Entartes Content Team 13min read

If you're responsible for making strategic decisions for your company, you know that harnessing the power of business intelligence (BI) is key. BI is all about delivering data insights to help you make better decisions. But how do you know which tool is best for your needs? 

And where should you start when implementing BI in your organization? Check out this guide for everything you know about BI and the top tools available today. Read on to get started!

What is Business Intelligence (BI), and What are its key Components?

BI reporting is a process businesses use to collect data and turn it into information that can be used to make decisions. The key components of business intelligence reporting are data collection, processing, and visualization.

Data Collection: This is the process of gathering data from various sources. This can include internal data sources, such as sales records and financial reports, or external data sources, such as market research reports.

Data Processing: This is the process of cleaning and organizing data so that it can be analyzed. This step ensures that the data is accurate and consistent.

Data Visualization: Data visualization is about creating graphical representations of data to make it easier to understand. This can include charts, graphs, and maps.

Difference between BI Reporting and Analytics

While BI reporting and analytics both refer to using data to make decisions, there is a key difference between the two. Business intelligence reporting provides insights that help you make better decisions, while BI analytics is focused on data interpretation and modeling.

Predictive modeling is a mathematical process that uses historical data to identify patterns and trends. The information is then used in creating models that can be used to make predictions about future events. Analytics is also used to draw conclusions from tests, determine the impact of certain decisions, and to inform future business direction. 

Why is Business Intelligence Important to Your Business?

Business intelligence is more important than ever before. With the advent of big data, businesses have access to unprecedented information. However, sifting through all of this data can be overwhelming. Below are some of the benefits business intelligence reporting tools can offer your business: 

  • Allow you to track and monitor your progress against key performance indicators
  • Allow you to identify problems and areas for improvement more quickly and make better, more informed decisions.
  • Help you to automate and streamline your reporting process, saving you time and money.
  • Help you collect, organize, and analyze data to see trends and patterns. This information can improve marketing strategies, operations, and customer service.
  • Help you better understand your customers and effectively target your marketing efforts.
  • Inform strategic decision-making
  • Increase operational efficiency - you can make changes to improve efficiency by understanding where bottlenecks are occurring. This can lead to cost savings and improved productivity.
  • Helps in streamlining the procurement process. Understanding your historical spending allows you to negotiate better deals with suppliers and vendors. In addition, you can also identify areas where you may be able to cut costs.
  • Better manage and monitor employee performance. By understanding which employees are top performers and which ones may be struggling, you can provide the necessary training and development to help them improve.

As a decision maker, manager, CEO, or whatever capacity, you will at some point need to make crucial decisions that will impact your company's future. Business intelligence tools allow you to slice and dice data to assess options and make the best decision for your business, given the circumstances. In short, business intelligence is essential for any business that wants to make informed decisions and grow.

How do You Use BI to Make Informed Business Decisions?

  • Collect and analyze data from a variety of sources - You can use BI in your business to collect and analyze data from various sources, including your website, social media, customer surveys, and financial reports. This data can track your progress against key performance indicators and identify improvement areas.
  • Create graphical representations of data - Another way to use BI in your business is to create graphical representations of data using charts, graphs, and maps. These visualizations can help you see trends that would be difficult to spot otherwise.
  • Automate and streamline reporting - BI can also be used to automate and streamline your reporting process. This can save you time and money by eliminating the need for manual data entry and analysis.
  • BI is used to better understand your customers - Finally, business intelligence can be used to better understand your customers. This information can improve your marketing strategies and effectively target your marketing efforts.

What are the Best BI Reporting Tools?

Many different BI reporting tools are available on the market today. So which one is right for you? We have listed our favorite options below. 

1. Microsoft Power BI

Microsoft Power BI is a comprehensive BI platform that includes data visualization tools, reporting, and analysis tools. It's ideal for all businesses that need a complete solution for their BI needs.

Pros: Microsoft Power BI is a complete solution that includes different tools. It's easy to use and ideal for businesses of all sizes.

Cons: Microsoft Power BI can be expensive and requires a certain amount of technical expertise to use effectively.

2. Tableau

Tableau is an ingenious data visualization tool that enables you to easily create beautiful graphs and charts. It's ideal for business users who want to be able to visualize data easily.

Pros: Tableau is easy to use, and it's ideal for business users who want to be able to visualize data easily.

Cons: Tableau can be expensive and requires a certain amount of technical expertise to use effectively.

3. Google Analytics:

Google Analytics enables you to track your website's traffic and performance. It's ideal for start-ups that want to be able to track their progress and identify areas for improvement.

Pros: Google Analytics is a free tool that's easy to use. It's ideal for small businesses that want to track their progress and identify areas for improvement.

Cons: Google Analytics doesn't offer as many features as some of the other BI tools on this list.

4. QlikView:

QlikView is another powerful data visualization tool that offers a wide range of features and options. It's perfect for businesses that need to make complex data sets easy to understand.

Pros: QlikView offers a wide range of features and options. It's perfect for businesses that need to make complex data sets easy to understand.

Cons: QlikView can be expensive, and it requires a certain amount of technical expertise to give you the best results.

5. Google Data Studio:

Google Data Studio is a free tool that lets you create customized reports and dashboards. It's a great choice when exploring different ways to visualize your data or if you need to collaborate with others on reporting projects.

Pros: Google Data Studio is a free tool that's easy to use. It's ideal for businesses that want to be able to visualize data easily.

Cons: Google Data Studio doesn't offer as many features as some of the other BI tools on this list.

6. SAP Business Objects:

This intuitive tool offers a range of features to make reporting easy, including drag-and-drop functionality.

Pros: SAP Business Objects offers a range of features to make reporting easy. It's ideal for businesses that need to access data from multiple sources.

Cons: SAP Business Objects can be expensive, requiring a certain amount of technical expertise to use effectively.

7. IBM Cognos Analytics:

 This tool provides a self-service platform that makes it easy to create reports and dashboards. It also offers predictive analytics capabilities to help you identify trends and patterns in your data.

Pros: IBM Cognos Analytics is easy to use and offers predictive analytics capabilities. It's perfect for businesses that need to identify trends and patterns in their data.

Cons: This tool is expensive, and you'll need an expert to help you get the most out of it.

8. Crystal Reports:

Crystal Reports is a popular tool with a user-friendly interface and advanced features like report design wizards and built-in charting capabilities.

Pros: Crystal Reports offers a user-friendly interface and advanced features such as report design wizards and built-in charting capabilities.

Cons: Crystal Reports can be expensive, requiring a certain amount of technical expertise to use effectively.

9. Dundas BI:

Dundas BI is a scalable and flexible tool that offers a range of data visualization, reporting, and dashboard-building features.

Pros: Dundas BI is easy to use and offers predictive analytics capabilities. It's perfect for businesses that need to identify trends and patterns in their data.

Cons: This tool is expensive, and you'll need an expert to help you get the most out of it.

10. Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBIEE):

OBIEE is a comprehensive BI platform that includes tools for data warehousing, OLAP analysis, ad-hoc reporting, and dashboarding.

Pros: OBIEE is a comprehensive BI platform that includes tools for data warehousing, OLAP analysis, ad-hoc reporting, and dashboarding.

Cons: OBIEE can be complex and difficult to use, and it requires a significant investment.

11. Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services:

SQL Server Services is a feature of the Microsoft SQL Server database that enables users to create reports from data stored in the database.

Pros: SQL Server Reporting Services is easy to use, and it offers a wide range of features. It's perfect for businesses that need to make complex data sets easy to understand.

Cons: SQL Server Reporting Services can be expensive, requiring a certain amount of technical expertise to give you the best results.

12. Inetsoft Style Report:

Inetsoft's Style Report is a Java-based reporting tool that offers users a wide range of report design and delivery options.

Pros: Style Report is easy to use and offers a wide range of report design and delivery options. It's perfect for businesses that need to make complex data sets easy to understand.

Cons: Style Report is costly and requires a certain amount of technical expertise to use effectively.

13. BIRT:

The Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools (BIRT) project is an open-source toolkit that helps developers create reports from various data sources.

Pros: BIRT is easy to use and offers a wide range of report design and delivery options. It's perfect for businesses that need to make complex data sets easy to understand.

Cons: BIRT is a bit complex and requires a certain amount of technical expertise to get the most out of it.

Choosing the Right BI Tool for your Business

Business intelligence reporting is a vital part of any modern business. The right BI tool helps you to make better decisions, improve efficiency, and gain a competitive edge. But with so many BI tools on the market, how do you choose the right one for your business?

When choosing a BI tool:

  1. First, think about what your specific needs are. What kind of information are you looking for? How often do you need reports? Will you be sharing reports with others? You can start narrowing down your options with a proper understanding of your needs.
  2. Second, consider ease of use. You want an easy tool to set up and use to get started quickly and avoid frustration. Get a tool with an intuitive interface and helpful documentation.
  3. What kind of data do you need to track? Ensure the BI tool you choose can handle the volume and type of data you need to track.
  4. What kind of support does the company offer? If you run into problems, you'll want to make sure there's someone you can reach out to for help.
  5. The complexity of your data: Not all BI tools are created equal when dealing with complex data. If you have a lot of complicated data sets, you'll want to choose a tool that can handle them easily. 
  6. Consider cost. Business intelligence tools can range in price from free to thousands of dollars per month. Choose the tool that fits your budget and offers the features you need.
  7. Your goals: What do you hope to accomplish with your BI reporting? Once you know your goals, you can narrow your options and choose the best tool for your needs. 

Modern BI Dashboards and Functions

A BI dashboard provides a consolidated view of important information, such as sales data, KPIs, and metrics. Dashboards give users a quick way to see the most important information at a glance.

Many different types of dashboards are available, and the best one for your business will depend on your specific needs. Here are some popular types of dashboards:

  • Sales Dashboard: A sales dashboard consolidates information from multiple sources to provide a clear view of sales data. This dashboard can track revenue, pipeline, conversion rates, and other important sales metrics. 
  • Marketing Dashboard: A marketing dashboard consolidates information from multiple sources to provide a clear view of marketing data. This dashboard can track leads, website traffic, conversion rates, and other important marketing metrics.
  • Customer Dashboard: A customer dashboard consolidates information from multiple sources to provide a clear view of customer data. This dashboard can track customer satisfaction levels, retention rates, and other important customer metrics.
  • Financial Dashboard: A financial dashboard consolidates information from multiple sources to provide a clear view of financial data. This dashboard can track revenue, expenses, profit margins, and other important financial metrics.

Business intelligence dashboards can be customized to meet the specific needs of your business. Dashboards can be static or dynamic and designed for desktop computers, laptops, tablets, or smartphones. Dashboards can also be integrated with other software applications, such as CRM and ERP systems.

Common Business Intelligence(BI) Reporting Challenges

Businesses face many challenges when implementing BI reporting. Some of these challenges include:

  • Lack of data: To make effective decisions, you need access to accurate and up-to-date data. This can be challenging for businesses with no central repository for their data or siloed data sources. 
  • Complex data sets: BI reporting tools are designed to handle large and complex data sets. If your data is poorly organized or not in a format that can be easily analyzed, it will not easily get useful insights from your reports. 
  • Lack of skills: Many businesses struggle with implementing BI reporting because they don't have the necessary skills and knowledge. It is important to make sure that you have the right people in place who can use the BI tools effectively. 
  • Implementation Issues: Another common challenge with BI reporting is that businesses often have difficulty implementing the tools properly. This can lead to inaccurate or unusable reports. This is why it is beneficial to work with an implementation team like Entartes to help ensure that your new BI tool is set up properly. 

How to Get Started with BI in Your Business

Business intelligence reporting is a critical part of any business. The right BI tool can help you make informed decisions, track KPIs, and improve your bottom line. However, with so many Business Intelligence reporting tools on the market, it can be tough to know the right one for your business. 

Find below tips for choosing the right BI tool for your business: 

  1. Define your needs. Identify what you need from a BI tool. What kind of data do you need to collect? How often do you need to access the data? What level of detail do you need? Once you clearly understand your needs, you can narrow down your options.
  2. Consider your budget. Business intelligence tools can vary widely in price, so it's important to consider your budget when deciding. Some tools may offer a free trial period or lower-cost subscription options that can be a good fit for businesses with limited budgets.
  3. Compare features. Once you've identified a few potential BI tools that meet your needs and fall within your budget, it's time to compare features. What kind of data visualization capabilities does each tool offer? How easy is it to use? Does it offer mobile access? By comparing features, you'll be able to find the BI tool that's the best fit for your business. 
  4. Get input from others in your organization. After you've narrowed down your options, it's important to get input from others in your organization who will use the BI tool. They may have valuable insights you didn't consider when making your initial assessment.
  5. Test-drive the tool. Once you've gathered all this information, it's time to test-drive the BI tools at the top of your list. Most vendors offer free trials, so take advantage of this opportunity to see how each tool works in action.
  6. Get started. Entartes can help integrate your new BI tool into your tech stack and get you onboarded with the platform.

By following the steps, you'll be able to find the Business Intelligence reporting tool that's perfect for your business needs and budget.

Tips for Achieving Quality BI Report

Businesses need to get quality BI reports to make the best decisions. Here are some tips for achieving quality BI reports:

  1. Make sure you have accurate and up-to-date data. You can do this by having a central repository for your data or using data cleansing tools to clean up your data.
  2. The right metrics: Ensure you track the right metrics for your business. Align them with your business goals.
  3. Use multiple data sources. Don't rely on just one data source. This can lead to bias and inaccuracies in your reports. Instead, use multiple data sources to get a complete picture.
  4. Adopt a data-driven culture: Encourage a data-driven culture in your organization. This will help ensure that BI reports are used to inform decision-making.
  5. Use quality control: Quality control is important for any BI report. Make sure you have processes and tools to ensure accuracy and completeness.

Final Thoughts

Business intelligence reporting is a powerful tool to help businesses make better decisions and improve their bottom line. However, choosing the right BI tool for your business is important. 

Consider your needs, budget, and the features of each tool to find the one that's the best fit for your organization. And don't forget to talk to us to see what makes the most sense for your business. 

Entartes Content Team

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