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If you’re still managing and analyzing your data manually…stop. Robots are now smart enough to do this for you, and you can use your time to do more meaningful things, such as using the insights generated by artificial intelligence from data to make big decisions that impact the bottom line.
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Business intelligence (BI) software uses APIs, automation, artificial intelligence, and other tools to streamline the process of compiling, organizing, analyzing, and visualizing data. It requires data and basically does everything for you except the actual decision-making.
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There are hundreds of platforms on the market that position themselves as BI or BI-related tools, but not all of them can help you derive actionable insights from your data while remaining accessible to businesses of all sizes. I spent a few weeks testing dozens of BI tools, and based on my research and time testing these platforms, these eight tools stood out among the rest.
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To test these business intelligence tools, I set up an account on each platform, imported sample data and tested key features such as data source linking, data set linking, visualization and dashboard building, and AI-generated insights.
Using the above criteria, some extensive research on these applications, and insights from my testing of them, here are my picks for the eight best business intelligence software solutions.
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The datapine’s rating alone was enough for me to doubt it would earn a spot on this list, and testing it only confirmed my assumptions.
I was particularly impressed by the platform’s “Smart Insights” tab. You’ll see a series of written key points about your material and annotated charts that illustrate these insights. They’re broken down by category and include growth and forecasts, value drivers, key segments, outliers, correlations, and even interactive what-if scenarios that let you see how results would be affected if certain factors changed.
I also found the app’s dashboard to be very flexible (and almost…interesting?). You can drag charts anywhere in your dashboard, and they are highly customizable. Customize fonts, colors, gradients, shadows, titles and subtitles, and even label your dashboard with hundreds of fun icons. Some visualizations, including maps, offer interactivity that allows you to zoom in on specific areas to view the material more closely.
When creating new data visualizations, you can implement various conditional formatting options. For example, you can assign meanings to colors, gradients, and so on so that they reflect qualities such as values or fixed limits.
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The app also integrates artificial intelligence and smart predictions. You can enable alerts to identify anomalies in your data and how you track KPIs, notifying you of any changes. You can even customize your charts to predict trends in your data over time.
There are many more great features, including sharing dashboards with colleagues, automatically sending reports on a specific schedule, and more, but you get that. datapine is an advanced BI application that will almost certainly cover all your bases.
Granted, for a fairly comprehensive premium option, datapine is priced very high compared to many other BI software options. Make sure you need all of its features before parting with the cash.
If you’re a solopreneur looking for free BI tools to help you manage and analyze your data, Zoho Analytics has you covered. With its Personal plan, you can download the platform to a local server for free and access some of the powerful features that many BI tools require a fee for – conversational AI, unlimited reporting, predictive analytics, and more.
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Not everyone can (or wants to be) a BI expert. For newbies, Zoho Analytics is also one of the easiest options to get started with. It offers simple walkthroughs and demo videos to get you up and running, and the interface is simple enough to navigate without much of a learning curve.
I’ve used Zoho’s AI assistant Zia through other apps in its suite of tools, but this is still the part of the app that impressed me the most. Not only did Zia produce a formula to manipulate my data exactly the way I needed it, but it was also able to perform predictive analytics based on natural language. I asked it what my revenue would be at a certain point in time, and it produced a written and graphical breakdown of its forecasts.
Zoho products are notorious for having relatively outdated interfaces, but when it comes to BI software, that doesn’t matter. Most platforms in this category haven’t quite settled on the chic, modern interfaces of the mid-2020s, so Zoho is a perfect fit.
While it integrates seamlessly with other Zoho applications, if you don’t find the integration you need within the Zoho suite, Zoho Analytics can be integrated with , opening the door to a host of automations. Funnel directs your advertising tools to Zoho, or connect it to your favorite spreadsheet application to automatically import your newly entered data.
Domo Business Intelligence
Domo shines in so many ways as a great BI tool that it’s hard to decide which superlative it deserves the most. Overall, I find it to be a very solid choice for all your profile management needs.
First, it supports more data connectors than any other platform I’ve tested, over 440. And with its own app store, you’ll almost certainly find the APIs you need to get the job done.
Managing your data is just as easy once you connect it to the platform. Its Magic ETL tool features a drag-and-drop interface that allows you to prepare data for analysis, establish relationships in the data, and automatically filter the data without any SQL knowledge. With the app’s Beast Mode feature, you can also perform calculations using your data.
Aside from these whimsical data management and manipulation features, I was surprised by how quickly the app loaded. Whether I open the sample data set to view the raw data or generate a new dashboard with custom insights, it takes up to a few seconds to load.
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As someone who has used Microsoft Word and Excel for over a decade, Microsoft Power BI feels very familiar. The interface is laid out very similarly to other Microsoft products—similar icons, menu layouts, and everything in between. I found this very helpful when using the application as BI software often has a very steep learning curve.
For those familiar with Microsoft’s suite of tools, it’s not just its layout that’s great about this app. Integration with Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, and Teams is just a click or two on the top menu bar. This allows you to import data from Excel spreadsheets to Power BI, export data visualizations from Power BI to PowerPoint, and more.
Additionally, the app itself integrates with the Microsoft platform Power Automate for connecting and automating hundreds of pieces of software, including nearly every Microsoft application. Like many other Microsoft applications, the platform is available in desktop and web-based versions.
In addition to all these Microsoft integration-related wins, I found the app to be very intuitive. Without having to do any manual data modeling or connection drawing, the platform automatically recognized that my two data sets were connected. Once a connection is established, changes to one will automatically affect the other.
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I also appreciate the app’s query editor, which tracks all historical changes to the data. If I mess up and delete some important rows in the dataset, Power BI fires up time machine and gets us back to where we were.
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