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The Best Business Intelligence Software

By Lars Lofgren

Tableau

The rise of big data has caused BI software to gain popularity in recent years. Business intelligence software collects, analyzes, and transforms data into valuable business insights.

Companies use BI software to make informed decisions. By compiling and aggregating data with BI tools, it’s much easier for businesses to forecast growth, revenue, and learn more about their customers.

Historically, business intelligence relied on annual or quarterly reporting. But the robust software and BI tools of today allow businesses to view reports in real-time.

Some common examples of BI tools include data warehousing, data visualization, reporting, and dashboards. Business intelligence software takes data from internal sources and produces it in a way that decision-makers can make sense of.

After extensive research, I’ve narrowed down the top business intelligence solutions on the market today. You can use this guide to find the best one for your business.

The Top 7 Best Business Intelligence Software

  • Tableau
  • Zoho Analytics
  • SAP BusinessObjects
  • Microsoft Power BI
  • Sisense
  • Domo
  • SAS

I’ve reviewed the seven best BI software tools below. Continue reading to learn more about the features, benefits, use cases, and potential drawbacks of each one.

#1 – Tableau — Best Overall Business Intelligence Software

Try Tableau

• Starts at $70 per month
• For businesses of all sizes
• Easy to use and deploy
• 14 day free trial
Get started for free

Tableau is our top overall recommendation for BI software. They have BI tools for every business type and possible use case.

Whether you’re an individual analyst, have a small team, large organization, or need to embed BI directly into your products, applications, and web portals, Tableau has it all.

It’s easy for anyone to deploy and manage your Tableau solution at scale, regardless of your technical skill level and experience.

Tableau understands that each unique position within an organization needs access to different data in order to do their jobs correctly and make decisions. That’s why they have different roles to match the needs of your staff.

Tableau has solutions for specific use cases and departments:

  • Sales analytics
  • Supply chain analytics
  • Finance analytics
  • Human resources
  • Marketing analytics
  • IT analytics
  • Support and service analytics

From desktop solutions to online or server deployment, Tableau has BI software to accommodate the needs of all business types, business sizes, and industries.

Tableau starts at $70 per month per user, billed annually. You can try it out for free with a 14 day trial.

#2 – Zoho Analytics — Best BI Software For Small Business

Zoho Analytics Try Zoho Analytics

• Starts at $22 per month
• Connect to any data source
• Simple visual reports
• 15 day free trial
Start for free

Zoho offers a wide range of product suites, tools, and software for dozens of different business needs. While Zoho is best known for its CRM and help desk software, Zoho Analytics is an exceptional solution for BI software.

Like every Zoho product, Zoho Analytics is robust, feature-rich, trustworthy, and easy to use.

Its low entry price point and simple setup makes it our top pick for small businesses.

Zoho Analytics takes data from multiple sources and blends them together to create visual reports and dashboards. It’s easy for you to view the health of your business across each department at a glance.

This BI software makes it easy for you to share and collaborate online with your colleagues and department heads. Add comments and set up alerts when an anomaly or something out of the ordinary occurs.

You can connect Zoho Analytics to any data source. From Microsoft Excel to HTML, JSON, Google Drive, and web URL feeds, this tool will pull data from any source. Upload data from your CRM, email software, accounting software, local database, cloud database, and more.

Try Zoho Analytics free for 15 days.

#3 – SAP BusinessObjects — Best For Growing Businesses

SAP BusinessObjects Visit SAP BusinessObjects

• On-premise deployment
• Supports growth at scale
• Optimize live data
• Better for advanced users
Request a quote

SAP BusinessObjects is an all-in-one business intelligence product suite. It’s designed to make data consumption as simple, personalized, and dynamic as possible.

With on-premise deployment, SAP BusinessObjects has the capability to support growth from just a handful of users to thousands of different users. Its flexible architecture and wide range of BI tools makes it an ideal solution for businesses that are scaling quickly.

SAP BusinessObjects optimizes performance across hybrid landscapes. It uses a live data connection between cloud analytics and on-premise data.

This BI software provides you with enterprise reporting, ad-hoc reporting, data visualization, and role-based dashboards. There are dozens of self-service features that can be used to tell stories and analyze business trends.

By integrating with Microsoft Office, you can use SAP BusinessObjects to analyze large data sets at scale. You’ll also benefit from real-time analytics.

SAP BusinessObjects is definitely geared towards advanced users with complex needs. If you’re a beginner or small business owner, you’ll likely be overwhelmed using this tool.

The pricing for SAP BusinessObjects is not available online. You’ll need to contact them to request a quote.

#4 – Microsoft Power BI — Best Cheap BI Software

Microsoft Power BI Try Microsoft Power BI

• Starts at $9.99 per month
• Cloud-based BI software
• Leverage machine learning
• 30 day free trial
Get started for free

Microsoft actually has two different business intelligence solutions; Power BI Pro and Power BI Premium.

The Pro version is a cloud-based software that’s easy for anyone to use. It costs just $9.99 per month per user, making it a top choice for businesses operating on a tight budget.

Power BI Premium is the enterprise version of this BI software. The pricing is not available on the Microsoft website, but it’s expensive. Other online resources suggest it starts around $5k per month, which definitely isn’t for everyone. So for the purposes of this review, we’ll focus on the Power BI Pro version—the cost-effective solution.

Even at such a low price point, Microsoft Power BI Pro delivers. It’s easy for anyone to share and collaborate using interactive data visualizations for self-service analytics.

Microsoft ensures that your data is always secure and compliant, even when you export it.

The software allows you to leverage smart tools to discover meaningful insights about your organization, departments, and customers.

For people who aren’t used to preparing data, Power BI Pro makes it easy for you to build machine learning models to simplify the process. You’ll also be able to stream analytics in real-time.

As expected with any Microsoft product, Power BI Pro seamlessly integrates with Office 365. It’s easy to connect any Excel queries, data models, and other reports to your BI software.

For $9.99 per month, Microsoft Power BI Pro is a steal. Try it free for 30 days.

#5 – Sisense — Best For Data Engineers, Developers, and Analysts

Sisense Visit Sisense

• Ideal for developers
• Supports any industry
• Department-specific solutions
• Multiple deployment options
Get a free custom quote

Sisense is a relatively new company. They launched back in 2010 but quickly scaled and currently serve 2,000+ business customers worldwide.

While this may not be the most power BI software on the market today, Sisense isn’t designed for everyone.

These BI tools are made for people who are technically inclined. Sisense has specific BI solutions for developers, data engineers, and business analysts.

Sisense is ideal for a wide range of industries, including:

  • Healthcare
  • Retail
  • Government
  • Supply chain
  • Software
  • Manufacturing
  • Marketing
  • Travel and hospitality
  • Enterprise

It also has tools and analytics specific for different departments within an organization. Examples include finance, IT, sales, marketing, operations and logistics, human resources, customer service, and more.

Deploy Sisense BI on the cloud, on-premises, or hybrid deployment with Windows or Linux.

For developers, engineers, and tech-savvy business individuals, Sisense has everything to accommodate your needs. But it’s definitely not for the average user.

Pricing for Sisense BI is not available online. Contact them today for a free custom quote.

#6 – Domo — Best For Custom Application Development

Domo Visit Domo

• Collect data from custom apps
• Automated reports
• Pre-built apps and tools
• Built-in infrastructure
Start your free trial

Domo is one of the most popular business intelligence tools on the market today. It’s trusted by popular companies like ESPN, Cisco, National Geographic, Rakuten, Comcast, DHL, eBay, and more.

With Domo, you’ll benefit from every aspect of business intelligence, including data visualization, data integration, data science, data transformation, embedded analytics, and app development.

Use Domo to create custom apps for your teams, customers, and partners by leveraging the power of your data.

Take advantage of Domo’s built-in infrastructure for security, data governance, and user permissions. You won’t need to purchase additional hardware and storage from a third-party provider.

What can these apps be used for? Anything. For example, a professional basketball team used Domo to create a seat visualization chart to track revenue, sales, and attendance metrics.

In addition to the ability to create custom apps, you can also leverage some of Domo’s pre-built apps for common business functionalities.

The Domo platform is also ideal for automating back-end data integration and other tedious BI tasks. Use Domo to set up simple and automated reports.

Domo pricing is based on a wide range of factors. Since this BI software is custom for each business, you’ll need to contact the sales team for a custom quote. But you can try it for free.

#7 – SAS — Best For Customer Support

SAS Try SAS

• Excellent customer support
• Free online training
• Solutions for multiple use cases
• 90 day free trial
Get started for free

SAS has a few different business intelligence software solutions, depending on the needs of your business.

  • SAS Enterprise
  • SAS Visual Analytics
  • SAS Office Analytics

The enterprise version is a wizard-driven tool that makes it easy for you to analyze data and publish results using a point-and-click Windows interface. The visual analytics software is a self-service tool for visual discovery. Office analytics is made specifically improving your existing data within Microsoft Office.

SAS stands out against the crowd because of its exceptional customer service. For those of you who need assistance and some guidance along the way, SAS will be able to help you.

They have an extensive knowledge base for self-service problem resolution. But if you need additional help, SAS offers technical support, maintenance, consulting, licensing assistance, role-based support, and more.

SAS also has a wide range of free training, courses, and e-learning tools so you can master your business intelligence software and leverage all of its features.

To get a custom quote based on your needs, you’ll need to request pricing from the SAS sales team. SAS has a 30-day free trial, but for a limited time, that trial has been extended to 90 days.

How to Find the Best Business Intelligence Software For You

Business intelligence software is extremely versatile. There are also so many different options to choose from. How can you know which one is right for your business?

This is the methodology that I used to pick the winners on our list. Generally speaking, there is no “best for everyone” BI software. To determine which one is best for you, I’ll break down the factors that you need to take into consideration during the evaluation process.

Deployment

There are lots of different ways that business intelligence software can be used and deployed for your business. There are desktop solutions, on-premise deployment, cloud-based software, and hybrid server deployment.

Cloud-based software will be the best option for most smaller businesses. It’s usually much cheaper too. If you have advanced or complex needs, you might want to consider on-premise deployment.

Your data sources will also play a role in determining what’s best for you. Are you integrating your BI software with existing data? Or are you using the software to help you collect data as well?

Reporting

At the end of the day, the purpose of BI software is to help you make better business decisions. Reports help you harness data in terms that you can understand.

Data visualization reports, predictive modeling, and decision analytics are just a handful of the different reporting features that you should be looking for.

You’ll want to choose a dashboard that’s easy to use and generates reports at a glance or in real-time based on whatever you’re trying to figure out.

Technical Ability

Unlike other business software on the market today, business intelligence can be complex. Not every solution is easy for every person to use.

If you’re a beginner or run a small business, you’ll be better off using Zoho Analytics or Microsoft Power BI. Those are both user-friendly. Tableau is pretty easy to figure out for beginners as well, but also has features for advanced users.

Sisense and Domo both require a bit more technical knowledge. Sisense is made for developers, data engineers, and analysts. Domo has tools to build custom applications for data collection.

Make sure you choose a BI solution that fits within your technical range and matches the technical ability of anyone on your team who is going to be using it.

Price

Business intelligence software doesn’t need to be expensive. With that said, there is a significant difference in terms of cost for the cheapest and most expensive solutions on the market.

Microsoft Power BI Pro starts at just $9.99 per month. But the Premium version from that same provider costs thousands per month.

You can find other cloud-based or desktop software starting around $20-$75 per month. Software for larger businesses and enterprises with lots of data will cost more. Not every software provider has straightforward pricing online. Since so much of this software is customized for your business needs, you’ll need to request a quote for some solutions.

I always recommend signing up for a free trial before you commit to a long-term contract. Every solution on our list has some type of free version that you can use. Trials range anywhere from 14 to 90 days.

Conclusion

What’s the best business intelligence software on the market today? It depends on what you’re looking for.

Tableau is our top overall recommendation. It’s versatile, robust, accommodates a wide range of business needs, and starts at an affordable price point.

But Tableau isn’t for everyone. Small businesses would be better off using Zoho Assist. Developers, data engineers, and other tech-savvy users should use Sisense. If you want to build a custom application for data collection, Domo will be the best choice for you. Businesses with changing needs that are scaling quickly should lean towards SAP BusinessObjects.

Microsoft Power BI has the cheapest entry-level BI software on the market. SAS offers the best customer support.

Regardless of your business type and needs, you can use this guide and our top recommendations to find the best business intelligence software for you.

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