The Power Of Business Intelligence Tools

5 minute read
According to estimates, 80% of global data is unstructured. This data resides in social media feeds, digital photos, emails and audio files, to name a few. Unstructured data can be hard to analyze, which means businesses can fail to utilize the treasure trove of data they have access to. That’s where modern business intelligence tools come in. We now have access to tools that can collate data from various sources, including apps, websites and blogs, that businesses can use to create actionable reports. In fact, as technology matures to analyze videos and images, business intelligence tools are increasingly becoming more capable of prescriptive analysis. Prescriptive analytics can not only be used to predict market trends, but it can, in fact, be used to create a simpler, more engaging user experience. Imagine being alerted to an impending arrhythmia based on your recent activity and health trends of people with similar profiles across the globe. While prescriptive analytics might be a way off, still, there are other immediate benefits that business intelligence tools can offer.

The Power Of Business Intelligence Tools

Business intelligence tools increasingly come with mobile and cloud compatibility, which allows users to access data insights from anywhere. This on-demand access to data insights can allow businesses to have more mobile teams, which also means a wider talent pool to pick from. In addition to intelligence tools’ increasing ease of use, there are three primary reasons why businesses should leverage them.

1. The Advantage Of The ‘Agile’ Approach

The agile model of the business depends on quick iterations to arrive at the desired outcome. Quick iterations, in turn, rely on testing and data collection, both of which are possible through business intelligence (BI) tools. Moreover, since it is possible to give the entire organization access to the same data, BI tools can facilitate more efficient teamwork. Imagine the entire marketing department having access to insights and tweaking campaigns in real time. Or the entire development team getting reports on app usage and making improvements to UX accordingly.

2. More Convincing Power

Marketing departments often run into the problem of justifying dollar spend. Proving the ROI of digital marketing, in particular, can be very difficult, given that most organizations implement an omnichannel approach, and most user journeys are divided between various touch points, online and offline.

BI tools can help organizations make sense of all the data that’s pouring in from different sources. By analyzing reports and fetching insights, marketing departments can make better pitches for increased funding.

3. The Power Of Personalization

BI tools can support a whole host of analytical functions, including online analytical processing, data visualization and performance scorecards. Functions can be combined together to flesh out user personas, which can then be used to improve the personalization of marketing messages. In fact, the agile approach fits perfectly with the quest to improve customer experience and ultimately conversions, with the help of personalization.

A Few Common BI Tools

Business intelligence tools have grown rapidly in popularity and functionality in the last four years or so. In fact, it is estimated that the BI and analytics software market will be worth more than $20 billion by 2020, with a heavy emphasis on mobile BI.

Contrary to popular belief, not all BI tools are complicated or expensive. There are quite a few easy-to-use options that can provide value to small businesses. Here are some commonly used BI tools in the market today that our clients use and that we work with when analyzing data and making strategic decisions for our clients. These are just a few tools that, in my opinion, have the right mix of functionality, ease of use and affordability.

Microsoft Power BI

First launched in 2015, Microsoft Power BI is one of the most affordable data analytics tools I’ve seen in the market. It stands out for its data visualization capabilities and real-time trends analysis. With navigation very similar to Microsoft Excel, it is easy to use for Excel power users. In fact, integration with other popular Microsoft tools, such as SQL Server, is seamless. However, if you have large data sets to analyze, Power BI might not be for you. With large data sets, there can be a severe performance lag.


Sisense has simpler dashboards that are still informative. It can handle large data sets with ease, thanks to its columnar approach and efficient use of CPU for speed. However, Sisense is one of the more expensive tools in the market.

IBM Cognos Analytics

This business intelligence tool includes unique products that set it apart from the competition. Analysis tools include what-if analysis, trend analysis and advanced analysis, each of which can help users make better decisions faster. With customized notifications, cross-department analysis and easy scalability, it can be a powerful tool in the right hands but does come at a cost and with a steep learning curve.

Google Data Studio

Free for Google account users, Google Data Studio is a reporting tool that just came out of beta. Since it is a Google product, it integrates seamlessly with other products from the search engine giant, including Google Analytics. Quick and seamless integration means that importing data from your search marketing and advertising efforts is super easy. In my opinion, Google Data Studio really takes the cake in the collaboration department. It offers similar functionalities to other Google products, such as assigning different permissions to team members and being able to share reports with just about anyone.

However, it is not as advanced as some of the more mature BI tools in the market. For instance, it offers pretty basic visualization options, and there is no way to customize the tool tip.


One of the most popular BI tools in the market, Tableau stands out for its intensive data visualization capabilities. It allows you to perform some really complex data visualization tasks with ease. Tableau also has a robust mobile client, which means you can perform analysis duties on the go. However, Tableau can be more expensive, at least for larger organizations.

With the collection of available business intelligence tools, organizations shouldn’t have a problem finding the right product fit. An investment in business intelligence leads to faster and more accurate reporting, moving data to insight and action.

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