15 Best Business Intelligence Tools For Small And Big Business

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The wisdom many small businesses wish their ‘bigger brothers’ would unveil to them is how to leverage the power of big data. It is an eternal debate: are you lacking the numbers to be successful, or the competence to understand the numbers you already have? This question is vitally important to both small businesses and large enterprises.

Indeed, business wisdom is an abstract and fairly expensive gift to own, but it is no longer the gift of the privileged few. In our attempt to persuade all businesses to consider a BI future, we will once again turn to the most productive data processing solutions, pinpointing those that are applicable in diverse business environments. This time, we also try to recreate use scenarios and address common businesses’ problems, so that you too can picture a day at the office without  miscalculations. In this article we’ll cover 15 best business intelligence tools for small and big business that we think are actually worth your time.

How different businesses leverage
the power of BI technology?

Business intelligence tools for small business

Small and medium businesses are just as entitled to data intelligence as established enterprises, and that’s a fact that can be traced back to the beginning of business as such. Think, for instance, of street merchants centuries ago – the ones who concluded that casting shade on their wares with a canopy helps sell more during warm days, then relied on this information to earn some extra money. Why would it be any different today, when instead of few local customers and a canopy, you have thousands of data sources to orchestrate your moves?

The answer to what you’re supposed to do to boost productivity hides in what you’re already doing, and even more often in what you’re not.

Credit: Gartner Methodology

It is true – IBMs and the rest of BI pioneers have taken technology far beyond a modest company’s reach, and enabled it to analyze what will happen, rather than what has already taken place. According to principal BI Leader consultant Wayne Eckerson, data intelligence systems of today are analyzing millions of customers per day, depicting fraud in thousands of parallel transactions at a time, and foremost keeping track of where customers are going before they actually get there. But before these and similar works of the future frighten SMBs off, let’s share an interesting fact: the BI weaponry is the same regardless of the audience you’re targeting, and all it takes is to know how to use it.

In fact, you may find it easier to adopt a BI tool with a small business to govern, as you’re not tracking trends and using intelligence as an advantage over your billion-dollar competitors.

With a small and medium business in place, you need a BI system because:

  1. These systems are becoming easier, more affordable, and even free
  2. They help you increase your market share
  3. They make efficient use of your resources, as limited as they may be
  4. They enable you to target new audiences
  5. They protect your data from unwanted manipulation
  6. They help you provide professional and trustworthy service
  7. They depict business opportunities and pinpoint negative trends
  8. They make it possible to earn out of the office

Business intelligence tools for big business

Forbes’ market estimation and business intelligence research of 2015 revealed that a vast percentage of prominent business leaders expect big data to have a pretty similar effect on business operations as internet did altogether. They were in their full right to do so, with an analytics market estimated to reach $6.5 billion in seven years, money coming foremost from the side of cloud-hosted analytic services targeting fast-moving consumer goods businesses. Four years have passed since, and results weren’t, to say so, notably discouraging.

Credit: Forbes

Consequently, big market players are investing massively in ultra-powerful business analytics tools, not only because of their vast databases and active presence on the markets, but also due to emerging trends that are difficult to predict. Framed into a single sentence, big businesses need BI tools to gain the most with the least of resources, and make sure no market imbalance prevents that from happening. In a certain way, they also use their sales metrics to cast a web on market opportunities, and target audiences they weren’t able to reach before.

With a big business in place, you need a BI system because:

  1. It processes vast amount of data that would take ages to analyze manually
  2. It dismisses all sorts of actionable intelligence boundaries, including locations, server logs, and access to different markets
  3. It helps them personalize sales regardless of the number of customers they must attend to
  4. It saves time and resources
  5. It provides instant and real-time answers in critical moments
  6. It makes corporate information accessible 24/7, and from a variety of devices
  7. It protects sensitive and enclosed corporate data
  8. It helps make accurate predictions for the future

Now, let’s take an indepth look at what we think are 15 best business intelligence tools for small and big business. We’ll walk you through all the important aspects of each product, highlighting its unique strengths and features, pointing to specific applications and discussing any drawbacks you should consider.

1. Sisense

Sisense won our Best Business Intelligence Software Award for 2016

It took a while before luxury hotel booking company Magellan Vacations got grasp on Sisense functionality, all along challenged to provide real-time feedback for agents, and involve non-technical users into analytical processes and reporting. With their service being phone-based and highly personalized, and their database unstructured and often modified, they found traditional methods for tracking sales metrics and closure rates simply inapplicable. It was at that point that CEO Andrew Vignuzzi gave Sisense a chance.

Sisense was not Magellan Vacation’s first choice, but rather the system that saved them from hiring staff and reporting at the rate of $80,000 per year. Ever since they deployed it, they’ve been reclaiming time and cost effectiveness in their IT department, touting Sisense as the most user-friendly system they could have possibly chosen. They are now able to manipulate data on the fly, provide real-time feedback for their agents, and coach and counsel them in line with the company’s goals. Better yet, they drill deep into the performance of each agent and department, share insights in a snap, and prepare custom reports instead of sticking to any inapplicable approach.

Sisense is currently rated as the top BI solution in our ranking and it was distinguished with our Best Business Intelligence Software Award for 2016. The vendor offers a very good free trial plan for any users interested in trying out the key features of their tool. You can easily sign up for Sisense free trial here.

BARC BI Survey 2016: User & Use Case Demographics for Sisense

What is unique about Sisense?

  1. Single-Stack architecture: A single tool that helps you collect, prepare, organize, and analyze data
  2. In-Chip Engine & Proprietary technology: Running ad hoc queries and receiving answers on dot (no need to prepare data whenever a new question arises).
  3. Optimal use of computational resources: No need to hire professional analysts, maintain complex hardware, or make excess IT investments
  4. Minimal TOC: The platform requires no DBA and manual mashups, an there are no special scripts to learn. You will also skip investing in data warehouses and professional maintenance services, as all data analysis operations are conducted in the same system.
  5. Joining diverse tables and charts coming from multiple sources: Sisense’s unique power is that it automatically recognizes and brings together charts and tables from different data sources, and then combines the data contained in them without you preparing it.
  6. Data crunching for beginners: A customer-oriented and intuitive interface that takes no time to learn, and no size limitations.
  7. Effective use of CPU cache memory: Sisense handle terabytes of data rows and thousands of users per day without compromising the quality of performance. You will get results from ad hoc and concurrent queries of rapidly changing data within seconds.
  8. Diverse data granularity: Regardless of the complexity of your data models, Sisense will allow you explore, filter, and drill down inside them, and customize the visual environment independently.
  9. API-first approach for developers: Sisense emphasizes on scalability, extensibility, and security, which makes it ideal for ISVs, OEMs, and customer-oriented and embedded analyses. Using its suite of RESTful API, you can integrate Sisense in any JavaScript application you’re using.
  10. A 90-minutes real test-drive for prospective clients: Sisense is the only BI system you can test with actual rather than sample data. Entrust them an actual business case, and they will solve it in 90 minutes.

2. QlikSense

Frank Kneefel, Finance & Control manager at Deloitte Netherlands, believes that in a 24/7 world driven by loyalty and transparency, accurate information is both free and scarce to afford. Before he discovered QlikSense and decided to give it a try, he was afraid of Deloitte’s highly complex reporting environment, and struggled to bring in a unified approach for audit, consulting, tax and risk management analytics to save the company both time and money. For a worldwide service provider renowned for diversity, affordable and unified productivity management reporting approach sounded like Utopia.

Then, the hero arrived. QlikSense’s flexibility, user-friendliness, and analytic powers turned out to be just what Deloitte needed. With it, the company brought its multiple data sources under the same roof, including diverse Excel files and SAP warehouse data. Within a month, they new reporting app was set and ready to go, and consultants were able to save an average of 10 hours reporting hours per month. As time was passing by, and Deloitte’s upper management was more and more fascinated with the effects of QlikSense, they also instructed the creation of two new apps: One for tracking human resources, and the other for forecasting customer/market behavior.

Development Trends: 2015

What is unique about QlikSense?

  1. Full spectrum of visual analytics: QlikSense adopts a platform-based and self-data discovery approach, and puts in place centrally deployed analytics that are easy to adjust as your business grows.
  2. Externally governed assets and data modules: QlikSense encourages natural data exploration, and solves in such way the eternal problem of non-intuitive self-service analytics of complex data modules.
  3. Columnar data stores. Qlik offers an engine able to concentrate on a pre-defined suite of columns, and run calculations on those instead of processing the whole table. The system is also equipped to calculate aggregations and compute dimensions instantly.
  4. Automated associative indexing. Once again, the Qlik engine maps and collects chosen data from multiple sources, and automatically maintains the desired associations. The engine is also capable to recognize important data you may have missed considering in your analysis, and highlights it in gray.
  5. Data compression. QlikSense is one of the very few discovery and BI systems that compress in-memory data to even 10% of its initial size, helping you complete your operations much faster than expected.
  6. Intelligent searching. You can start using QlikSense by importing the simplest and most natural analytical operations, and the system will guide you from there on, as it offers multiple advanced possibilities for all data sources.
  7. Buildable platform. As a developer, you will find it very easy to design a personalized QlikSense application, as the platform offers open standard APIs and mashup extensions.
  8. Mobile-first. QlikSense’s design is fully responsive on different mobile devices, and thus deployable everywhere and for everyone. Its interface will easily adapt both to the device and the interaction method it uses.
  9. Policy-based security rules. Thanks to its security APIs and customizable  Qlik Management Console, you will be able to adjust security rules and precautions to your need. Sharing is also based on a self-service model, which means there is little chance your data will end up in the wrong hands.
  10. Positioned in Gartner’s Leaders Magic Quadrant  for 7 years in a row. Qlik’s powerful technology based on competence of vision and fast execution has placed this system among Gartner’s BI leaders for 7 years in a row.

3. Microsoft Power BI

In the past 7 years that Metro Bank has fore-fronted London’s market, much changed within the institution’s modus operandi. What remained unchanged though, is devotion to surprise and delight, given that Metro Bank’s key targeting strategy relies on being praised and recommended by satisfied users. Having confirmed the efficiency of Microsoft products, they made the smart assumption that Power BI could be the right system for them to examine the quality of customer interaction.

Bruce Rioch, Microsoft Technologies & BI director at Metro Bank, couldn’t be more satisfied with the system. As he explains, the system allowed his team to provide innovative and personalized service for all customers, and turn them into fans. It is the exact visually-appealing, dynamic, and user-friendly tool every developing company needs, and has thus brought a number of critical benefits. With it, Metro Bank tracks its call center operations, including customer demographics, call times, and call volume; analyzes online customers’ behavior via their mobile and internet banking services, and pulls off unique customer dissatisfaction reports to help plan workload more adequately. What they like the most about the system are rich data visualizations, and regular feedback from Microsoft’s specialists that helps them make the most of this tool.

Wide selection of Chart Types

What is unique about Microsoft Power BI?

  1. Non-technical and IT-free performance. Power BI changes the conception of analytics being reserved for busy IT departments, and makes complex operations accessible to non-technicians. Even without experience, you can connect it to any data source, and summarize the findings in any type of report.
  2. Microsoft’s DAX query language. Instead of Excel’s cumbersome formula language, Microsoft Power BI relies on Power Pivot to develop and execute analytic measures, and thus has a comparably shorter learning curve than any other BI or discovery system.
  3. Power Query data sharing. Power Query is the system’s best known feature that helps eliminate many data loading concerns – data is imported automatically, and can easily be sorted, filtered, and modified before you’ve loaded it to Excel (for instance, taking back a month-old data from a 10-years old database). You can also connect Facebook and oData files, and share them as separate workbooks.
  4. Desktop app built into Excel. Another unique possibility offered by this system is that you can download a dedicated desktop app to build your Excel summaries and visualizations. Using the Power Query, Power Pivot, and Power View extensions, you will also be able to combine large data sets and share them easily on the web.
  5. Drags in all of your enterprise reporting packages. With a total of 7 years game of game-changing experience, Power BI eliminates the need to use external, enterprise-grade applications to prepare reporting suites. The system is connectable to each and every data source, so you can basically use it to report on any matter.
  6. Simple and free sharing. The traditional way to manage report sharing is to include such in expensive and premium packages, but that’s not the case with Microsoft BI – This system allows users to email reports directly from the platform, and embed them on any web page.
  7. Making use of all data sources. Power BI doesn’t restrict connectivity – you can process data coming from Salesforce, MailChimp, Google Analytics, QuickBooks, Azure, oData, local libraries, and even Facebook.
  8. The largest number of customizable visualizations. With Power BI, you can arrange your data in all types of charts including Bubbles, Table Heatmaps, Tornado Charts, Tadpole Spark Grids, Aster Plots, Histograms, Cards, and many more.
  9. Cost-effectiveness. Many companies choose to launch their BI journey with Power BI, exactly because of the cost-effectiveness of this system. Power BI’s desktop app is free, and so is the web-hosted version for data up to 1 GB. Transition to a paid plan is also made painless, as you can add data for only $10 per month.
  10. Curated data & Personalized views. Keeping an analytic team satisfied with Power BI will be very easy, as the system packs content in line with individual requirements. Each member will get a personalized dataset where he can only see the business metrics that matter to him.

4. SAP Crystal Reports

For a leading business outsourcing provider with revenues of nearly $9 billion, imperfect business intelligence solutions are simply unacceptable. Automatic Data Processing, Inc (ADP) has more than 60 years of payroll and tax administration experience, and a very diverse sales management process that was practically impossible to frame in a single automation solution. Darrin Farnsworth is the company’s sales automation projects manager, who’s witnessed first hand the problem of not being able to create a one-size-fits-all report. Before testing out SAP Crystal Reports, he remembers accepting duplicates and excess report databases as something ‘one has to live with’.

Luckily, SAP Crystal Reports worked around what the company has long given up on, and transformed it into reality: ADP is now using it to standardize its reporting procedures, a process that may take a while, but will eventually be completed. Ever since the tool was first deployed and implemented, ADP’s agents are able to run reports on the schedule, update data and inspect the pipeline by sharing information, and integrate the tool easily with Salesforce to allow painless data migration. SAP Crystal Reports has also helped them to improve data quality by 15% and team coverage by 10%, and retrieve and manage scorecards in less than 30 minutes per day. Divisional project managers, on their behalf, report being able to save even 60 minutes of reporting time on daily basis.

Reporting in SAP Crystal Reports

What is unique about SAP Crystal Reports?

  1. Richly-formatted reports in 24 languages. SAP Crystal Reports imports data from a variety of sources, and helps you create a number of different interactive reports in even 24 languages.
  2. Intuitive tools. SAP Crystal Reports offers an array of intuitive design tools for you to create detailed and precise report layouts. This way, you can save time adjusting templates and wizards, and set your own parameter values and rules for sorting customers. Designing reports is further accelerated with automated creation of hyperlinks, instant barcodes, and a single panel for all parameters.
  3. Compelling data mashups. SAP Crystal Reports is integrated with SAP Crystal Dashboard to help you convey information in a compelling way, as for example What If scenarios. You will also be able to use Adobe Flash dynamic charts and graphs, and embed Adobe Flex for executing business decisions.
  4. Flexible deployment. With SAP Crystal Reports, you can deploy and share your reports in a variety of ways (new data access, data-driven publishing, SDKs, SAP Crystal Server, XML exporting, Salesforce.com drivers, email, and so on.).
  5. Highly embedded technology. SAP Crystal Reports is a very useful system from OEM perspective, having in mind that it is embedded in many popular software systems and technologies including CA and HR.
  6. Best fit for developers. The system also integrates with programming technologies such as Java and NET., so that your developers can write their codes in a language familiar to them.
  7. Early detection of changing conditions and trends. SAP Crystal Reports present broad business insights where data is regularly updated, which means you will be able to detect both negative and positive trends in time.

5. IBM Cognos Analytics

If you ask Cincinnati Zoo’s BI specialists and c-level executives, one of the most critical benefits of business intelligence software is securing an interactive, self-service environment for organization-wide access and exploration of data. As a middle-sized company, nevertheless, you may be challenged to pursue those benefits because of upfront costs and difficult implementation. With disparate and complex data coming from a variety of sources, you may as well have given up by now. But Cincinnati Zoo did not.

Sometime in late 2007, Cincinnati Zoo officials realized that with 1.3 million visitor per year, they do have a story to tell, but business analytics were still an abstract term to them. Manager Lucas and his team knew about IBM Cognos Analytics, but were under the false impression that they could not afford it. So, they contacted IBM specialist either way, and discovered that the company does offer a solution for their budget. Among other things, they sought to gain membership and admission analyses, and use customers’ demographics for their marketing and segmentation strategies. IBM Cognos did not only make that possible, but a team of specialists was assigned to them to help them discover new opportunity area. Cincinnati Zoo is now regularly upgrading to newer IBM Cognos versions – so far, they’ve identified long-running promotional programs, and they save $40,000 a year on targeting the right prospects with their discount strategies. The zoo also reports dramatic revenue increase (86% in only 3 years), and 411% higher ROI rates.

IBM Cognos Analytics: Predictive Analysis

What is unique about IBM Cognos Analytics?

  1. Self-service analytics. What IBM Cognos Analytics is best known for is self-service analytics, thanks to which employees can upload and analyze data maintained by the IT department without necessarily relating their operations to what others in the company are doing. The same procedure applies for ad hoc and enterprise reporting, which means that you won’t have to purchase an enterprise-first tool as your business develops.
  2. Accurate and safe reporting. IBM Cognos Analytics is a self-service-analytics-first system, and emphasizes on secure and certain reporting. As the administrator, you will get unparalleled capacity to set and adjust safety rules, and govern data access.
  3. Intent-based process modeling. With IBM Cognos, even non-technical users can pull data together and understand the indicators being presented to them. The system works independently to interpret both the attributes and their intent, and then searches for data sources that will match those attributes, and prepares possible scenarios.
  4. Cross-department predictive analyses. IBM Cognos utilizes a variety of sources to analyze current and past information, and predict further events. The same system can be used for online analytical processing, thanks to the point-and-click interface that helps users skip requesting information from other departments.
  5. Query Studio. One of the IBM Cognos modules we find to be most useful is Query Studio, which is in fact a simplified reporting functionality that provides instant answers to important business questions. As simple as they are, these mini reports still come equipped with useful charts and diagrams.
  6. Event Studio. IBM Cognos Analytics comes with a special notification tool that detects the occurrence of business events and exceptional circumstances based on the condition of your data. Notifications can be sent via email, or be published on the company’s live portal.
  7. Extendable functionality. To make your IBM Cognos suite even more powerful, you can make use of several add-ons such as Go!Search, Go!Dashboard, and Go! Office. The widgets will help you add Microsoft Office components in your system, and perform full-text search of your documents and published content while connected with Google’s search engine. Go!Dashboard, on the other hand, provides access to a Viewer Portlet where all reporting elements are displayed as interactive and changeable units.

6. Google Analytics

Looking for successful Google Analytics stories, Airbnb’s one will certainly attract your attention: As it turns out, the popular property & vacation management platform was ‘one BI system away’ from improving data vendor collection by incredible 90%, as well as reducing dramatically its tag deployment time. Their choice was what would be a natural choice for many of us: A reputed system with proven capabilities and member of the world’s leading productivity suite – Google Analytics.

Airbnb was challenged by tagging complexity, as they use a large number of website tags, including unique ones for AdWords accounts and vendors interested to measure conversion. The breaking point for them to implement a BI solution was realizing that they operate with even 88 different audience lists and over 100 tags. An individual add-on for each type of report could have solved their problem, but it would also break the bank doing so.

What did Airbnb do? Being familiar with Google’s products, they opted for Google Analytics and Tag Manager as affordable and straightforward solutions for their problems. They were immediately able to cut tagging time from days and months to hours, and thus implement brand new and more intelligent marketing strategies. Now they can use more third-party vendors, launch new advertising programs on any platform, and collect vendor data for 90% of conversions at once.

Google Analytics: Statistics

What is unique about Google Analytics?

  1. World’s best audience insights. The reason why Google Analytics’ main target group are online retailers is that the system actually discover where users are coming from, and defines what they’re looking for. You will be able to understand their preferences and behavior, and easily compare conversions to your goals. What makes Google Analytics even more special is audience demographics, as the system divides visitors according to their age, gender, and location.
  2. Information coming from multiple channels. While analyzing where your customers are coming from, this platform will examine: URL redirections, organic search, paid search, referral, social media recommendations, and effective email campaigns.
  3. Shaping a marketing strategy. Once you’ve understood your audience, you can unveil easily the marketing channels that are driving most of you traffic, including the possibility to distinguish the parts of your website that are most attractive. This will help you shape smarter placement decisions.
  4. Sets important data first. With GA, you can personalize your dashboard and prioritize widgets that showcase a particular metric, including pie charts, timelines, or combined dimensions. This way, the platform will be able to recognize important data, and examine it first.
  5. Bounce-rate examination. GA makes it easy to distinguish between top-performing and worst-perfroming website content, based on the bounce rates measured for each. This way, it profiles pieces users click on the most, and pinpoints pages and elements that need improvement.
  6. Ease of use. The friendly and intuitive dashboard is what Google Analytics is best known for, and so is the affordable pricing scheme. This is why even first time bloggers with no BI experience find it easy to track the metrics of their site, and improve their targeting strategies.

7. Domo

Mastercard is currently running the world’s most successful and fastest payment processing network, undertaking the complex task of connecting financial institutions and consumers, merchants, businesses, and governments in almost every corner of the world. With siloed data and outdated reporting, the company started looking for a system that will analyze, optimize, and apply data to their planning efforts all at once. As VP Curt Fournier likes to put it, Mastercard was in desperate need of a single source of truth.

Before Domo made its big arrival in Mastercard’s daily office operations, users had to log in on multiple different platforms, and pull in data from all of them to plan a campaign successfully. With Domo, all data is stored in a single place, and accessible to all entitled users. Fournier adds that Domo has also optimized the company’s marketing efforts by measuring customer engagement, and uniting customer insights for different regions and products. One of the biggest benefits of this system is certainly the possibility to gather and observe social media data, and use it to organize and drive a modern business towards success.

What is unique about Domo?

  1. Two generic types of data flows. Domo offers GUI-based and SQL-based data flows. This means that you can choose to master its ITL processing interface (known as Magic), which will enable you to process, but also join, and stack column-based data, or use MySQL when transforming 1-3 millions of data rows, and Redshift when processing a larger number of them. SQL users can also mix local and cloud data to model specific business scenarios.
  2. Cut for collaboration. The functionality of Domo will be adjusted to the role of the user, which is how the system became known for contributing to BI, finance, sales, and marketing departments. Access to data is consequently role based, and depends on whether you’re an Admin, Privileged Member, Editor, or Participant. Information, on the other hand, is arranged in Cards, and it is the Card owner (creator) that assigns these roles. To overcome misunderstandings, Domo allows users to share dashboards and metrics, customize links to frequently used resources, and chat in separate messaging bars.
  3. Hundreds of data connectors. When you use Domo, you can import data from LinkedIn, Facebook, Dropbox, Google Analytics, Adobe Cloud, Box, Hadoop, QuickBooks, Salesforce, Workday, Open Database Connectivity, and many more.
  4. Social sharing with Domo Buzz. With Domo, you will not only be allowed to share data cards with colleagues, but also submit them to group discussions and make presentations alike PowerPoint ones. All details of shared content are automatically updated, and you don’t have to worry whether your colleagues are on the same page. This way, Domo confirms providing one of the most powerful storytelling features on the market.
  5. Sophisticated visualizations. Domo’s data dashboards are predominantly graphical, which means they work with charts, tables, pies, graphs, and similar elements, but you can also visit Appstore/iStore and get predictive analytics and machine learning support.

8. BOARD

Mexico’s branch of Volkswagen is one of their largest production plants, and employs over 65,000 full-time workers and 49,000 supplier employees and engineers in Silao and Puebla. Before 2015, all of these people operating on 3.6 million square meters were managed with disconnected, inflexible, and dauntingly long Excel sheets, while the firm’s predictive analyses were completed using several different applications. As expected, duplicate data and mistakes were not uncommon to the company’s annual plans.

Looking for a flexible PA & performance management system that can solve this problem, Volkswagen was recommended to try BOARD, as it was one of the very few systems that combined BI and predictive analytics with FP&A and strategic and financial performance management. They also considered it because of the inbuilt ETL, thanks to which no coding skills were required to manipulate data. The very first year, BOARD helped VW launch successful financial planning applications for their Marginal Contribution Calculation program, Integration programs, Input Consolidation, Variation Analysis and Reporting. They are using it to collect and process financial information coming from global systems in Germany, and to work with a fully-organized repository of all Mexico end users. Recently, they also implemented BOARD’s Variation Analysis and Reporting module, thanks to which they’re producing and delivering more than 20 standard reports to VW’s headquarters.

What is unique about BOARD?

  1. All in one. BOARD is the only BI & CPM platform that combines performance management with data discovery, business intelligence, and analytics.
  2. Building planner applications. Unlike similar BI systems, BOARD orients most of its efforts into facilitating planning, which may as well be the core reason to choose it. This is how it works: you import and populate data into so-called BOARD Capsules, and the system synchronizes them with pre-populated dimensions to ensure that each change will be reflected in them.  This way, you can model the business logic of your operations without a single line of code.
  3. Automated processing. BOARD will not only collect and organize data from different sources, but also immediately suggest the most appropriate analytic model for it. The reason is that BOARD discovers dimensions, codes, descriptions, and hierarchies absolutely independently.
  4. Maximal development speed. Experts recommend BOARD because of its HBMP in-memory technology, and dynamic data-fast tracking models.
  5. Proof of concept. Before you’ve made your purchase, you can visit BOARD’s official website and ask for a POC (proof of concept). The system will then handle an actual business case to show you firsthand how it can be useful to you in the future. According to the company 95% of all submitted POCs so far have been successful, which is probably why the company records incredible 97% of renewal cases.

9. Dundas BI

SIEMENS’ Visual Analytics Group is in charge of end-to-end reporting solutions and all internal BI needs of the company. Given the size of SIEMENS’ organization, the BI experts found it very difficult to provide an actionable solution that works equally well for all departments, not disturbing at the same time the balance stroke between upper management governance and self-service capabilities. What they needed to solve this problem was a program that can handle all of their logistic processes, customer service, and financial reporting, and enhance in parallel time the experience of self-service users while browsing for metrics.

The best fit for their needs was exactly Dundas BI, due to its unique set of capabilities and seamless integrations. They chose it also because of its modern and user-friendly interface, great in-memory capabilities, fast turnaround times from ideas to finished dashboards, dedicated support, and affordability. Dundas BI helped solve some of their biggest problems, including the introduction of a single BI environment used by thousands of people working on 35 different projects. A unique benefit, as pointed out by visual analyst Christoph Malassa, was answering the question of why supply rates were different in different regions, and how each of the patterns affected the organization. Thanks to such data, Siemens is now saving 25% scrap costs, and has reduced cycle times by even 12%.

What is unique about Dundas BI?

Dundas BI: Uncovering hidden relationships

  1. Custom scripts for user interactivity. Process designers recommend Dundas BI because of its easy navigation and built-in filtering, as they are allowed to build custom interactions with hover-over click actions, forward/back actions, buttons, etc. Each attribute or property on a Dundas dashboard can be modified by the user, and he can create his own templates for consistent styling.
  2. Data correction. A distinctive aspect of Dundas’ storytelling is that it corrects data mistakes and wrong estimations. It will follow the latest status of your business to add more accurate numbers, values, and patterns, so that there is no need to check work twice.
  3. Large screen automated displays. With Dundas BI, you will be able to configure the duration of dashboard views, the same as with PowerPoint. All slideshows are directly connected to the live view, which means viewers can comment and ask questions during the presentation.
  4. Recommendations & Data brushing. Dundas’ smart engine provides viewers with suggestions on related visualizations, and also ‘brushes’ data that has already been presented in a different visualization. This way, users know whether the data they’re looking at is relevant to the action they’re trying to perform.
  5. Uncovering of hidden relationships. Dundas BI uses special relationhsip diagrams to showcase explicit connections between different data points. The function is supported with Sankey diagrams to exhibit the distribution/loss of values in different flows.
  6. Flexible mobile platform. Dundas BI is built on the latest HTML5, JavaScript, and CSS standards, and thus displays and acts perfectly on all mobile devices. Efforts were made to provide the best possible mobile experience, which means that the user can scale and resize screen sizes up to his own preferences.

10. Birst

Toshiba-owned medical systems company Vital ‘blames’ Birst for their ongoing success. The number-one provider of medical visualization technology for clinicians has a fairly complex production line, which makes it very difficult for the team to manage their sales pipeline, and to make accurate forecasts. To do so, they needed a powerful sales analytics product that manages orders and tracks opportunities, making sure that no important indicator is left undocumented.

In the attempt to find that product, Vital investigated and tried several applications, but concluded Birst was the only complete BI stack that doesn’t require additional IT resources (and will thus support their growth without any financial risk!). Thanks to its data collection powers and integration with Salesforce and NetSuite, Birst is estimated to cut Vital’s employee productivity costs by more than 50% each year, and praised for using a special Automated Data Refinement & Adaptive User Experience technology to save the time that was otherwise invested in combining and distributing data. The system is actively used by the sales department, where it helps recommend products and services and predict duration from opportunity to cash.

What is unique about Birst?

  1. Automated data refinement. Birst collects, combines, and refines data rapidly to the attention of non-technical users, thanks to its automated data refinement, live access, and query federation technology. Legacy or discovery systems, on the contrary, have to do so with complex manual processes, or extract data scripts from third-party tools.
  2. Global views. Birst enriches local data with networking, end-user, and quality global views, which means you won’t have to blend data via siloed sandboxes and extracts.
  3. Networked BI architecture. Birst links automatically all of your independent virtual spaces to ensure analytical consistency wherever in the company’s value chain that data later appears. This is also not the case with traditional legacy systems, as they eiher ensure consistency with a single instance, or require you to schedule multiple checks for the same modle.
  4. Adaptive Open Client interface. Birst’s adaptive UX supports different analytic styles, including basic dashboards, reporting, mobile discovery, visual discovery with Excel, and many more.
  5. Always-On virtual spaces. This feature allows you to see and track value, virtual spaces, instant movements and upgrades of data accounting at the same time all system downtimes and manual changes.

11. Looker

Back in the days, no one at DonorsChoose.org could have foreseen the popularity of their non-profit organization, or assume that maybe, some day, they’ll have to rely on operable intelligence to make a decision. Becoming aware of their own success story, executives also understood the need to make data publicly accessible, and to obtain real-time data insights pulling in info from a variety of sources. The very same system that would respond to their needs was also the one that ought to take care of their complex partnerships, and help them develop useful decision-making practices.

The insights Looker provided were simply astonishing: The non-profit recorded a 65% increase in lifetime giving for donors who’ve been sent a ‘thank you’ card upon donating, and discovered that transferring reporting to an automated systems saves as much as 400 hours of manual reporting a year. The organization was also able to prepare a poverty breakdown pie by school, and redirected 80% of projects toward helping low-income educational institutions. Meanwhile, they received 292,000 new requests for school supplies and 227,000 requests for technology, as they were able to depict and pinpoint the hottest trends in US education.

What is unique about Looker?

  1. LookML. Looker is best-known for developing an easier approach to data analytics, namely a brand new database query language call LookML. The language operates like a simplified version of SQL which is reusable and modular, and thus way easier to learn for first-time users.
  2. Workbook analytics. Looker adopts your company’s unique business logic. Connect it to any of your relational databases (BigQuery or Redshift, for instance), and it will automatically generate a data model based on your schema.
  3. Support for SQL window functions. Window functions are not-that-well-known SQL functions designed for users to rank customers based on specific behavior without adhering to complex self-joints and first-time variables, or even concatenation hacks that may require them to transfer data to a third system.
  4. A variety of field parameters. With Looker, you can define fields with a number of field parameters, including dimensions and dimension groups (manipulation-prone columns and tables), measures (alike aggregate SQL functions that provide row information), and templated filters (unique to the user, he can create new ones upon need).
  5. 70% trial-to-win rate. The possession of a modern exploration language and comparably easy adoption ensured Looker a trial-to-win rate of even 70%, compered to the 11% average measured for the SaaS industry in general. This is also the reason why Looker often appears high on Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, and has a total of 90% early user adoption which is almost impossible in the BI sector.

12. Tableau

What Arby’s Restaurant Group was searching for back in the days was a reliable retail analytics system. They imagined their ideal tool to map retail success from the field, focusing in particular on trends for retaining customers in time of renovation and casual closing. For the purpose, that system should be able to combine supply chain visualizations, maximize cost efficiency, and provide intelligence on sourcing and warehouse management. In short, they were looking for Tableau.

How did Tableau help the restaurant group? The system put in place improved decision making on material usage, as it integrated data across several applications. Thanks to it, the company was able to order supplies in line with its demand trends. Another invaluable benefit was managing risk, and comparing their performance to internal and market expectations to wrap up a deficiency percentage and tackle it accordingly. Arby’s Restaurant Group also relied on Tableau’s warehouse management kit to gain visibility into the efficiency of individual employees and shift groups.

What is unique about Tableau?

  1. A pioneer of drag-and-drop analytics. Tableau was among the first BI systems to present intuitive analytic dashboards where users can manipulate data with a simple drag-and-drop mechanism. Where it is today, Tableau also counts as one of the most innovative products on the market, constantly presenting new features and functionalities, and following trends.
  2. Choosing between a 32-bit and 64-bit runtime version of the product. Generally, the choice of a version to deploy will depend on your operating system, given that the 64-bit version is the preferrable option that addresses larger chunks of memory and improves speed.
  3. Dashboard-to-dashboard interactions. With Tableau, you can copy different dashboard elements and transfer them to other workbooks, which gives you plenty of iteration and development possibilities. For instance, you can combine the work of different analysts on a new, seamless dashboard.
  4. SAML authentication. The newest version of this system can be delegated to SAML authentication, an open source method that makes it possible to create single sign-on on experience. This makes Tableau connectable to any third-party app/system, and usable in all of your departments.
  5. Web authoring on mobile devices. Tableau will not only display data on mobile devices, but allow you to modify existing views, analyze data, and save new versions with a dedicated app..
  6. Tableau Public. Tableau offers a free version for Windows and Mac users with 10GB of storage, unlimited users and visualizations, personalized profiles, and social media sharing.

13. Woopra

AppLovin executives like to call Woopra the ‘turnkey solution’ that helped them address the right customer needs at the right time. As VP Andrew Karam explains, Woopra helped the company reach customer satisfaction rates nobody could even suspect were possible. Saying so, he refers particularly to 2012, when the business was in desperate need of effective marketing decisions for mobile consumers. Back then, however, only few systems had the expertise needed to develop and distribute the marketing signals in question.

Woopra was not a lonely solution on the table. Karam also considered older and larger analytics providers, but found them overly complicated and expensive to use. Woopra, at the same time, offered an unbelievable friendly interface that turned each of his employees into a super-user. Before he caught up on what had happened, Woopra delivered a deep understanding on customer interaction, and turned a finger exactly towards the problem AppLovin should address. Thanks to it, Karam was no longer expected to weed through website log files to understand the changes and their effects, and got a historic log on all activities that helps him make smarter decisions.

Overview: Anonymous Customer Analytics

What is unique about Woopra?

  1. Anonymous customer intelligence. Woopra is often described as a top eCommerce intelligence alternative, and has much to do with the platform’s close interaction with AdWords, and the possibility to track anonymous web & mobile visitors before they’ve identified themselves.
  2. Dedicated features for a variety of industries. With detailed and beautiful customer profiles, Woopra works well in all niches, but it is particularly useful for trade, finance, banking, travel, gaming, media, and automotive businesses.
  3. Communication with visitors. Unlike traditional customer intelligence systems, Woopra allows the user to communicate with his visitors, including the possibility to launch a live chat and exchange information.
  4. Time tracking. Another skill Woopra has mastered over the years is real time tracking, with a dedicated pane for live visitor stats. In this pane, you can see the page your new guests have visited, their location, their operating systems and browsers, and much more. It is also the place where you can trigger a live chat session with the visitor.
  5. A mission-control interface. Woopra deviates from the traditional menu-submenu concept to adopt a full-customization approach for any type of customer related operations. Each and every segment of the pane can be moved and transformed, and the user is in full control of what is being presented to him.

14. Zoho Reports

Worldwide Express is a reputed global logistics company that employs hundredths, and processes volumes of data each day. Under circumstances such as those, users are not only allowed to be capricious with their business analytic solution, but rather expected to do so. That’s why Any Milligan, WE’s VP of Marketing & Business Analytics took a while to choose Zoho Reports.

Asked what she liked the most about the system, she responded pretty clear: the efficient interface and the robust features. Zoho Reports inherited quite a mess within WE’s outdated proprietary combinations. The challenge was to take reporting down from hours to minutes, including the generation of complex and specific summaries that won’t be shared the old, insecure way. Both WE’s transactions and employee numbers have long outgrown the power of their toolkit.

How did Zoho Reports help? Today, this system processes over 100 million rows of data coming from multiple sources and locations, and does so seamlessly because all agents can access it any time and from any device. Being as user-friendly as it is, Zoho Reports doesn’t impose additional difficulties on employees, but rather inspires them to be creative, and to think of new ways to reach out to customers.

What is unique about Zoho Reports?

Overview: Databases

  1. Member of a large productivity suite. Zoho Reports is a perfect alternative for current Zoho suite users looking to enhance their software infrastructure with an intelligent analytic tool. Well-integrated and easy to use, Zoho Reports is a also a good alternative for first-time users and such that have no BI experience so far.
  2. Automated & scheduled data import. Zoho Reports unites your data wherever it may be located, including local databases, online feeds, cloud storage services, emails, flat files, and web applications. The system connects with SQL and NoSQL databases, and import files in Excel, CSV, HTML, JSON, XML, text, and other formats. It also works in synergy with all Zoho products.
  3. Data blending. Zoho Reports not only collects, but also blends and merges data from different sources, as for instance marketing spend data noted in an Excel spreadsheet and sales points coming from your CRM system. Once put in action, the system completes such combinations with a single click, so that you can meaningful reports within minutes.
  4. Excel-like formula engine. Zoho Reports will provide you an extensive library of statistical and mathematical functions alike those you find in Excel, but also let you import ones of your own to extract the exact business metrics you need.
  5. Small-biz friendly. The ease of use and flexible pricing offered by Zoho Reports makes this system suitable for small and medium businesses and even sole service providers. Enterprises are also more then welcomed to try it, having in mind its columnar backend technology that can process 100s of millions of data rows.

15. Visualr

Visualr is a state-of-the-art data visualization solution that turns your data into comprehensible and graphical images to help you convey your message, emphasize your point, and show what you are talking about through “the language the eye”.

Through Visualr, you can link to multiple sources of data including S Excel, My SQL, MS SQL, Oracle or even Flat File databases instantly and collect all the data you need or want to visualize. The software is also capable of gathering information from API Data Providers like Twitter and Google Analytics and build attractive dashboards accordingly so you can communicate your thoughts graphically and effectively.

What is unique about Visualr?

  1. Actionable insights. Visualr gives you a platform with which you can turns facts, figures, and other data into more engaging and digestible visualizations so you and your team can derive high quality, highly actionable insights.
  2. Helps maximize the potential of your business. Visualr’s powerful and detailed data visualizations helps you see your customers and prospects, understand them better.
  3. Enhanced business strategies.  Visualr lets you create and execute enhanced business strategies and see your past progress and determine how lessons from the past can impact the future.
  4. Open API system. Visualr comes with an open API architecture, which means you can easily connect it to any third party system or application.
  5. Suitable for all business sizes. Thanks to its flexible and carefully tailored pricing plans, Visualr is a great alternative for both SMBs and enterprises.
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