The right business intelligence (BI) tool can help your organization make connections between raw data and concrete actions. With one platform, you can view and process data of all kinds, get in-depth insights, and make decisions that will steer your organization in the right direction. If you can take advantage of everything the right BI tool has to offer, you’ll be able to realize their full potential.
But how can you tell if a business intelligence tool is the right one? Since even the 3 big BI tools have plenty of variety between them, there’s no hard-and-fast answer – you have to choose which one would fit your organization best. BI tools have a lot more to offer than just the key capabilities described below, but these capabilities are what you definitely want to get right before making your decision.
- Data management
What kind of cloud solution does the BI tool require? Whatever it happens to be, it shouldn’t interfere with what your organization already has in place. For instance, if you can’t deploy the platform from your own servers or cloud, then a BI tool that comes with a cloud solution might be better. On the other hand, if you have plenty of server space already, it would be redundant to get a BI tool that can only be deployed from their cloud solution.
Qlik Sense – Of the three BI tools, Qlik Sense is the most platform-agnostic. Organizations can use both private and public clouds, or their own servers; they could even mix and match, depending on the data storage solutions they already had in place.
Power BI – Organizations have to use either Microsoft’s Azure cloud solution, or their own servers. Each solution offers different capabilities within the platform, so that could help determine which option is the right choice.
Tableau – They’re now merged with Salesforce, which is where Tableau’s cloud solution comes from. The concern here is what Salesforce does with your data.
How is the data validated? Assuming that efficient data-sharing throughout the organization is a priority, you’ll want a business intelligence tool that lets you manage data without restricting it. Some BI platforms only allow access for select users, while others focus too much on sharing, and not enough on data management. Instead, find a healthy medium – a platform where users can easily access and process data, but where their work always ends up at a central server for validation by IT.
Qlik Sense – A central server is used for content creation, so the data is continuously updated as the work is being done. There’s no need to worry about outdated reports being circulated, or multiple versions of the same thing being done on separate servers.
Power BI – Content creation happens on users’ desktops, and is sent to the cloud upon completion to be validated.
Tableau – Since users work on their hard drives and share everything with a central server, they also have the option to work offline if they need to.
- Ease of use
What range of use cases is supported? Ideally, that range would be quite broad. The goal is that employees could incorporate the business intelligence tool into their normal workflows, which means that the BI platform should offer a lot more than just graphs. It should also have the capability to perform augmented analytics, data exploration, and more – all without making the user switch from the device or platform they’re already on.
Qlik Sense – They make sure that the user experience stays consistent by using the same interface for each use case. Features like embedded analytics or interactive dashboards are right there, ready to give insights at a moment’s notice.
Power BI – They offer plenty of use cases, just like Qlik Sense, but each one requires a different Microsoft product to work.
Tableau – The use cases are fairly limited, mainly revolving around data visualization.
How robust is the embedded analytics feature? The answer to this will partly determine how smoothly the BI platform can integrate with established workflows. It should be able to function within any application, portal, or process that’s already being used – after all, nobody will be saving time with this tool if they have to constantly switch between platforms.
Qlik Sense – The platform can embed individual values, dashboards, metrics, and numbers into just about any portal or product.
Power BI – They offer a solid range of options for embedded analytics; however, they don’t focus on API as much as they could, which could make the user experience less than optimal.
Tableau – Users can embed dashboards, and that’s pretty much it. It doesn’t quite match the offerings of Qlik Sense or Power BI, but then not every organization will need more than that.
- Data analysis
What approach does the data engine take? At a basic level, data analysis software will get a question and spit out an answer. A data engine could stick with linear queries for dependable answers; or it could explore all the possible resources for more creative solutions.
Qlik Sense – Instead of using a query-based data engine, their associative data engine freely explores data to deliver solutions that might have gotten passed over with a traditional data engine.
Power BI – Their linear data engines work on SQL databases, so the queries have to follow pre-defined, predictable paths. This is just one of the many ways a BI tool can analyze data – some organizations might not need anything more than what this kind of data engine offers.
Tableau – Just like Power BI, the data engine operates over SQL databases – ask a straight question, and you’ll get a straight answer but free-from exploration is not possible.
This comparison won’t necessarily tell you which business intelligence tool is objectively the best, but it should give you some idea of the key capabilities that would make a BI tool a good fit for your organization. With this information on your evaluation checklist, you’ll be able to find the right business intelligence tool in no time.