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Organizations of all sizes are increasingly generating and managing large amounts of data, but making sense of all that information can prove difficult. Business intelligence software assists companies in collecting, presenting, and analyzing data in ways that help them better understand the information they collect and make better decisions as a result.
What is business intelligence?
Within organizations, especially larger enterprise firms, there’s a pressing need to collect data from a variety of sources and stitch that information together in a way that permits understanding trends, gleaning insights, and improving performance.
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Business intelligence refers to the strategies and technologies (software, hardware, and systems) organizations employ to collect and analyze the sales, marketing, HR, technology, operations, and other business information organizations create and collect, including via data mining, process tracking, performance analysis, metric interpretation and benchmarking processes.
BI tools are the software applications and services companies use to capture activities, metrics, data points, statistics, and similar information across a broad range of topics.
BI tools can be used in various fields – including sales, finance, research and development, human resources, operations, risk management, and marketing – as well as in every vertical market, such as agriculture, health care, manufacturing, financial services, and IT, insurance and banking.
How do Business Intelligence tools work?
BI software assists organizations in collecting, storing, and analyzing data, but that’s not all. More importantly, BI solutions help companies transform that information into metrics, scorecards, dashboards, reports, and insights that better enable the organization and its members to accurately visualize, interpret, understand and inform decisions and behaviors. The software platforms also often incorporate artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to more effectively process data, surface trends, generate insights, and forecast performance.
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Best Business Intelligence tools
Numerous providers offer BI software solutions. Solutions range from on-premises technologies to cloud-based software and include hybrid models. Here’s a look at several leading applications.
IBM Congas Analytics
IBM’s business intelligence solution, Congas Analytics, uses artificial intelligence to collect, structure and better understand data through the use of powerful data visualizations. Clients may upload data to the web-based modeling engine where they can further connect to, update and manipulate the data.
The solution generates interactive dashboards and enterprise reports firms then employ to better understand and interpret the information they collect. With predictive forecasting, decision trees and an AI assist, Congas Analytics optionally incorporates the power of IBM’s Watson computing platform while proving compatible with a vast range of data inputs, including XML, spreadsheets, and CSV files, as well as such cloud and on-premises data sources as Oracle, Informix, Microsoft Analysis, SQL databases, Amazon services, Google BigQuery, and RedShift, among others.
Multiple versions are available and target a variety of needs. On-Demand supports up to 200 users, for example, while On Cloud Hosted supports thousands of users running on a dedicated cloud instance. Client Hosted, meanwhile, runs on the client’s own hardware.
Pricing varies by model. For example, Standard On Demand is $10/month per user and includes dashboards, storytelling and collaboration features as well as mobile capabilities and support for up to 10 on-premises or cloud data connections, while Premium pricing, which adds an AI Assistant and Watson Insights, as well as data exploration, smart data discovery and enterprise reporting and reports distribution capabilities, begins at $40/month per user. A free trial supporting up to five users is also available.
For more information, book a meeting using IBM’s Congas Analytics website, where you can also chat with or email an IBM representative.
Microsoft Power Business Intelligence
Microsoft’s Power BI offering is a vastly expandable platform with numerous versions designed to match a variety of needs, from small companies all the way to large enterprise firms.
Supported by mobile and desktop apps (Figure A), as well as common browsers, Microsoft Power BI permits collecting and modeling information from numerous self-service sources, commonly referred to as data connectors.
The solution also produces an array of reports, permits sharing insights across an organization and enables setting a variety of notifications and alerts.
Available as an add-on for most Microsoft 365 subscribers, organizations may select from three Microsoft BI versions: Power BI Pro licensed per user per month ($9.99 each), Power BI Premium monthly per user ($20 each), and Power BI per capacity per month ($4,995 each).
The Pro version provides individual users with Microsoft’s BI self-service analytics for collecting data and visualizing information using live dashboards and reports. Pro users are limited to a model size of 1GB and a daily refresh rate of eight. This Microsoft Power BI version is included within Microsoft 365 E5 subscription plans.
Microsoft Power BI Premium can be licensed in two ways: Per user or per capacity. Licensed per user, Power BI Premium provides the same features as the Pro version, but adds advanced artificial intelligence capabilities and unlocks data collection and manipulation for use within enterprise environments, including model size limits of 100GB and a daily refresh rate of 48. Licensed per capacity, Power BI Premium enables autoscaling data management and business intelligence operations with a corresponding Azure subscription and increases the model size limit to 400GB.
For more information, you contact a Microsoft sales representative using the provider’s web form, or you can call Microsoft at 1-855-270-0615.
Oracle Business Intelligence
The Oracle Business Intelligence offering is composed of multiple tools. Available components include the BI Server for enterprise data modeling, BI Answers for reporting, BI Interactive Dashboards for data display and visualization, BI Publisher for report distribution, Oracle Real-Time Decision Server for predictive analytics and decision making, and Oracle Scorecard and Strategy Management for strategic goal setting and tracking.
The current release, Oracle Business Intelligence 12c, provides self-service informational source selection with enterprise-grade analytics that permits visualizing data, configuring interactive dashboards, designing powerful reports, setting real-time alerts, and comprehensive search capabilities, among other features.
Boasting mobile app options and support for a range of data sources, including Oracle applications, databases, and data files, the BI Server is a central element forming Oracle’s BI solution.
Designed to scale to enterprise environments while optimizing data processing efficiencies, the platform seeks to rapidly perform heavy-duty analyses, such as is commonly associated with OLAP analyses, financial reporting, and data mining, including when servicing dashboard, reporting, and querying needs.
Pricing is dependent upon a number of factors. Oracle’s published Technology Global Price List provides a range of product packages and pricing. Among the elements impacting cost are the number of users, the expense for software licenses and support, processor pricing, and corresponding related update fees. For an accurate estimate tailored to your organization’s needs, contact Oracle for more information, especially as the provider offers a range of analytics and BI solutions.
For more information, contact Oracle sales at 1-800-633-0738 or submit a sales question on the provider’s website.
A leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms, Qlik Sense is Qlik’s foundational BI product. The provider’s Associative and Cognitive Engines perform advanced analytics for a variety of data sources, supplemented by self-selected (typically referred to as self-service) visualizations, interactive dashboards, configurable alerts and actions (Figure B), and comprehensive reporting, among other capabilities.
With support for custom automated workflows using low-code tools and a range of collaboration and noting features, Qlik Sense encourages building unique data collection and AI- and ML-powered BI analysis reports and dashboards that empower effective team decision making.
Because Qlik data modeling occurs within the business, sales, and operations contexts using augmented analysis, subsequent data and reporting aren’t generated within a vacuum but in ways that better inform the accuracy and interpretation of information and decisions.
A free Qlik Sense trial is available. Qlik Sense Business, the provider’s base cloud analytics platform, includes the company’s Associative Engine and Augmented Analytics, as well as group collaboration. The cost is $30/month per user.
A scalable version that extends analytics across multiple organizations is also available. Qlik Sense Enterprise SaaS adds enterprise governance features, greater capacity, and more user account types. Quotes for the enterprise version are available by contacting Qlik’s sales team.
For more information call Qlik at 1-866-616-4960. Or, contact the company using its Contact Sales page.
Salesforce CRM Analytics
Organizations using Salesforce to address CRM needs will find the provider’s CRM Analytics solution a compelling BI option. Complete with the business intelligence analytics features you’d expect from a market-leading cloud provider, CRM Analytics provides a range of AI-powered business intelligence features.
CRM Analytics assists an organization’s customer-facing teams in collecting and analyzing data and applying AI-powered predictive analyses and recommendations to that information to better support decision-making and collaboration.
A CRM Analytics Slack app assists in integrating Bi functionality within users’ established workflows, while an Energy & Utilities Analytics component surfaces discoveries identified with sales processes, among other features.
Formerly branded Tableau CRM and Einstein Analytics, Salesforce’s CRM Analytics is available in multiple versions and configurations. The Einstein Predictions automated discovery and predictive insights solution that works across any standard Salesforce standard or custom object runs $75/month per user, while CRM Analytics Growth, which adds prebuilt sales and service analytic KPIs and the ability to create custom AI-powered apps among other features, runs $125/month per user.
Two other options are CRM Analytics Plus, at $150/month per user, which adds enhanced predictive insights and advanced reporting analysis, and Revenue Intelligence, a $200/month per user offering, which adds performance tracking dashboards and enhanced forecasting capabilities. Free 30-day trials are also available.
For more information, contact Salesforce at 1-800-667-6389 or visit the provider’s Contact Us webpage.
SAP Business Objects
The SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence Suite presents a flexible architecture that’s scalable from a handful of users to thousands. With an HTML client for Web and desktop users, a mobile app, and on-premises as well as cloud options, organizations can tailor SAP BusinessObjects to match specific needs.
SAP BusinessObjects is further expandable using SAP Analytics Cloud, which integrates enterprise planning and augmented analytics capabilities. Integration with other SAP components further extends the BI solution’s self-service data sourcing. Enhanced data modeling, data discovery, and better-informed decision-making result, as do predictive forecasts and a deeper understanding of data and metrics trends, including through the use of powerful dashboards (Figure C).
For pricing information, complete SAP’s questionnaire. The provider promises to return a corresponding sales quote. For more information, call SAP at 1-800-872-1727. Alternatively, you can visit the company’s Contact Us page.
With a focus on providing impactful BI analytics integrated within operational workflows, Sisense Fusion is available in three versions: Sisense Fusion Embed, Sisense Infusion Apps and Sisense Fusion Analytics.
Sisense Fusion Embed is an API-first analytics platform that infuses white-labeled analytics within the client’s own applications and workflows. Sisense Infusion Apps provides actionable insights clients seek using natural language queries and from such common data sources as Google, Microsoft and Salesforce. Sisense Fusion Analytics permits creating custom analytics using code-first, low- or no-code approaches to create transformational workflows with ML-assisted augmented analysis and predictive analytics.
Also a Visionary in Gartner’s 2022 BI and Analytics Magic Quadrant, Sisense services the needs of multiple departments and functions, including IT, HR, and marketing, as well as numerous vertical markets, such as health care, financial services, and retail. Among the many supported data sources are Adobe Analytics, Amazon Redshift and S3, Hubspot, Microsoft Dynamics, and NetSuite.
Free trials are available. For more information, complete Sisense’s Contact Us form.
Named a visionary in the 2022 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms, the Tellius BI solution supports vendor-hosted cloud, independently hosted cloud, and on-premises deployments. Designed around a query interface emphasizing ad hoc questions, the platform is designed to address the needs of a variety of organizations and users, from business analysts to citizen scientists.
As with many other leading BI platforms, the solution permits mining data from an array of sources and customizing dashboards and reporting. Powered by AI and ML technology options, the solution uses augmented analysis to assist in predictive forecasting.
A free trial is available. Pricing begins at $495/month, which includes up to five users. An enterprise plan, with customized pricing, scales to include an unlimited number of users and extends enterprise-grade security and deployment features.
For more information, call Tellius at 1-703-673-0113 or complete a web form to contact its sales team.
Also a Visionary in Gartner’s 2022 BI analytics Magic Quadrant, ThoughtSpot offers a scalable cloud-based product and an optional mobile app. The company’s SearchIQ emphasizes a search-driven business intelligence approach using natural language query (NLQ) that scales to support enterprise-level environments using a variety of components (Figure D).
Supported by an array of components, including SpotIQ for automated insights and AI-assisted comparative analyses and SpotApps templates for speeding data sourcing from a variety of SaaS applications — such as those powered by Amazon, Azure, Oracle, and Snowflake — ThoughtSpot enables unearthing trends and insights.
Featuring Liveboard interactive dashboards, the ability to process vast amounts of data, and customizable data modeling and reporting, ThoughtSpot BI analytic solutions are not licensed by the user. Instead, the company offers four versions priced by platform: Team, Pro, Enterprise, and Everywhere.
The team is the entry-level offering and runs $95/month and includes mobile app use, full-value search indexing, usage-based intelligent search ranking, and complex queries, among other features. Pro, at $2,500/month, adds SpotIQ AI-powered outlier and anomaly insights and trend analysis, in addition to other capabilities.
Enterprise and Everywhere pricing, meanwhile, is provided by the ThoughtSpot sales team. With Enterprise, accelerated support response is provided, along with greater limits (200 million) for maximum search suggestions and an unlimited number of maximum searchable data rows. The Everywhere version, meanwhile, adds visually embedded software development kits, REST-based API support, custom styles, themes, and more.
Free trials are available for potential customers of all four versions. For more information, call ThoughtSpot at 1-800-508-7008 or visit the company’s Contact Us page.
Yellowfin Business Intelligence
Boasting augmented analytics and natural language queries, Yellowfin BI includes the self-service data sourcing, automated data monitoring, data visualization dashboards (Figure E), and reporting features BI analysts require.
Where Yellowfin works to set itself apart is in its data storytelling via action-based dashboards that can be shared among team members to better and more quickly understand the information and trends captured within management reports and presentations.
A mobile app extends access to the solution’s data insights and collaboration abilities to assist decision-making. The platform is designed for an array of users, including enterprise business analysts, data analysts and scientists, software developers, programmers, and other enterprise-level BI professionals.
Two Yellowfin versions are available: Enterprise Analytics and Embedded Analytics. With Enterprise Analytics, one Yellowfin pricing model is determined by the number of named users receiving access to the BI platform and is appropriate for SMB deployments. An alternative Enterprise Analytics model is Server pricing, in which the cost is determined based on the number of CPU cores in use, a method that generally works better for larger firms.
The Embedded Analytics version is a custom model in which pricing is structured to align with each customer’s unique market model. The Embedded Analytics version is scalable, extends unlimited computing power, and includes flexibility for deployment in multiple regions. There are also no development or test license limits with the Embedded Analytics version, nor are there any user function restrictions.