Choosing the right business intelligence tool to meet your needs can be tough. Most of the online comparison sites are “pay to play”, meaning the vendors pay the sites for placement and ratings. And naturally every company will tell you that they’re the best.
Here’s a couple ways to sort through all the noise out there and find the right BI tool to help you make better, data-driven decisions which grow your business.
1. See What Gartner Recommends
First, read what the analysts have to say. The global research firm Gartner recently released their annual Gartner Magic Quadrant Business Intelligence report, which provides an impartial look at all the main analytics and business intelligence vendors and describes key trends in the marketplace. It’s a deep report (42 pages!) so carve out a block of hours to dig in.
Their evaluation criteria are, “Ability to Execute” which includes things like product capabilities, customer experience, pricing, and company viability, and, “Completeness of Vision” which includes things like market understanding, innovation, and product strategy. Then they map vendors on a two-dimensional matrix based on how each rates on the criteria.
The vendors which rate the best are put in the top right quadrant and are named Leaders, followed by Challengers and Visionaries, and then Niche Players in the bottom left quadrant. In 2022, Gartner evaluated 20 companies and named only 3 as Leaders (Power BI, Tableau, and Qlik).
2. Compare Gartner’s Top Three
Since the Gartner report is so dense and long, the second thing you can do is to compare just the 3 Gartner “Leaders” head-to-head on the main capabilities most people look for. You can break down the key features into categories this way:
- Interactive Dashboards
- Data Visualization
- Augmented Analytics
- Fully Functional Mobile
- Governed Self-Service
- Flexible Cloud Strategy
- Data Integration
Ease Of Use
- Embedded Analytics
- Single Interface
- Data Literacy
Most people focus only on the data analytics capabilities listed above when they’re selecting business intelligence software. You’ll have to decide which of these capabilities are most important to you. And here are some key things to keep in mind in today’s world:
Data Integration. If you’re like most organizations, you’re overwhelmed with huge volumes of raw data from many different sources. The analysis features alone aren’t enough to leverage all your data and get a complete picture of what’s going on. So, see how well the tools you’re evaluating perform on less sexy tasks like combining, transforming, and cataloging data.
Passive vs Active Data. Most BI approaches don’t support real-time data about your customers, your market, and your operations. They give you “passive BI” based on historical data. But business today moves faster than ever before. So you need to know what’s happening in the moment so you can act in the moment. Find out if the tools you’re considering can establish analytics pipelines that deliver real-time data.
Total Cost of Ownership. You should definitely also compare the total cost of ownership (TCO) between vendors. This means looking beyond just the software cost and also including all the other expenses you might have, like set up, hardware, and admin costs or if you scale up data volume.