Top 10 Business Intelligence Platforms, Features, and Pricing | Spiceworks

Top 10 Business Intelligence Platforms, Features, and Pricing | Spiceworks

  • A business intelligence platform (sometimes referred to as a BI tool) ingests data from various sources, processes it using statistical models (including AI), and presents it as charts, dashboards, or reports with the option to explore the data further to surface new insights.
  • BI tools help mobilize the data you are already generating in your organization and use it for better decision-making. Some BI tools are programmable, while others are low or no-code in nature.
  • This article explains the meaning of business intelligence platforms. It discusses the top 10 BI tools you can use, along with their features, pricing, and unique selling points (USP).

What Is a Business Intelligence Platform?

A business intelligence platform (sometimes referred to as a BI tool) is a software app that ingests data from various sources, processes it using statistical models, often using artificial intelligence, and presents it to the user in the form of charts, dashboards, or reports to fuel better decisions, with the option to explore the data further to surface new insights.

Essentially, it is a platform or app that helps businesses collect, analyze, and visualize their data. It functions as the core framework of a company’s business intelligence strategy — how an organization makes smart decisions powered by data.

However, “smart decisions” may be a bit of an oversimplification. BI platforms are designed to help enterprises compete in today’s data-rich environment by transforming all the information they collect into an advantage over their competitors.

In his 1865 Cyclopedia of Commercial and Business Anecdotes, Richard Millar Devens coined the term “business intelligence” to describe how a banker gained an edge over his rivals by collecting and acting on the data before other financial institutions. Today, the term is applied to cloud-based tools that ingest data from multiple sources and apply statistical models and visualization techniques to help you make sense of it.

The main thrust of business intelligence has always been to use data more effectively. BI platforms make the activity much more productive, resulting in a new and meaningful partnership with data.

These tools promote a data culture in organizations by making it easily accessible and understandable to all business users, even if you do not employ a business intelligence analyst. Everyone, from C-level executives to new sales team members, can use the available data to arrive at more informed choices and cooperate more effectively.

A business intelligence platform works by:

  • Gathering data: BI platforms should consolidate data from multiple sources and file types into a single location so that users can comprehend and visualize occurrences.
  • Processing data: The ability to filter, arrange, and examine your data is offered by a BI platform. In addition, advanced users, like data analysts or scientists, can delve deeper and validate hypotheses.
  • Visualizing insights: After modeling, cleansing, and examining the information, BI platforms enable the building of customized dashboards for real-time (or historical) data visualization and exploration.

Using a business intelligence platform, organizations can:

  • Bring all of their data into a single location: Multiple databases, sites, systems for customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP) frameworks, and other data sources can be ingested by BI tools.
  • Empower the workforce to make data-driven decisions: Data no longer belongs exclusively to your organization’s IT or data science teams. Any employee, no matter their level of technical expertise, can access and analyze the data as needed by the teams they work with.
  • Make predictive decisions and prepare for the future: Predictive analytics and forecasting help users generate insights based on the past performance of a product or service. If a business scenario alters, BI tools aid in reacting to any resultant disruptions.
  • Reduce manual effort: Numerous BI tools are automated, eliminating the need to manually enter information into Excel sheets or switch between tools. For example, if you need an overview of a product over a particular period, the tool will create one for you.

See More: The Ultimate Set of Tools You Need To Ace Data Analysis

Important Functionalities of Business Intelligence Tools

No matter which business intelligence tool you choose, it should include the following five capabilities:

1. The ability to conduct advanced analytics

Advanced analytics permits the modification and analysis of complex data sets. It facilitates the analysis of connections among independent and dependent variables using regression analysis.

If you are curious about how an upcoming decision will impact your company, you can conduct a what-if evaluation using historical data to predict possible outcomes. What-if analyses offer an objective perspective of each decision’s potential hazards and benefits.

Modern BI tools also allow scenario analysis to compare possible outcomes using dynamic parameters. Statistical analysis can be done using sophisticated functions such as median, mode, standard deviation, mean, kurtosis, etc.

2. Custom dashboards for business leaders

A BI dashboard offers business executives relevant, easily comprehensible real-time data. This expedites and improves decision-making while minimizing both external and internal event response times.

Business executives need access to customized dashboards offering KPIs and summaries that are easy to understand regularly. This is mainly because dashboards enable administrators and business users to view relevant data swiftly and effortlessly. Based on this information, they make crucial decisions with no technical knowledge. They can consistently monitor their company’s performance and offer inputs to audits without digging through an avalanche of reports.

3. Self-service business intelligence capabilities

A comprehensive BI platform allows everyone in your organization, regardless of talent level, to engage with data and extract meaningful insights. Self-service analytics capabilities support the growth of a culture that values data by rendering information accessible to all users.

The optimal BI solution establishes a protected and governed ecosystem to safeguard data and ensure its integrity without sacrificing access. In a post-COVID world, self-service capabilities will additionally encompass mobile BI, increasing the range of consumers who can access data. Mobile BI provides mobile access to KPIs, metrics, and dashboards for making informed business decisions.

You can mark up mobile screens and share them for easy collaboration. In addition to mobile-optimized interfaces and dynamic reports, the app must offer a UI that renders correctly on mobile devices with different form factors.

4. Data ingestion and third-party integration

Even the most formidable BI solution fails if it cannot communicate with the organization’s extant data sources. No matter where the data resides, best-in-class BI tools will offer optimized native connectivity for quicker analysis.

You can rapidly query the database without writing code. It should integrate seamlessly with the current data strategy without purchasing additional products that might interfere with the established data infrastructure.

The BI tool you select should have connections with multiple platforms, such as ERP and CRM tools, big data solutions, and cloud-based storage systems, among others.

5. Report generation

A BI tool must facilitate generating and disseminating reports without IT support. You should be able to schedule the delivery of reports at periodic intervals automatically. BI products also offer alerts. These alerts will spontaneously generate and send reports when specific criteria are met.

BI tools also employ conditional structuring capabilities to emphasize cells within reports, which is a significant advantage. In contrast to spreadsheets, data will be highlighted whenever a specific condition is met. Some features include interactive reports with multiple views and filtration, drill-down features, row and column resizing, formulas, and more.

See More: Are Graph Databases the Next Big Thing for Big Data Analytics?

Top 10 Business Intelligence Tools in 2023

Business intelligence tools are a multi-billion-dollar market. In 2022, Gartner predicted that the BI tools market would double by 2025, reaching a global valuation of $13 billion, per its report titled Software Market Insights: Business Intelligence (BI) and Data Analytics. The following are ten BI solutions you should consider:

1. IBM Cognos

Overview: IBM’s web-based business intelligence suite is IBM Cognos Business Intelligence. It offers a suite of tools for event and metric reporting, analysis, scorecarding, and tracking. The suite consists of over a dozen distinct products designed on open architecture to allow communication with a wide range of third-party technologies.

Key features: The features of this leading BI tool include:

  • Advanced analytics: Cognos applies AI to accelerate data preparation and automate data exploration.
  • Dashboards: It has a wide range of dashboards powered by the AI-based Cognos Assistant.
  • Self-service: Conversational analytics and the Cognos Slack integration make it easier for users to glean insights.
  • Data ingestion and integration: Cognos can integrate with hundreds of cloud or on-premises data sources, CSV files, and spreadsheets.
  • Reporting: It features interactive dashboards and reports, with up to five users in each real-time report.

USP: The science behind Watson AI is also used in IBM Cognos. Companies benefit from a fast and reliable decision-making engine.

Pricing: Cognos starts at $10 per user per month on the cloud.

Editorial comments: IBM Cognos offers a full-suite business intelligence solution well-suited to hybrid cloud environments. However, users should anticipate a complex and layered learning curve due to the software’s inherent resilience and extensive feature set.

2. Looker (owned by Google)

Overview: In 2019, Google acquired the U.S.-based computer software Looker Data Sciences. Looker delivers tools for BI, data use cases, and embedded analytics as a component of the Google Cloud Platform.

Key features: The features of this leading BI tool include:

  • Advanced analytics: Looker uses its proprietary modeling language, LookML, to analyze data and create custom business rules.
  • Dashboards: Companies can use the Looker Studio to create and share custom dashboards, either from scratch or templates, just like Google Docs.
  • Self-service: Looker is available within the Google Cloud console, making it easy for any Google business user to access.
  • Data ingestion and integration: Looker is platform-independent and can connect to BigQuery and other public clouds.
  • Reporting: Looker Modeler simplifies how you configure metrics at the back end.

USP: For advanced users, Looker offers pre-built code that can be used to expedite your analytics. This includes optimized SQL patterns, fully constructed data models, and customized visualizations.

Pricing: Pricing starts at $30 per user per month for only viewing and exploration rights.

Editorial comments: For existing Google Cloud or Google Workspace users, Looker is the natural choice when it comes to BI tools. However, Looker does not offer online analytical processing (OLAP).

3. Oracle BI

Overview: Oracle Business Intelligence (BI) is a collection of data products referred to by the company as an “integrated and end-to-end Enterprise Performance Management System.” It offers data search, analysis, reporting, notifications, and mobile analytics solutions. Oracle BI prioritizes apps for financial performance management.

Key features: The features of this leading BI tool include:

  • Advanced analytics: A feature called Answers helps blackbox the analytics so that users can interact with a logical view of the information while hidden from its complexity.
  • Dashboards: Oracle’s dashboards provide personalized and role-based access, complete with live reports, pivot tables, graphics, and more.
  • Self-service: Oracle Data Visualization is the self-service component of this BI tool, which any user can download.
  • Data ingestion and integration: Oracle BI’s web architecture supports integration with nearly any source, including other web service-based apps.
  • Reporting: The Oracle BI Delivers module makes it easy to schedule reports and alerts and delivers personalized content to every user.

USP: The solution has a real-time decision engine that combines fixed rules and predictive analytics. A dedicated server automatically generates decisions within a real-time business process.

Pricing: Pricing for Oracle BI is undisclosed.

Editorial comments: Oracle is a good option for companies who want to quit and choose the modules of their BI solution. However, it has a complex solution architecture and requires much IT intervention.

4. Microsoft Power BI

Overview: Microsoft’s Power BI is among the best business intelligence products. It enables analytics to be carried out in the cloud or on a reporting server. You may link with Facebook, Oracle, and other sources to create dashboards and reports in minutes. Power BI incorporates AI, Excel integration, and comprehensive encryption of data.

Key features: The features of this leading BI tool include:

  • Advanced analytics: Power BI brings together Microsoft’s cloud-based analytics service, Azure Synapse Analytics, with its very own data lake storage system.
  • Dashboards: Power BI Desktop is the tool’s dashboarding system that enables custom visualizations of heterogeneous data.
  • Self-service: The tool offers a familiar analytics experience, like Office, augmented by artificial intelligence.
  • Data ingestion and integration: The tool can integrate with hundreds of cloud-based and on-premise sources, with native support for Microsoft’s services.
  • Reporting: The tool simplifies report generation from any data source and enables shareability through Microsoft 365.

USP: Copilot, Microsoft’s latest generative AI innovation, improves the self-service experience through natural language responses and suggestions.

Pricing: Pricing starts at $10 per user per month.

Editorial comments: Power BI is a good choice for large enterprises, especially as Power BI Report Server lets you install it on-premise and later migrate to the cloud. However, those new to the Microsoft ecosystem might initially find the interface difficult to master.

5. Qlik

Overview: Qlik is a business intelligence (BI) application that values self-service. It supports a range of analytics use cases, like guided apps and dashboards, customized analytics, and embedded analytics. This tool also features a touchscreen-optimized user interface, advanced AI, and powerful cloud platforms.

Key features: The features of this leading BI tool include:

  • Advanced analytics: Qlik uses AI-driven data models for analytics and insight generation.
  • Dashboards: The company offers over a hundred dashboarding templates to simplify insight sharing and visualization.
  • Self-service: Qlik is easy to use and recommends the most relevant insights through AI and machine learning.
  • Data ingestion and integration: The BI tool simplifies integration through the Connector Factory, a marketplace of 150+ connectors.
  • Reporting: Companies can choose Qlik Sense to generate scheduled and ad-hoc reports delivered via email, shared folders, or a centralized platform.

USP: It enables associative exploration using a conversational interface. BI tool newcomers can increase their data literacy through queries and discovering insights.

Pricing: Qlik starts at $30 per user per month.

Editorial comments: Besides its popular BI tool, Qlik offers extensive solutions for data integration, data transformation, and end-to-end Data Ops. However, it offers limited self-service data exploration.

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6. Sisense

Overview: Sisense is an easy-to-use business intelligence (BI) app that focuses on integrating analytics into business operations. This tool allows you to export data from Google Analytics, Salesforce, and numerous other sources. It provides white-label analytics, allowing businesses to fully customize and trademark the services per their specifications.

Key features: The features of this leading BI tool include:

  • Advanced analytics: Sisense Fusion lets you bring analytics insights to any workflow that uses data.
  • Dashboards: It lets you build dashboards from scratch or using industry templates, complete with interactive features.
  • Self-service: Sisense can be embedded in any workflow to promote easy data access, along with self-service dashboarding capabilities.
  • Data ingestion and integration: Sisense is a highly programmable BI tool, which makes integration easier, along with support for most clouds and SQL databases.
  • Reporting: The Sisense Report Manager is a user-facing based report scheduler that simplifies reporting with zero scripting.

USP: The chip’s unique in-chip technology facilitates rapid data processing. In-chip analytics is a revolutionary way to use the central processing unit (CPU), random access memory (RAM), and disk storage to address the intricacy and magnitude of large datasets.

Pricing: Pricing for this BI tool is undisclosed.

Editorial comments: Sisense is an end-to-end BI tool for embedded analytics and data-driven app development. However, users have noted shortcomings in the mobile experience.

7. SAS Viya

Overview: SAS’s Viya is a potent and versatile BI app. It is built with a modern microservices architecture to accommodate the complex nature of big data and advanced analytics. The company’s data models are compatible with artificial intelligence, machine learning, and deep learning.

Key features: The features of this leading BI tool include:

  • Advanced analytics: SAS Viya leverages AI to process high-volume data faster and offers reliable analytics insights.
  • Dashboards: It embeds dashboards within the BI tool, without any blackboxing, to give detailed insights and rich exploration capabilities.
  • Self-service: SAS Viya supports self-service data preparation and analytics, provided you have some training.
  • Data ingestion and integration: The BI tool relies on open-source technology so that you can integrate the widest variety of third-party apps.
  • Reporting: A singular data analytics app is used to generate highly visual reports with filtering capabilities.

USP: SAS Viya gives users complete control over data preparation and analysis. It also has smart algorithms to reduce efforts and deliver predictive insights.

Pricing: Pricing information is undisclosed, but you can start using the solution on Microsoft Azure at a convenient per-hour price point.

Editorial comments: SAS Viya is an excellent BI tool for data-literate teams and companies with in-house data science capabilities. However, it is ideal if you have an existing SAS environment. It also involves a learning curve.

8. Tableau

Overview: Tableau is an industry-leading data visualization and business intelligence app. The application supports a variety of data sources, including Microsoft Excel, Box, PDF files, and Google Analytics. It can communicate with various databases, further expanding its versatility. You can use Tableau to create simple charts or drill deep down into raw data to uncover insights, depending on your expertise.

Key features: The features of this leading BI tool include:

  • Advanced analytics: Tableau follows the philosophy of visual analytics through its patented technology, VizQL.
  • Dashboards: The company offers a wide range of pre-built dashboards for different industries and lets you create your own through a drag-and-drop model.
  • Self-service: Tableau drives self-service through customizable dashboards, where users can select their own data sources and filters.
  • Data ingestion and integration: Tableau includes the Data Cloud, simplifying integration with any cloud-based source.
  • Reporting: Reporting in Tableau lets you extract raw information and stitch it into a worksheet per your requirements.

USP: The offering consists of live visual analytics, a distinctive interface enabling users to drag and input data quickly and recognize trends.

Pricing: Pricing for Tableau starts at $15 per user per month.

Editorial comments: Since its acquisition by Salesforce, Tableau has the added advantage of being powered by the company’s Einstein AI engine. Customers have, however, reported an intense and steep learning curve for non-tech executives.

9. TIBCO Spotfire

Overview: TIBCO Spotfire® is an enterprise-level BI platform with immersive data manipulation features. It also provides visual analytics driven by AI. Spotfire is a decision platform featuring forecasting, geolocation analysis, and streaming analytics. It also allows users to write and administer apps using the native Python and R engines.

Key features: The features of this leading BI tool include:

  • Advanced analytics: TIBCO uses artificial intelligence to analyze data, which can be embedded in any application.
  • Dashboards: Spotfire lets you create detailed dashboards with point-and-click insights that users can explore in real time.
  • Self-service: Users can build quick, simple dashboards without coding knowledge, along with one-click predictive insights.
  • Data ingestion and integration: The solution uses the TIBCO Application Programming Interface (API) Exchange Gateway to build integrations with various applications.
  • Reporting: You can combine data from any location, including big data sources, to create reports and distribute them at scale.

USP: The Spotfire Mods architecture enables the integration of Spotfire software into analytics applications. Also, the TIBCO® ModelOps service automates data science tasks through pre-trained models.

Pricing: Pricing for this BI tool is undisclosed, but you can buy TIBCO Spotfire for Amazon Web Services (AWS) Opens a new window