Business Intelligence (BI) Tools Forum

Julian Chan
Business Analyst at a manufacturing company with 5,001-10,000 employees
Feb 12 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...
David Tate, PMPWe currently use Qlik Sense for dynamic dashboards and reporting as one of our primary BI tools. An add on product, NPrinting, allows for Dynamic and scheduled reporting delivery via email and centralized Newsstand site. There is a large number of different data connectors including subscriptions to Publically available Big Data sources. Go to to obtain product info and a free evaluation of the product. The product compares favorably to PowerBI and Tableau in features and pricing.
James-AndersonI have used Power BI and Qlik Sense. Qlik Sense has the edge in my opinion. Don't email static reports. Link the users to their specific reports and allow them to manipulate what they need for more insight.
Ariel Lindenfeld
Sr. Director of Community
IT Central Station
Sep 19 2018
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.
it_user17526I believe you have to match product capabilities to company BI strategy first and then consider infrastructure standards and internal competencies. if you do these things you should get value. The type of BI solution is important but don't be fooled by the "it's all about data visualization or big data". it is not in most organizations...
reviewer124860Most folks tend to think of UI and the flashy, sexy stuff. However, experience has proven that adopting a platform approach is key to success - a Platform that can access any data source and provide capabilities for internal and external users from the same platform, and not merely serve as a data visualization tool. The ability to do disconnected analytics cannot be discounted; Further having a platform that does NOT mandate creating a data warehouse as a prerequisite; i.e. It shoild have the ability to access operational data sources with minimal impact to the back-end systems.
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.
Anonymous User
Analyst with 501-1,000 employees
Good morning,My name is Robert Berkman, and I am co-editor of The Information Advisor's Guide to Internet Research, a monthly international journal for business researchers such as corporate librarians and market researchers. We provide sources and strategies for conducting effective business research.I am currently writing an article on how to choose among some of the leading business data visualization software products such as Tableau, Qlik, Spotfire, etc. -- what are the critical differences between and how does one go about choosing which product.If you have any experience or input on this selection process or comparative data between these or other market leaders, I would be most grateful to hear. I'm working on a tight publication deadline, so a reply at your earliest convenience would be most appreciated. Thank you very much.Robert Berkman
it_user148668I work in the area of data analytics and data management from a solutions standpoint. From my experience on Data Visualization Tools and the their utilities from the customers standpoint I would like to mention the following key criteria not in the order of importance which varies from customer to customer(these are not necessarily all the criteria but are certainly among the important ones): 1.  Ease of use, ie does not require an IT guy to help operate all the time 2. Easy to deploy 3. Integration with portals or standalone 4. The user profiles: Who are the users in terms of their hierarchy in the org and their roles/responsibilities within the org? How do they best visualize their data? Where do they best visualize their data?-Mobile/desktop/conf room/tablets/ and so on. 5. How does the tool integrate with the data sources and how many different types of data sources do they support? Of course not all customers have a large number of data sources but the tool is likely to satisfy a majority of customers if it has good integration capability. 6. How does it work with cloud based apps of the customer? 7. Security of distributed reports/dashboards and data. 8. The tool's ability to support data "type" identification. 9. Speed 10. Types of reports/visualization/ etc Regards, Prasun Mitra
Rhea Rapps
Content Specialist
IT Central Station
One of the most popular comparisons on IT Central Station is SAS Visual Analytics vs Tableau Which of these two solutions would you recommend and why? Thanks! --Rhea
John LawsSelection of a tool depends on your tech environment and the intended use of the tool. If you have a strong staff with a data mart, data warehouse or data lake in place then a number of tools would work. Tableau is the 500 lb gorilla, but it isn't as nimble as Qlik, Yellow Fin, Looker or Sisense. If you don't have a large team and want an automated data mart then look at Birst. It isn't as "beautiful" as others, but does a good job of delivering what the customer requires with less work on the back end. Good luck!
Lluis PiquerasI have more experience with SAS VA not with Tableau. Weak points and strengths Tableau - Probably one of the best visualization analytic tools for final users - Cloud or on Premise - Quickly to deploy - Some specific functions to predictive analytics out of the box (linear regression, etc.) - Connectors to Big Data, etc. SAS Visual Analytics - See new features with Cloud SAS Viya (new architecture and integration with other SAS Solutions) - Powerful vision of analytics and statistics with SAS Visual Statistics in the same framework - You don’t need a Data Scientist people to develop predictive or advanced analytics models - Deploy a powerful analytics model in few moments - It supports a Big Data and a lot of connectors. Some payments - No needs code as easy to use - You can use and specific and free App for mobile users - Price: Pay for cores, not users. Weak points It needs a lot of machine resources (RAM and CPU) Very complex to install. You need specific SAS partner support Poor graphics vs Tableau or Qlik Sense Normally you need the Enterprise Guide or other ETL solution to data prepare
it_user97749From my perspective, SAS is very rich but its origin lies in the programming. Therefore, knowledge in setting up programming use and direction is somewhat implied. Targeted to a more technical data science audience. Tableau, on the other hand, is focused on a visual end-user perspective. Therefore, the target is a business analyst who focuses on what the data implies - somewhat agnostic to the statistical techniques focus.

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