Published June 12th, 2016 by

3 Advantages of Using an Open Source Business Intelligence Tool

3 Advantages of Using an Open Source Business Intelligence Tool

The term open source pertains to a software that is developed with a basic source code meant for free distribution, and intended for public access and modification. This particular model encourages multiple users to collaborate in customizing it to fit a variety of  needs. In turn, this creates a more diverse scope of features and design perspective for a more effective solution delivery.

In software development, open source means a constructive evolution of a basic set of codes to come up with another software with a more customizable structure. Programming knowledge is essential in software development of an open source program, making it a complex job for non-technical users. But to be able to come up with an effective implementation of the software within the business, the management should team up with the IT department in addressing specific areas for application  of the business intelligence software. The IT will in turn work with the open source software and align it with the company’s vision and areas that call for action. But in some areas of application, apart from businesses, there are open source programs that are intuitive to modify even by inexperienced or non-technical users. But since the focus of this topic is business intelligence tools, let’s just stay within its premise.

On the user end, open source initiates user ingenuity in developing a custom fit solution to present and arising business needs. It makes a flexible and amendable solution finding-tool to move with any path that a business wants to take.Sometimes, inexperience favors a user of open source softwares. The simplified thinking of the user will make straight expectations and results from the open source program, and disregard unnecessary programming for a more efficient use of time in its development. Most open source business intelligence tools are already made user friendly to also accommodate its non-technical users.

Features of an Open Source Business Intelligence Tool

Mostly, small and medium scale businesses employ and benefit more from open source BI tools. It is more time consuming and more expensive in the long run for an enterprise to adopt it, mainly because of a large volume of data that has to be processed, which is hard to digest by the limited coding of an open source BI tool. But with some of the latest open source business intelligence tools available, there are some who are built to be enterprise ready.

An open source business intelligence tool has all the other basic capabilities of its proprietary counterparts, except that it just contains a simple coding algorithm, which needs user intervention in order to function within a user defined range. However, since it has evolved from an open source program, it comes with a set of functions which can already be used for business applications. With its open source nature, you can further customize the other features to make it custom fit according to your business type or model followed.

Using open source business intelligence tools advocates the use of business technologies in an open setting, where there is a free exchange of ideas and expertise. It also makes a competitive number pool of developers, expert guides and specialized consultants to address after-acquisition questions and inquiries. Using open source BI software will sustain innovation and future advancements in the development of business intelligence tools, with valuable inputs and initiatives from different experienced analysts, developers, experts, companies and organizations that have a common vision for a flexible and efficient partner in their jobs and businesses.

Advantages of Open Source BI Tools

  1. Lower Cost

Since it evolved from an open source platform, the high cost of licensing over use and distribution is omitted, making it more popular with software developers. Without the said lucrative cost of licensing, this will make an affordable option for small, medium and emerging businesses. However, even it emerged from an open source nature, it is not totally free. Software developers still make use of their expertise and time in customizing the architectural backbone of the software to cater to the criteria required for the best BI tools for the demands of the market. Usually, the amount covers the use of the software, as well as the continuous technical support after it is bought and implemented.

The cost aspect can also be related to a healthy market competition among business intelligence software players. With many competitors, the price can go down to attract more users. The open source environment encourages more developers to optimize the basic source coding and improve on value added features to be present in the business intelligence tools.

With its open source nature, even non-experienced developers and students can significantly contribute to its development, which can reduce the cost of hiring more experienced people to do the job.

  1. Ease of Customization

The necessary skills in using and learning the business intelligence tools often require expertise and experience. Not many companies can afford additional manpower for the specialized project area, so it is an advantage to choose an open source business intelligence tool that is both affordable, and user friendly, which can be used effectively without expertise.

The user friendly aspect deals with the ease of customizing and operating the software, because of a number of free resources published, particularly in the internet. As we can remember, open source softwares doesn’t limit the use, or even the sharing of information and developments. All those who utilize and use the software can actively contribute in its further improvements. There are forums where developers and users can meet, in order to exchange ideas, initiatives and feedbacks among different BI tools. They can also compare past and existing developments, to make more efficient additions or modifications. Each can gain insights to be able to execute better ways to maximize the business intelligence tools they have in their respective companies.

  1. Often Adopted by Small Businesses

The technology and added cost shouldn’t discourage small business owners from utilizing a number of benefits from having business intelligence tools aboard their companies. The idea of automation and fast solution appeals to businesses, making them see the worth of their investments. Realizing the potential in data analysis in aiding in crucial decision making and strategic business planning, companies are drawn to consuming the benefits of business intelligence tools for their own benefit. Open source business intelligence tools prove to be resource effective because of its open source nature.

The growing number of developers that use open source programming, makes open source business intelligence tools to gain its popularity in the market. It doesn’t compromise its basic purpose of providing ease in data processing and analysis that can considerably contribute to a more effective decision making, business planning and sustained operations within any business type or structure. This can serve as a start-up alternative in learning the tools and trade of the business with the fraction of time and cost.

Examples of Open Source BI Softwares

To date, there is already an overwhelming number of BI tools available in the market today. Open source business intelligence tools are also an emerging trend, because of its open and easily accessible nature. For a comprehensive guide to the best BI tools, and reviews of BI tools from current and previous users, click here.

SpagoBI is a suite that boasts of a 100% open source business intelligence, which has modular architecture and features based on open platform standards. It can also be integrated with other platforms and existing technologies.

Pentaho, like SpagoBI, is a compete BI suite, which offers comprehensive functions used for a more in depth analysis of data from occurring patterns across a specific group (data mining), as well as business reporting, integration capabilities. It also has an appealing GUI (graphic user interface) and intuitive functions.

Jaspersoft strongly adheres to the functionality of open source business intelligence tools, and utilizes it to create a more user friendly interface. It also supports a large number of data inputs and sources. It is interactive, can run on a cloud, and has capabilities for web based interfacing.

Which one?

According to a survey conducted by Information Week in 2015, 21% of the respondents said that their companies use multiple business intelligence tools. It was up by 5% from the previous year. This may mean that an ideal scenario in business is to utilize several business intelligence tools and products to meet their requirements and needs.

An exhaustive presentation of the pros and cons of each open source business intelligence tool available is beyond the scope of this article. However, there are a number of available resources which can provide the individual strengths and weaknesses of each business tool vendor. You have to keep in mind that the overall effectiveness of any product or service lies on the collaborative efforts of expertise, knowledge and sound decision making. When making a choice, it is your responsibility to know at what length is your need for a business intelligence tool to be implemented in your business. Sound decision making in the business perspective isn’t just about trends, big names, industry players and popularity. It should be balanced with the company’s unique personality and specific needs, and must be decided with long term impact in mind.

The process of choosing the right BI tool is a meticulous and daunting task itself. Save yourself some time and effort by seeing this detailed list of best BI tools, BI tools comparison and reviews of BI tools at

John Tovar

John specializes in the creation and planning of business-centric mobile applications and mobile website design and development.

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