The decision to use a business intelligence (BI) tool may not be difficult, but finding one that’s a good fit for your organization can be. If you’re comparing BI tools online, you’ll find dozens of different articles claiming that theirs is the best.
The problem is that a lot of these articles are sponsored. Even if the BI tools they describe have some great features, they may also have some drawbacks that never get mentioned. Let’s discuss the crucial points to consider while select ting the right BI tool for your business.
Business intelligence tools can be a powerful driving force for growth, but you must make the right choice. To know what you’re dealing with, it helps to start with an unbiased source that gives a fair comparison of multiple BI tools, like the 2022 report from research firm Gartner. Their 42-page report details 20 different vendors in analytics and business intelligence. There’s also information on marketplace trends, which helps shape the demand for BI tools.
If you don’t have time to read all of it (which would take hours), you can get a visual representation of the results in the included graph. The graph measures factors like pricing, product strategy, customer experience, and innovation; the 20 vendors get put into four quadrants.
This year, there were three vendors in the “Leaders” section, seven in the “Visionaries” section, three in the “Challengers” section, and seven in the “Niche Players” section. As you might imagine, the “Leaders” category is relatively hard to get into; it’s reserved for the top business intelligence tools. If you’re looking for one that would be a good fit for your business, it might be informative to look at the features offered by these specific BI tools.
Features & Functions of Top Business Intelligence Tools
If you want to know what’s offered by the best of the best, you can refer to the following list of features. This list helps in selecting the right BI tool for your organization.
- Using augmented analytics, stakeholders can get notified about outliers, anomalies, or any relevant changes in the data. This feature also automatically helps them detect insights such as associations, variances, and trends; there’s less need for them to explore the data directly.
- Interactive dashboards deliver real-time data directly to users, so they don’t have to disrupt their workflow to look for it themselves. The feature makes it easier for them to engage with data, generate reports, and look at performance overviews.
- A mobile-friendly version of the BI tool lets users keep track of everything even if they can’t be in front of their desktops. Mobile-optimized dashboards give a superior user experience, and fully functional capabilities ensure continued efficiency.
- Having a variety of available data visualizations is important if you don’t want to force complex data sets into overly simplistic graphs or charts. A top BI tool will offer many different data visualization options.
Ease of Use
- When users perform detailed analyses within large data sets, they should be able to do so in a single interface. They could have advanced technical skills or only basic knowledge of the BI tool, but a unified interface will help ensure a good user experience.
- Users should also be able to start using the full capabilities of the business intelligence tool reasonably quickly, without having to learn special skills or undergo training. With a user-friendly interface and language that sounds more natural, stakeholders can focus their efforts on leveraging the tool’s capabilities.
- Improved accessibility via embedded analytics means more efficient workflows for users across the board. With these functions embedded into dashboards, users can access real-time reports, analytical capabilities, and data visualizations from the same place.
- If a BI tool doesn’t come with a flexible cloud strategy, you risk getting locked into a data storage solution that won’t always be sufficient for your organization. With a BI tool that offers a multi-cloud solution, your current data storage needs will be met, with the option to expand if that’s ever necessary.
- Users should be able to access data when and where they need it, but it’s also essential to protect data integrity. Governed self-service sets permissions for users so they can interact with the data while lowering the risk of compromised data quality.
- Users need data integration to connect to existing data sources. They shouldn’t have to use additional products or write special code.
- Scalability is key to ensuring that your organization doesn’t outgrow a BI tool because of its limited scope. You may not need to use every feature to its full extent, but the option to do so may be helpful in the future. The right BI tool must have these features.
You should examine the features of business intelligence tools, but there’s more to consider.
A list of features can be useful when you’re comparing BI tools, but there are other factors that should influence your final decision too.
- Depending on what your organization requires from a BI tool, it might not utilize all of them from the beginning. Even so, you should still consider the “unnecessary” features as well as the necessary ones. Some businesses have used BI tools for decades, and an organization can grow a lot in that time span. Even if you can’t start using them immediately, some features could still have a lot of potential for the future.
- The total cost of ownership should be considered carefully before coming to a decision. The cost of the software itself probably won’t be a problem, but what about administration costs, expenses related to set-up, or the cost of additional hardware?
- You need data integration to transform, combine, and catalog data, which enables the analysis features to be used to their full potential.
- Active data (as opposed to passive data) is needed if you want to be able to act on real-time information as soon as it’s available.
You should evaluate business intelligence tools from two perspectives. They should meet a certain objective standard of quality, and they should meet the needs of your specific organization. If you can find a BI tool that meets these criteria, you may have found the right one.