Business Intelligence is a process of analyzing data and giving information that will help the executives, managers, and other users in making a wise decision. BI includes a variety of methodologies, tools, and applications that permit the business to gather data from different systems and sources, develop it for analysis, run queries, make reports and data visualizations to make it available to administrative and operational employees.
The benefits of business intelligence system include improving and stimulating decision-making, giving the company an edge over its rivals, optimizing business efficiency, and process, and driving ROI to the firm. Moreover, this program helps to identify trends and see problems before they get serious.
There are different types of BI tools. Before you get a particular product, let’s discuss each type, and how it will benefit the company.
BI Tools and Why Company Use Them
Business intelligence tools come in three major types. These are the on-premise full-stack solutions, the open-source full-stack products, and the cloud full-stack software. Let’s discuss them one-by-one.
- On-Premise Full-Stack Solutions – One of the oldest BI solutions, this software is now being overshadowed by the latest BI technology. Despite its old age, you can’t deny the fact that it has a huge space for data and is still efficient for managing variables from multiple sources and building it for giving reports across the business. These BI reporting tools are composed of presentation layers, data warehouse, OLAP, and ETL. These tools are perfect for companies that need consistency and alignment of data, as well as provide detailed reports to managers and their subordinates. Examples of software that uses this solution are:
- IBM Cognos
- SAP BusinessObjects Lumira
- Open-Source Full-Stack Products – Open-source BI tools offer almost the same features that the commercial business intelligence software has. However, it’s not as good as the commercial brands since you can use it for free or at a fraction of a cost. Despite the price, it will still benefit your business, especially if you need to distribute the costs.
Open-source tools are ideal for companies that need technical expertise and those that are looking for a reporting engine so they can integrate into the items they are selling. Some of the software applications that have these tools are:
- Actuate Birt
- Cloud Full-Stack Software – It’s one of the best BI tools Since the product is cloud-based, all features of this service are on the Internet. Hence, you don’t need to download anything or use a particular gadget to view and edit the dashboard. Companies who make the Internet as their virtual office should take advantage of this software, as well as those firms that have a limited budget. BI software corporations that use this feature in their products are:
Features of BI Tools and Their Benefits
There are many top BI tools on the market. Though they offer similar features and functionality, one product has the edge over the other. It all comes down to how these innovations are applied.
Here are the most common features of BI systems, and how they benefit the business.
- The Report Center – As the name suggests, it’s the central point of BI-related information. This feature has virtual libraries where you can store lists, reports, and connection to outside sources. It also gives access to web parts and templates so you can create reports using the information provided. With this feature, you can view the calendar, subscribe to relevant reports, and search for data in categories. The good thing about it is you can share it with your group, but still provides the protection that it needs. Hence, you have the power to control the number of people who can view the data.
- Spreadsheet Services – You may think that spreadsheets are old school, but many people are still using it for keeping records of the business. Thus, BI software dealers and manufacturers created a new feature that enables users to store their work on a server and then publish the report on their web page. It’ll serve as your backup if something happens to your computer and deletes all the saved files. Another good thing about this feature is that all the calculations will appear on the server. Hence, the business analysis will never be exposed. Lastly, the copy of your work is stored in a secured place. Thus, you don’t have to worry about getting the confidential information exposed.
- Key Performance Indicators – KPI is a visual tool that tells the user about the progress made toward their goals. Businesses, teams and managers can enjoy using this feature as it quickly analyzes the growth before the procedure is complete. Each company may choose to use a particular type of KPI to achieve their target goals. For instance, if your goal is to improve customer satisfaction, you should use a KPI type that focuses on measuring the number of calls you should make in an hour. If your goal is to increase sales, you should use a KPI that will help in bringing higher sales.
- Data Mining – Whether big or small, companies receive and keep a large pile of information. What’s even more stressful is the process of sorting and searching, which could take a lot of time before you could finish the task. But with this feature, you don’t need to do such things. Once the business intelligence tool is in place, it will start receiving data sets from external sources and internal systems. Once it gets the piles of information, the data mining feature will sort it out and keep the most crucial data that your business needs. All you’ve got to do is to view the report and present it to your team.
- Dashboards – It’s probably the most important feature of any BI software. With this feature, you can see the performance and efficiency of your business. You can examine the results to improve what needs to be improved.
Different Ways of Comparing BI Tools
Although BI tool reviews will help in comparing different business intelligence software applications, it may not help you choose the right product for your business, especially if you’re not a tech-savvy. When making BI tools comparison, don’t focus on the specs, rather concentrate on the price and the benefits of the product.
To help you compare each product, you have to look for the following things:
- The must-haves – This class should be clear. Meaning, if the tool doesn’t have the critical features, there’s no point why you should consider buying the product.
To help you find out if the software has the must-have features, you have to look for the following:
- Print and Export
- Data Sources
- Microsoft Office Data Exchange
- Nice-to-Haves – Although these features aren’t important, it’s good to have these features as it can improve reporting and business efficiency. Some of the nice-to-have features are: Business Intelligence Platform Administration, Advanced Visualization, Mobile-Friendly Interface, Performance Monitoring and Offline Updates
- Will-Not-Use – Some software applications have features that your business may not use. Thus, you have to evaluate your company to know what it needs. Once you’ve assessed your firm, you may start finding and comparing different BI products. If you think that the listed features won’t benefit your business, then don’t waste your time looking for them.
- The Price – Whatever comparison method you’re using, vendors and reviewers compare the price of each product. It’s because many people buy less expensive items.
However, you should never compare the price, alone. Look for other things, such as features, and ease-of-application as it could affect your decision. Though you have bought a cheaper tool, but doesn’t offer the features that you need, or it breaks after a few months of purchasing, then you just wasted your money from a useless tool. As a business owner, that’s the last thing you want to happen.
Business Intelligence platforms play a crucial role in any industry as it could make or break the performance and efficiency of a company. This tool analyzes data before posting them on the dashboard. Hence, if the tool gives the wrong info, it will affect the business.
There are many business intelligence tools in the market. All of them claim that they’re the leading, if not the best, product that you can get. Though this could be true, it’s best if you know the features that your business needs. You can search for BI tool reviews to know the features of each brand, or you can evaluate your company to identify the tools that your business needs. That way, you know what to choose once the vendors give you a lot of options.
There are several websites dedicated to giving reviews of business intelligence software. CrowdReviews.com is one of them. This site doesn’t only offer a list of the most trusted BI software and companies, but it also provides customer reviews. Hence, if you want to know the pros and cons of each product, then you should go to their site and choose an item that fits your business needs.
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