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TechnologyAdvice Guide to Data Visualization

guide to best data visualization tools

Insight from business intelligence programs can be difficult to digest in numerical form. Visual representations help people comprehend such information, and encourage a wider range of insight.

The primary distinction between data visualization software and a full-blown business intelligence (BI) solution is the quality of the visualizations one can produce. Some BI solutions, though excellent at crunching the numbers according to your data analysts’ specifications, fall short of allowing you to present your results to others. Sometimes a number chart or bar graph just doesn’t cut it. Producing interactive visuals that complements a business intelligence report is what the best data visualization software specialize in.

This guide covers the factors one should consider when attempting to select and implement the best data visualization tools for their business.
the most successful bi efforts

When You Need Data Visualization Software

There are a number of scenarios in which you may be considering adding a data visualization tool to your BI arsenal.

You may be looking to implement a new BI solution and are aware of a particular need for quality, integrated visualization and reporting functionalities. In this case, you may want to pursue a fully capable business intelligence solution. However, keep in mind the considerations listed below to ensure that the solution’s visualization tools will be sufficient.

In a second scenario, you may already have a BI solution, but it might lack sufficient visualization capabilities. In this case you’ll want data visualization software that can integrate with your existing BI program, and enhance your project.

The last scenario is that you have no BI software, and you feel that a full-blown BI solution is overkill. Some of the best data visualization tools come with enough data mining and analysis functionality to create the visualizations you want directly from the data, allowing you to manipulate it for insight much like a broader BI program.

Features and Buying Considerations

connectivity

Connectivity

If your data visualization tool is not overlaying a BI system, but is functioning as your primary BI solution, then it is very important to ensure that it will connect smoothly with your data sources.

Your data may be stored in a relational data warehouse, a Hadoop cluster, NoSQL, or a cloud-based system. Not all visualization solutions have pre-built integrations, and if your data system is custom built, you will want to check if your selected solution can be easily configured to integrate with it.

drill-down

Drill-down

The best visualizations are dynamic, and allow you to peer deeper into and manipulate the data in real time.

In a timeline visualization, this could be a slider empowering you to go at your own pace through time to observe how changes in one metric relate to the changes in others. In a geographic map this may be zooming in from the world map to a state level or city map and comparing the distribution of your data points in one city to the distribution of data points in another city.

This is what elevates visualizations from mere reports. Visualizations allow non-technical users to generate actionable insight.

visualization

Visualization Types

There are many visualization types. Different charts, graphs and infographics abound, and it is worthwhile to peruse the various types provided by your potential solution.

Treemaps, streamgraphs, bubble charts, infographics, geographic maps and three-dimensional scatter plots are all commonly referenced and are a good place to start when making sure the solution has all the standard visualization templates. Pre-built templates can speed up the process of creating reports and lighten the load on your data analysts.

With so many options, however, it would be easy to get caught up in using every visualization you can find. Remember, the most successful BI efforts begin with a goal in mind and find the tool that will best carry out that goal. It’s good to research your best options beforehand and identify which visualization types are likely to work best with your data.

dashboard

Dashboard Integration

Whether your visualization solution will be part of a broader BI system or not, you’ll want the ability to include your visualization in a dashboard. Having the right visualizations and reports collected in one quickly accessible location helps minimize the time from analysis to action.

The case study under the header “Data Visualization in Use” describes a company's implementation of individualized dashboards for each manager based on the key performance indicators most relevant to their decision making.

mobile

Mobile Access

Mobile access allows you to view your visualizations and data through any internet connected device. Whether out of the office, at a meeting, or simply around the workplace, mobile access to current visualizations allows you to make real-time, data-driven decisions.This can come in the form of a mobile app or a mobile optimized web portal for Internet-enabled devices.

Beyond personal convenience, mobile access makes data easier to retrieve for everyone, ensuring more decision makers are properly informed.

self-service

Self-Service Capability

Self-serviceability is the degree to which a non-technical business user can operate the data visualization software. If it is necessary for a business executive or manager to access and even generate their own visualizations, then the software must have a clean, self-explanatory interface. This could include a drag and drop interface, or pre-built analysis features.

training

Training and Support
If you can’t meet your needs with a self-service solution, you will want to ensure that the provider you choose supplies sufficient training resources and support, so your analysts can work as efficiently as possible.

Assistance offered by data visualization providers is often available in the form of video tutorials, live online introductory sessions, and/or onsite training. The right type of training for your company will depend on the capabilities of your IT department and your other users. You may need to have a large, in-person training session for your business users, or you may need only some online reference materials for your already skilled IT personnel.

cloud

Cloud vs. On-Premise

Which will be the best data visualization tools is dependent on the decision between a cloud or on-premise solution, which rests largely on the location of your data and your existing BI infrastructure. Speed of deployment is usually quicker for data visualization than for other BI tools, so current systems and security are more applicable factors to consider.

If both your data and BI solution are in the cloud, then you will want a cloud-based visualization solution capable of integrating with the particular cloud systems already in use. Otherwise, if your data sources and BI solution are on-premise due to security or dependability concerns, then your visualization software likely should be on-premise as well.

As far as security, your visualizations may contain company data that shouldn’t fall into the hands of your competitors. Like with any sensitive information, you must consider the security of your servers, the servers of any cloud-based provider, your workplace computers, and mobile devices when selecting a visualization solution.

ROI on data visualization tools

Data Visualization in Use

Eurac, an international brake disc manufacturer, needed a better way to create and view reports. Eurac produces 100,000 tonnes of grey iron casting each year and operates machining facilities across the world, supplying vehicle manufacturers, the motor racing industry, and part distributors.

An enterprise resource planning (ERP) system implemented by Eurac in 2011 failed to produce reports frequently (taking up to two weeks or a month to produce) and the reports required technically skilled staff to be customized.

After a successful free trial tasked to an IT intern, Eurac implemented a Logi Info, a Logi Analytics data visualization and dashboarding solution.

Now Eurac managers have access to real-time reports on dashboards personalized to the key performance indicators (KPIs) most relevant to their department. They can react to situations as they occur. They can access the reports from their laptop, tablet, and mobile phone, in the workplace or out. No longer do they have to wait for weeks to see progress reports and to make changes to the reports they receive.

The benefits provided by Logi Analytics have resulted in a nearly immediate 50 percent return on investment for Eurac, partly due to the reduction in ERP licenses required. Decisions were made quicker, and new insight allowed the company to peer three or four years into future production, all by giving managers efficient access to quality reports.

All Data Visualization Products

Last Updated: July 13, 2016

CompanyResultsRatingMost Reviewed

Dundas BI, from Dundas Data Visualization offers an enterprise-level business intelligence solution with strong data visualization and dashboard capabilities.

GoodData

GoodData

(1 reviews)

GoodData's cloud-based business intelligence platform provides strong data visualization capabilities for marketing, sales, and customer service insights.

Tableau

Tableau

5(6 reviews)

Tableau's business intelligence software analyses Big Data to produce real-time data visualizations and data models.

Looker

Looker

5(1 reviews)

Looker's cloud-based business intelligence platform allows real-time data analysis and visualization for companies of any size.

Sisense

Sisense

5(3 reviews)

Sisense is an innovative and disruptive business intelligence provider; their dashboard creation and data visualization tools are among the industry's best.

PBL Scorecard

PBL Scorecard

5(2 reviews)

PBL Scorecard is a business intelligence solution that helps monitor business performance with scorecards and real-time dashboards.

Birst

Birst

5(1 reviews)

Birst is focused on building a cloud-based business intelligence platform for all types of data sources and user-friendly visualization and analytics.

Profitbase

Profitbase

(1 reviews)

Profitbase SIM, part of the Profitbase Suite of business intelligence software, is a modeling and simulation tool with data visualization capabilities.

QlikView

QlikView

(5 reviews)

QlikView, by QlikTech, is a robust, dashboard-centric business intelligence platform for companies of any size and data of any scale.

Cognos - IBM

Cognos - IBM

(2 reviews)

Cognos from IBM is an enterprise-level business intelligence and big data platform that allows companies to create visualizations from large sets of data.

SAS

SAS

(2 reviews)

SAS is an industry-leading provider of data analytics and visualization software for better-informed business decision-making.

Epicor

Epicor

(1 reviews)

Informance EMI, by Epicor, is a business intelligence platform designed especially for manufacturers and includes dashboards and other data visualizations.

MicroStrategy

MicroStrategy

(1 reviews)

MicroStrategy's SAP HANA certified business intelligence platform creates data visualizations and is one of the most widely deployed analytics solutions on the ...

Oracle is an enterprise-level data analytics and business intelligence platform for end-to-end data management, including data visualizations.

Ayata

Ayata

(0 reviews)

Ayata aids corporations in making business decisions by processing and visualizing hybrid data to predict future consequences and outcomes.

BIME

BIME

(0 reviews)

BIME creates user-friendly business intelligence products that are based on innovations in cloud-computing and advanced data visualizations.

Actuate’s Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools (BIRT) platform helps all types of companies improve productivity through analytics and visualizations.

BOARD International

BOARD International

(0 reviews)

BOARD's Intelligence Toolkit is an innovative analytics solution that allows users to create data visualizations without any programming knowledge.

Boston Advanced Analytics' DELTA analytics software is a clinical data analysis tool that enables non-technical users to create data visualizations and more.

CAMMS

CAMMS

(0 reviews)

Power Data, from CAMMS, is 'self-service' business intelligence and data visualization; non-technical users can build dashboard and other visualizations.

Chartio

Chartio

(0 reviews)

Chartio's business intelligence solution allows users to keep data in their existing database and connects directly to create queries and produce visualizations

Clear Analytics

Clear Analytics

(0 reviews)

Clear Analytics is a self-service business intelligence tool that is built on Excel and includes data visualization capabilities. Read the review here.

ClearStory Data

ClearStory Data

(0 reviews)

ClearStory Data's business intelligence solutions make data visualization simple for non-technical users, featuring the Intelligent Data Harmonization tool.

Datameer

Datameer

(0 reviews)

Datameer's business intelligence application combines integration, transformation, and visualization of large volumes of data.

DataWatch

DataWatch

(0 reviews)

DataWatch is a business intelligence platform designed to quickly analyze data in order to create real-time visualizations.

The Diver Solution, from Dimensional Insight, allows companies to perform data analysis and create data visualizations.

Domo

Domo

(0 reviews)

Domo helps aggregate data from multiple sources to build compelling visualizations, perform ad-hoc analysis, OLAP, and executive dashboarding.

Ducen

Ducen

(0 reviews)

Analance, by Ducen, is business intelligence software with strong data visualization capabilities; Analance is for manufacturing, healthcare, retail, and more.

Geckoboard

Geckoboard

(0 reviews)

Geckoboard pulls data from disparate sources to create customized dashboards to help companies better communicate and monitor key performance indicators.

Halo

Halo

(0 reviews)

Halo is a comprehensive business analytics platform with robust data visualization capabilities designed for food & beverage, manufacturing, and distribution.

HP Autonomy

HP Autonomy

(0 reviews)

HP Autonomy is a comprehensive data analytics and business intelligence platform that can create robust data visualizations.

Hubble

Hubble

(0 reviews)

Hubble, from Insight Software, is an integrated business performance management and reporting system that directly integrates with Oracle EBS and JD Edwards.

iDashboards

iDashboards

(0 reviews)

iDashboards' business intelligence products produce robust data visualizations, allowing companies of any size to display their data in engaging ways.

Ideal Analytics

Ideal Analytics

(0 reviews)

Ideal Analytics is a self-service data visualization and corporate performance management solution for various industries & they offer a white-label product.

InetSoft

InetSoft

(0 reviews)

InetSoft's Style Intelligence is a complete business intelligence solution with powerful data blending and visualization capabilities.

Infor d/EPM

Infor d/EPM

(0 reviews)

Infor's Dynamic Enterprise Performance Management (d/EPM) allows real-time monitoring of KPIs via dashboards and other innovative data visualizations.

InsightSquared

InsightSquared

(0 reviews)

InsightSquared is a business intelligence platform with analytics and visualizations for marketing, staffing, sales, and more. See reviews and features here.

Jedox

Jedox

(0 reviews)

Jedox is a self-service business intelligence and data visualization platform designed to accommodate the inexperienced end-user.

KarmaSphere

KarmaSphere

(0 reviews)

KarmaSphere is a business intelligence solution for Hadoop that creates full-fidelity data visualizations to offer increased business insights.

Logi Analytics

Logi Analytics

(0 reviews)

Logi Analytics is a cloud-based business intelligence platform for data visualization, dashboards, and interactive mobile applications.

MetaLayer

MetaLayer

(0 reviews)

MetaLayer is a practical business intelligence solution for processing real-time data streams and creating insightful data visualizations.

MetaMarkets

MetaMarkets

(0 reviews)

MetaMarkets is a data visualization and bidding analytics tool designed to meet the specific needs of advertisers.

MITS

MITS

(0 reviews)

MITS Manufacturing Analytics or Distributor Analytics provide business intelligence and data visualizations for manufacturing and distribution in any industry.

Palantir

Palantir

(0 reviews)

Palantir's Gotham and Metropolis business intelligence platforms allow end-to-end data analytics and fusion with strong data visualization capabilities.

Pentaho

Pentaho

(0 reviews)

Pentaho offers a business intelligence platform that allows for big data analysis via reports and data visualizations.

Platfora

Platfora

(0 reviews)

Platfora makes business intelligence software for Big Data analysis through reports and data visualizations.

Power BI - Microsoft

Power BI - Microsoft

(0 reviews)

Microsoft Power BI is a business intelligence platform with robust data visualization tools including graphs, maps, and 3D geo-spatial models. See reviews here.

progresSum Analytics

progresSum Analytics

(0 reviews)

Cloud Business Intelligence (CBI), from progresSum is designed for companies who want custom BI dashboards for a reasonable price. See the full review here.

RJMetrics

RJMetrics

(0 reviews)

RJMetrics' business intelligence software is a data analysis and visualization tool for any company, but especially for ecommerce businesses.

SAP Crystal Reports

SAP Crystal Reports

(0 reviews)

SAP Crystal Reports has been the de facto industry standard reporting and data visualization tool since its initial development in 1991.

SAP Lumira

SAP Lumira

(0 reviews)

Lumira, from SAP, enables you to take full advantage of the massive amounts of data available to your business through data visualization.

Spotfire - TIBCO

Spotfire - TIBCO

(0 reviews)

Spotfire, from TIBCO, is a comprehensive analytics and business intelligence platform with strong data visualization capabilities.

Stratum - Silvon

Stratum - Silvon

(0 reviews)

Silvon Stratum is a comprehensive analytics and business intelligence platform with data warehousing, dashboarding, and other visualization features.

Targit

Targit

(0 reviews)

Targit offers the Targit Decision Suite as a data analytics and visualization solution for companies of any size.

TIBCO JasperSoft

TIBCO JasperSoft

(0 reviews)

TIBCO JasperSoft is an open-source business intelligence platform that excels in data visualization.

Vismatica

Vismatica

(0 reviews)

Vismatica, by IronRock Software, is a data visualization platform that enables users to develop custom dashboards with data from disparate sources.

Visual.ly

Visual.ly

(0 reviews)

Visual.ly is a community-driven data visualization platform that transforms data into infographics.

Visual Network Analytics, from Centrifuge Systems, is a business intelligence platform that excels in creating data visualizations.

WebFOCUS, from Information Builders, is business intelligence software with strong data visualization capabilities for informed business decision-making.

Yellowfin

Yellowfin

(0 reviews)

Yellowfin is business intelligence software for data analysis and data visualization.

Zephyr Health

Zephyr Health

(0 reviews)

Zephyr Health is cloud-delivered business intelligence software with data visualization capabilities designed especially for the healthcare industry.

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