Ranking of 12 Best Business Intelligence Tools: How To Select One For Your Company


Many SMB owners think it is not worth investing in a business intelligence (BI) software solution. However, the truth is this type of system can help to improve a company’s bottom line if utilized in the right manner.

In 2010, an article in The Guardian drew attention to the growing trend of mass, global phenomena of cloud computing which could be used profitably by poorly-funded businesses. In 2011, John Lannon, a Certified Public Accountants’ examiner, named business intelligence as a leading cloud computing trend. He mentioned that these solutions help business users to analyze complex data and derive actionable insights for smart decision making. Now in 2017, the plain fact is BI software is being used in multiple productive ways that Lannon could not have predicted back then.

Prevalent BI Trends of 2017

Today, many businesses that didn’t hesitate to invest in BI software have become leaders in their industry.  What makes BI so effective? Julia Scavicchio from BetterBuys says that to improve your corporate performance you need to move up from the bottom and not vice versa. BI solutions use a common dashboard to unite data and keep all employees focused on company goals. Plus, they help managers identify the key parameters for success and understand which strategies are effective. Data-driven tools also assist to predict the future based on past trends, which means companies can eliminate risky guesswork while making important decisions. If you are still on the fence, you may be glad to know that many leading BI vendors offer free solutions so you need not invest a penny to check them out.

Case studies for BI use

To help you make the right choice, we analyze 12 best business intelligence tools and their competitive benefits.

Which are these 12 popular BI products?

1. Sisense

Sisense is a regular winner of the Gartner magic quadrant award and is considered one of the fastest data processing systems. The app simplifies the analysis of complex data, and unites all your data sources to offer valuable insights. Plus, it can scale and adapt effortlessly to your company’s demands. The system is designed on a Single-Stack architecture which facilitates instant deployment. It uses advanced In-Chip technology that allows users to prepare data without needing to draw boards for each new query. On top of that, the vendor provides excellent support to help users maximize the potential of the software. 

Why use Sisense?

  • Instant visualization and analytics of large and disparate databases
  • Single-Stack architecture for fast deployment
  • Sophisticated In-Chip technology for data preparation
  • The app is easy to learn and offers a streamlined customer UX on conventional and mobile devices
  • Optimal use of IT resources without the need for extensive investment
  • No DBA is needed – affordable total cost of ownership
  • Uses CPU cache memory effectively and processes billions of data rows simultaneously
  • You can explore, filter, and drill into data in any granularity with ad hoc and standard reports
  • Test drive the system on your actual data
  • Custom connection and Rest API for developers

2. SAP Crystal Reports

SAP Crystal Reports is a popular data processing tool that has been around for many years.  It enables users to take full control of complex data and convert it into actionable intelligence. You can design dynamic and attractively formatted reports in multiple languages and formats. Plus, the app connects information sources such as OLAP, XML, JDBC (relational), OLE DB, ODBC, native, web databases, local databases, and Salesforce.com. With this product, you can craft smart BI strategies as it detects trends at an early stage.

Why use SAP Crystal Reports?

  • What If scenarios, compelling data mashups, and detection of trends
  • Written using .Net and Java to offer maximum connectivity to developers
  • Precise layouts and intuitive design
  • Richly-formatted and dynamic reports
  • Multiple data sources
  • Offered in 28 languages
  • Embedded in many leading software solutions and technologies including HR and CA
  • Flexible deployment options
  • Mobile-optimized
  • Well-integrated

3. Microsoft Power BI

Microsoft offers a data visualization app named Power BI. This system provides an attractive interface, ad hoc analytics on mobile devices, simple data preparation, and instant and unified insights. Plus, the tool is highly flexible as it connects to hundreds of data sources. You can use it to transform data in the way you want, develop your own homegrown apps, and get answers to any query.

Why use Microsoft Power BI?

  • 5 editions available – Desktop, Premium, Mobile, Embedded, and Reporting Server
  • Easy preparation and custom data transformations
  • A centralized hub for all cloud and on-premises information
  • Drag-and-drop data exploration
  • What If scenarios and interactive storytelling
  • Natural-language queries that help find trends easily
  • Unlimited team sharing for instant action
  • You can share reports on blogs and websites
  • Open API infrastructure
  • Experienced and famous vendor

4. Google Analytics

Google Analytics is the undoubted leader when it comes to marketing analytics and conversion management for blog and website owners. You can use it to analyze all your sites, apps, and offline channels, and understand the needs of your customers. Many top businesses and brands utilize the service’s power to optimize customer experience and craft smarter marketing strategies. A recent notable addition is a 360-degree survey suite that utilizes zip-code and user-list targeting to help you test different markets and pitch to target audiences.

Why use Google Analytics?

  • High-quality audience insights and customer classification based on behavior
  • Personalized dashboards that display important metrics
  • Intelligent targeting and market impact analyses
  • Measurement of bounce and success rates for various data portions
  • Evaluation of multiple traffic channels including paid search, organic search, URL redirections, etc.
  • Intuitive and familiar Google-style interface
  • Beginner-friendly
  • Integrations with MS products, Google Data Studio, Google Optimize, Google Tag Manager, and AdWords
  • Affordable pricing packages

5. Dundas BI

Dundas BI’s developers say the system’s potential is limited only by human imagination and creativity. This multiple award winner can prepare, explore, and transform data according to your specifications. This makes the app a suitable product for businesses of all sizes in any industry. Highlights include a pixel-perfect dashboard, wide range of layout choices and visualizations, self-service for users, and automatic data preparation.

Why use Dundas BI?

  • Designed on the latest HTML5, JavaScript, and CSS standards
  • Built-in filtering and interactive custom scripts
  • Storytelling with automated correction of wrong estimations and data mistakes
  • Special relationship diagrams that display explicit and hidden data connections
  • PowerPoint-style dashboard presentations
  • Smart Design Experience methodology for complete data control
  • A free database of training materials and tutorials
  • Reliable customer support
  • 20 years of industry experience

6. IBM Cognos Analytics

IBM’s Cognos Analytics is an industry trendsetter that has regularly won Gartner’s Magic Quadrant award for its smart, user-first analytics. Highlights of this system are scalability, consistent experience on all operating systems and devices, guided experience to data access, reporting, and data discovery. Plus, this app makes sharing easy as it converges and governs analytics for the public.

Why use IBM Cognos Analytics?

  • Enterprise, ad hoc, and self-service reporting for the entire team
  • Unlimited data access from all operating systems and devices
  • Secure reporting and custom safety rules
  • Predictive analytics across different business units
  • Point-and-click interface
  • Query Studio feature that offers useful mini reports to answer vital queries
  • Event Studio feature that detects deficiencies and happenings that could impact the business
  • Multiple add-ons to extend the app’s functionality
  • Automatically integrated with IBM Analytics
  • Open API infrastructure

7. Tableau

Tableau is designed to help large enterprises manage their data better and make good use of their stats. The system is featured on Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for its enterprise-grade analytics and flexible deployment options on desktop, cloud, or server. Remote teams can utilize the dedicated mobile version. The app allows you to receive real-time alerts on database changes, share data and dashboards, and prepare robust data visualizations using hundreds of sources. The vendor offers flexible pricing schemes including a free public module with 10 GB storage.

Why use Tableau?

  • Flexible deployment options and availability on popular devices
  • Effortless dashboard-to-dashboard interactions
  • Interactive drag-and-drop interface
  • Single Sign On and SAML authentication
  • Web authoring and analytics on mobile devices
  • Two different runtime versions
  • Enterprise-friendly solution
  • A free, public version for Mac and Windows users (Tableau Public)
  • Flexible pricing schemes
  • Open API and extension possibilities

8. QlikSense

QlikSense is a pioneer in the BI and data discovery industry. The app can empower your team members to prepare attractive, self-service visualizations with the metrics they need. Similar to Tableau, QlikSense offers multiple deployed editions. It has featured high on Gartner’s Quadrant for seven successive years. The app has an intuitive and flexible interface, and its standout features include a number of handy integrations, unlimited sharing within the team, self-service creation of SQL queries and joints, and smart search for complex information.

Why use QlikSense?

  • Self-service approach to data discovery
  • Instantly calculated dimensions and aggregations
  • Compresses in-memory data to 10% of its original size
  • Intelligent searching through complex data sources
  • Natural data exploration
  • Storytelling and columnar arrangement
  • Unrestricted sharing
  • Flexible deployment/availability in multiple editions
  • Automated associative indexing and recognition of vital data
  • High customer satisfaction and vendor reliability

9. Domo

Domo is a great BI software choice for companies with a limited budget. The app offers an attractive modern interface and is fully equipped for analytics and data management. The highlight is it helps you discover hidden opportunities and positive trends. Plus, the product provides more than a hundred functionality connectors, social sharing possibilities, and generic data flows.

Why use Domo?

  • Enables role-based access, streamlined sharing, and effortless collaboration
  • Two different types of data flows – SQL based and GUI based
  • Unrestricted sharing with Domo Buzz
  • Ready for predictive analytics and machine learning support
  • Mostly graphical data visualizations
  • Hundreds of data connectors to extend its functionality
  • Large library of training materials
  • Open API architecture

10. Zoho Reports

Zoho Reports is Zoho’s flagship BI product designed for the needs of small and growing retail businesses. The app is well designed and comprehensive, and helps teams manage their sales operations effectively by understanding important trends in their sales funnels. Plus, it blends data originating from multiple sources including CRM solutions. The platform combines smoothly with other Zoho products as well as with third-party systems to ensure undisturbed flow of data. We recommend this program for its top rate security, easy-to-use formula engines, and clutter-free and on-point reports.

Why use Zoho Reports?

  • Connectivity and scheduled data import
  • Connects with both SQL and non-SQL databases
  • Created for sales management
  • Blends and organizes data from multiple sources with a single click
  • Formula engines are similar to Microsoft Excel
  • Affordable packages for small and medium-sized companies
  • Clutter-free and well-structured reports
  • Reliable security measures and precautions
  • Collaboration tools
  • Works smoothly on all devices

11. Woopra

Our list of top BI solutions will be incomplete without Woopra which is an all-in-one customer intelligence product that is good at detecting new trends. The app helps businesses track website, app, and email visitors, and analyze their behavior to target them the right way and build profitable relationships. You can create compact customer profiles, segment and manage contacts, and utilize personalized notifications to automate data-driven decisions. The platform can work effectively for companies in a wide range of industries, and integrates smoothly with a long list of business applications.

Why use Woopra?

  • Real-time customer segmentation and retention
  • BI for anonymous customers
  • Real-time analytics for email, apps, and websites
  • In-depth customer profiles
  • Contact management
  • Suitable for multiple industries and business units
  • Personalized notifications
  • Direct communication with website visitors
  • Time tracking tools
  • A long list of available integrations


Last, but not least, we have BOARD which is a popular planning and analytics platform that unites sophisticated BI with performance management.  It provides separate modules for finance management, supply, HR, marketing, and sales teams. Its unique capabilities include automatic and fast data processing, HBMP in-memory technology, and building planner applications. For these qualities, the system is used by greater than 200,000 customers in multiple industries.

Why use BOARD?

  • Combines BI with performance management
  • HBMP in-memory technology for maximum development speed
  • Automated analytics for a range of data sources
  • Meaningful data insights
  • Predictive analyses
  • Builds planner applications
  • Serves multiple business units
  • Open API architecture
  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Large library of training materials

About Author

Kate Stephens is a young and creative graphic designer as well as the mastermind behind AlternativesFinder.com her own startup company aimed at providing customers with reliable and often cheaper alternatives to various popular brands and products from all possible markets.

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