6 Questions to Ask when Choosing a Business Intelligence Tool

6 Questions to Ask when Choosing a Business Intelligence Tool

Enterprises are constantly searching for better data analysis, reporting and data visualization to better understand their users and grow their revenues. With business intelligence tools (BI) companies can “identify market trends and spot business problems that need to be addressed,” which can help improve overall business efficiency and growth.

There are many business intelligence tools to choose from in the industry, such as Tableau, Qlikview, Oracle OBIEE, IBM Cognos and MicroStrategy, among others. Each solution has its own benefits and valuable features, which can make choosing the right solution for your company all the more daunting.

To help with this process, we have turned to the IT Central Station community for their advice. Here are six questions that our users commonly asked in their own searches for business intelligence software.

1. “How would a business intelligence tool help my company?”

This first question may seem obvious, but is important to ask within the initial stages of your search for a BI tool. While business intelligence tools can make a significant impact on your company’s decision-making, our users stress that you should identify specifically what you want to achieve with this software.

Mike B., Business Analytics Coach at a software R&D company

“IBM Cognos Analytics...provides departmental users with the self-sufficiency they need to bring in their own external data, explore it, and even merge it with corporately governed data, all without needing to go to IT. With that ability, they can get fresh perspectives that are simply not available in their existing reporting environment.”

Wilson C., BI Team Leader at a government agency

“I really appreciate Visual Insight because it is easy for end users and it breaks IT dependencies. We have a small technical staff. If we give opportunities to our clients to develop their own reports and graphics, we can concentrate our efforts on increasing the quality of other reports that demand a little bit more knowledge and expertise.”

Roshan H., Lead Business Intelligence Analyst at Jade Global

“It definitely improves all organizations that use it for reporting their analytics. However, it’s not just about reporting. It provides analytics based upon different fields, such as sales, booking, or leads. The knowledge it provides helps us make decisions about how our business is growing, where to stop, where to start, and where to accelerate. It has a huge impact.”

2. “Is it easy to use?”

For many IT Central Station users, this is one of the most essential features to focus on when choosing a BI tool. You want to make sure that employees across a wide range of departments know how to use the tool in order to increase its overall ROI.

Application Developer at a healthcare company

“The ability to create VI’s which are easy for front end users to manipulate in order to see the data they wish to see. Visual Insight allows the developer to create reports and/or cubes as the foundation and the end user can easily pull any of the metrics and attributes into the report, graph or other visualization without requiring technical reporting knowledge.”

Juan C., Data Architect at a tech services company

“Ease of use was valuable. It enabled our end users to do their own reports as self-service with little to no training, thus requiring less support.”

Karl R., Manager of Business Intelligence and Analytics at a hospitality company

“One of the most valuable features of Tableau is the ease of learning and use. Tableau is very user friendly. I have a few colleagues at my place of work that had never used it. Within a few months, they created brilliant content.”

3. “What visualization capabilities does this tool have?”

When presenting your new data findings to the decision-makers of your company, you will want to make sure that you have a wide range of visualization options at your disposal. IT Central Station users also highlight this feature as something to focus when making your buying decision.

Sr. Cognos Developer at an insurance company

“IBM Cognos has a variety of charts. It has options to customize any kind of chart using the JSON editor. This helps clients to visualize and analyze the data in a very effective way.”

Issra C., IT Administrator at an insurance company

“Data visualization and the data modeler are the most valuable features of this product to me. I noticed that Qlik takes less time to set up data sources and enables us to integrate multiple tables. It is easier to manage variables with Qlik's data management.”

Praveen Y., Sr. Programmer Analyst at a construction company

“Tableau's strength is visualization. If a report/dashboard is presented in visualization, the end user can easily connect with the data compared to a tabular format.”

4. “How much can this tool integrate with other data sources?”

According to our users, business intelligence tools should work with what you already have in your environment. The more integration capabilities it has, the easier it is for you to compile all of the data you need for your reporting.

Anthony H., Systems Analyst at a transportation company

“Very flexible, connects to a variety of different data sources and is very flexible for many specific tasks. Attributes/metrics/filters are created once and used by everyone.”

Marcus M., Consultant at a tech vendor

“Qlik's data modelling is very powerful and allows for easy integration of data from multiple sources. The in-memory associative engine is very powerful and provides quick answers to questions that arise when a user is exploring their data.”

Vijay M., Cloud Architect at IEEE

“It has a very good ETL process to get the data in and out of the data warehouse system. Also, it does have very good integration points to different products, such as Big Data, Hyperion, or Financials. You can pull everything up, project it and dashboard it. It's a good business intelligence platform.”

5. “How much does it cost, and is it worth it?”

As with any enterprise solution, cost will be a major factor in your company’s buying decision. This is why IT Central Station users advise to balance the cost of the solution with the savings it will bring your company, both in the short-term and the long-term.

David H., NA Lead Business Intelligence Systems at an energy/utilities company

“The cost savings from redundant reporting and consolidation alone surpass the cost of Domo hands down. We are able to deploy metrics, reports, complete data sets in hours/days compared to months/years previously.”

Vice President, Business Intelligence and Analytics at a financial services firm

“The cost factor is the most valuable feature. It's very cheap to deploy it enterprise-wide without having to worry about breaking the bank.”

Ron C., BI Expert at a tech services company

“The Web Editing capabilities allow us to grant end users enough capabilities for them to do self-serve discovery without the added cost of needing to get everyone desktop licenses. Really work across the organization to understand the user personas of your audience. Who is a builder, who is an audience member? Being able to set up the server licensing right (core vs user seats) is the fastest way to manage your costs. Paying for users you never set up or buying expensive desktop licenses for users who can solve their users with web editing on the server are the two biggest expenses.”

6. “What do other people in my industry think about these tools?”

Aside from these initial questions, the IT Central Station community also recommends continuously searching for user feedback. Learning more about your colleagues’ personal experiences with these business intelligence tools is invaluable, and will help give you the important information that you need to ultimately make that investment.

To learn more about what IT Central Station users have to say about all the leading business intelligence tools, read their user reviews here or ask a specific question in our community forum.