Business Intelligence (BI) is a blanket term businesses use to refer to a wide variety of software applications that are used to analyze an organization’s raw data without relying on an IT department to run complicated reports for them. BI is made up of several activities, such as reporting, online analytical processing and data mining.

The most important things to consider when choosing a BI for your company are:

  • Purpose
  • Price
  • Amount of users
  • Community network
  • Support and training
  • Additional features

Top 13 Best Rated Business Intelligence Software Tools

Domo is a cloud-based open, full-service platform providing data analysis and visualization tools. The product is designed for collaboration, and integration options make it easy to pull data in from the sources you already use.
Chartio provides data visualization software for businesses of all sizes. They have an active MeetUp community in the Bay Area along with a variety of online resources to help businesses go further with their data analysis.

The ConsumerAffairs Research Team believes everyone deserves to make smart decisions. We aim to provide readers with the most up-to-date information available about today's consumer products and services.

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What features matter most?

Purpose

Different BI software solves different challenges, so the first step in figuring out which company will work best for you is determining your primary purpose for using BI software.

  • Data management: Businesses that need to store, sort, organize and analyze lots of data will opt for BI software that does data management.
  • Reporting: Reporting tools make it easy for anyone to quickly visualize and analyze data, even if they don’t have a technical background. This type of software is useful for people and businesses that need to be able to visualize data but don’t necessarily need to do data mining or deep analysis.
  • Data discovery: BI software that does data discovery makes it easy to draw meaningful conclusions from your data. This could include data mining, and this type of software is most useful for people and businesses who understand data science.

Price

Price matters in every business decision, no matter how large or small your business. A large enterprise will have a different budget than an entrepreneur who is starting a solo venture, and this will likely correlate with the BI software they will choose.

  • Lowest price ($0-$100 per user per month): Simple reporting software tends to be the least expensive BI tool. Depending on what you need, you might even be able to find free versions for spreadsheet reporting. These are good options for startups and individuals who are just starting, but they can only take you so far in your data analysis.
  • Mid-range ($100-$250 per user per month): Cloud-based platforms tend to fall in the mid-range of pricing for BI software. These products cost less than hardware since they are stored on a cloud, however you may need to pay additional costs for security. These are available with a range of options, and your cost will vary depending on the features that are included.
  • Most expensive ($250 or more per user per month): The most expensive BI software options are generally on-premise and open-source full-stacked. These are either a hardware or downloadable software, and they are ideal for large enterprises that need a lot of users added.

Users

Which BI software you should choose depends on who will use it. Different software companies cater to different users, so it’s important to figure this step out before you make a final decision.

  • Developers/IT people: If developers and/or technical minds will be working with your BI software, then you can opt for more complicated platform that utilizes programming language. Some BI software allows developers to customize it for their purposes, so this can be a good option if you want a completely customized experience for your business.
  • Non-technical minds: If you and/or your employees are not technically minded, then you will want to go with BI software that is intuitive instead of technical. Look for software companies that also offer good support so you can get issues resolved quickly instead of losing valuable business time waiting for a solution.
  • A whole company with various departments: If different departments have different BI software needs, then look for a company that can deliver versatility. You will also want a software that can aggregate data from all of the software your different departments utilize into one central data point connection.

Community

If you are community minded, you will want to seek out a BI software company that focuses on building a community for other developers and businesses.

  • Forums: Forums can be a great way to get questions answered quickly, especially if the company you are working with validates the answers offered in the forums. These often have breakout boards, so you can connect with other developers and analysts on more specific topics.
  • Events: From networking in meetup groups to hosting professional development opportunities, many companies are bringing individuals and businesses together in real life. Look for events in your area or that are close for traveling if you are interested in developing this type of connection with your BI software company.

Support

Fast and reliable support is a must for any software, so make sure the BI software company you trust has a trustworthy support staff.

  • On-call: Your business doesn’t necessarily keep standard business hours, so choose a software company that doesn’t either. Finding a BI software company with 24/7 support is important, especially for businesses that work internationally and/or that have around-the-clock business hours.
  • Set up: Having the option to have your software professionally installed can be a major time saver if you aren’t technically minded and/or if your company doesn’t have a technical department.
  • Training: Your software is going to be constantly updating as technology advances and changes, so you will want at least some members of your team to be on top of all the latest developments. Make sure your BI software company has some sort of training for developers and/or business owners.
  • Updates: Your software will update regularly, and you don’t want this to disrupt your operating hours. Most BI software will update automatically so you can operate as normal, without interruption.

Additional features

BI software is complicated, so figuring out which main features you want is paramount for starting to narrow down the best software to use for your business or personal needs.

  • Visualization features: If you’re concerned with visualization, you will want to find a software that allows you to customize charts and graphs to your specifications. Find a software that combines templates with customization for a unique experience that will make your data easy to read and perfectly laid out for your business.
  • Interactive: An interactive BI software model can be really useful, especially for companies that have multiple departments interfacing with their data. Adding data, mapping data and adding data points that you consider relevant can help you make meaningful data-driven decisions.Interactive features can also be useful for bloggers, journalists and websites who want to publish their data in a way that allows their readers to engage with it.

What are different types of business intelligence software?

On-premise full-stacked

Full-stacked BI is the most expensive and expansive BI on the market, and it is most useful for large enterprises that need a full range of software options and accessibility. Full-stacked BI software provides consistency in reporting across the company, which can be especially useful for large corporations. Some features of full-stacked BI include: a data warehouse, ETL (Extract, Transform, Load), query tools and visually appealing presentation features such as reports, dashboards and scorecards.

Open-source full-stacked

Open source full-stacked BI software is, in some ways, just a less expensive version of on-premise full-stacked BI software. It is downloadable, often for free, saving a significant hardware expense. These are still developer-led, and so they are best for companies that have a development team that can lead implementation and even training with other employees.

Cloud-sourced full-stacked

Some open-source and on-premise full-stacked software include a cloud option, but cloud-sourced full-stacked BI software is entirely cloud based. It is less technical, making it easy for people without an IT department or technical background to implement and use. These options are generally less expensive than on-premise and open-source full-stacked software.

Data discovery/visualization

Products designed explicitly for data discovery and/or visualization are the least expensive on the market. They are also the most user-friendly and intuitive. These are great for people and businesses that want a better way to visualize their data than traditional spreadsheets.

Who's it for?

Businesses

More and more businesses are choosing to use BI to cut their costs, identify new business opportunities and make their decision making more accurate by relying on concrete data.

Journalists

Journalists can use BI software to track and publish data that is relevant to their readers. They will want interactive features to engage readers.

Academics

Some academics use certain BIS for presentations and/or on websites as an alternative to traditional spreadsheets.

Sales teams

Sales teams integrate their existing CRM software with Business Intelligence Software to get a more accurate and detailed depiction of their team. They will want to look for BI software that is specifically designed to optimize sales teams.

Company reviews

  • Domo

    Founded by executives who were fed up with feeling locked out of their own company’s data, Domo is a cloud-based full-stacked BI software that offers businesses a self-service software platform. Businesses can share all of their analytics on one platform, keeping everyone in the loop on how each department is doing.

    • Best for Domo is best for businesses that want to share analytics with their whole company.
  • SAS Business Intelligence

    SAS has been helping businesses gather and use their data since 1976. Currently, their software is installed on over 80,000 different sites, and they serve customers in 148 countries.

    • Best for SAS Business Intelligence is best for businesses of all sizes, particularly those that enjoy community support.

  • SAP Business Intelligence Solutions

    Founded in 1972, SAP works with over 300,000 clients in 190 countries. Their product can be customized based on a company’s specific industry, platform and/or line of business.

    • Best for SAP is best for developers and small to mid-sized businesses.

  • Tableau Software

    Co-founded in 2003 by one of Pixar’s founding members, Tableau Software is available for mobile, desktop and all other online users. Their solutions are intuitive and accessible for individuals and businesses and are available in a variety of platforms.

    • Best for Tableau is best for individuals, academics, bloggers and small businesses.

  • Panorama Necto

    Founded in 1993, Panorama Necto provides businesses with the right BI tools they need to utilize hard data to make effective data-driven business decisions. Their platform allows for easy collaboration with colleagues.

    • Best for Panorama Necto is best for businesses that focus on collaboration.

  • Quid

    Quid’s business intelligence platform allows companies and individuals to see patterns in their data, which can turn into meaningful solutions. Businesses can use their data to gain insight into their business and solve problems and challenges with accuracy and efficiency.

    • Best for Quid is best for companies who want data that reveals how their company fits into the global market.

  • Alteryx

    Alteryx was founded in 2010. It is headquartered in Irvine, Calif., with regional offices in Silicon Valley, Dallas, Chicago, the United Kingdom and Australia. They offer analytic solutions for small and mid-sized businesses.

    • Best for Alteryx is best for academics and small to medium sized businesses in a variety of industries.

  • InsightSquared

    Headquartered in Boston and founded in 2011, InsightSquared provides businesses with a sales performance analytic solution, providing hundreds of pre-built reports that meet every major type of sales metric. Plans are available for teams as small as five people and as large as a few hundred people.

    • Best for InsightSquared is best for sales teams of all sizes.

  • Chartio Business Intelligence

    Chartio is a San Fransisco based company with a data visualization product that can take the place of traditional spreadsheets and/or be used as your in-house business intelligence operator.

    • Best for Chartio is best for businesses of all sizes.
  • GoodData

    GoodData, was founded in 2007. Their goal is to monetize big data, and one way they do this is by empowering enterprises and ISVs to distribute targeted analytics to their stakeholders across all of their business networks.  Their scalable platform is designed especially for data products and embedded analytics.

    • Best for GoodData is best for businesses looking to monetize their data.

  • Oracle Business Intelligence

    With over 420,000 customers around the world, Oracle is one of the largest business intelligence software providers. They have cloud-based solutions in addition to platform systems and engineered systems.

    • Best for Oracle is best for businesses that have a diverse range of needs for their BI solutions.

  • Dundas Data Visualization

    Dundas Data Visualization has been delivering business intelligence solutions to businesses and organizations for over 20 years. Their product is intuitive and easy to use, allowing users to connect with each other while they interact and visualize dashboards, reports and advanced data analytics for any and all company data.

    • Best for Dundas is best for business that have specific departmental BI needs.

  • Sisense

    Sisense has been working to simplify the process of preparing, analyzing and visualizing data for over a decade. Their visually appealing, interactive dashboards make it easy to visualize and analyze data, even for people with no experience in data crunching. Their product is designed for complex data.

    • Best for Sisense is best for businesses with complex data.