Best BI Tools For Your Company in 2021
To choose the right BI tool for your company, you must consider how it will fit in your organization. Considering how it will integrate with your current databases, and then how the program will analyze that data is essential. After that, consider how long it will take for your company to learn the program. Finally, planning for the cost in time and money is necessary. Essentially, we should consider database fit, culture fit, and finance fit before making a final decision.
Companies and their workers are able to produce new data sets at torrential speeds. In fact, the World Economic Forum estimates that 294 billion emails alone are sent each day — which accounts for a very miniscule percentage of the total data generated within that time period.. Even if you are a small organization, that means there’s an incredible amount of data a company must sort through, daily. If you are sorting through it alone, without the best BI tools, it is a monumental challenge to discover the information that can make a real difference.
The best business intelligence software provides a great platform that a manager can explore that data with. It will sort through the databases and other data sources, so you don’t have to. In addition to that, It will analyze the information, providing targeted, well sourced information to help you do any needed data discovery. Moreover, the software will present the information clearly, letting decision makers do what they do best. That’s the magic of Business Intelligence.
What's on This Page
4 Business Intelligence Tools To Use in 2021
Power BI by Microsoft
Best BI Tool for Integration
Power BI is arguably the dominant platform in this area. It is very good at integrating with a wide-variety of database systems, and it’s part of the Microsoft suite of programs. That gives it an inherent advantage over most other BI programs.
Power BI pro is 9.99 per user, Power Bi Premium is $20 per user, and $4,995 per month for access to a server and advanced AI. You also have access to a 30 day free trial.
This is the key strength of Power BI. It integrates data from a huge range of data sets that extends well past databases. Multiple social media websites are supported along with the Open Database Connectivity standard, allowing a huge range of data to be imported. They know their integration is a strength and will continue updating the list of data sources Power BI and import.
If you are thinking of using this software, the desktop version is free for individuals. That means it’s easy to try out to see if it is a good fit. The premium version is $20per user, which includes a ton of great features. Of course, if you want to use a server to store data on, it gets much more expensive.
In the reviews for this product, update speed was mentioned more than once. When checking the update list, it does seem that this has the most regular updates of every BI platform. When looking at the list, it seems that every update is meaningful. Every month more database connections are added, improving integration even more. It’s almost like we’ll never be able to stop learning how to use it, as it grows more versatile at least 12 times a year.
Best Business Intelligence Software for Ease of Learning
Metabase is easy to use and easy to learn. This is remarkable in an environment that often requires training to even begin to use a BI tool. Cloud-based integration is also especially useful.
The Starter plan is $85 a month for five users. Then it becomes $5 a month per user after that. The Growth plan is $749 a month for 10 users and $15 a month per user past that. Overall, the costs are at about $15k per year for the whole suite. You can get started with a 30-day trial.
Metabase has a free trial of 30 days with the potential for additional days under certain conditions. The starter plan is $85 a month for 5 users. After that, it is $5 for each user on top of that plan. That is less expensive than most other competitors.
You can cache questions that you have asked previously, so the queries take significantly less time. Your dashboards and other often-queried used data can also be stored locally so that the queries take less time. If you have to use SQL it has an onboard question builder that will help you write more effective, faster, and more accurate SQL.
Data Source Compatibility is largely driven by the open-source nature of the software. That way the community can build drivers that will connect to pretty much anything. There are a couple of dozen that are officially supported, and many more that are not yet officially supported. If you have a database that no other BI software connects to, Metabase is the BI version you will want.
SAP Analytics Cloud
Great at Data Analytics
SAP helps you discover what is happening, with near real time data. The data visualizations can be detailed, indeed, including nearly any metric you want. Plus, if you have more than one SAP Product, it’ll be hard to compete with their integrated data analysis.
This one has an up to 90-day free trial. However, the bottom end plan starts at $47per user per month, with a base cost in the several thousands of dollars. We were quoted $2,820, and we’ve seen $14,000 also quoted as a minimum.
This software combines planning analysis, predictive analysis, governance, risk, and compliance in one place. That is an embedded analytics package that is hard to beat and saves time to boot. You can create presentations, with great visual analytics, at any step of the analysis process, including post and post-mortems. It is even able to create action plans and interactive visualizations inside the software.
Machine learning allows you to save time because it predicts your next choices well. You don’t have to learn SQL, because the machine learning module translates between natural language and SQL for you. You may even be able to do data science on your own, without professional data scientists on staff. If you learn how to use this feature, your BI will be powerful indeed.
If you don’t have a BI background, you will still be able to use the platform seamlessly. Neither data scientists nor financial experts are needed to examine the data and make informed decisions. You will make faster data analysis, better decisions, and informed conversations with the ways SAP presents data. As a result, you are much more likely to have a data-driven culture.
Great in Regard to Cost
Matomo allows you to self-host your data warehouse, it is open source, and development is free. It also respects GDPR guidelines.
This one is free if you host it on your own servers. You can pay for support in that case, should you wish. If you wish to host the server, charge by page view, from $45 CAD, for 50,000 up to $17K CAD for 50 million page views.
Matomo is European-focused, and as a result one of the only BI tools that had an explicit reaction to the GDPR passed in the European Union. If you want to be an ethical and privacy-first business user and not a part of big data, Matomo is one of the only BI packages that allow that.
Ease of Use
All the reviews we saw mentioned that Matomo is easy to set up and use. Reviews mention that it is easy to share and has easy access controls. Unlimited flexibility on what you want to be tracked, with minimal up from learning is another bonus. On Capterra it is rated at 4.6 out of 5 for ease of use.
Open-Source software like Matomo is easily self-hosted, so you don’t have to be cloud-based. That is one of the key reasons that it is valuable, and why GDPR affected companies use it. They can create a server that runs the way the customer wants it to, so they can guarantee there is no data leakage. Plus, they can improve the security of their whole operation with this option.
Challenges With Implementing Business Intelligence
The problem is that Business Intelligence software isn’t a simple tool. Some programs might not interface with your databases well. On top of that, learning how to use other programs can be an uphill struggle. Cost is also a significant barrier sometimes. That’s why some businesses don’t use it. They haven’t found a good fit yet.
How Do You Choose the Best Business Intelligence Tools?
Finding the best business intelligence tools can be like buying a car — it is ideal to take a test drive before you can really determine which is the right fit. You’ve got to understand which apples to take home, sometimes just by looking. A squeeze or two beforehand might help too. Unfortunately, BI software isn’t sitting on a display waiting for you to examine them.
Instead, we’ve worked hard, reviewing reviews, watching YouTube, and asking industry professionals how they solved their problems. After all that sweat, we’ve come up with the following four questions.
BI Questions to Ask:
- Can the program integrate with your current databases?
- How steep is the learning curve for employees?
- Can it meet my organization’s data analytics needs?
- How much does it cost?
Database integration is an important consideration when finding business intelligence software because critical business data is often stored in one of the common databases. The most popular databases are Oracle, SQL Server, MySQL, and IBM DB2. Most vendors support these frequently used databases at a minimum, but it isn’t uncommon to find specialized BI software that supports additional database types such as Teradata or much less popular options like MaxDB.
The ability to import data directly from databases, without any intermediary steps like SQL queries, is a common feature in business intelligence software. This is known as direct query and it allows users to combine multiple sources of information (databases, spreadsheets, HTML pages) into a single view that can be used for analysis. In contrast, importing just the result of a SQL query into the software is known as “data virtualization.” This method is slower and less flexible, but it does not require readers to understand complex queries embedded in spreadsheet cells.
The ability to export data from a BI system to databases is also essential for large implementations. Exporting information allows users to seamlessly move data out of the software and into other systems that depend on it. This is particularly important for deployments in which business intelligence software is integrated into an operational or transactional enterprise application that also requires access to the data source.
Alternate BI Options
The BI options above are not the only ones available. There seems to be an endless range of options for the average company, no matter your size. If the ones above don’t fit your needs, perhaps some on the list below will.
Conclusion: Your Business Needs
No one product is suitable for every company out there. For example, we’d suggest that a startup doesn’t jump right into the SAP ecosystem, as there might be a larger uphill struggle than you might think. Matomo is great for cost and security, but GDPR isn’t everyone’s concern. You may already have much of the Microsoft suite of programs, so Power BI might fit better.
In the end, when you buy a pineapple, make sure to squeeze it. If it doesn’t give just a little, it’s not ripe. The same principle applies to BI software. Test before you buy. Pick up a few free versions, as most Bi tools have long free trial periods. Experiment to see which one is best for you.
- Nearly all Business Intelligence software has a (potentially steep) learning curve.
- Make sure you know which software staff will actually use.
- Know what info you want analyzed before you buy.
- Try out the great free options.
- Take a course or two before you dive in.
Frequently Asked Questions
Many software we mentioned in this review have millions of customers worldwide. Though, Sage separates itself from the pack with 6.1 million customers. This is perhaps not surprising as it’s been around since 1981 and provides a solid range of accounting capabilities.
We’ve done quite a bit of research and can confidently say that QuickBooks appears as one of the most popular software for small businesses. The features they provide streamline the accounting process, thus letting business owners focus on growing their business instead. That said, QuickBooks’ services aren’t the cheapest, so be sure to do your own research and see what plans best suit your needs. You should only pay for what you need after all.
How much you should be paying for your accounting software depends heavily on your business size and needs. For example, Wave is available for free so it’s ideal for freelancers and smaller businesses. However, it doesn’t integrate with third-party apps nor support inventory management so if you do have an inventory to control, go for a paid subscription elsewhere. If you have thousands of employees around the world and have complex financial needs, the price of your software would also go up — very advanced tier plans can go up to $150 per month!
The ease of use of accounting software has a lot to do with user interface. Can you find what you need easily? Are dashboards and reports easily understandable? How many clicks does it take to reach your goal? Can you share your documents with your accountants in real-time? With all these factors in mind, we’d say that Xero is the easiest to use accounting software.