligence?

Business intelligence is a technology-driven approach for analyzing business data and presenting actionable insights to help business executives, managers, and stakeholders to make informed business decisions. The BI technology includes tools, strategies, and processes to refine raw business data into meaningful data and present them in a most comprehensive format.

Why Is Business Intelligence Critical?

A business that consists of various departments like Accounting, HR, Sales, Marketing, etc., produces a large amount of data while performing daily activities. But these data are disorganized (stored at various places and in various formats) and unstructured and may not be of use until it is consolidated and streamlined. This is where business intelligence can be helpful.  Business intelligence uses technologies like data warehouses, data discovery tools, dashboards, ad hoc reporting, etc., to consolidate and derive valuable information from the data reciting across various business processes.     

In the data-driven world, data technology like business intelligence is very crucial in identifying new business opportunities and taking competitive market advantage. It gives organizations the power to access, analyze, understand, collaborate, and act on information.  With better insights about the working, trends, and analytics of the business process, organizations can identify risk elements that set them back and allow them to focus on the area for improvements. But to collect more in-depth and business specifics analytics, the enterprises have to resource an end-to-end Business Intelligence Software.

What Is Business Intelligence Software?

Business Intelligence Software is a tool that converts the raw business data (structured and unstructured) into valuable data insights for business owners or stakeholders to make an informed decision. The business intelligence tool extracts current and historical data related to business from various sources. They slice and dice these data to get a full 360-degree view of the business and generate the reports to analyze the business performance or any other metrics.

BI software is generally used by:

  • Managers and executives
  • Data Analysts
  • Front line worker
  • IT developers
  • Information workers
  • Suppliers, customers, and regulators

Business intelligence Software benefits are immense, and organizations can enhance their business efficiency by incorporating them in their infrastructure.

What Is the Difference Between Business Intelligence and Business Analytics?

Business Intelligence: Business intelligence is focused on descriptive analytics. It uses historical and present data to determine what has happened and what is happening.

Business Analytics: Business Analytics is a superset of Business Intelligence, and is focused on predictive analytics. It uses predictive models and machine learning algorithms to determine what will happen.

Why Does Business Intelligence Software Matter for Your Company?

  • Better decision: In a data-driven world, businesses can reap more benefits with BI software.  It helps to dig deeper into the business process and derive valuable insights from it. They can use these insights for making crucial business decisions.
  • Compare data with competitors:  Organizations, big or small,  can use a BI tool for conducting customer surveys and collect data about how customers feel about the competitor’s product or what are their expectations from the product.  These insights can be used in the future to get a competitive advantage.   
  • Track performance:  BI software with a detailed report on business activities can help the organization track its business performance.  
  • Executive Scorecards and Dashboards: The top business intelligence tools provide business executives with detailed scorecards and dashboards to track business performance and capture essential business events. 
  • OLAP analysis: The best bi tools with OLAP help businesses to perform data analysis efficiently. It is due to OLAP structure and nature the business analyst can derive quick information from the database. OLAP helps in fast query execution, which means the data are available in a short time for making a rapid decision.
  • Ad hoc reporting: Ad-Hoc reporting is the process of creating reports on the fly.  The best business intelligence companies provide this feature in their tool, and it allows businesses to fetch reports on any particular activity and speed up the decision making process. Unlike a structured report, ad hoc reporting does not require experts and thus reduces the IT workload.
  • Operational reporting: Operational reporting is a rapidly developing area of business intelligence.  Operational reporting software can either be used as a stand-alone, or can be used in combination with BI solutions.  The operational reporting allows businesses to view data of their daily activities in real-time and in multiple ways.
  • Forecasting market trend: Data-mining is an integral part of top business intelligence software, and it allows industries to predict the market trend. 
  • Customer relationship: With detailed insights about business activities, the business owner can study customer behavior and purchasing habits. Based on those insights, users can design their customer retention strategy and build better customer relationships.
  • Identify the bottlenecks: The best business intelligence companies could help in identifying the bottlenecks in the business process.  The BI dashboard displays intuitive reports about the business in detail, which makes it easy for business executives to study the obstacles in the system clearly.  He can also determine how frequent and how long the problem persists within the business process.

What Are the Key Categories of Business Intelligence Software?

There are varieties of tools that fall under the BI software category.  

  • Dashboards: Dashboard is an integral component of BI software and is widely used to display important business metrics, track KPIs, and critical data points relevant to an organization. Dashboards enable organizations to make complex data easily understandable and approachable for non-technical users. It is restricted to one –page. Dashboards are elaborate in nature and mostly focused on more narrow aspects of an organization. It can be updated in real-time.
  • Visualizations: Data visualization software enables users to put data in visualize form and communicate information efficiently.
  • Reports: Reports are static documents that include data in text and table form, and sometimes it may involve graphs and charts.  It features data that is already cleaned and sorted. Unlike dashboards, the reports are sprawled to multiple pages.
  • Data mining: Data mining is the process of sorting and analyzing a large set of data that helps companies to solve problems and mitigate risks.
  • ETL: The process of ETL (Extract, Transform, and Load) plays a significant role in data integration strategies.  It also helps in migrating data between various sources, destinations, and analyzing tools; therefore, it is very important from the point of business intelligence.
  • OLAP: OLAP stands for Online Analytical Processing.  It is software that performs multidimensional analysis at high speeds on large volumes of data.
  • Data warehouse: A data warehouse is an analytical database that sits on top of the transactional databases for analytic purposes.  The data warehouse selects, organizes, and gathers data for efficient comparison and analysis.
  • Business activities monitoring: Business activity monitoring (BAM) software allows managers and executives to monitor business processes in real-time. The BAM system compiles all the business-related information in one place so that the data can be consulted anytime, anywhere.

What Are the Benefits of Business Intelligence Software?

There are numerous benefits of business intelligence system, but it largely depends on how organizations want to use it.

  • Faster, relevant, and accurate reporting: BI software pulls in data from various sources into a data warehouse, and then analyzes the data based on user queries, reports, and dashboards. The BI software facilitates real-time reporting and populates accurate data on various business events.
  • Visual analytics: BI tools present data in visual forms that are comprehensive and understandable.
  • Data-driven business decisions:  Business intelligence tools enable users to gather data from various sources and clean up data for better visualization. With quality business data in hand, it becomes easier for the business owner to make a smart decision.
  • Understand customer expectations: The top business intelligence software can help understand customer expectations and deliver better service.  The business owner can anticipate customer needs by analyzing the purchasing pattern and customer behavior.
  • Identifying marketing trends:  With the help of quality data, businesses can establish a new strategy that complements the market trend. For instance, the marketing team and sales team can build their future strategy based on the reports populated by the BI tool.
  • Streamline Operations: By having exact information or data, the organization can clearly identify the error within the business operations and can take steps that can streamline the processes.
  • Reduce financial loss: Business often incurs financial loss due to wrong decisions, but with BI software, the business owner can have better insight on the data, which allows them to make the right decision and take calculated risks.
  • Increased organizational efficiency: The BI tools collect data from all relevant sources, which helps the organization to unlock the treasure in the business data.  It also saves time for business owners and managers on accumulating data with the traditional method.
  • Real-time updates: Some BI software provides a customized alerts option.  The users can set automated alerts to send emails to management or departments related to it. 

While the above-mentioned benefits of the business intelligence system may convince organizations to buy business intelligence tools, there are a few things to consider before boarding it. Follow the below section for the same.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Business Intelligence Software

  • Evaluate Software Need: Evaluate the software capacity before finalizing the BI software. The user must see whether the software fulfills the business requirement and find out whether the software can really help to solve the problem.   
  • Support multiple data sources:  The top business intelligence software should support multiple data sources; since the modern business operates on a wide scale, the data may be scattered on multiple platforms and databases. It should be able to fetch data from anywhere and in any format.
  • BI Software Costs: Analyze the BI software costs from all angles like setup cost, technical support, and training, hiring experts, hidden charges, and software upgrades.
  • Integration: While performing business intelligence tools comparison, it is essential the business owner verifies the integration capabilities of the business intelligence tools.
  • Usability: Some business intelligence software requires an instruction or training program for its successful transition into companies’ infrastructure.  If the software does not gel well with the current working system or requires additional training, then it needs to get configured.
  • Support Collaboration Tools: The BI software must support collaboration features like the ability to share insights, share reports, comments, and collect feedback.
  • Customization: Customization is an important factor for BI software, and it should allow business owners to configure the software as per their needs. The best BI vendors generally provide customization options to their software users.
  • Role-based access: The BI software could be valuable assets for decision-makers, and there are many people in the organization that may need access to the BI software.  The BI software should have features to control the software access.
  • Real-time BI: Most of the business executives and stakeholders are keen on real-time information. Real-time BI software enables users to stay abreast of the competitor’s activities and market trends.
  • Responsive and user-friendly interface: If the user interface is complex, the money invested after BI software could be a complete waste.  The user interface of the BI software should be easy to comprehend and must support all devices. 
  • Deployment options:  The BI software should allow users to choose the deployment option. The users with dedicated IT teams may prefer on-premise software deployment, but with rising cloud technology trends, the user can switch to cloud infrastructure.   
  • Scalability: The BI software should be scalable, and it should easily adjust itself to the growing needs of the business.  It is always recommended that when a business executive or manager is scrutinizing the business intelligence software list, they should always take scalability into consideration.
  • Technical support: Not all business intelligence software requires technical support, but if the BI software deployment is done for a large enterprise, then it may need technical support. Technical glitch is quite common in large enterprises dealing with a huge amount of data, so it is necessary that the best bi companies deliver robust technical support.
  • Powerful reporting capabilities: The goal of BI software is to produce sensible reports that give a clear understanding of business activities.  The BI software lacking in powerful reporting features may fail to communicate the business insights to decision-makers. 

These factors can help business executives to select the top business intelligence tools; however, they can also shortlist the tool by comparing the features, deployment options, costs, and other factors.

Time-Saving Features of Business Intelligence Software

  • Ad-Hoc reports
  • Advanced security
  • Executive dashboard
  • Mobile access
  • Ranking report (Pivot tables)
  • Built-in ETL
  • White labeling
  • Intelligent alerts
  • Multi-tenant security
  • Geospatial mapping
  • What-if analysis
  • Seamless data and application importing
  • Collaboration tools
  • Predictive models

Emerging Trends in Business Intelligence Software

  • Voice-activated assistants:  Voice-enabled business intelligence makes it easier to collect insights, reports, and dashboards.  It has created a curiosity among BI experts about transcribing voice assistant data into an intelligent report. It has the capacity to reinvent the data-analysis process by eliminating the traditional approach and reduces the time to generate business insights.    
  • Data discovery:  With data discovery, it is easy to find specific patterns and trends in a data-sets. With the advanced data visualization tools interlaced with features like heatmaps, geographical maps, and pivot tables, the data discovery becomes even more informative.  There is an evolving trend in data discovery referred to as “smart discovery” or “Augmented intelligence.”  It facilitates the AI capabilities to find the trend and relation in data, which helps to speed up the decision making process. 
  • AI and NLP: It is fascinating that computers/ voice assistants have started decoding human language and responding to queries with high accuracy.  It is because of AI and NLP.  NLP is one of the most intriguing aspects of artificial intelligence, and it has a wide scope in Business Intelligence.  The NLP technology enables even a non-techie executive to analyze data without any support from any IT experts. .
  • Data governance: Data governance basically defines the process of maintaining regulatory compliances and policies for managing data assets across the organization. In the coming years, data governance would become the top priority for all types of organizations. The data governance will ensure that data is acquired from the approved sources, processed for the defined purpose, shared among authorized personnel, and discarded as per the norm.   
  • Collaborative business intelligence: Collaborative BI is about bringing subject matter experts and stakeholders together to make better decisions.  By merging BI software with collaboration tools, including web 2.0 and social media, the business team can share their view or responses online. By documenting those communications, it would be easier for an organization to make a faster decision. In the future, the collaborative business intelligence tool will envelop more number of users and communication platforms.
  • Self-service BI interfaces: Self-service BI interface is rapidly getting its hold in Business Intelligence Solution. Today, the best business intelligence companies have introduced the self-service version, and in the future, there will be more efforts to make BI software completely self-reliant.    
  • Predictive analytics: Most of the BI software uses historical and real-time data to identify trends and answer questions related to what has happened and does not tell why something happened. With predictive analytics, BI tools can predict future outcomes. Generally, the BI tools do not always provide predictive analytics functionality, but in the coming days, they would be capable of predicting well in advance.
  • Better, faster, and cheaper: The amalgamation of cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and big data with the top business intelligence tools is going to become better, faster, and cheaper.  By implementing cloud computing, users can reduce infrastructure costs as well as improve data storage efficiency. On the other hand, artificial intelligence and the neural network will ensure the data fetching process, and data visualization process to get quicker and easier.

In a few years' time, several related advanced technologies would allow users to truly discover the benefits of a business intelligence system.

How to Implement BI Software Successfully?

Step 1) Identify Requirements: The best BI software vendors today have the flexibility to customize their offerings to the users. But, still,  prospective buyers should figure out the existing business requirements and match their requirements with the business intelligence tools list.   

Step 2) Make Raw Data Available: Make sure all the raw data are available, and define the strategy on how to import raw data into the BI software.

Step 3) Shortlist BI Vendors: Once the organization has completed all the basic BI software implementation process, they can shortlist the business intelligence tools and hire the best BI solution provider. The software buyer should compare the business intelligence software list on parameters like customer support, secure integration, database support, training programs, etc.

Step 4) Implement software and team members training: The next step is to implement top business intelligence tools into the business infrastructure and see whether the team members require any training for it.

Step 5) Monitor the software performance:  The business executives or managers should monitor the performance of the software. They need to see whether the software behaves as expected and if not, then does it allow them to make some changes to measure particular performance metrics.

What Is the Average Cost of Business Intelligence Software?

The business intelligence software list is very broad and versatile in its offerings. The price may vary based on the software capabilities and features. The price of the software could be as low as $3/month or may raise upto $1000/month or even more. 

Business Intelligence Tools For Start-ups or Beginners:  The startups or budding entrepreneurs working with minimum risks and budget can opt for low-cost software. Few options for such  business intelligence solutions are Lumenore that comes with a starting price of $2.49/month, BusinessQ with a starting price of €2.0/month. Both tools offer a free trial.

Business Intelligence Tools for Mid-Size and Large Enterprises: For organizations that want to churn out in-depth information from the most unstructured data source, then mid-size and large enterprise business intelligence tools are highly recommended.  Mid-range tools like Zoho Analytics with a starting price of $23/month and Redash with $49/month are good alternatives. Both the business intelligence solution providers offer a free trial, and users can upgrade their plan as they grow with their business and data volumes.  Some best BI tools that fall in the same category include DataHero, flex.bi, and DyntellBi.  In case if the business owners are more inclined towards advanced features like inspecting customer’s individual behavior or discovering data patterns with a machine learning algorithm, a tool like Kubit with a basic price of $999/month is a perfect solution. The price range may exceed $7999/month as per the user’s requirements  The other premium range business intelligence solution providers include Trevor.io with a starting price of $270/month, whose price may exceed depending on the types of database (Snowflake, Redshift, MySQL) and data rows to export. The tool also provides a free trial version. The best BItools that offer similar services include SharePoint Vitals, Planhat, and illuminis. The business intelligence tools list can go endless, and it all boils down to business priorities.

There are business owners that see plenty of opportunity in business intelligence tools and put their efforts in developing new features through free and open source business intelligence software. Here is the list of some best free and open source business intelligence software that can further enhance the organization's efficiency by their exceptional features.

Why Refer to Goodfirms' List of Best Business Intelligence Software?

GoodFirms is a prominent review and rating platform for IT solutions. It has been listing various software products from different sectors to help consumers choose the right software for their organization and fine-tune the business processes.  With more than 60000 services and software companies listed on the platform, it makes it easy for consumers to compare software on various parameters and select the software that fits into their budget and requirements.

Conclusion

The companies realizing the role of data in accelerating business growth are actively adopting data intelligence technology and software in their infrastructure.  It helps them to tackle complex problems by making smart decisions. Since there are tons of business intelligence software available in the market, it is challenging to pick the best Business Intelligence Software. GoodFirms is here to help you in this task. Do not miss to check the list of best Business Intelligence Software to empower your business with the most insightful data.