The ability to make data-driven decisions is key for any organization, so it’s important to choose a business intelligence (BI) tool that will help you do just that. Once you can bring together and analyze data from all sources, you can make connections between raw data and actionable insights.
How do you know which BI tool would work best for you? Here are the key capabilities of 3 of the most popular business intelligence tools, and the approach that the BI tools take with each capability. They all have something different to offer, just like each organization will have different requirements for a BI tool.
1. Ease of use
Robust embedded analytics
As a BI tool is being integrated into the enterprise ecosystem, there’s the possibility of interrupted workflows as users adjust to the new platform. Even once they’ve gotten past the initial learning curve, they need the BI tool to be at their fingertips within every portal or process they’re using. Whether they’re getting used to a new platform, or keeping up with daily tasks months down the line, embedded analytics will let users work as efficiently as possible.
- Qlik Sense – They support embedded metrics, numbers, individual values, and dashboards within a wide variety of workflows. Users can get lightning-fast insights, no matter what application, portal, or process they’re using.
- Tableau – They only support embedding of entire dashboards; it isn’t possible to embed other objects, or even partial dashboards. Even so, for some organizations this won’t necessarily be a limiting factor.
- Power BI – Their embedded analytics offerings are fairly solid – users can embed dashboards and several other objects across their workflows.
Broad use cases
Improving efficiency in an employee’s workflow doesn’t stop at embedded analytics – a BI tool should provide a data analytics interface that gives users the information they need no matter what the context. It’s about more than simply having embedded analytics wherever users need them; the BI tool should also give users the ability to perform data visualization and exploration, augmented analytics, BI reporting, and more within their established workflows.
- Qlik Sense – Not only do they offer broad use cases, but they give users consistency by using a single interface with all use cases. Tools like dashboards and other embedded analytics, as well as traditional data analytics reporting tools, are available whenever they’re needed.
- Tableau – Their use case offerings are centered around data visualizations, and are designed for skilled business authors more than the average user.
- Power BI – They give users a broad array of use cases, which are powered by various Microsoft products.
2. Data management
Each organization will have a different cloud storage solution in place, and they should look for a BI tool that fits what they already have – in other words, one that can be deployed without needing additional infrastructure. Your organization might already have ample cloud or on-premise storage; if you chose a BI platform that could only be deployed from its own cloud solution, this might seem redundant. Then again, this kind of platform could be a life-saver for organizations that don’t have extra cloud space already lined up.
- Qlik Sense – This BI tool can be deployed from public clouds, private clouds, or on-premise. Organizations can even combine any of these options if they aren’t able to use a single solution.
- Tableau – This tool comes with a cloud solution already in place – the platform is deployed from a cloud solution that’s provided by Salesforce, which recently merged with Tableau.
- Power BI – Organizations can either deploy Power BI from on-premise storage, or from Azure, Microsoft’s cloud solution. The on-premise experience is different from the cloud functionality, so that’s something to keep in mind when considering this BI tool.
In order to take advantage of the power of information, users should be able to access and share data with ease. On the other side of the coin, a BI tool should also be structured for strong central data management, to ensure low data pollution levels.
- Qlik Sense – All content creation on Qlik happens in the cloud, where it is governed and controlled at every step. This way, no multiple editions of a single report are being circulated, or old data being distributed by accident.
- Tableau – Data is validated on a central server, but the actual work is done on users’ hard drives. This gives them more options, especially if there’s ever a need to work offline.
- Power BI – They take a similar approach to Tableau, by distributing data across user desktops and the cloud.
3. Data analysis
The data engine
Some data analysis software is designed to take a linear approach, in which only certain data sets are examined for each query. Others are more comprehensive, looking at unlimited data sources in order to provide creative solutions.
- Qlik Sense – The associative data engine permits users to explore any and all data sources for their queries. Thanks to this unique approach, more potential solutions are discovered that could have been overlooked by a query-based data engine.
- Tableau – Their data engine takes a traditional linear approach, since they work over an SQL database. They’ll still show users patterns and connections within the data, but the solutions might not be as far-reaching as the ones given by an associative data engine.
- Power BI – Just like Tableau, Power BI operates over an SQL database. Users can expect straightforward answers from a predictable query path.
What does your organization need a business intelligence tool to do?
Some businesses will want to focus only on data visualization; others might need a broader BI platform for everyone to use. Even if a BI tool comes with more capabilities or cloud storage than will be needed in the immediate future, think ahead on what you’d need to support growth in the next few years. Regardless of which capabilities are most important to your organization, remember that a business intelligence tool should leave plenty of room for expansion.