Business Intelligence (BI) Tools Forum

Julian Chan
Business Analyst at a manufacturing company with 5,001-10,000 employees
Feb 23 2019
Hello, Our company is looking to replace our current BI Reporting infrastructure which consists of using BIRT & Pentaho's Spoon. We've found a third party plugin that allows BIRT reports to run in Pentaho's ETL and has lasted us for 7 years.  We are now trying to replace this solution with a more scalable one that fulfils our company's main requirements: - Dynamic Emailing (Users will only receive their own data from a report) - Report Scheduler: Schedule times to send reports to users in email - ETL Capabilities - Dashboards for Management We are also currently utilizing Microsoft PowerBI for Management Dashboards but we want to explore possible solutions. Thank you!
Altan AtabarutI may suggest Alteryx + one of the three {PowerBI, Tableau, Qlik} 1) BI tools are either are really bad at ETL (a lot of coding likle DAX or R or Qliks own language) or worse they don't even have the capability 2) Dynamic E-mailing and Scheduling exists in Alteryx, 3) Plus Alteryx is a full ETL tool that can do in-database and big data without coding #codefree 4) You can scrap web pages, read all sorts of data 5) It also has visual reporting and can output to top 3 BI tools natively... 6) What is best is with alteryx you can do AI, ML too... predictive analytics 7) You can do forecasting 8) Even you can do optimization, linear programming etc. Alteryx + PowerBI is a really economic and game changing solution Alteryx + Tableau you can create fancy graphics Alteryx + Qlik if you are a retailer, sales dept. etc will benefit a lot from associative queries...
Sylvia ChongI’d suggest Cognos because it has the bursting capabilities which can generate a fraction of report data to different users according to their data right provided in a table, coupled with the event studio in Cognos, one can customize the email subject line and contents accordingly to a different recipient. If you use event studio then setup the schedule in event studio else use the report schedule. In Cognos you can generate normal dashboard or dynamic dashboard, please google for the differences. I do not suggest Tableau though it looks fancy because it does not have the Cognos dynamic report delivery function required. I have been using SSIS as my ETL tool (which is free, come with Microsoft SQL server) for many years, so far I do not have any problem with it. I think one needs to at least know SQL query and have some basic script concepts in order to make full use of this tool.
Chandu SekharThey can go for Jasper as it allows them to do below. 1. Scheduling to users with data they need to their mail box 2. Easy to maintain 3. Less licensing cost
Ariel Lindenfeld
Sr. Director of Community
IT Central Station
Let the community know what you think. Share your opinions now!
it_user354258Total cost of ownership is often overlooked during BI product selection. Cheap products do not equal cheap ownership experiences, whether it is missing functionality which must be provided by additional products, poor integration of modules which causes duplication of effort, weak support from the vendor, high cost of maintenance or constant changes to the product portfolio. The key factors to consider are: Is this product right for the intended user-base? It should not be necessary to purchase one product for IT, one for business analysts and one for 'end-users'. There are considerable cost savings associated with using a single platform (not a single vendor with many products they have built or bought). Does the product have the depth of functionality needed, and foreseeably anticipated? Is that functionality accessible? Can an expert easily access complex, deep functionality, without the occasional or new user being overwhelmed by the interface? Can it reach all the necessary data sources? Both inside and outside the corporation. How fast is the user experience, both in developing reports and dashboards and in retrieving the data? Speed of both allows iterative learning and development by new and occasional users, while ensuring high productivity for expert users. Does it work with our real world data? Too often evaluation of products still relies on superficial test on restricted volumes of data, or the lower complexity data as "it would take too long to build a fully representative testing environment" - big mistake. Identify the product(s) you believe are suitable and then bear the cost of proving they can deliver in your own use case. Too often a poor acquisition is followed by increasing spend to "make it work", when money spent earlier on selecting and proving the right tool would lead to much lower overall cost of ownership and more importantly early success and hence ROI. Does the company have a history of good backward compatibility? You will build a vast amount of intellectual property with a BI tool. You will become dependent on the insight it provides your organization. So investigate how well you chosen product has allowed users to migrate that IP forward through new revisions of their products. Rewriting IP is a good opportunity to clean it up and start over, but it's a massive unnecessary expense if you have built what you need and it is the vendor forcing you to rewrite your work.
Josue Urgel ArribasIt is really difficult to choose the right one, in my experience, the most important thing is not the tool that we choose. The most important thing is to design the correct scope, what we need to give us the tool based on two factors, the data we want to obtain and for whom that data will be. If a good approach is made, the chosen one will be the correct one.
Aimee WhiteEasy to use, performs well, cost, and not going to send me insane integrating it with other systems. Everything else is gravy.
Rhea Rapps
Content Specialist
IT Central Station
Is it required in your company to conduct an enterprise architecture review before purchasing a business intelligence tool? What are the common materials you use in the review? Do you have any tips or advice for the community? Any pitfalls to watch out for?
James-AndersonObviously you want to make sure that the tool can handle different types of sources like SQL server, Oracle, REST, Web Files, GeoAnalytics, Google, etc. Make sure you understand who is going to be creating the reports. Do you want a traditional IT approach or do you want the tech savvy business users creating the reports? Centralized vs Decentralized. Also consider any security and privacy needs like HIPAA. One consideration I always look at is if you can integrate back into the systems you use. Can I look at a report and then link back into my core system using hyperlinks or code? Good luck!
Joe FernandesIn my organization, we broadly have three major vendors. Viz. SAP, Microsoft, and IBM. At the time we purchased SAP, the business function which was going in for SAP ERP adopted SAP's tool for Business Intelligence. Similarly, the users who were using Microsoft software preferred to go with Microsoft BI. IBM too demonstrated their BI offerings but since we already had SAP tools and Microsoft BI we did not procure Cognos. So, we did not do any Enterprise Architecture review for the BI Tool. But, for an organization embarking on implementing BI, it would be advisable to devise your BI Strategy in consultation with business users then see which product fits in with that strategy.  Ideally, this should be driven from the top to avoid various groups of users procuring too many tools which may then be difficult to integrate. While selecting a BI Tool,  factors which can be used to assess a good fit would be -1. Cost 2. Features the product provides 3. Ease of use 4. Resource availability with required skills for development and maintenance 5. Support vendor provides6. Standing of the vendor in the BI market7. Scalability8. Cloud deployments 9. The performance with workloads contemplated10. Security features 11. Integration possible with existing software  If one is new to BI, it is advisable selecting an implementation partner who brings in the requisite knowledge, skills, experience, and expertise.
Robert NeundlingerIn our group it is necessary to conduct a vendor selection and look at multiple options. The categories suggested in the first post make sense for such a selection, same as the ability to link back to the business process systems mentioned above. Although the latter may depend more on the ability of your business process system to work with deep links and provide API endpoints. Either way, a catalogue of functional and non-functional requirements makes sense to be generated to evaluate any tool under consideration. This catalogue needs to cover specialized BI topics such as slice-and-dice, handling multiple currencies and languages (if required), hierarchies, versioning, and many others. I agree on getting outside support if you are new to the topic. You may want to differentiate between standard reporting (i.e. the same set of reports and dashboards get used over and over again so can afford to standardize) and ad-hoc reporting (i.e. need to work with new data sources fast, may not need to re-use it so much). In some cases one tool is good at one thing, but not the other. This is also related to the centralized versus decentralized model mentioned above. Obviously the decision between Cloud and on-premise is an important one to take as each way has their pros & cons.

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