Business intelligence (BI) software is designed to take over the heavy lifting required to collect, analyze, and transform raw data into something useful.
You’ll be able to make data-driven choices in real-time, instead of waiting for the next report to see the latest numbers. Compiling and aggregating data with BI tools makes it much easier for businesses to forecast growth, revenue, and learn more about their customers.
The Top 7 Best Business Intelligence Software
- Tableau – Best BI software for most types of businesses
- Zoho Analytics – Best self-service BI software
- Microsoft Power BI – Best cheap BI software
- Domo – Best BI software for custom application development
- SAP BusinessObjects – Best BI software for growing businesses
- Sisense – Best BI software for data engineers, developers, and analysts
- SAS – Best BI software for customer support
We’ve reviewed the seven best BI software tools below. Continue reading to learn more about the features, benefits, use cases, and potential drawbacks of each one.
Tableau — Best BI Software for Most Types of Businesses
Tableau is one of the best business intelligence solutions out there.
In fact, they offer BI tools for every business type and their needs.
Whether you’re an individual analyst, have a small team, large organization, or need to embed BI directly into your products, applications, and web portals, Tableau has it all.
It’s easy for anyone to deploy and manage your Tableau solution at scale, regardless of your technical skill level and experience.
Tableau understands that each unique position within an organization needs access to different data in order to do their jobs correctly and make decisions. That’s why they have different roles to match the needs of your staff.
Here are just a few of their specific features:
- Sales analytics
- Supply chain analytics
- Finance analytics
- Human resources
- Marketing analytics
- IT analytics
- Support and service analytics
From desktop solutions to online or server deployment, Tableau has BI software to accommodate the needs of all business types, business sizes, and industries.
Tableau starts at $70 per month per user, billed annually. There’s tiered pricing for teams, so you can get limited licenses starting at $12. These users will be able to view and interact with the data, but they don’t have as much control.
You can try Tableau for free with a 14-day trial.
Zoho Analytics — Best Self-Service BI Software
Zoho offers a wide range of product suites, tools, and software for dozens of different business needs. While Zoho is best known for its CRM and help desk software, Zoho Analytics is an exceptional solution for BI software.
Like every Zoho product, Zoho Analytics is robust, feature-rich, trustworthy, and easy to use.
Its low entry price point and simple setup makes it our top pick for small businesses who need something they can manage themselves.
It’ll take a moment for new-users to get oriented and set their data up, but this isn’t a BI tool that requires a fleet of developers to operate.
Zoho Analytics allows your teams to takes data from multiple sources and blend them together to create visual reports and dashboards. It’s easy for you to view the health of your business across each department at a glance.
This BI software makes it easy for you to share and collaborate online with your colleagues and department heads. Add comments and set up alerts when an anomaly or something out of the ordinary occurs.
You can connect Zoho Analytics to any data source. From Microsoft Excel to HTML, JSON, Google Drive, and web URL feeds, this tool will pull data from any source. Upload data from your CRM, email software, accounting software, local database, cloud database, and more.
Microsoft Power BI — Best Cheap BI Software
Microsoft actually has two different business intelligence solutions: Power BI Pro and Power BI Premium.
The Pro version is a cloud-based software that’s easy for anyone to use. It costs just $10 per month per user, making it a top choice for businesses operating on a tight budget.
Power BI Premium is the enterprise version of this BI software. The pricing is not available on the Microsoft website, but it’s expensive. Other online resources suggest it starts around $5k per month, which definitely isn’t for everyone. So for the purposes of this review, we’ll focus on the Power BI Pro version—the cost-effective solution.
And don’t be fooled by the price point. It’s still a very powerful software. It’s easy for anyone to share and collaborate using interactive data visualizations for self-service analytics.
Microsoft ensures that your data is always secure and compliant, even when you export it.
The software allows you to leverage smart tools to discover meaningful insights about your organization, departments, and customers.
For people who aren’t used to preparing data, Power BI Pro makes it easy for you to build machine learning models to simplify the process. You’ll also be able to stream analytics in real-time.
As expected with any Microsoft product, Power BI Pro seamlessly integrates with Office 365. It’s easy to connect any Excel queries, data models, and other reports to your BI software.
For $10 per month, Microsoft Power BI Pro is a steal. Try it free for 30 days.
Domo — Best BI Software for Custom Application Development
Domo gives you everything from every aspect of business intelligence, including data visualization, data integration, data science, data transformation, embedded analytics, and app development.
Use Domo to create custom apps for your teams, customers, and partners by leveraging the power of your data.
Take advantage of Domo’s built-in infrastructure for security, data governance, and user permissions. You won’t need to purchase additional hardware and storage from a third-party provider.
What can these apps be used for? Anything. For example, a professional basketball team used Domo to create a seat visualization chart to track revenue, sales, and attendance metrics.
In addition to the ability to create custom apps, you can also leverage some of Domo’s pre-built apps for common business functionalities.
The Domo platform is also ideal for automating back-end data integration and other tedious BI tasks. Use Domo to set up simple and automated reports.
Domo pricing is based on a wide range of factors. Since this BI software is custom for each business, you’ll need to contact the sales team for a custom quote. But you can try it for free.
SAP BusinessObjects — Best BI Software for Growing Businesses
SAP BusinessObjects is an all-in-one business intelligence product suite. It’s designed to make data consumption as simple, personalized, and dynamic as possible.
With on-premise deployment, SAP BusinessObjects lends support no matter if you have a few users or thousands. Its flexible architecture and wide range of BI tools makes it an ideal solution for businesses that are scaling quickly.
SAP BusinessObjects optimizes performance across hybrid landscapes. It uses a live data connection between cloud analytics and on-premise data.
This BI software provides you with enterprise reporting, ad-hoc reporting, data visualization, and role-based dashboards. There are dozens of self-service features that can be used to tell stories and analyze business trends.
By integrating with Microsoft Office, you can use SAP BusinessObjects to analyze large data sets at scale. You’ll also benefit from real-time analytics.
SAP BusinessObjects is definitely geared towards advanced users with complex needs. If you’re a beginner or small business owner, you’ll likely be overwhelmed using this tool.
The pricing for SAP BusinessObjects is not available online. You’ll need to contact them to request a quote.
Sisense — Best BI Software for Data Engineers, Developers, and Analysts
Sisense offers BI tools that are made for people who are technically inclined.
Sisense has specific BI solutions for developers, data engineers, and business analysts.
Sisense is ideal for a wide range of industries, including:
- Supply chain
- Travel and hospitality
It also has tools and analytics specific for different departments within an organization. Examples include finance, IT, sales, marketing, operations and logistics, human resources, customer service, and more.
Deploy Sisense BI on the cloud, on-premises, or hybrid deployment with Windows or Linux.
For developers, engineers, and tech-savvy business individuals, Sisense has everything to accommodate your needs. But it’s definitely not for the average user.
Pricing for Sisense BI is not available online. Contact them today for a free custom quote.
SAS — Best BI Software for Customer Support
SAS offers a wide range of BI solutions that can be perfect for your business:
- SAS Enterprise
- SAS Visual Analytics
- SAS Office Analytics
The enterprise version is a wizard-driven tool that makes it easy for you to analyze data and publish results using a point-and-click Windows interface. The visual analytics software is a self-service tool for visual discovery. Office analytics is made specifically improving your existing data within Microsoft Office.
SAS stands out against the crowd because of its exceptional customer service. For those of you who need assistance and some guidance along the way, SAS will be able to help you.
They have an extensive knowledge base for self-service problem resolution. But if you need additional help, SAS offers technical support, maintenance, consulting, licensing assistance, role-based support, and more.
SAS also has a wide range of free training, courses, and e-learning tools so you can master your business intelligence software and leverage all of its features.
To get a custom quote based on your needs, you’ll need to request pricing from the SAS sales team. SAS has a 30-day free trial, but for a limited time, that trial has been extended to 90 days.
How to Find the Best Business Intelligence Software For You
Business intelligence software is extremely versatile. There are also so many different options to choose from. How can you know which one is right for your business?
We want to help.
This is the methodology that I used to pick the winners on our list.
To determine which one is best for you, we’ll break down the factors that you need to take into consideration during the evaluation process.
There are lots of different ways that business intelligence software can be used and deployed for your business. There are desktop solutions, on-premise deployment, cloud-based software, and hybrid server deployment.
Cloud-based software will be the best option for most smaller businesses. It’s usually much cheaper too. If you have advanced or complex needs, you might want to consider on-premise deployment.
Your data sources will also play a role in determining what’s best for you. Are you integrating your BI software with existing data? Or are you using the software to help you collect data as well?
At the end of the day, the purpose of BI software is to help you make better business decisions. Reports help you harness data in terms that you can understand.
Data visualization reports, predictive modeling, and decision analytics are just a handful of the different reporting features that you should be looking for.
You’ll want to choose a dashboard that’s easy to use and generates reports at a glance or in real-time based on whatever you’re trying to figure out.
Unlike other business software on the market today, business intelligence can be complex. Not every solution is easy for every person to use.
If you’re a beginner or run a small business, you’ll be better off using Zoho Analytics or Microsoft Power BI. Those are both user-friendly. Tableau is pretty easy to figure out for beginners as well, but also has features for advanced users.
Sisense and Domo both require a bit more technical knowledge. Sisense is made for developers, data engineers, and analysts. Domo has tools to build custom applications for data collection.
Make sure you choose a BI solution that fits within your technical range and matches the technical ability of the folks using it.
The good news is that not everyone who uses BI software has to understand the backend. These tools let your power users create dashboards that can be manipulated by just about anyone.
A sales manager doesn’t have to know any data science in order to benefit from your BI software, so long as you have someone knowledgeable enough to build dashboards.
Business intelligence software doesn’t need to be expensive. With that said, there is a significant difference in terms of cost for the cheapest and most expensive solutions on the market.
Microsoft Power BI Pro starts at just $10 per month. But the Premium version from that same provider costs thousands per month.
You can find other cloud-based or desktop software starting around $20-$75 per month. Software for larger businesses and enterprises with lots of data will cost more.
Not every software provider has straightforward pricing online. Since so much of this software is customized for your business needs, you’ll need to request a quote for some solutions.
We always recommend signing up for a free trial before you commit to a long-term contract. Every solution on our list has some type of free version that you can use. Trials range anywhere from 14 to 90 days.
The Top Business Intelligence Software in Summary
Tableau is our top overall recommendation. It’s versatile, robust, accommodates a wide range of business needs, and starts at an affordable price point.
But we also like Zoho Assist, Sisense, Microsoft Power BI, and the other top picks reviewed in this guide. The best option for you largely depends on your business type, size, technical experience, budget, and desired use cases.