How To Evaluate BI Tools: 10 Key Factors 

To transform your business into an insight-driven organization, you need to start by choosing the right business intelligence (BI) tool. But with so many BI tools to choose from, this can be tough exercise.

When choosing between different solutions, you should consider comparing features but you should also consider factors such as, how BI will deliver value, who will be using the tool, and the full spectrum of cost associated with deploying the solution (including hardware, software licenses, training, maintenance, etc.).

Evaluate BI Tools

Here are ten key factors for choosing the right tool for you:

  1. Be clear about how BI & analytics will drive value for your company.

Your best digital insights will come when you make specific decisions about what your organization wants to achieve digitally. For example, you may be trying to democratize access to data and analytics by embed­ding them into operational apps, or create advanced analytics to support strategic deci­sions. The more specific your needs are, the easier you can formulate selection criteria.

  1. Make sure you can visually explore your data and find hidden patterns.

Your tool should allow you to explore your data visually and it should provide visual feedback as you go to help you uncover insights. It should also allow you to dive deep into your visualizations from one simple interface without any coding or programming. For that reason performing drill up and drill down operations is a key feature to look for in BI tools. What is drill up and down in Business Intelligence – drill down allows users to move from a more generalized view to a more specific one, revealing additional layers of detail. Drill up, on the other hand, allows users to move from a more detailed view to a higher, more summarized level. This dynamic interaction with data will greatly improve the user’s ability to analyze and comprehend data at various levels of granularity, making it a top feature for effective data exploration.

  1. Focus on the use cases that matter to you.

Once you know which BI capabilities will provide widespread value, use that as your primary basis for evaluation. If the features don’t align with your organization’s needs, then who cares if Platform A beats platform B in 60% of the features?

  1. Ensure deployment options are compatible with your current data strategy.

Your BI tool should be integrated into your current data strategy , not require you to change or buy new systems. It should allow you to deploy your analytics anywhere in the cloud, on premises, or a mix of both. And it should be easy to integrate into your company portals and enterprise applications so you can reach your users when they’re most likely to interact with them. Plus, the best BI tools allow for optimized native connections to your business data, regardless of where it resides, so you can analyze faster. It also lets you analyze data in real time without having to bring it into memory and helps you optimize your databases for optimal performance.

  1. Understand the TCO (total cost of ownership).

When evaluating platforms, take into account the total cost of ownership (TCO). Free tools can actually be expensive because they often require more resources, people, and infrastructure to meet your enterprise-level requirements. So, don’t just base the decision on the price tag. Make sure to include all the other extra components needed to make that free platform function in your enterprise environment both today and in the future.

  1. Recognize the costs of doing analytics incorrectly

It’s important to evaluate TCO when choosing a platform. However, when you choose a BI tool as a foundation for driving digital transformation in your organization there are a multitude of costs to consider. We’re not just talking about the normal costs associated with owning a SaaS product.

There are some real hidden costs associated with BI tools that aren’t discussed often, such as “What’s it going to cost if there aren’t any repositories of visualizations?” or “What’s the cost of purchasing and installing complementary software when my data can’t be packaged and deployed together with visualizations inside applications?” Learn more about the hidden cost of business intelligence tools that can’t easily address your use cases

  1. Make sure you can have governed self-service BI at scale.

The best BI tools now have data governance capabilities. Data governance refers to the roles, processes, policies, and tools which ensure data quality and proper data usage across your organization. This makes it easier for anyone to find, use, and share datasets they can trust without relying on IT. It also helps you foster a culture of data literacy in your organization.

  1. Get full capabilities on mobile

Given how distributed workforces are today, you need the full capabilities of your BI tool wherever you are. This means it should have native responsive design and touch and a fully-native mobile app that has integrated alerting with push notifications and fully interactive online and offline exploration of real-time data.

  1. Know who are the most important users

Identify which users in your organization are the most important to success and then see if the platform meets their needs. You may have LOTS of potential users such as, executives, business managers, clients, partners, analysts, data scientists, or even customer service reps and customers. You should decide if they’re all equally important.

  1. Identify the capabilities you need to drive digital transformation.

Before discussing features and functions, make sure you’re considering business intelligence tools that provide a solid foundation for a long-term, data-driven digital transformation. This foundation requires easy data access, robust governance, and broad deployment options. A thorough BI tools comparison process will allow you to judge the ability of any solution for effectively democratizing data and driving data literacy throughout your organization.

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