Top 25 Business Intelligence Tools Of 2019 And How To Decide

 

At Panoply, we’ve built a smart cloud data warehouse that will let you seamlessly integrate all your data, store it for analysis, and generate business intelligence insights as quickly as you can pull in data. As a result, we’ve become pretty familiar with the landscape of business intelligence tools, and we want to pass our knowledge on to you. We’ve rounded up a list of the top 25 business intelligence tools for you, and since they all work on top of Panoply, you’ll be able to slot them right into your data stack. If you need help choosing the right one for your business, skip down to the section on how to choose the right BI tool for you

Business intelligence vs data analytics

If you’ve been researching business intelligence software, you’ve probably found yourself wondering what the difference is between business intelligence and data analytics. We tend to think of business intelligence as being a subcategory of the broader field of data analytics, one that’s mainly concerned with the important, but relatively straightforward, questions of inventory, customer activity, geographic distribution and the like. Unlike some of the more advanced, data science-related applications of data analytics, you don’t need to have a PhD in particle physics to use a business intelligence tool like the ones we’re listing here, but you’ll still be able to generate valuable insights about your business, goals and future opportunities.

Top 5 BI Tools for Startups

  1. Chartio
  2. Mode Analytics
  3. Periscope Data by Sisense
  4. Redash
  5. Google Data Studio

Top 5 Paid BI Tools for Enterprise

  1. SAP Analytics
  2. Yellowfin
  3. Tableau
  4. PowerBI
  5. Sisense

Top 5 Free / Opens Source BI Tools

  1. Redash
  2. Metabase
  3. Google Data Studio
  4. Google Sheets
  5. Apache Zeppelin

Best BI Tools for Startups

1. Chartio

Chartio’s web-based business intelligence tool offers two different ways to interact with your data: a drag-and-drop web interface or a more code-heavy SQL editor. This gives it a lot of options for a team with a mix of comfort levels with writing code, so power users can jump right in and write complex queries, while less-technical team members can still explore your data, generate visualizations and create dashboards.

Chartio comes with over 20 pre-built data connectors for common sources like Google data, Azure, Amazon Redshift and social media data sources. Through its partners, Chartio offers over a hundred other possible integrations, so you’ll be able to jump in and work with a pretty wide swath of your data from the moment of signup.

If you don’t already have a data warehouse, Chartio has partnered with Panoply to offer the automatic cloud data stack which provides all the data integration and speed benefits of an automated cloud data warehouse without having to setup and tune it yourself.

If you want a speedy web-based interface that lets you build dashboards and visualizations with GUI and code-based options, Chartio might be the choice for you. Chartio is also known for its documentation and tutorials, so if you have people on your team that might need a bit of extra studying to get up to speed, this could also be a differentiator for you.

Integrates with Panoply: Yes

Chartio pricing: $249/month for a team license.

2. Mode Analytics

Mode Analytics offers a web-based business intelligence suite aimed more at data scientists than business-minded analysts, but it has a strong focus on collaboration and sharing. It’s designed to make it especially easy to connect your data sources to their built-in SQL editor and visualization platform, so if you prefer to work in an R or Python notebook, Mode will be particularly attractive for you and your team. The notebooks you create through can then be shared super easily--you don’t need to worry about replicating development environments when you can share the data, analysis and resulting dashboard all through Mode. In terms of data visualization, Mode makes it easy to make auto-updating dashboards whose styles and themes can be tailored on the fly, with a wide variety of built-in chart types. Definitely consider this tool if you’ve got a team of data scientists who love to get knee-deep in code but want to be able to share dashboards and collaborate more easily.

Integrates with Panoply: Yes

Mode Analytics pricing: available upon request.

3. Periscope Data by Sisense

Periscope Data by Sisense includes a full suite of charts and dashboard capabilities and also merges the analytics code trifecta of SQL, Python, and R making it a good bet for bridging an organization between traditional BI and data science. Whereas Mode really shines with collaboration, Periscope Data takes the edge with overall data management and data governance. If your organization needs to manage access to data both at the table level and the visualization level, Periscope has got you covered. In addition to that, the Periscope Data Git integration adds another layer of trust and integrity to the whole data workflow. The company also recently merged with Sisense, meaning customers can expect to see the product grow rapidly and become a powerful tool for all departments, technical or otherwise.

Integrates with Panoply: Yes

Periscope pricing: available upon request, but reviewers have quoted a starting price at $24,000.

4. Tableau

If you’ve been working in business intelligence for any time at all, you’re probably familiar with Tableau. It’s one of the most popular data analysis and visualization tools, and its low-code interface makes it easy to generate a wide range of attractive visualizations and interactive dashboards. Tableau also offers a set of over 150 built-in functions for calculations and data analysis and a wide range of pre-built data connectors. Tableau shines on reporting and shareability, allowing users to share analyses easily within their organization while maintaining control over who has access. Tableau has one of the most robust mobile experiences of any of the data analytics tools on this list, so if your business intelligence team does a lot of its work on the go, Tableau might be the tool for you.

Integrates with panoply: Yes

Tableau pricing: $35-$70 per user per month.

5. Looker

Where other business intelligence tools put data visualization at the forefront of their offerings, Looker is more interested in letting its users explore their data in any way they want. That may mean writing a lot of SQL queries for some users, but those interested in generating dashboards and visualizations will still find plenty to work with here as well. In general, Looker is geared toward a slightly more tech-savvy audience than some of the other tools here, with a built-in data modeling language (LookML) and git integration to extend and enhance SQL-based analysis. LookML is supposed to be easy to learn but could be a stumbling block for code-phobic analysts, so consider Looker if you’ve got a big budget, a mix of skill levels on your data team, and you want to do complex analyses with big data sets.

Integrates with panoply: Yes

Looker pricing: $3,000 - $5,000 per month for 10 users.

6. Panoply

With its streamlined ELT, data management and analysis flow, Panoply offers a great platform for whatever business intelligence tools you use in your data workflow. Panoply offers more than 150 native data integrations for a whole suite of data sources, including flat files, remote data sources and 3rd parties like MongoDB, ElasticSearch, Facebook, Instagram, Google Analytics, YouTube and others. Our built-in SQL editor will let you analyze your data in-browser, but more technically savvy analysts and data scientists will also find it easy to use Panoply’s data warehouse as a back end for complex analyses using Python or R. If data visualization and point-and-click business intelligence analysis is more your speed, Panoply offers seamless integration with Tableau, Looker and many other common BI tools.

Panoply pricing: $249/month for a basic plan.

7. Zoho Analytics

Zoho offers Zoho Analytics (previously Zoho Reports), a self-service business intelligence tool that puts an emphasis on usability and automation. Those two things come together best in Zoho Analytics automated reporting function: after collecting and automatically checking your data for errors, gaps and other issues, the package will give you the option of automatically generating reports--without the user having to construct a single query. And with the highly configurable report access settings, you’ll be able to control exactly who sees what parts of the resulting reports (“one report, multiple views”) and change the rules on the fly. The system also comes bundled with a number of tutorials, videos and other helpful add-ons, so new users shouldn’t find it too difficult to get up to speed with Zoho Analytics. This is a particularly good tool for a team with a democratized BI approach, where multiple approaches and levels of technical sophistication might come into play.

Integrates with Panoply: Yes

Zoho Analytics pricing: $25-$495/month depending on number of users and amount of data

8. AnswserDock

AnswerDock is a web-based business intelligence tool that uses machine learning and natural language processing to generate data visualizations and dashboards--but the ML doesn’t come in only on the analysis end. AnswerDock’s flashiest feature is in ability to process natural language queries and turn them near-instantly into visualizations and dashboards. So, for example, if an analyst on your team wanted to see “widget sales by category and by country”, they would be able to simply type that ask directly into the question bar, rather than meticulously crafting a SQL query. AnswerDock also applies its machine learning expertise to analysing your data directly, offering automated insight generation and trendspotting.

Integrates with panoply: Yes

AnswerDock pricing: $395-$995/month

9. ReportPlus

Infragistics makes ReportPlus, a data visualization-focused business intelligence tool that bills itself as a “true” self-service BI tool, presumably because of its easy-to-use interface and light IT footprint. Infragistics really did put an emphasis on usability in their development process, working closely with UX designers on every aspect of the interface. ReportPlus has the standard selection of native data connectors and a suite of 30+ data visualization and dashboard options that can be served on any device, including iOS and Android mobile devices. You can set ReportPlus up in either an on-premise or cloud-based deployment. The main selling points here are low price, usability and easy setup, so consider ReportPlus if you’re looking to get up and running fast with your next business intelligence tool.

Integrates with panoply: Yes

ReportPlus pricing: $99.99 per user/year

Best BI Tools for Enterprise

  1. SAP Analytics Cloud
  2. Yellowfin
  3. Microsoft Power BI
  4. Domo
  5. Sisense
  6. Datapine
  7. Microsoft Excel
  8. Solver BI360
  9. Dundas BI
  10. BOARD

1. SAP Analytics Cloud

SAP, which offers SAP Analytics Cloud, has been in the data world for decades and is in step with the move toward data democratization. As a business intelligence tool, Analytics Cloud offers a number of features that make it easier to use for general business users, starting with the way it talks about itself. SAP uses the language of “data stories” to strip away the jargon associated with most data analytics and business intelligence tools, and story mode guides new users quickly through the process of inputting data and setting up analyses and easy, attractive visualizations. Analytics Cloud doesn’t have great tools for cleaning and validating data, though, so make sure your data is ready before bringing it in for analysis. Another potential drawback is that Analytics Cloud is built to work best with the rest of the SAP ecosystem, so if you’re looking for an addition to an existing, non-SAP stack, this might not be the tool for you. On the other hand, its low price point makes it more attractive than it would be otherwise.

Integrates with Panoply: Yes, but only with a 3rd-party connector

SAP Analytics Cloud pricing: $23 per user/month

2. Yellowfin

Yellowfin is another end-to-end business intelligence tool, offering a web-based ETL tool, storage solution and data visualization options all in one package. Yellowfin’s integrated platform can be installed on-premise or in the cloud, and the system allows for enterprise-level data governance, so every view of every piece of data can be tightly controlled. As a business intelligence tool, Yellowfin offers an easy point-and-click interface for all levels of the process. The report generation workflow is highly automated, offering the possibility of making easy AI-powered dashboards that can alert you to signals and patterns in your data automatically. There’s also a more streamlined version of the analytics package, “Yellowfin Stories”, that puts more of an emphasis on data narrative creation. Yellowfin’s different components can be purchased/subscribed to separately, so this could be a good choice for a team that wants a flexible and customizable business intelligence tool.

Integrates with panoply: Yes

Yellowfin pricing: $50 per user/month

3. Microsoft Power BI

Power BI, Microsoft’s offering in the business intelligence tools space, is designed to be useful for business analysts and data scientists alike, with a simple drag-and-drop interface that is designed to be familiar to users of MS Excel. Power BI is a no-code platform, and offers both desktop and web clients. Its library of pre-built connectors is not nearly as extensive as some of the other offerings here, but Power BI will be a great add-on for any Windows-centric data workflow, especially in combination with Azure. However, performance tends to lag on very large data sets, so you may want to look elsewhere if your data is really big.

Integrates with panoply: Yes

Microsoft Power BI pricing: $9.99 per user per month, or free for the basic version.

4. Domo

Domo offers a user-friendly, no-code interface for doing self-serve business intelligence tasks. Domo offers hundreds of native data connectors, making it easy to pull together data from multiple sources for analysis for processing in the cloud. Note that that last bit could be either a pro or a con for you, depending: processing the data in the cloud might relieve the load on your own servers, but it could come at the expense of speed on the analyst’s end. If you’re working with regulated (i.e. government or healthcare data), Domo offers a workbench solution that you can run on your own server with encryption to keep your data safe in-house. Domo really excels at data visualization, with over 85 different styles of visualization to choose from.

Integrates with Panoply: Yes

Domo pricing: Available upon request, but third party sources indicate a starting price of $996 per user per year for up to 20 users for their Standard Plan.

5. Sisense

Sisense is a relatively new offering in the drag-and-drop analytics space that aims to offer an end-to-end solution for business intelligence. Sisense uses an in-chip (as opposed to in-memory) architecture to speed up data tasks from ingestion and cleaning to visualization and dashboard construction, making it easy to work with large datasets that might choke other data analytics platforms. Sisense offers both on-premise and in-cloud installation options, and reviews indicate that installation is quick and simple, though the application can be somewhat heavy for certain on-premise deployments. Sisense could be a great option for you if your organization deals with large, evolving datasets, but its web-only reporting can make delivery of reports in other formats somewhat difficult.

Integrates with Panoply: Yes

Sisense pricing: Available upon request, but some reviewers have quoted a starting price of $21,000 for 5 users.

6. Datapine

Datapine offers a two-in-one data integration and business intelligence tool, though it may shine more on the business intelligence side than on the data integration side. This cloud-based tool offers the promise of quick-and-easy data integration using their native data connectors and automated data warehousing, which is all accomplished through a drag-and-drop interface to move these operations from IT’s hands into the business analyst’s. With a set of over 50 pre-defined dashboard styles categorized by aesthetics, industry and function, Datapine makes the process of dashboard creation very simple and straightforward--if everything goes right, you can have a dashboard built on newly ingested data in just a few clicks. The resulting reports can be shared via URL or static file, and view options can be finely tuned to make sure viewers are only seeing the data they’re supposed to see. Reports can also be viewed on mobile, though that requires a special app and can’t be run through mobile browsers.

Integrates with Panoply: Yes

Datapine pricing: $799/month for 3 users and all professional features

7. Microsoft Excel

Microsoft’s Excel probably doesn’t need much in the way of introduction here. It’s the ur-tool, the one true business intelligence tool from which all others are descended. Probably the only one worth using, as far as many in the analyst community are concerned. If you want a straightforward, sheet-based visual interface that will allow you to manually alter every single data point in your data set by clicking and typing, this is your tool. Almost everything that can be done by the other tools listed here can be done in Excel in some form, it’s just not always going to be easy (or pretty). But dashboard creation, charting and data cleaning are all perfectly good uses for Excel. There’s a bit less support built in for automated data ingestion, but connectors are available for SQL databases like the ones Panoply creates, so you’ll be able to pull data from a warehouse and work with it in Excel pretty easily.

Integrates with Panoply: Yes

Microsoft Excel pricing: $12.50 per user/month

8. Solver BI360

Solver’s BI360 business intelligence suite is a business intelligence tool that throws in some data warehousing functionality as well. It’s designed to integrate smoothly into a Microsoft- and Excel-heavy workflow, so if you love those two things, BI360 might be for you. BI360 can do analytics and visualization, but it isn’t as focused on making pretty charts as some of the other tools listed here. Rather, it’s designed to make common business queries that much easier, by streamlining reporting, budgeting and forecasting. Like we said above, it’s designed to integrate completely into a Microsoft-based data workflow, even offering some features as direct plugins for Excel--you might never even have to tab out of a worksheet to do some of your analysis. It also offers modular purchasing, so if you just want to level your Excel up but don’t want to pay for a data warehouse you won’t use, you do that too.

Integrates with panoply: Yes

Solver BI360 pricing: available upon request.

9. Dundas BI

Dundas Data Visualization offers Dundas BI, a browser-based business intelligence tool that sticks closely to the principles of data democratization. It’s designed to be usable to any member of an organization who might be looking to generate business intelligence insights regardless of technical skill. As mentioned, Dundas BI is browser-based and built on HTML5, so it can be accessed on both mobile and desktop devices without the need for complex installations. In addition to an extensive set of data connectors and visualization options, Dundas BI also offers a web-based drag-and-drop interface for other data-related tasks, such as ETL, data cleaning and data integration. Dundas BI could be a good option for teams looking to get up and running quickly and have access to their dashboards on any possible device.

Integrates with panoply: Yes

Dundas BI pricing: Available upon request

10. BOARD

BOARD bills its self-service business intelligence tool as a “unified decision making platform,” because it combines both standard business intelligence tools and the ability to use advanced analytics approaches in a single platform: in addition to the now-standard suite of dashboard and data visualization tools, BOARD also offers extensive forecasting, planning and decision support tools to help extend your analyses. BOARD can be deployed either on-premise or in the cloud, and offers a wide variety of data import options. The interface is designed to be entirely visual and easy to use, but BOARD maintains a strong community of supportive users who can assist new users in getting up to speed if they get stuck. BOARD is pitched to small-to-midsize organizations looking to do a wide range of analytics tasks, but some may find it overpowered for relatively small and straightforward data operations.

Integrates with panoply: Yes

BOARD pricing: Available upon request

Free / Open Source Business Intelligence Tools

While prices have come down significantly on some of the top-tier business intelligence tools in the past few years, nothing beats free, so we’ve also put together a small collection of free and/or open source business intelligence tools, in case that’s what you’ve come here looking for.

  1. Redash
  2. Metabase
  3. Google Data Studio
  4. Google Sheets
  5. Apache Zeppelin
  6. Google Analytics
  7. Hotjar

1. Redash

Similar to Mode, Redash offers a SQL first interface, a focus on collaboration and system for Webhook alerts. There are a couple especially unique aspects of Redash. The first is that it is an Open Source project so that is heavily influenced by its community so if you want to feel like you are part of a community that is building a product, Redash is good fit. The second is its slick visual integration with Slack that is likely one of the crowdsourced features that came from the dedicated community. You can chose to host the platform yourself if you can handle the configuration and some maintenance.

Integrates with Panoply: Yes

Mode Analytics pricing: Free (self hosted) or paid version starts at $49/month

2. Metabase 

Metabase is a free, open source business intelligence tool designed to address the “dark matter” of business intelligence, meaning the vital, but less complex questions that make up the majority of day-to-day data analytics operations. It’s easy to install, has a graphical interface, and makes it easy to generate visually appealing charts of your data with a few clicks. Advanced SQL users may find it tricky to learn the SQL-but-not-quite style data interface, but it’s not designed for them.

Integrates with panoply: Yes

Metabase pricing: Free and open source

3. Google Data Studio

In 2016, Google rolled out a free version of its Data Studio suite, and the fact that it’s free and entirely web-based might be one of its strongest selling points. Data Studio brings Google’s friendly, intuitive design to business intelligence, but doesn’t do a lot to make working with a wide range of data types easy. Data Studio works great with data sourced from Google, like Google Analytics, AdWords, YouTube analytics and others, but does not have a big selection of pre-built connectors for data from other sources. You can pull in any data you’d like from a Google Sheet, but that may not be ideal for your data workflow. As for visualization and analysis capabilities, Data Studio offers a fairly limited number of options compared to other analytics suites. One other potential drawback of Data Studio is the fact that it’s entirely web-based. Sharing is easy for those who are willing to head to the link you provide, but you won’t be able to export to a pdf or any other common reporting format, and automated report delivery is limited.

Integrates with Panoply: Yes

Google Data Studio pricing: Free

4. Google Sheets

As long as we’re talking about Google Data Studio, we should also mention Google Sheets. If you’ve worked with Excel, you’ve probably also worked with Google Sheets, or are at least familiar with it. In case you’re not, somehow: it’s a browser-based Excel clone offered by Google as part of their online office tools platform (which also includes a text editor and a presentation editor). You can do essentially anything you could do in Excel using Google Sheets: make dashboards, generate visualizations and connect to external databases. Because Sheets is designed with collaboration in mind, you’ll also be able to work in real time with remote collaborators on the same sheet with very low latency.

Integrates with Panoply: Yes, through external tools

Google Sheets pricing: Free

5. Apache Zepplin

It’s practically an ironclad rule of computing that there is an Apache product for any given category of software in the data world. The rule certainly holds true in the case of business intelligence tools, where Apache offers Zeppelin, a data analysis notebook tool that can work with any of a number of language backends (R, Python, Scala and Spark, for example), connect to a wide variety of data sources, and generate documented, shareable analyses. If you’re familiar with Jupyter or have used Mode, Zeppelin will probably feel fairly familiar to you. As far as user-friendly features, Zeppelin is pretty barebones, though, so consider skipping it if your analysts aren’t interested in writing any code.

Integrates with Panoply: Yes

Apache Zeppelin pricing: Free and open source

6. Google Analytics

If you’ve got any sort of presence on the web, your first stop for web business intelligence insights should be Google Analytics. Google’s one stop shop for web business intelligence will let you construct customized dashboards and offers automated insights on traffic patterns, visitor behavior and ad performance, among other things. Google Analytics has built-in data visualization tools that will allow you to generate a set of predetermined plot styles, but you can extend your visualization and analysis abilities by connecting your Google Analytics data to Google Data Studio (or another business intelligence tool). You should consider Google Analytics if you’re interested in getting insights about web traffic patterns, customer behavior on your site, or discovering search terms that are bringing customers to your sites. If you’d like to extend your analysis by integrating Google Analytics with the rest of your data, though, you’ll likely need to set up a second business intelligence tool to do so.

Integrates with Panoply: Yes

Google Analytics pricing: Free

BI Tool Selection Criteria

So how do you select the right business intelligence tool?

We know we just threw a lot of information at you, so now would probably be a pretty good time to step back and summarize. We’ve broken the entire list down even further into a TL;DR below:

 

If you’re a small organization or a startup: Try Chartio, Mode, Periscope, Google Data Studio, Looker, Redash, or Zoho analytics

If you’re a large enterprise with multiple users: Try SAP Analytics, Yellowfin, Sisense, Tableau, PowerB, or Dundas BI

If you’re cost conscious: Try Chartio, Mode, Google Data Studio, Metabase

If you want mobile-ready reporting: Datapine, Dundas BI, Tableau, Sisense, or ReportPlus

If you want advanced analytics capabilities: Try BOARD, SAP or Yellowfin

If you want free or open source business intelligence tools: Redash, Zeppelin, Metabase, Google Data Studio, Google Sheets

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