Home > Software Categories > Business Intelligence
Aron Vaughan Avatar

Written by
Aron Vaughan, Staff Writer
Read more by Aron →

Corey Noles Avatar

Reviewed by
Corey Noles, Managing Editor
Read more Business Intelligence content →

Aron Vaughan Avatar

Written by
Aron Vaughan, Staff Writer
Read more by Aron →

Corey Noles Avatar

Reviewed by
Corey Noles, Managing Editor
Read more Business Intelligence content →

What is business intelligence software?

Business intelligence (BI) software is any application that collects and processes large amounts of unstructured data from internal and external systems and prepares data for analysis. The software is generally used for querying and reporting complex business data. The ultimate goal of BI software is to drive better business decisions, increase revenue, improve operational efficiency, and gain competitive advantages.

Business intelligence tools gather data from various sources, such as databases, spreadsheets, and other business applications, and transform it into an understandable format for analysis. The software performs tasks such as data mining, forecasting, and reporting, as well as visualizing data through charts and graphs, allowing users to identify data trends and patterns. BI software also comes with reporting capabilities so users can create custom reports and presentations shareable with stakeholders.

  • Tableau: Best Business Intelligence Platform for data visualization 
  • Sisense: Best Business Intelligence Platform for embedded analytics
  • Qlik Sense: Best mobile BI software
  • Zoho Analytics: Best self-service BI software
  • IBM Cognos Analytics: Best Business Intelligence Platform for reporting and querying

Feb. 6, 2024: Stylistic changes and verified pricing and vendor information.

Dec. 19, 2023: Updated layout to current standards, implemented scoring, and added more detailed analysis on individual vendors.

Sept. 7, 2023: Further clarified why we chose each software in our list.

Aug. 31, 2023: Updated vendor information including new features added since publication.

Aug. 16, 2023: We revised, changed, and added vendor information.

Aug. 9, 2023: We added more visual elements to facilitate a better user experience and verified pricing for vendors.

At TechnologyAdvice, we assess a wide range of factors before selecting our top choices for a given category. To make our selections, we rely on our extensive research, product information, vendor websites, competitor research and first-hand experience. We then consider what makes a solution best for customer-specific needs. By defining business needs, we can determine the essential features organizations in various sectors require, and select platforms that will cover all bases. Reputable providers known for their ease of use and customer satisfaction are added to our compilation list for further analysis. We then evaluate each solution on the list based on the features they offer, considering the platform’s usability, integration capabilities, customization options, mobile access, and any other relevant functionalities. Price plans, hidden fees, customer reviews, and customer support are also assessed in the selection process. Technology Advice writers will often take advantage of free trials and demos to get a first-hand user experience of available software. Finally, we curate a comprehensive list based on the previously stated factors, ensuring readers have the necessary tools to make an informed decision.

What is the best Business Intelligence software?

Tableau: Best for data visualization


Pros

  • Efficiency in data visualization
  • User friendly for beginners
  • Real-time data reflection
  • Extensive integration capabilities

Cons

  • Platform could benefit from more comprehensive manuals
  • Slow data loading reported

Our Rating: 4.3/5

Tableau Public: This proprietary feature allows users to publish their data visualizations to the public, providing a platform for sharing and collaboration. It promotes transparency and broadens the reach of your insights, making data storytelling accessible to a wide audience.

Data Blending: Data blending allows users to combine data from multiple sources without the need for complex data warehouse solutions. This feature simplifies the process of analyzing disparate data, providing a comprehensive view of insights.Hyper Engine: Tableau’s Hyper Engine is a high-performance in-memory data engine technology that helps businesses analyze large datasets at impressive speed. This feature ensures efficient data exploration and rapid extraction of insights, enhancing the overall user experience.

Free trial available

Free version available

Tableau Viewer: $15/user/month

Tableau Explorer: $40/user/month

Tableau Creator: $70/user/month

Tableau’s data viusualization capabilities and easy-to-use interface have always been this software’s greatest strengths.

The recent 2023.3 update has further reinforced Tableau’s position as a leader in this space. The introduction of the ‘Embedding Playground’ is a game-changer, allowing for greater flexibility and creativity in embedding analytics, a feature not commonly found in other BI tools like Microsoft Power BI or Qlik. The ‘Custom Data Labels’ enhance data management, providing a superior level of data categorization and discovery compared to its competitors.

Tableau’s ‘Dynamic Axis Ranges’ introduce enhanced customization in visualization, a significant leap forward in flexibility. This feature allows users to adapt visualizations to diverse data sets more efficiently than many other platforms. The integration capabilities with Salesforce through the ‘Native Lightning Web Component for Tableau’ and the ‘Tableau Cloud add-on for Google Workspace’ mark a strategic move towards providing a seamless analytics experience across different work environments. This level of integration is particularly notable when compared to competitors such as Power BI, which, while robust within the Microsoft ecosystem, may not offer the same level of flexibility with other platforms.

The software’s focus on enhancing user experience and customization, coupled with strategic integrations, positions it as a comprehensive tool for data-driven decision-making. In comparison to its key competitors, Tableau offers a unique combination of versatility, innovation, and user-centric design, making it an strong asset in any data-driven organization’s toolkit.

Pricing: 4.2/5

General features and interface: 4.3/5

Core features: 5/5

Advanced features: 4.5/5

Integration and compatibility: 4.7/5

UX: 3.6/5

Tableau, a leading data visualization BI tool, is designed to help businesses turn raw data into actionable insights. Its standout features include an intuitive drag-and-drop interface, real-time data analytics, and interactive dashboards that empower users to explore data in a user-friendly environment. Tableau’s Data Blending and Cross-Database Joins enable the combination of data from multiple sources, and its Tableau Public allows the sharing of data visualizations to a wider audience.

Users can present data in the form of charts, graphs, and other visual representations with dashboards and visualization tools. It also allows users to identify trends and patterns in data and make more informed decisions. 

Sisense: Best for embedded analytics


Pros

  • Embedded analytics
  • In-Chip technology
  • Single-Stack system
  • Handles large datasets well

Cons

  • Requires SQL code knowledge to leverage fully
  • Resource intensive
Sisense

Our Rating: 4.1/5

ElastiCube Technology: ElastiCube is Sisense’s unique data architecture that allows for efficient handling of large and complex datasets. It provides high-speed, flexible data modeling capabilities that empower businesses to explore and manipulate data with ease.

In-Chip Analytics Engine: This is Sisense’s proprietary technology that processes data faster by maximizing CPU and disk usage. It allows businesses to generate insights and reports more rapidly, reducing the time taken from data to decision.

Sisense BloX: This feature allows users to create custom, actionable analytics applications directly within their dashboards. It goes beyond traditional visualizations, enabling users to interact with data in a more intuitive.

Free trial available

Starting at $25,000/year

Contact Sisense for a custom quote based on your business needs

Sisense’s recent updates and its features, particularly in embedded analytics, make it a compelling choice for businesses seeking a BI solution that offers deep integration capabilities, efficient data handling, and user-friendly interfaces. Compared to Power BI, Sisense provides distinct advantages in embedded analytics and data manipulation, although it may require stronger IT support for implementation and advanced analytics setup.

The June 2023 release brought significant enhancements, such as ‘Perspectives’ to address duplicated storage and maintenance issues, and the ‘List View’ feature for streamlined exploration of semantic data and metadata. These upgrades enhance Sisense’s usability and performance, addressing key areas where business intelligence tools need to excel​​.

In a head-to-head comparison with Microsoft Power BI, Sisense stands out for its ability to “infuse analytics everywhere”, including within customer and employee applications and workflows. While both platforms offer robust data visualization and AI analytics, Sisense’s Elasticube technology is notable for its fast query returns on large datasets, a critical feature for businesses handling vast amounts of data​​​​. Power BI, deeply integrated with the Microsoft ecosystem, offers familiarity for Microsoft users but might require additional learning for others​​​​.

Sisense also fares well in its data integration capabilities, offering over 100 data connectors. While Power BI surpasses this with over 500 connectors, Sisense’s Elasticube technology compensates by enabling efficient manipulation of diverse data sources​​. Sisense’s drag-and-drop interface and interactive visualizations provide an easy-to-use platform for building custom dashboards, a feature well-received by its users​​.

The software’s ‘Fusion Embed’ solution is designed specifically for building white-labeled analytic experiences in apps, a testament to its strong embedded analytics capabilities. This feature, along with Sisense’s scalability and customization options with minimal coding, makes it an ideal choice for businesses looking to integrate analytics seamlessly into their products or services​​​​.

Pricing: 3/5

General features and interface: 4.3/5

Core features: 5/5

Advanced features: 4.5/5

Integration and compatibility: 4/5

UX: 3.8/5

Embedded analytics tools use advanced algorithms to analyze large volumes of data and recognize trends and patterns that may not be immediately apparent. With data mining, predictive analytics, and prescriptive analytics, organizations can make decisions based on historical data. 

Sisense is a Business Intelligent platform designed to simplify complex data processes. Its embedded analytics capabilities offer seamless integration into existing business applications. 

The platform’s Elasticube technology handles large datasets, and its proprietary In-Chip technology enables speedy data processing. Its single-stack system facilitates end-to-end data management from extraction to visualization.

Qlik Sense: Best mobile BI software


Pros

  • Associative data model
  • Powerful visualization tools
  • Self-service analytics
  • Mobile BI

Cons

  • Limited alerting mechanisms for failed tasks
  • Limited development and updates compared to competitors

Our Rating: 4/5

Associative Engine: Qlik Sense’s unique Associative Engine dynamically calculates analytics and highlights data relationships, enabling users to explore data freely without being limited by pre-aggregated data or predefined queries.

Guided Analytics: With Qlik Sense’s guided analytics applications and dashboards, users can drill down data for in-depth analysis, facilitating informed decision-making. This feature provides a structured application or dashboard layout for specific data exploration tasks.

Mobile BI Tool: Qlik Sense ensures a seamless, fully interactive mobile BI experience, allowing users to generate insights, explore data, and collaborate on-the-go. It optimizes apps for both smartphones and tablets, ensuring data accessibility at all times.

Free trial available

Qlik Sense Business: $30/user/month

Enterprise SaaS: Contact Qlikview for a custom quote based on your business needs

Qlik Sense effectively bridges the gap between data and decision-making, wherever you are. The platform’s powerful combination of associative data analytics and mobile optimization make it a top choice. 

Qlik Sense’s Associative Engine enables users to explore data relationships freely without constraints of pre-aggregated data or predefined queries. Additionally, its fully interactive mobile BI experience is optimized for both tablets and smartphones, ensuring easy access to data and collaboration tools on-the-go.

One of the key upgrades includes the introduction of a flexible text object in the Dashboard bundle, allowing advanced styling of text, the addition of measures, and the incorporation of tables​​. This flexibility is vital for mobile users who need to tailor their dashboards on-the-go. Additionally, the Natural Language Insights object has been updated for better functionality and insights, with native support for all Qlik Cloud features​​. This enhancement significantly boosts data literacy, a crucial aspect for mobile users who often require quick and comprehensible data insights.

The updates also encompass improved font handling, ensuring consistent rendering across devices, which is critical for mobile interfaces​​, and a new line object that adds customization and detail to sheets, enhancing the mobile user experience​​. Moreover, the introduction of complex calculations in data tables and the ability to download images for straight table visualization in the Nebula-based straight table are particularly beneficial for mobile users who work with large datasets and require efficient data manipulation and reporting capabilities​​​​.

In comparison to its major competitors, Microsoft Power BI and Tableau, Qlik Sense holds its ground well. While Power BI is lauded for its integration with Microsoft solutions and dynamic report creation, it faces challenges with user accessibility and training​​. Similarly, Tableau, known for its powerful data visualization and flexibility, struggles with functionality and user-friendliness​​. In contrast, Qlik Sense’s recent enhancements, particularly in mobile capabilities such as responsive design, a mobile application, and interactive dashboards, provide it with a competitive edge​​.

When considering Qlik Sense’s comprehensive updates and its standing against Power BI and Tableau, it’s evident that Qlik Sense offers a well-rounded and increasingly user-friendly experience for mobile users.

Pricing: 3/5

General features and interface: 3.9/5

Core features: 4.8/5

Advanced features: 4.3/5

Integration and compatibility: 4/5

UX: 3.5/5

As the name suggests, mobile BI software lets users access and analyze data on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. This type of business intelligence software can be particularly useful for sales teams and field workers.

Qlik Sense, formerly QlikView, is a BI platform offering associative data analytics, enabling businesses to uncover hidden data trends and patterns. It’s powered by Qlik’s unique Associative Engine, delivering dynamic, click-driven dashboards and guided analytics applications. A standout feature is its “alternate states” function, facilitating comparative analysis of multiple datasets within a single view. Qlik Sense is particularly adept in offering a fully interactive mobile BI experience, enabling users to explore data, generate insights, and collaborate on-the-go with optimized apps for both tablets and smartphones.

Zoho Analytics: Best self-service BI software


Pros

  • User-friendly AI assistant
  • Top-notch collaboration tools
  • Advanced analytics
  • Scalability
  • Competitive pricing

Cons

  • Overly technical/unclear documentation and assistance videos
  • Inconsistencies in reporting functionality reported
ZohoAnalyticsreviews

Our Rating: 4/5

Data Blending: This feature allows you to blend and merge data from different sources, creating meaningful correlations. With Zoho Analytics, you can create cross-functional reports and dashboards, offering a holistic view of your business operations.Ask Zia: Ask Zia is an AI-powered conversational assistant that allows you to ask questions about your data in natural language. With this feature, you can interact with your data as if you were having a conversation, making it more accessible to non-technical users and facilitating more straightforward data interpretation.Data Alerts: Zoho Analytics enables you to set smart data alerts on your key business metrics. It offers real-time alerting, allowing users to be notified instantly when their data hits certain conditions or thresholds. This feature aids in proactive decision-making by keeping users updated on crucial changes in their data.

Free trial available 

Basic: $24/2 users/month

Standard: $48/5 users/month

Premium: $115/15 users/month

Enterprise: $455/50 users/month

Zoho Analytics makes it easy for non-technical users to analyze complex data and create insightful reports without needing assistance from IT or data experts.

The platform’s AI assistant, Zia, allows users to ask data-related questions in natural language, making data analysis more accessible. Additionally, features like data blending, smart data alerts, and the ability to merge data from various sources further enhance its self-service functionality, making it an excellent choice for businesses looking for a comprehensive, easy-to-use BI solution.

Zoho Analytics has recently enhanced its capabilities with Advanced Analytics for Jotform, allowing deeper insights into audience preferences and engagement​​​​. The integration of the “Notes” modules from multiple CRM modules in the Advanced Analytics Connector for Zoho CRM is a significant upgrade, offering users richer customer interaction insights.

Pricing: 3.8/5

General features and interface: 3.6/5

Core features: 4.2/5

Advanced features: 4.3/5

Integrations and compatibility: 4/5

UX: 3.5/5

Self-service business intelligence tools help businesses authorize employees to access and analyze data even without technical expertise. They enable users to generate reports, run queries, and create visualizations without relying on IT departments.

Zoho Analytics is a self-service business intelligence platform and data analytics software that allows users to create visualizations and data-driven insights without requiring extensive technical knowledge. With its drag-and-drop interface, users can design and share interactive dashboards, reports, and charts.

Zoho Analytics also features AI-driven data alerts, predictive business analytics software, and natural language processing capabilities, which enable users to interact with their data in an intuitive manner. Its integration with various data sources and Zoho’s suite of business applications makes it a comprehensive tool for diverse data analysis needs.

IBM Cognos Analytics: Best for reporting and querying


Pros

  • Full-featured BI suite
  • Effective dashboards and reports
  • AI-enabled exploration
  • Top-notch customer support

Cons

  • Complexity of use
  • Expensive compared to competitors

Our Rating: 4/5

AI Assistant: IBM Cognos Analytics features an AI Assistant, enabling users to interact with data using natural language processing. This tool helps uncover hidden patterns and answers complex data queries quickly and accurately.

Dashboards and data modules: Cognos Analytics offers robust, intuitive dashboards and data modules. These allow users to visualize data, create ad-hoc reports, and establish relationships between different data sources, fostering a comprehensive understanding of business data.

Data exploration: The Data Exploration feature in Cognos Analytics facilitates detailed analysis of data, turning complex datasets into easy-to-understand visuals. Users can dive deep into their data, uncover insights, and effectively communicate findings to stakeholders.

Free trial available

On Demand: Staring from $10/user/month

On Cloud hosted: Contact IBM for a quote

Client hosted: Contact IBM for a customized quote based on your business needs

IBM Cognos Analytics offers a powerful AI Assistant that simplifies data querying through natural language processing, enabling users to easily retrieve information and discover data patterns.

A key strength of Cognos Analytics is its self-service capabilities, which are emphasized through features such as AI-assisted data arrangement and automated dashboards. These tools empower users to build their own reports and scorecards in an intuitive manner, facilitating both basic and advanced data analysis​​​​​​. The platform’s AI assistant enhances this experience by allowing users to ask questions in natural language and receive suggested visualizations, making it accessible to users of varying skill levels​​​​.

Data security and quality are other critical aspects where Cognos Analytics excels. It provides an environment with multiple levels of administrative permissions, enabling tailored access control and improving individual performance across different departments. This focus on security is a significant consideration for organizations dealing with sensitive or proprietary data​​.

Cognos Analytics’ data modules support basic data preparation tasks and continue to evolve, offering a user-friendly web-based environment for managing metadata and building out calculations and filters. This functionality further enhances the self-service aspect of the platform, catering to the growing trend of data democratization within organizations.

Pricing: 3.1/5

General features and interface: 4.1/5

Core features: 4.8/5

Advanced features: 3.5/5

Integration and compatibility: 4.4/5

UX: 4/5

Reporting tools let businesses generate reports and run queries on data. Users can access data from multiple sources, including databases and spreadsheets, to analyze and summarize data through these tools. Reporting tools give users pre-designed report templates for quicker report generation. These templates are often customizable. Users can add or remove fields, change the layout, or modify the formatting to suit their needs.

Querying tools, on the other hand, enable users to extract specific data from a database or spreadsheet by running SQL queries. These tools offer users a way to construct queries without writing code.

With its advanced reporting and querying capabilities, IBM Cognos Analytics simplifies data analysis and report generation, transforming complex data into meaningful insights. Its intuitive interface allows users to create ad-hoc queries and interact with data on the fly. Furthermore, the platform includes a smart assistant, powered by AI, to help answer questions and uncover patterns in your data.

Find your new BI software

Business intelligence software benefits

Improved data quality

The best BI tools automatically identifies and cleans up inaccurate, incomplete, or duplicated data, ensuring that only high-quality data is used for analysis. Additionally, it enforces data standards and rules across different systems, ensuring data consistency and accuracy while reducing the risk of errors that can arise from manual data entry. Moreover, companies can gain a fuller picture of what is happening with their business by aggregating different data sources through business intelligence solutions.

Greater transparency

Business intelligence tools give real-time visibility into business operations and performance. This enables organizations to monitor progress and identify potential issues in real time. By providing a thorough view of key metrics, BI software empowers businesses to identify areas for improvement and take corrective action when necessary.

Better decision-making

The software equips organizations with valuable insights into their operations, informing strategic decisions across product development, marketing, sales, and other critical areas. Business intelligence tools also show useful information on employee productivity, revenue, and department-specific performance, allowing organizations to understand their strengths and weaknesses.

By analyzing large volumes of data from different sources, BI software can identify trends and patterns and uncover opportunities. With competitors moving quickly, companies must expedite making accurate decisions to avoid losing customers and revenue.

Increased efficiency

Companies can optimize resources and streamline processes with business intelligence software, decreasing costs and increasing efficiency. The software lets businesses make data-driven decisions to reduce waste by providing information on inventory management, supply chain optimization, and production planning.

Furthermore, business intelligence tools unify multiple data sources, refining the overall data organization so that managers and employees spend less time tracking down information and can focus on producing accurate and timely reports.

Enhanced business margins

Business intelligence software improves business margins by identifying areas where costs can be reduced, such as streamlining supply chains and optimizing inventory management. It can also determine opportunities for revenue growth, like finding high-value customers, analyzing sales trends, and developing marketing strategies. BI software enables organizations to better understand their competitors, market trends, and customer preferences, so they can promptly respond to changing market conditions.

Integration

It’s important to note many BI software solutions integrate with other software systems, including customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), and accounting software. By doing so, companies obtain a more comprehensive view of their operations and performance by combining data from multiple sources. Business intelligence software is crucial for those seeking competitive advantage by utilizing data-driven insights to make better-informed decisions and adapt to shifting market conditions.

What is the business impact of business intelligence software?

Business intelligence software has a significant impact on businesses by providing valuable insights into customer behavior, market trends, and operational inefficiencies, which directly affect a company’s bottom line. It assists organizations in increasing revenue, reducing costs, and improving overall performance.

Today, investing in business intelligence software rather than relying solely on spreadsheets is a logical decision for companies of any kind. BI software handles large volumes of data more efficiently, minimizes the risk of errors, offers a range of analytical tools and visualizations, and brings real-time data updates, which are crucial in fast-paced business environments.

BI software supports businesses better understanding their clients by analyzing customer data to identify trends and preferences. This, in turn, allows organizations to tailor their products and services to meet customer needs, leading to greater customer satisfaction, loyalty, sales, and revenue.

The software also helps businesses uncover operational inefficiencies and bottlenecks by analyzing production processes, supply chains, and employee performance data. Such analysis helps to determine underutilized resources and streamline operations, boosting efficiency and decreasing costs, eventually resulting in higher profitability.

Business intelligence tools facilitate more effective decision-making by presenting accurate and timely data on sales trends, supply chain performance, and other key business metrics. This data allows business leaders to make informed decisions, driving growth and keeping the business ahead of its competition. As a result, companies can swiftly respond to constantly changing market conditions and have better chances of achieving financial success.

Choosing the best software for business intelligence platform

Ready to start your business intelligence software comparison? Our Technology Advisors are here to help you find the perfect tool for your company’s projects. Call for a free 5-minute consultation, or complete the form at the bottom of this page for fast, free recommendations based on your needs.


Aron Vaughan Avatar

About the author


More business intelligence resources

TechnologyAdvice is able to offer our services for free because some vendors may pay us for web traffic or other sales opportunities. Our mission is to help technology buyers make better purchasing decisions, so we provide you with information for all vendors — even those that don't pay us.
In this article...