Whenever someone talks about ‘Business Intelligence (BI) tools’, the first thing that clicks our mind is using spreadsheets for data analysis and graphing needs. Microsoft Excel and other spreadsheets have existed for quite a long time, but they are not considered as the right tool for many BI tasks. For example, creating charts in MS Excel is an easy job but transforming the data in the right format is a difficult and time-consuming task. It is always a hit-or-miss, because you are not sure what data you would like to show first.
There are other factors also that make you rethink to use spreadsheets for any type of data analysis purpose. If you have a huge lot of data, which is not well structured or it is difficult to sort it out in rows and columns, then you might come into trouble of handling the data and coming to any conclusion.
Search the right tool
Finding the right BI tool is not an easy task. Unlike spreadsheets, BI tools differ from each other in terms of data consumption inputs and outs and the way table manipulations is done. For example, you might find some tools with better exploration feature than the analysis. There are certain tools that demand you to be fully trained to make a real use of all their features. The most challenging part is that the market is full of such tools and the vendors claiming the self-serve BI label even if it is not there in there.
So, how can you overcome this issue of selecting the right tool for your business? Well, let us discuss some parameters that you can keep in mind while hunting for a BI tool for your company.
- The products are available in the wide price range. Before making any buying decision, you should jot-down your entire analytics requirement. To start with, try to go for a product that provides trial versions with some add-ons.
- Does the selected BI tool provide a good collection of visualization in addition to that the manageable learning curve that you are able to afford in terms of time and money (to be invested in trainings)? The best way will be to spend some time looking through some community forums where people share their reviews about the products they are using.
- Is the tool highly intuitive and flexible enough to be extended in all kinds of directions?
- What is the data-storage and daily refresh cycles for the safety of your data?
- Whether the tool is self-service BI tool where you are not dependent on anyone to complete your work?
There is a wide range of products in the market. But before investing in any of the BI tools, it is necessary that you identify what data you have available for analysis and what kind of strategic decisions you intend to make with the help of the analysis. If you are not very sure, to start quickly and with little investment, the best way is to try something that offers significant features for free, such as MS Power BI.