Best Business Intelligence Tools

By Dusan Vasic June 14, 2021

The key to a thriving, ever-expanding business lies in the continuous improvement of its processes, workflows, and campaigns. Still, just blindly trying new approaches hoping for better results is not always a good idea as it can do more harm than good.

For your business to grow, you need data; more specifically, the insight it provides. Once you know which business areas need improvement, you can adjust your strategy accordingly to achieve desired results. However, gathering specific BI data and turning it into insights requires some know-how, mostly reserved for data analysts.

Luckily, numerous business intelligence tools can handle that for you nowadays, helping you get actionable data without having to swim through a sea of irrelevant numbers.

Top Business Intelligence Tools

  • In-depth predictive analytics
  • Microsoft Office integration
  • Role-based dashboards
  • Expensive
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  • Various predictive reports
  • Continuous updates
  • Intuitive interface
  • Third-party data connectors
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  • Excellent apps for mobile devices
  • Self-service analytics
  • Detailed reports
  • Requires some expertise
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  • Numerous data integrations
  • Drag-and-drop visuals
  • Prediction analysis
  • Automatic integration not supported
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  • Top-notch flexibility
  • 100% open-source platform
  • Automated monitoring
  • Lacks in features
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What Are Business Intelligence Tools For?

These tools are indispensable in today’s business world, where the ability to predict changes and adapt accordingly and quickly is essential to keeping a company afloat. They provide high-level insights into the current situation, and most of the tools on the market will also let you peek into the future.

Not every business owner or team member is an experienced analyst who can identify improvement areas by looking at big data and statistics. That’s why these business tools have the unique ability to turn numbers into beautiful visuals that are easy to understand and remember.

Every platform listed here has its set of business intelligence dashboard tools, excellent for creating an insightful and clear overview of all the crucial business aspects. You can further integrate these with other tools, effectively turning your BI data into actionable tasks.

Here, we have gathered the crème de la crème of the available BI software choices on the market. Whether you need a comprehensive solution for a big company or are just diving into this world and looking for something not too complex to master and apply, you’ll find the right tool in our business intelligence tools list below.

1. SAP

" Best for medium and big businesses "

  • Platforms
    Windows, Linux, Android, iOS
  • Deployment
    Cloud, SaaS, mobile, web-based, on-premise
  • Forecasting
    Yes
  • Tutorials/training
    Yes
  • Real-time data monitoring
    Yes
  • Data connectors
    Yes

Things we liked / disliked:

  • In-depth predictive analytics
  • Microsoft Office integration
  • Role-based dashboards
  • Expensive

Things we liked / disliked:

  • In-depth predictive analytics
  • Microsoft Office integration
  • Role-based dashboards
  • Expensive
  • Platforms
    Windows, Linux, Android, iOS
  • Deployment
    Cloud, SaaS, mobile, web-based, on-premise
  • Forecasting
    Yes
  • Tutorials/training
    Yes
  • Real-time data monitoring
    Yes
  • Data connectors
    Yes

SAP has been designing and implementing BI solutions for nearly half a century. It is undoubtedly among the leaders in providing tools businesses use to improve their workflow and grow.

This German ERP software provider offers some of the best reporting tools in the business intelligence market. However, it is essential to mention that these are primarily built for experienced analysts. The platform comes with all the features an expert could need to get the most out of the available data. With SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence suite, you can create excellent reports without putting too much workload on the IT team.

Dashboard

Like many other options on this list, SAP’s dashboard solution is an excellent one. It provides a very intuitive interface, which helps generate BI data in an easily understandable manner. However, as we’ve previously discussed, the target user of SAP’s business intelligence reporting tools is an experienced professional, so the dashboard is filled with self-service features and requires some know-how. Still, once you get a grip on this tool, you can use it to create role-based dashboards – a perfect solution for large teams.

Visualization

Whether a data analytics tool can provide good visuals is an essential factor to look for in every one of these platforms. SAP’s software offers some incredible visuals, which you can create with the help of its intuitive interface. Create a graph or tell a story – whatever you’ve pictured in your mind, SAP won’t let you down.

Predictive Analytics

SAP also comes with a business intelligence solution that can create impressive forecasts and deliver some very in-depth reports. When you combine this power with SAP’s real-time analytics, you get excellent guiding metrics to bring your business to a very high level.

Data Monitoring

While you can’t set up alerts and notifications with SAP, the program provides real-time analytics once connected to SAP HANA. This ensures that you are always working with fresh data and that your reports are always up to date.

Integrations

The most important integration worth mentioning here is the one with Microsoft Office. Considering that numerous companies use this suite, its integration with SAP’s enterprise business intelligence tools can come in rather handy when a team needs to share reports, sheets, and other documentation. It also lessens the chances of data breaches and misuse.

Good For

SAP is an excellent solution for experienced analysts and teams used to working with large amounts of data. Within such businesses, this software is indispensable, as it provides an incredible array of possibilities to handle piles of various BI data. However, companies that are yet to integrate business intelligence into their growth processes might find this vendor’s business intelligence tools and techniques hard to grasp.

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2. MicroStrategy

" Best for data analytics experts "

  • Platforms
    Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS
  • Deployment
    Cloud, SaaS, desktop, mobile, web-based, on-premise
  • Forecasting
    Yes
  • Tutorials/training
    Yes
  • Real-time data monitoring
    Yes
  • Data connectors
    No

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Various predictive reports
  • Continuous updates
  • Intuitive interface
  • Third-party data connectors

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Various predictive reports
  • Continuous updates
  • Intuitive interface
  • Third-party data connectors
  • Platforms
    Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS
  • Deployment
    Cloud, SaaS, desktop, mobile, web-based, on-premise
  • Forecasting
    Yes
  • Tutorials/training
    Yes
  • Real-time data monitoring
    Yes
  • Data connectors
    No

MicroStrategy is another professional team on the list with extensive experience in the field of data analytics. Since its founding in 1989, MicroStrategy has been developing valuable tools from the ground up.

This is the team behind excellent business analytics and business intelligence solutions that plenty of businesses benefit from when handling their data without having to go through extensive training to use the program. MicroStrategy is incredibly intuitive and well backed with tutorials and explanatory videos, so almost anyone can learn how to use it to get the most out of available BI data.

Dashboard

MicroStrategy’s dashboard options are pretty impressive precisely because of their simplicity. The process is optimized for a smooth and straightforward experience so that the users don’t have to struggle to create comprehensive and useful dashboards. It is probably the most significant selling point for MicroStrategy’s business intelligence software – creating visuals is as fast as a couple of clicks.

Visualization

MicroStrategy does not disappoint in this regard, offering quite an astonishing number of available formats for data visualization. Among other options, you can use grids or pie, ring, and custom graphs to present your data in an engaging and intelligible manner. Of course, since MicroStrategy focuses on ease of use, pop-up tutorials will guide you through a stress-free creation of your visuals.

Predictive Analytics

MicroStrategy provides some excellent business intelligence data tools for forecasting purposes through its Developer’s Training Metric Wizard. While the name doesn’t suggest it, you can use the wizard to create various predictive models. These include linear and exponential regression, decision tree, time series, and association rules, among other things.

Data Monitoring

MicroStrategy allows for some excellent real-time data monitoring, ensuring that you are always working with relevant BI data. It will capture the content from across all types of sectors the MicroStrategy platform includes, and you can rely on the program to analyze it and turn it into valuable reports.

Integrations

When speaking of integrations available for MicroStrategy’s tools for business intelligence, you could quickly be disappointed. However, the Tray.io platform works perfectly with MicroStrategy, and you can use its universal connectors to integrate MicroStrategy with any application or service you need. Setting up these connectors is relatively simple, and through them, you can connect your tools with any API, webhook, database, and more.

Good For

MicroStrategy’s features are very robust and represent an excellent solution for companies looking to take their data management to another level. It is not hard to get your head around, and everyone can master it pretty quickly thanks to the business intelligence tools training it provides. That said, it does take some know-how to be a proficient user of this software.

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3. SAS

" Best business intelligence analyst tools for experienced teams "

  • Platforms
    Windows, Linux, Android, iOS
  • Deployment
    Cloud, SaaS, desktop, mobile, web-based, on-premise
  • Forecasting
    Yes
  • Tutorials/training
    Yes
  • Real-time data monitoring
    No
  • Data connectors
    Yes

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Excellent apps for mobile devices
  • Self-service analytics
  • Detailed reports
  • Requires some expertise

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Excellent apps for mobile devices
  • Self-service analytics
  • Detailed reports
  • Requires some expertise
  • Platforms
    Windows, Linux, Android, iOS
  • Deployment
    Cloud, SaaS, desktop, mobile, web-based, on-premise
  • Forecasting
    Yes
  • Tutorials/training
    Yes
  • Real-time data monitoring
    No
  • Data connectors
    Yes

Another big company dedicated to helping its users manage and get the most out of their data is SAS. This company’s leading business intelligence tools are a bit on the pricey side, though, and are more suitable for larger companies with somewhat experienced teams to handle this software with ease. However, considering how many excellent features it provides, it is undoubtedly worth every penny, as well as the time it takes to manage the learning curve.

Dashboard

Dashboards available within SAS can be of great help when you are getting familiar with your BI data and want to understand it better. You can count on them to show you various trends, outliers, and relationships so that you can easily find out what your next step should be. It is no wonder these dashboards are one of SAS’s most popular business intelligence tools. You can edit the layout and the options to organize a dashboard according to your preferences, and you can set up the form in which you want to see your data – from bars, pies, and donuts to schedule charts, treemaps, vectors, and much more.

Visualization tools

Of course, visualizing your BI data helps with both understanding and explaining it. This seems to be what the SAS team focused on in particular, as analytical visualization possibilities are aplenty. You can use its flexible graph-building capabilities to present your data via attractive and easy-to-understand graphs such as heat maps, correlation matrices, or decision trees.

Predictive analytics

SAS’s business intelligence and analytics suite also comes with the possibility to generate forecasts. It will automatically select the appropriate forecasting model, and you can use its scenario analysis to change variables and see how the modifications would affect the outcome. The best part about SAS’s predictive analytics? You can set a goal and see which variables need to change and how to achieve it. This makes setting up data-driven action plans effortless.

Data monitoring

Although SAS’s solution lacks real-time monitoring features, it offers numerous self-service possibilities so you can make highly customizable analyses and predictions based on the gathered data. Therefore, it’s among the best business intelligence tools for analysts who want a more hands-on approach when handling data.

Integrations

SAS doesn’t boast many integration options regarding its business intelligence services, but the ability to combine all SAS products is more than enough. It will provide you with a number of powerful tools to help you get the most out of the software.

Good For

SAS is especially suitable for those who have years of using business intelligence tools in their track record. In the hands of inexperienced staff, these tools can do more harm than good. As it takes a bit more time and expertise to master these business intelligence and analytics tools, SAS might not be the most productive solution for an amateur team.

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4. datapine

" Best for business intelligence newbies "

  • Platforms
    Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
  • Deployment
    Cloud, SaaS, desktop, mobile, web-based
  • Forecasting
    Yes
  • Tutorials/training
    Yes
  • Real-time data monitoring
    Yes
  • Data connectors
    Yes

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Numerous data integrations
  • Drag-and-drop visuals
  • Prediction analysis
  • Automatic integration not supported

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Numerous data integrations
  • Drag-and-drop visuals
  • Prediction analysis
  • Automatic integration not supported
  • Platforms
    Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
  • Deployment
    Cloud, SaaS, desktop, mobile, web-based
  • Forecasting
    Yes
  • Tutorials/training
    Yes
  • Real-time data monitoring
    Yes
  • Data connectors
    Yes

Another excellent solution on our list, datapine, includes over 150 features aimed at managing your data. It has all the tools you need to analyze your business operations – from gathering and monitoring the data to predicting the outcomes.

The best thing about datapine is that everyone can use its business intelligence software tools – you don’t have to be an expert analyst to set the program up and gain the insights your business needs.

Dashboard

Interactive dashboards are precisely what you need when looking to process a lot of data within a short time frame. Luckily, datapine comes with over 80 templates, so you can choose which pieces of information you would like to keep an eye on. The dashboard is entirely browser-based and compatible with all major browsers, so you don’t have to change your browsing habits and choices to use it.

Visualizations

The datapine business intelligence tools excel when it comes to data visualization. The process is as simplistic as they come, with exquisite drag-and-drop items that will help you create the visuals you need to understand your data. The 25 available charts and tables cover everything from geographic maps to advanced scattering plots. You can also rely on several additional BI features, such as a SQL box to build your charts from SQL queries or a prediction engine to help you figure out your next move.

Predictive analytics

datapine comes with some of the best business intelligence tools in the market, including a predictive analytics tool that comes with the package at no extra cost. Considering how essential predictions are in growing a business, this feature is much appreciated by many entrepreneurs. Moreover, it is designed to be very user-friendly, meaning that even users with no previous data analytics skills and knowledge can create accurate predictions.

Data Monitoring

Collecting data is challenging, especially if you have to manage massive amounts of information daily. In such cases, BI software equipped with monitoring functionalities can be a real lifesaver and an excellent choice for beginners.

Among datapine’s extensive list of business intelligence tools, you can find the ever-spreading AI and pattern recognition mechanisms used to detect changes in your data and notify you about them. You can also set up custom alerts to keep track of your company’s other time-sensitive matters, such as established KPIs.

Integrations

When it comes to integrations, datapine allows for over 50 data connectors. These help gather the data you need from various places and include it in the analysis. You can import data from Google Ads, social media, CRM, custom APIs, or Amazon.

Good For

Datapine is one of the examples of business intelligence tools that excels in catering to a broader audience, as both first-time users and professionals alike will find this tool invaluable and easy to use. Apart from being a very straightforward BI solution, it integrates AI capabilities, so you don’t have to be an expert to get the most out of your data with this tool.

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5. Yellowfin

" Best for small businesses "

  • Platforms
    Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS
  • Deployment
    Cloud, SaaS, desktop, mobile, web-based, on-premise
  • Forecasting
    Yes
  • Tutorials/training
    Yes
  • Real-time data monitoring
    Yes
  • Data connectors
    Yes

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Top-notch flexibility
  • 100% open-source platform
  • Automated monitoring
  • Lacks in features

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Top-notch flexibility
  • 100% open-source platform
  • Automated monitoring
  • Lacks in features
  • Platforms
    Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS
  • Deployment
    Cloud, SaaS, desktop, mobile, web-based, on-premise
  • Forecasting
    Yes
  • Tutorials/training
    Yes
  • Real-time data monitoring
    Yes
  • Data connectors
    Yes

Yellowfin is another contender for the spot among the best business intelligence tools. It is an excellent solution for those looking to get the most out of their data without one-too-many features that will only create additional clutter. Yellowfin automates various processes, such as data discovery, which helps incredibly with taking things off your plate. All in all, it’s a mighty yet affordable tool that allows you to focus on what counts the most – your business’s growth.

Dashboard

Yellowfin’s dashboard options are exquisite. This BI provider allows you to create action-based dashboards, unlike some business intelligence software companies that provide reporting services only. The dashboards’ flexibility is also top-notch, as you can modify them to fit your particular business needs. They also come equipped with Assisted Insights, a feature that analyses the dashboard for you. Not only does this automated tool save your time and energy, but it also helps you understand what lies behind the changes in your data.

Visualization tools

This company offers two exquisite options for visualizing your BI data – Yellowfin Stories and Yellowfin Present. Both of these types of business intelligence tools will help transform tedious and confusing information into something everyone will understand. Stories will create a news-like format for your data that ensures everyone comprehends the information correctly and with ease, while Present’s data synchronization capabilities will ensure your presentations are always up to date.

Predictive analytics

Yellowfin does not disappoint when it comes to predictive analytics, either. Within its charts, you will find a forecast option, which can help you get a glimpse of your business’s future. That way, you’ll know what to expect and what to do to improve further.

Data monitoring

We have mentioned already that Yellowfin’s business intelligence systems have automated data discovery, which is, in essence, data monitoring. You can rely on the platform’s customizable threshold-based alerts to notify you if anything goes below or above the values you’ve set. In addition, the Signals feature will employ its AI and automation capabilities to inform you of any changes in your data that you should know of.

Integrations

Yellowfin allows you to connect all your BI data sources so that you don’t have to manually ‘chase’ them all over the place, which is of tremendous help. However, the even better option is to integrate its business intelligence and reporting tools with all your favorite web applications, from Salesforce and Zendesk to Youtube and Twitter, to easily combine, distribute, and act on the insights they provide.

Good for

Yellowfin is another set of BI tools that can benefit everyone, regardless of their experience in the field. It automates numerous processes while still providing a hands-on approach where necessary. Although it’s not as robust as some of the other options on this list, Yellowfin manages to stay on par with the competition by removing a lot of manual work from the process. On top of that, this solution’s affordable pricing makes it one of the best options among business intelligence tools for small companies.

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How BI Tools Came About

Business intelligence is a term that grew in popularity in the 80s, primarily thanks to the introduction of personal computers into our professional lives. BI technology has since evolved from providing simple reports to becoming an entire set of software tools for delivering precise data analysis and helping entrepreneurs learn from and optimize their business processes.

The ways to use BI to improve your daily workflow and overall performance are almost uncountable, which is why the presence of business intelligence tools in companies of all sizes is getting stronger by the day. For this review, we tried to focus on those features that professionals find most valuable. However, keep in mind that the aspects covered here are just the tip of the BI iceberg.

Methodology for Reviewing Business Intelligence Software

According to numerous user reviews online, the most appreciated aspect of a BI platform is the simplistic overview within dashboards. Advanced features are a great add-on but are also, on occasion, thought of as clutter. In the light of these insights, it was easy to find business intelligence software vendors who provide the most useful and sought-after BI tools.

Dashboard

A good dashboard is an essential aspect of every BI program. For most of us, there is nothing more boring or puzzling than a bunch of numbers piled up in a report or presentation. That’s where dashboards come to the rescue – a good one will be able to get rid of unnecessary content and present relevant information in an understandable and engaging way.

Clear Visualization tools

As we’ve already said, just looking at a bunch of seemingly random numbers can cause confusion, let alone trying to understand what’s in front of you. Many of us simply don’t have the required knowledge – that’s why good data visualization solutions are so valued. The business intelligence tools you choose must be able to make sense of all that mess and provide several ways of presenting the results. Graphs, charts, pies, maps – the more visualization options you have, the better.

Predictive analytics

Most BI tools can provide forecasts combining various data, such as trends, patterns, or roadmaps. With such help at hand, business owners can take a peek at the future, see where progress can be made, and devise realistic and actionable plans to meet these goals. That’s why predictive data analytics is among the top business intelligence tools and occasionally even the sole reason for using BI products in the first place.

Data Monitoring

Having to constantly keep an eye on all the business processes yourself can take a lot of time and sometimes even be impossible to achieve, depending on the size of your business. However, with a good business intelligence platform, you can let real-time data monitoring tools take over. Not only will they do all the challenging work for you, they will also alert you if there are any unusual events that you should know of. Equipped with relevant insights in time, you could avoid losing your data or other similar incidents. Setting up notification parameters is another excellent feature that some of these online business intelligence tools offer.

Integrations

Today, most businesses use a number of software products coming from various vendors. Being able to make them work and interact within a single system can facilitate and speed up your daily tasks, as well as provide insights that might not be so easily detected otherwise. If you’re already using other platforms and web services such as Google Analytics or Salesforce, integration capabilities should be another crucial aspect to consider when choosing your business intelligence tool.

Good For

Just like with most services, one size doesn’t necessarily fit all here either. A small business dipping its toes into the sea of business intelligence tools could easily give up on using them if the software is too complex and requires too much know-how to deliver results. Having to hire an expert or spend time and resources on training personnel to use a business intelligence platform is not always the option. On the other hand, teams experienced in using these technologies might be frustrated by a lack of more advanced options and prefer a more hands-on approach.

FAQ

What are the types of business intelligence?

Business intelligence can be divided into two main categories: strategic and operational BI. Strategic BI is all about business intelligence reporting tools, while operational BI focuses on particular tasks employees must complete to achieve a specific goal.

What are the tools used in business intelligence?

Business intelligence encapsulates an impressive amount of tools to analyze and present data that can further turn into actionable tasks. Some of the tools most companies find valuable are dashboards, online analytical processing (OLAP), predictive data analytics, and data monitoring, just to name a few.

Is Excel a business intelligence tool?

Excel could be an excellent business intelligence tool in some cases, but its capabilities are quite limited compared to standard BI solutions. Namely, it cannot generate reports automatically, nor can it gather your data for you.

What are the top business intelligence tools?

Considering that business intelligence is all about data, visualizations, analytics, and reporting are some of the most commonly used tools. Having a dashboard that will present the gathered information in an easy-to-understand manner was considered the most valuable feature of BI by consumers in 2018.