Top 12 BI tools of 2019

5/12/2018

It’s not always easy choosing a business intelligence tool to meet the needs of your enterprise. Here are 12 that could work for you.

With more and more data at our fingertips, it’s getting harder to focus on the information relevant to our problems and present it in an actionable way. That’s what business intelligence is all about.

BI tools make it simpler to corral the right data and visualize it in ways that enable us to understand what it means. But how simple that process gets, and how you can visualize the data depends on the tool: Picking the right one for your needs becomes important.

Here we round up of a dozen popular, highly regarded BI tools to help you uncover what your organization’s data can tell you about your business. Each tool includes peer review ratings from Gartner PeerInsights.

Top 12 business intelligence tools

  • Board
  • Domo
  • Dundas BI
  • Google Data Studio
  • Looker
  • Microsoft Power BI
  • Qlik
  • Salesforce
  • SAS
  • Sisense
  • Tableau
  • Tibco

Board

Board International combines three tools in one: BI, predictive analytics and performance management. It aims to offer something for everyone, with modules for finance (planning, consolidation), HR (skills mapping, workforce planning), marketing (social media analysis, loyalty and retention monitoring), supply chain (delivery optimization, supplier management), sales (cross-selling and up-selling analysis) and IT (KPIs, service levels). The company is Swiss, but the software is available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, French, German and Italian.

  • Gartner PeerInsights rating: 4.5 (out of 5)
  • Target audience: The whole enterprise
  • Notable features: Language support
  • Pricing: License fee per user varies according to role

Domo

Domo is a cloud-based platform that offers business intelligence tools tailored to various industries (such as financial services, health care, manufacturing and education) and roles (including CEOs, sales, BI professionals and IT workers). CIOs might start by checking out how it handles data from AWS, Jira, GitHub, or New Relic before looking at how over 500 other integrations can help the rest of the enterprise.

  • Gartner PeerInsights rating: 4.4
  • Target audience: CEOs, sales and marketing, BI professionals
  • Notable features: Robust mobile interface
  • Pricing: Annual license fee; Professional plan limits data storage to 250 million rows; no limit on Enterprise plan

Dundas BI

Dundas BI from Dundas Data Visualization is most used for creating dashboards and scorecards, the company’s historic strengths, but it can also do standard and ad-hoc reporting. Analysis and visualization are performed through a web interface that can adapt to users’ skills: Power users and standard users see different features. The latest version can pull in data from Google Analytics, Snowflake, Salesforce Pardot and other sources. Dundas BI has been tailored for 19 industries, including clean tech, mining and construction, in addition to the usual suspects such as banking and health care.

  • Gartner PeerInsights rating: 4.6
  • Target audience: C-suite, HR, finance, sales, marketing, customer service
  • Notable features: Flexible, HTML5 interface that adapts to any device
  • Pricing: Based on concurrent users, not named users, with no tie to number of servers or cores

Google Data Studio

We know Google is constantly analyzing the web, but what can it do with our enterprise data? Google Data Studio started as a tool for dashboarding and reporting on website data from Google Analytics; now it’s been supercharged with access to recruiting, marketing and sales information too, via connectors to Criteo, LinkedIn, MailChimp, PayPal, Salesforce, Stripe, Twitter and anything you can put in a spreadsheet or SQL database. Naturally, it’s hosted in the cloud and has a web interface.

  • Gartner PeerInsights rating: 4.4
  • Target audience: Anyone with a Google account
  • Notable features: The price
  • Pricing: Free

Looker

Looker takes a two-pronged approach to delivering business intelligence: It allows users to explore data in their own way, but it also works with domain experts to help those who don’t really know what they’re looking for to find it all the same. It does this by allowing other software vendors to wrap its analytics capabilities up in vertical apps that are “Powered by Looker.” From early next year it will connect to Google’s BigQuery Machine Learning (BQML) service for developing predictive models.

  • Gartner PeerInsights rating: 4.5
  • Target audience: SMEs
  • Notable features: Web-based, can access live data from any SQL database
  • Pricing: On demand, varies with number of users and database connections

Microsoft Power BI

With the Power BI Desktop app for Windows, users can analyze and visualize data from local or cloud sources, publishing their reports to the Power BI platform. The free Author version suits isolated users; the Pro version makes collaborative analysis easier, for a monthly fee, leveraging Microsoft Office365, SharePoint and Teams to control access to raw data and published reports. For enterprises that want to go all-in, the Premium tier makes self-service data prep possible with prebuilt connectors to corporate data held in Microsoft Dynamics 365, Azure SQL Data Warehouse, or third-party sources such as Salesforce.

  • Gartner PeerInsights rating: 4.2
  • Target audience: Microsoft shops
  • Notable features: Mobile app allows touch-screen annotation of reports
  • Pricing: Three tiers: Author (free), Pro ($9.99 per user per month), Premium (based on capacity)

Qlik

Qlik’s goal is to give anyone in the enterprise access to all its data — subject, of course, to corporate data governance policies. All that data should be enough to bog down most database engines, but Qlik says its Associative Engine can associate every piece of data with every other piece to make it easier to search for connections. Qlik Sense, the self-service tool to access that analytical capability, comes in cloud and on-premises versions.

  • Gartner PeerInsights rating: 4.2
  • Target audience: The whole enterprise
  • Notable features: Associative Engine can analyze all your data, on the fly
  • Pricing: Limited versions are free; collaboration functions cost from $15 per user per month for Qlik Sense Cloud Business

Salesforce

Einstein Analytics is Salesforce.com’s attempt to improve BI with AI. Its goal is to extend self-service access to data to users across the business, with a look and feel similar to that of Salesforce’s Reports and Dashboards interfaces. Einstein Discovery allows users to build predictive models from their data, which isn’t limited to data held in the Salesforce cloud: Einstein can pull in data from Oracle, SAP and other sources. There are industry-specific templates, and tailored tools for sales, service, marketing and IT departments.

  • Gartner PeerInsights rating: 4.2
  • Target audience:com users
  • Notable features: AI for BI, in Salesforce’s own cloud
  • Pricing: $75 per user per month for Einstein Predictions, custom for Einstein Analytics Plus (necessary for importing external data)

SAS Visual Analytics

SAS Institute’s take on BI is its Visual Analytics tool. It aims to automatically highlight key relationships in data: With the latest version you can pick a variable, and have it show you which elements of your data influence it, and how. Other features include sentiment analysis for extracting data from social media and other texts, automatic generation of charts, mapping, and self-service data preparation. Deployment can be on premises, in public or private clouds, or on the Cloud Foundry platform as a service.

  • Gartner PeerInsights rating: 4.0
  • Target audience: Users across large enterprises
  • Notable features: Automated analysis functions
  • Pricing: On request

SiSense

SiSense’s BI software stack covers everything from the database through ETL and analytics to visualization — and it claims its In-Chip database engine is faster even than in-memory databases. SiSense makes it available on premises or in the cloud. There are solutions for finance, marketing, sales, HR and IT, as well as customer service and operations and logistics departments. SiSense also makes it possible to offer the analytics tools to users outside the enterprise by embedding them in web applications.

  • Gartner PeerInsights rating: 4.5
  • Target audience: Typically SMEs
  • Notable features: Fully web-based client, including for data prep
  • Pricing: On demand, based on an annual fee for software and service

Tableau

With Tableau, Tableau Software is covering all the bases: You can run its software on premises, choose a public cloud, or opt to have it fully hosted by Tableau. It offers tailored versions for over a dozen industries, including banking, healthcare and manufacturing, with support for financial, HR, IT, marketing and sales departments, although that’s almost par for the course these days. Tableau’s capabilities include mapping and analysis of surveys and time series data. Its latest trick is drawing on the artificial intelligence techniques of natural language processing to allow users to describe what they want to see, rather than clicking and dragging to create formulaic queries.

  • Gartner PeerInsights rating: 4.3
  • Target audience: Midsize and larger enterprises
  • Notable features: Tableau draws on natural language processing to enable users to say what they want to see
  • Pricing: Each deployment needs at least one Tableau Creator ($70/month); others can be Viewers (from $12/month, min. 100) or Explorers (from $35/month, min. 5)
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