A comparison of leading complete business intelligence suites

Collecting data, transforming it into information, and knowing how to use it may bring your company great benefits

As we grow older we realise that running a company is nowhere near as easy as we once thought it would be. The success we all desire seems to be hard to achieve, especially nowadays when the technology which runs the world is continuously evolving, forcing us constantly to adapt and to change our processes. That is why people often come up with unexpected solutions.

One of those solutions happens to be one of the most talked-about technology topics these days, Business Intelligence (BI). This refers to the tools and systems responsible for analysing the data that has a significant impact on our company and the way it functions.

Collecting data, transforming it into information, and knowing how to use it may bring your company great benefits. BI software was first designed to provide your company with answers and help it make faster and more accurate decisions. It is not surprising that a company needs to know its potential customer profiles, its competitors, and the market itself, but searching the Internet and all the documents you have been gathering throughout the years to do so can be quite daunting. It would take you an eternity, but with the right software – it should only take a few minutes. Another way you can benefit from using BI tools is by saving money because once you get to know the statistics, you will know exactly what you need to do and don’t need to do as a company.

We give you examples of three BI suites that are, in our opinion, essential in business. 

1. Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools
The first of the three free BI tools that can be incorporated into bespoke solutions is called BIRT (Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools). This platform is part of the open-source Eclipse project and consists of several components, all of which can be applied to any Java and Java EE environments. With two of its most popular tools, BIRT Report Designer and BIRT Runtime, you can easily create and run reports ranging from simplistic to very complex. We find the process of extracting and processing data very easy to use, however, BIRT seems to be lacking one essential addition which is a report server. If you need user or report management and other notifications, you should probably start looking for a different suite as BIRT does not provide these functionalities.

2. Penthalo
Report server capabilities may be important to you and your company and that is why we present you with another Business Intelligence suite from our list, Pentaho. Created by Pentaho Corporation, this system helps you to centralise and enrich data easily and quickly. Just like BIRT, Pentaho consists of several components, with Pentaho Reporting being the most popular. What surprised us is its simple yet functional user interface. Even if you are at the very beginning of your business journey, understanding how Pentaho works are trouble-free. Whilst being a perfect solution for small businesses, Pentaho may have difficulties creating very complex reports, therefore if you run a big company, you will probably need to look for a different open-source solution.

3. SpagoBi
Which brings us to the last of our three choices. We believe that SpagoBi may be the best free software available on the market. Being founded and supported by Engineering Group, it offers both a large range of analytical functions and a set of advanced data visualisation features. What differentiates SpagoBI is the fact that this system goes beyond the traditional notion of Business Intelligence, providing broad and advanced capabilities that attracted companies such as Fiat and Gamebay. It may look complicated at first, but it is worth persevering.

To sum up
There is a large spectrum of both free and paid Business Intelligence suites offering both simple and advanced features. No matter which one you choose, it is essential as a means to run your business smoothly and effectively. Make sure you decide to make use of your data as soon as possible.

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