7 Best Business intelligence software 2021 (Free & Paid)

Daniel Ndukwu

August 4, 2021

Whether you have fifty customers or five million customers, your brand is producing a lot of data every day. This can be difficult to handle if you don’t have the right business intelligence software.

No matter how good you are at clicking through your tools, there are many insights and opportunities that will be missed. That’s why larger companies have dedicated data analysts to handle it. While that may not be possible for everyone, it is possible to use business intelligence tools to give yourself an edge.

This guide looks at what business intelligence (BI) software is and some of the best tools available right now. In the end, you’ll be in a better position to choose the right tools for your situation.

Keep in mind that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our comparisons and recommendations. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.

What is business intelligence software tools and what to look for

At its core, a business intelligence tool is an application that collects and organizes data from internal and external sources. This data can be from analytics tools, files, media, etc. The end goal is for this information to be presented to you in a way that helps you make informed business decisions.

The way I like to look it is that BI tools help me dig through the data to find opportunities I would have otherwise missed. It also makes it much easier to create reports and data visualizations to keep track of things within your organization or to share with partners, investors, and other stakeholders.

As you can imagine, there are many different ways a business intelligence application can help you achieve this goal. There are many tools on the market and they often take different approaches to provide users with useful information. Below are seven of the best BI tools that cover a wide range of use cases.

The best BI tools

1.    Databox

Databox business intelligence software

Databox is a relatively new business intelligence tool and it has taken an approach that makes it easier for small businesses to make the most of BI software. It has dozens of direct integrations with business software such as Google Analytics, Facebook (Pages, Groups, Ads), Google Ads, Mailchimp, and so many more.

The integrations allow you to build dashboards that compare multiple data points and give you a clear picture of business performance. Dashboards can be created from prebuilt templates provided by Databox or you can build your own and track the KPIs that are important to you.

Databox even goes as far as allowing you to measure the KPIs you’ve tracked and it will give you notifications if you’re falling behind. Taken together, it gives you a bird’s eye view of your business while allowing you to dive into the weeds.

Key features

  • Track key metrics/KPIs
  • Progress notifications
  • Goal tracking
  • Mobile application
  • Large collection of integrations
  • Integrate custom data
  • Design your own dashboards
  • Large collection of prebuilt templates
  • Combine dashboards together to create custom reports

Cons

  • Some of the integrations like ActiveCampaign don’t pull granular data
  • Some data can only be seen for a few months back

Pricing

Databox has a free plan that allows you to create 3 data boards and connect to three data sources. There are two paid plans which are priced based on usage and features.

Professional – starts at $169/m.

Performer – starts at $289/m.

2.    Tableau

tableau

Tableau is a business intelligence application with multiple products combined into one. This approach allows you to get a clear view of different aspects of your business and make better decisions with less effort.

It integrates with AI to help organizations crunch large amounts of data. The AI uses a visual interface to highlight important pieces of information which gives customers the opportunity to take action much faster. Of course, you can import data from multiple sources and use internal data sources.

Key features

  • Visual data management
  • Drag and drop visual report builder
  • Statistical modelling with AI
  • Desktop, mobile, and embedded (within other applications), versions
  • Dashboard sharing
  • Organize data into projects
  • Search functions and revision history
  • Permission levels and usage analytics
  • Cloud, on-site, and self-hosted solutions
  • CRM optimization tools

Cons

  • For many users Tableau is complex to set up and use  
  • Cannot create custom visual reports

Pricing  

Pricing is divided based on individuals and organizations as well as permission levels.

Individual – $70/m

Teams – Creator $70/m, explorer $35/m, and viewer $12/m.

3.    SAS business intelligence

SAS

SAS is an expansive business intelligence application that can be used across multiple industries that need to crunch large amounts of data. It’s mainly designed for the enterprise and makes it possible to do everything from mapping the way bees move in a hive to understanding the effects of climate change on specific population groups.

There are multiple products within the SAS suite that have different focuses. For example, it has an analytics suite, retail marketing optimization, fraud prevention, and so much more. It does require more effort to use but it can create priceless insights for organizations.

Key features

  • Supports multiple types of databases
  • Multiple platform integrations
  • On-premise and cloud deployments
  • Automated analysis
  • Sentiment analysis
  • AI powered tools and functions
  • Library of scripts to manage data
  • Permission level management
  • Powerful computation abilities

Cons

  • To get the most out of it, at least basic knowledge of SQL and SAS is needed
  • It’s relatively expensive with pricing starting at around $8,000/year

Pricing

Pricing is custom based on what your needs are and how many users will be interacting with the software. It starts at around $8,000/year and can go to tens of thousands of dollars when there are multiple users or complex needs.

4.    Datapine

Datapine

Datapine is business intelligence software that attempts to make it simple for the average user to extract insights from large amounts of data. It uses a drag and drop interface that allows its customers to create custom reports within minutes.

It provides a large number of dashboard templates you can start using almost immediately after registering your account. These are sorted based on industry, use case, or the platform you’re pulling data from. Of course, it has many direct integrations with popular services and it also supports custom data imports.

Key features

  • Dozens of data connections
  • Drag and drop interface
  • Create custom queries using SQL
  • Robust trend analysis
  • Data visualization
  • Multiple prebuilt dashboards
  • User role management
  • Easily share dashboards with team or clients
  • Embed information on webpages
  • Prediction tools and statistical modelling
  • White labelling

Cons

  • The plans are limited and relatively expensive when compared to similar solutions
  • Longer contract periods and need 4 months’ notice to cancel

Pricing

There are multiple pricing plans depending on the number of users and features available. Apart from the base plan user allocation, you can purchase more seats.

Basic – $249/m

Professional – $449/m

Premium – $799/m

Branding & embedded – $1099/m

5.    Qlik

Qlik Business intelligence application

Qlik is business intelligence software that focuses on turning raw data into real insights. Those insights power your decision-making and give you the confidence to move quickly. In addition to presenting insights for customers, it also strives for data literacy in organizations and provides it as a separate service.

Qlik is divided into three core products. Data integration, data analytics, and data literacy (as a service). Together, it helps break down silos in organizations and ensures the best decisions are made and new products are solving a real need.

Key features

  • Real-time data incorporated into Qlik accounts
  • Automated creation of data warehouses
  • View all organizational data in a single view
  • Create custom views to analyze data from multiple sources
  • Embed in other applications
  • Multiple direct integrations with popular tools
  • Visual dashboard for nontechnical users
  • Build out automations between different saas platforms

Cons

  • Some reports cannot be exported to Excel  
  • There’s a limit to the number of rows a sheet can have

Pricing

Qlik doesn’t share much of its pricing information and it has multiple products. Those are tailored and will need a custom quote. For the hosted data analytics, pricing starts at $30/user/month when billed annually.

6.    Domo

Domo

Domo is another BI application that’s designed to get data out of silos and in front of everyone in an organization. Instead of a top-down approach to ideas and campaigns, everyone can be empowered to identify opportunities and take action on them.

Domo makes this possible through a large number of direct integrations, analytics tools, and automation. Even if it doesn’t have a direct integration, APIs can make it possible to pull your data into Domo.

Key features

  • Over 1,000 integrations
  • Visual interface for managing information and building dashboards
  • Integrate Domo with your own application
  • Create advanced scripts with the built-in SQL editor
  • Automate data collection processes
  • Machine learning capabilities
  • Send out data from Domo to other applications
  • Over 100 different chart types
  • Combine datasets and rapidly calculate information
  • Mobile application

Cons

  • Knowledge of SQL is needed to make the most of Domo
  • Processing slows down for larger data sets.

Pricing

Domo doesn’t have public pricing. Each client gets the platform tailored to them but pricing is roughly $100+/m/user to start. Note: this is an estimate based on research into past pricing trends of Domo.

7.    Microsoft Power BI

Power BI is a popular business intelligence software solution that’s designed for enterprise users with strict data management requirements. It’s not the most intuitive tool but if you’re able to master it then it can help you uncover powerful business insights.

Of course, Microsoft has put in a lot of effort to make its BI software world class. There are many visualization types, AI features built-in, and robust security features. Data modeling, visualization, and KPI tracking are all part of what Power BI offers.

Key features

  • AI capabilities
  • Data modeling
  • Multiple visualization options
  • Import data from multiple sources
  • Support for conversational language queries
  • Collaborate and share via multiple Microsoft applications
  • Well over 100 free data connectors
  • Custom data integrations
  • Multiple reporting templates

Cons

  • It’s complex and can take some time to learn
  • Sharing data outside of Microsoft products is limited

Pricing

Pro – $9.99/user/m

Premium – $20/user/m

Conclusion

As you can see from the list compiled here, there are many types of business intelligence software solutions. Each one brings something different to the table. Some focus on small businesses while others are geared towards enterprise clients. Some of them focus on power and crunching big data while others focus on visualization and delivering insights to the average user.

Take a look at the business intelligence tools in this collection and shortlist the ones that match your needs the most. I’d recommend Databox for small businesses with a need for visual reports and Power BI for larger businesses that have technical resources.

Daniel Ndukwu is the CoFounder of Growth Boost and the Founder of KyLeads. He brings extensive digital marketing experience to the table and enjoys helping people on their entrepreneurial journey. When not creating internet-first brands, he spends as much time as he can with his family.

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