Business intelligence (BI) products are growing evermore numerous as data-driven business culture takes hold. Analysts at MarketsandMarkets predict the global business intelligence market to grow 44% over its 2020 value in the next four years, reaching $33.3 billion by 2025. This proliferation of BI products is making it easier than ever before for businesses of all sizes and verticals to retrieve, analyze, display, and disseminate data insights.
Sifting through countless BI products can be a real challenge, especially when they all look so similar on the surface. But not all BI products are the same! There are many different types with particular strengths and intended use cases. We’ve rounded up our top picks for 10 different categories to help you and your organization find the right fit. Stick around for answers to some top BI FAQs as well as our five best real-world BI product examples.
1. Best Embedded BI Platform: Exago BI
What makes Exago BI one of the best embedded BI platforms of 2021?
Exago BI is a comprehensive embedded business intelligence platform built to help SaaS companies empower their users with data insights. SaaS providers get seamless integration, extensibility, and implementation services while their customers enjoy self-service reporting and dashboarding capabilities. Since its start in 2006, Exago has built a strong reputation for its extensive embeddability and flexibility, balance of complexity and accessibility, and highly responsive customer service.
- Seamless, single sign-on integration
- White label and 100% web-based embedding
- Self-service BI for technical and non-technical end users
- Enterprise reporting — canned, self-service, and ad hoc
- Dashboards and data visualization
- Unlimited support and assisted implementation
- Flat-rate pricing — no performance caps or user limits
2. Best BI Product for Journalistic Data Visualization: Datawrapper
What makes Datawrapper one of the best journalistic data visualization products of 2021?
Datawrapper’s charting application makes it easy for journalists and newsroom staff to create production-ready ad hoc data visualizations designed for print and the web. The step-by-step tool guides you through the process of loading and checking your data for accuracy before walking through the visualization styling options. Visualizations can be checked for accessibility to the color blind and exported as fully-responsive PNGs or PDFs.
- No-code data visualization
- Charts, maps, and tables
- Comprehensive styling customizations
- Live chart updating
- Discrete color control
- Responsive design and device views
3. Best SaaS BI Product: Klipfolio
What makes Klipfolio one of the best SaaS BI products of 2021?
Klipfolio’s SaaS pricing model means customers can get started making custom dashboards and reports right away. Klips, their flagship product, comes with hundreds of native integrations to sales CRMs, marketing automation platforms, social media services, and other business applications. Customers can easily build and customize their dashboards — no coding required — as well as share them with colleagues and clients.
- Real-time dashboards
- SaaS deployment and pricing
- 300+ native integrations
- Drag-and-drop interface
- WYSIWYG reporting
4. Best SaaS BI Product for Data Science: Anaconda
What makes Anaconda one of the best SaaS BI products for Data Science of 2021?
As a service that bills itself as “data science built by data scientists,” Anaconda puts its money where its mouth is, implementing a package manager, Conda, that sees heavy use in an open-source deployment. Anaconda is a powerful algorithm building- and training-ground for Python developers, particularly those working in Jupyter Notebook. Because the bones are open source, Anaconda can leverage a humongous array of mods and adaptations. While experienced developers will find a lot to love with Anaconda, their paid enterprise tiers have voluminous support options.
- Open source code based on Python
- Tiered pricing, including free individual version
- Paid tiers include highly curated resources
- 7500 Anaconda-built data science/machine learning packages
- Access to an enormous library of supplements and additions
5. Best Location Intelligence BI: Carto
What makes Carto one of the best Location Intelligence BI products of 2021?
Through the use of spatial data science, Carto goes beyond telling you where things are. It also tells you why those things are there. Using a combination of machine learning, artificial intelligence, and other technologies, Carto brings location data to the center of the BI experience. The sources and varieties of data related to location are numerous and wide-ranging. Machine learning is essential for turning that raw data into actual, useful points on a map. If your business relies on knowing where things are, Carto is a good solution.
- Active support of always-on data streams crucial for location intelligence
- Spatial models for data of all kinds, not just location
- Flexible dashboards
- Diverse array of interactions
6. Best Free and Open Source BI Product: BIRT
What makes BIRT one of the best Free and Open Source BI products of 2021?
While more than a few BI providers lean on open-source data and tools, the only complete open source solution is BIRT (or, technically, Eclipse BIRT, since those letters stand for Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools, which could apply to pretty much every product on this list). BIRT is just one offering from the Eclipse Foundation, which is an entire community of like-minded professionals dedicated to a thriving open source ecosystem. This ecosystem translates into an enormously diverse array of uses, capabilities, and deployments. If you have a need, chances are somebody else had it first.
- Lots of free support options
- High expandability and customization options, especially for technical users
- All historical builds extremely well documented
- Massive, friendly community of users
7. Best BI Product for Data Discovery: Outlier
What makes Outlier one of the best BI products for Data Discovery of 2021?
Data discovery is all about finding the opportunities, challenges, and threats to smooth operations, and Outlier is an aptly named asset for help in that area of business intelligence. This BI product focuses on deriving otherwise invisible insights from a company’s business data. By increasing the visibility of interesting or actionable data, Outlier can show users “important and unexpected happenings.”
- Constant, automated discovery of data events
- Daily data update notifications
- Focus on data relationships and root cause analysis
- Data analysis based on a “story” model
8. Best BI Product for Mapping: Mapbox
What makes Mapbox one of the best BI products for Mapping of 2021?
Through an elaborate and efficient network of over five hundred million monthly active users, Mapbox brings maps to APIs, SDKs, and dashboards for lots of industries and applications. The visualizations possible with maps make the location-specific data more accessible to more users. Mapbox has created an entire suite of products and applications, like Mapbox Movement, a movement tracking data source with data privacy at the forefront.
- Worldwide map information
- Every map-related aspect covered, including traffic and movement
- Powerful and flexible applications specifically for BI dashboards
- Massive network of sources and users
- Highly competitive pricing with multiple tiers for different products
9. Best BI Product for Mobile: Zoho Analytics App
What makes Zoho Analytics App one of the best BI products for mobile of 2021?
If mobile access to your BI dashboards is important to your business operations, then the Zoho Analytics App is a natural fit. Featuring a wide variety of BI data insights tuned to specific industries, Zoho also provides charts, pivot tables, KPI widgets, summary views, and dashboards. Mobile BI is not the only way Zoho lets users interact with their data, providing robust desktop support in addition to the mobile experience.
- Available on all major mobile platforms through app stores and verifiable channels
- Heavily customizable
- Shareable reports and dashboards for maximum flexibility
- Fully-featured CRM
- Large user base with plenty of support
10. Best BI Product for Decision Intelligence: Tellius
What makes Tellus one of the best BI products for decision intelligence of 2021?
Decision intelligence is the next logical step for data science, as it combines the power of raw data with techniques sourced from other disciplines, such as decision theory, social science, and managerial science. Using natural language interactions, Tellius makes it easy to understand what drives business behaviors, allowing a high degree of interaction with every aspect of business intelligence and the decisions that arise from it. If decision intelligence is the nexus of data science and action items, Tellius is a great way to access both.
- Focus on speed with AI-powered insights
- Many reports, including a variety of ad hoc options
- Humans remain in the loop for fine-tuning
- A leader in the growing field of “augmented” analytics
Frequently Asked Questions About Business Intelligence
How does business intelligence work?
BI solutions translate user actions — such as dragging a data source onto a canvas or changing a total from “sum” to “average” — into a language the relevant data sources can understand. The BI solution then receives the query results from the data sources and displays them to the user in the desired format. This process will look a bit different depending on the BI solution in question, but in this post, we show how it works in Exago BI.
What’s the difference between BI and analytics?
There are at least a half-dozen schools of thought on this, but the short answer is it depends on who you ask. Some use these terms interchangeably while others see BI as a function of analytics or analytics as a function of BI. Still others see them as entirely different things! We did a deep dive on this topic to help BI buyers get clarity on these ambiguous distinctions.
Best BI Product Examples in Real Life
As the world becomes more data driven, business intelligence has moved beyond its origins in the banking sector to serve virtually all industries and professions. Now that we’ve explored different types of BI and learned about top-performing solutions in each category, let’s look at some real-life examples of how BI is used in different industries. All of the following applications have implemented and customized Exago BI to meet their users’ unique data needs.
1. BI for Human Resources and HRtech: Bullhorn Canvas
Bullhorn is the global leader in software for the staffing industry. More than 10,000 companies rely on Bullhorn’s cloud-based platform to power their staffing processes from start to finish, but they needed help from Bullhorn’s technical staff to get access to the right reports and data insights. Bullhorn needed a BI solution that would directly empower their end users with ad hoc reports and dashboards.
Bullhorn Canvas revolutionized the way scouts and staffing professionals were able to manipulate and draw insight from their data. In addition to building their own reports, they could craft data visualizations and dashboards, exporting them in a variety of formats and/or scheduling them to be sent to their teammates’ inboxes. Not only that, but they were able to do so without having to know any SQL or other database querying languages.
Bullhorn, meanwhile, enjoyed an uptick in sales and customer satisfaction, seeing a return on their BI investment within 3-6 months of launching Canvas. They also saved 200+ developer hours per month that would otherwise have gone toward fielding customers’ reporting requests. Adoption of the solution was high with 75% – 100% of users with access to Bullhorn Canvas leveraging it in the first year.
2. BI for Pest Management: PestPac’s Report Writer
PestPac™ by WorkWave is the market-leading software solution for Pest Management Professionals. Its full suite of robust features and functionality, tailored to the pest management industry and its mobile workforce, facilitate the growth and profitability of their customers. PestPac needed a self-service BI solution easy enough for non-technical end users but also powerful enough to satisfy business analysts.
PestPac chose a BI solution that integrated seamlessly with their application, could exist entirely in the cloud, and was compatible with their existing user permission system. Report Writer, as they branded it, saved parent company WorkWave untold development hours while adding value to the product with new features such as emailing and scheduling reports. Most importantly, it met their customers’ number-one request to be able to create ad hoc reports themselves.
3. BI for Finance and Fintech: LeaseSpark
Providing comprehensive features for CRM, asset finance origination, credit decisioning, booking, funding, and servicing administration, TAO Solutions’ LeaseSpark platform is a modern end-to-end cloud application for asset-based finance.
To keep their LeaseSpark platform on the leading-edge of technology, TAO decided to move away from SSRS and find an embedded BI solution that would integrate smoothly with their established tech stack (SQL Server, ASP.NET Core MVC, Angular 5+) while empowering lessors and funders with self-service reporting and data analytics.
LeaseSpark’s BI implementation replaced more than one legacy system, offering an efficient solution to their customers’ data analytics needs. In addition to being able to view premade or “canned” reports and dashboards, asset finance professionals using LeasSpark can modify those reports and/or build their own from scratch. Their BI’s drag-and-drop controls not only make data analysis easy and intuitive for users but also attract prospective customers during product demonstrations.
4. BI for the Nonprofit Sector: SofterWare’s DonorPerfect
SofterWare’s DonorPerfect fundraising software takes the hassle out of time-stealing administrative tasks, so nonprofits can focus on furthering their missions and raising more funds. Offering flexible, integrated solutions tailored to nonprofits’ needs, SofterWare creates software that simplifies the way nonprofits manage constituent data and fundraise.
In addition to providing self-service business intelligence capabilities to DonorPerfect end users, which range from nuns running small faith-based nonprofits to international organizations like UNICEF, their embedded BI implementation enabled them to two critical things:
- Intercept and modify report SQL calls in real time due to extensive user-level security filtering
- Support on-the-fly migration of thousands of existing reports.
By adopting an embedded BI platform with built-in report migration tools, DonorPerfect was able to effect a seamless transition from their legacy system as they migrated 30,000 user-defined reports. DonorPerfect’s ability to offer cutting-edge BI to nonprofit organizations at an affordable price has increased the solution’s market value.
Business intelligence is proving to be a game-changing technology for organizations of all disciplines, but it’s important to select the right tool for the job. No two BI solutions are the same, and many are optimized for specific business cases. With the business intelligence market expected to grow by $12.62 billion between 2020 and 2024, that diversification is likely to continue. Before selecting a business intelligence solution, it’s necessary to consider the industry, user groups, and use cases it must serve in order to deliver the desired outcome, whether that’s real-time location intelligence for supply chain workers or self-service reporting for veterinary personnel.