5 BI Tools To Use (With Definition, Benefits And Tips)

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 1 March 2023

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Business intelligence (BI) takes advantage of various tools to convert data into valuable information that businesses utilise to make informed decisions. Professionals can use various tools to gather, process, analyse and visualise large volumes of structured and unstructured data. If you work as a data analyst or in a similar role, you can benefit from knowing about various tools for business intelligence use cases. In this article, we discuss various BI tools along with their primary features, examine their benefits and review some tips to help you choose one for your needs.

What Are BI Tools?

BI tools are application software that consolidate data from multiple sources and process and analyse them to generate valuable insights. These tools fetch data from data warehouses, which aggregate data from internal and external systems into a central system to support data analytics, data mining and data visualisation. The data type can be semi-structured or unstructured. For example, the data input to the tool can include text, audio, video, files, emails, records, journals and other business sources.

Related: 9 Data Visualisation Interview Questions And Sample Answers

Benefits Of Using BI Software

Here are some benefits of using BI software:

  • Data-driven decisions: Having access to real-time data can help make critical decisions. Using BI software enables you to import and aggregate data from multiple sources, perform per-processing and analyse it to take actionable steps.

  • Increased customer satisfaction: Professionals can use BI software to track key performance indicators (KPIs) related to customer service.

  • Competitive advantage: Access to historical and competitors' data allows companies to identify product gaps, predict customer demand and make sales forecasts. This enables businesses to offer innovative solutions and services to customers.

  • Faster analysis: A BI tool can import large volumes of data from multiple sources, perform predictive analysis and provide valuable insights. This makes it easier for professionals to build custom dashboards and visuals to present to the management.

  • Better data quality: BI software provides data cleaning, transformation, modelling and cataloguing features so that the data is accurate, reliable and consistent.

Related: What Is Business Intelligence? (With Techniques And Uses)

5 Tools For Business Intelligence Use-Cases

Here are five software tools you may find helpful:

1. Power BI

Power BI provides several features, such as data connection, data relationship, custom visualisations, report sharing and real-time analytics. Power BI Desktop is free of cost and offers basic features to help users get acquainted with the tool. Using this software, you can import up to 10GB of data from various sources such as databases, websites, on-premise data and the cloud. It automatically defines relationships between multiple tables, making it easier to understand the data. You can use Power BI Query for data manipulation and data transformation.

Power BI provides answers to basic queries made on the data. This software is easy to use because of its drag-and-drop functionalities, which are helpful in creating visualisations and interactive dashboards. It also supports cloud-based functionalities by providing easy import and export options. Its seamless connection with platforms such as Azure Machine Learning allows you to perform machine learning (ML) operations and analyse trends and patterns in the data. It also allows you to share reports with other team members securely and collaborate with ease.

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2. Tableau

Tableau provides various functionalities, such as real-time analytics, intuitive dashboards, easy integration, role-based permissions, sharing and collaboration and intelligent querying. Users can explore Tableau Public, a free platform to create and share data visualisations. The software allows easy integration with various sources, both on-premise and cloud. There is no hard limit on the number of rows you can import. It supports role-based permissions, allowing administrators to restrict permission based on users and groups. The dashboards and reports you create using Tableau are mobile and tablet compatible.

Tableau provides an Ask Data feature that allows users to get answers to their queries through the natural language querying feature, without prior querying and programming knowledge. It allows programmers to implement code in languages such as Python, C++ and Java to build custom visualisations. The tool also enables features of Python machine learning to build models for predictions and forecasting. There is extensive customer support for Tableau, along with detailed documentation and community support.

Related: Tableau Developer Skills And Responsibilities (With Tips)

3. Zoho Analytics

Zoho Analytics provides functionalities such as custom data visualisation, data preparation and modelling, deep analysis, reporting, collaboration and scalability. The software allows you to import data from over 250 sources, feeds, websites and applications. It automatically detects data types, establishes relationships between multiple tables and provides data cleaning, transformation and cataloguing features. The tool offers drag-and-drop functionalities that allow you to build dynamic and interactive dashboards. It also supports geo visualisation to analyse geographical data and image visualisation to add creative image visuals in reports and dashboards.

It provides features such as predictive analysis, auto-generated reports and data alerts to get valuable insights and track anomalies and KPIs. The tool offers a smart assistant to provide answers to queries made on the data. It lets you share reports and collaborate with other team members in real-time. As part of its data security and governance features, Zoho Analytics also supports permission-based access control, periodic backups and secure data storage.

Related: Essential Power BI Interview Questions And Answers

4. Birst

Infor Birst is an AI-enabled data visualisation tool that provides features such as data preparation, in-depth analytics, sharing and collaboration and scalability. Its data-as-a-service (DaaS) approach enables data pre-processing, cleaning, storage, integration and analytics bundled into a suite. You can import data from multiple sources, including on-premise, cloud and live data. Its self-service features allow users of all technical levels to build dashboards and create visualisations for complex data sets.

Users can use its ML capabilities to get insights into the data and build intuitive dashboards and reports. Birst provides faster results through cloud architecture, advanced data analytics and reusable metadata. It enables seamless data sharing and collaboration across different teams in an organisation. The software employs various measures to ensure data security, accessibility and backup. The tool is helpful in optimising business processes, improving workforce productivity, enhancing data-driven decision-making capabilities and increasing customer satisfaction.

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5. MicroStrategy

MicroStrategy is a data analytics platform that provides features such as custom visualisation, seamless integration, in-depth analytics, quicker deployment and scalability. Its user-friendly platform enables users with various skill levels to work with complex data and build personalised real-time dashboards. The platform provides faster query execution and improved database performance through different optimisation strategies. It offers seamless integration with open-source tools, applications, data sources and cloud solutions with the help of a unified architecture.

The platform provides on-premise, cloud and hybrid mode deployment to users. Integrations with third-party analytics tools, such as Tableau and Power BI, are possible via the platform's gateways. Teams across an organisation can use this platform to collaborate in real time and share critical information. It also allows teams to scale up or down based on their needs.

Related: What Is A Data Warehouse? (With Benefits And Uses)

Tips For Selecting A BI Tool

Here are some tips to follow when selecting BI software:

  • Define business requirements. Define business requirements and short-and-long-term objectives before choosing a BI tool. Ensure that the selected tool aligns with your business goals and accomplishes tasks with ease.

  • Ensure it is easy to integrate. It is essential for a BI tool to integrate with various data sources, such as databases, web applications, cloud data, social media feeds and on-premise data. This allows users to import data from multiple sources to build dashboards and generate reports that meet business needs.

  • Make sure it is customisable. Ensure that the tool supports custom visualisation and allows users to implement code in other programming languages that can help run complex logic to build highly customised dashboards and visualisations.

  • Get acquainted with the tool. Some tools have advanced features that require additional training. It is essential to assess your skills and level of comfort before investing in the software.

  • Decide on a budget. Before investing in a tool, compare its pricing with other available tools in the market. You can sign up for trial versions before considering a subscription.

  • Ensure it offers good customer support. Make sure that the selected tool has good customer support. This ensures that you have technical assistance when required.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in the article are associated with Indeed.

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