What are reporting tools?
Reporting tools are widely used to support decision making and to measure organizational and team performance. Companies use them for financial consolidation, for evaluation of strategies and policies and often just for plain reporting. Today most of these tools are integrated with Business Intelligence tools.
What are the advantages of these tools for your organization?
Reporting tools allow companies to create attractive reports easily. In tabular or graphical format. With data from Excel, a data warehouse or the organization’s ERP system. With the reports containing the right information people are able to manage and improve the business processes more easily.
Which reporting tools are available in the market?
There are many tools in the market available. This list of reporting tools shows you a complete overview of all the major tools currently available and thoroughly studied by our industry analysts. To name a few: Cognos Query and reporting, Oracle Enterprise Reporting, Crystal Reports, Microsoft Reporting Services (SSRS), etc.
Is there a difference between reporting tools and BI tools?
Almost every company, large or small, needs a reporting tool or they have already one in place. But, what is the difference between reporting software and Business Intelligence tools? They are not the same. In general reporting tools tell us where we have been but are not very good at analyzing data (at real time) and telling us where we are going (predictive). This is very well shown at the figure below.
Figure: reporting tools cover a small part of the Business Intelligence arena, they lack important functionality for Data Discovery and Predictive Analytics.
The figure displays the relationship between the complexity of the different solutions, the business impact and the type of functionality you need. If you need all types of functionality (reporting, OLAP, dashboards, advanced analytics) consider buying a complete Business Intelligence platform.
Are they intelligent?
Almost all Business Intelligence tools contain a reporting tool but most reporting tools are not very smart. That is because they have very less functionality for analyzing data: OLAP or Data Discovery, and they are often not able to process very large volumes of data. Our suggestion is that if you think you need a reporting tool look further and consider a Business Intelligence tool.
How can you select the right tool for your organization easily?
Step 1: Determine your most important selection criteria – both user and IT requirements.
Step 2: Contact all the vendors with your criteria and ask them for the answers (RFI).
Step 3: Make sure the answers from the vendors are validated before analyzing them.
Step 4: Analyze all the answers, rank them and create a short list (maximum of 3).
Step 5: Negotiate with the vendor / reseller and choose the tool that suits your needs best.
We all know that selecting the right software can be a very time consuming process. For more than 15 years we have assisted companies in this process and so we have designed a tool which contains an evaluation of all the major reporting tools: the Reporting Tools Survey.
A list of reporting tools
Click on the name in the list of reporting tools below to get more information about a specific reporting product. They are listed alphabetically.
- Birst: reporting & analytics v5.13, Birst
- Style Intelligence: Style Report, v12, InetSoft
- BizzScore Suite: BizzScore Management Dashboard, v7.4, EFM Software
- Board Management IntelligenceToolkit: Board reporting, v9, Board International
- BusinessObjects BI: Reporter; WebIntelligence; Crystal Reports, v4.1/SP5, SAP
- IBM Cognos Series 10: Cognos Query and Reporting, v10.2.2, IBM
- JasperSoft (open source): iReport Designer, v6, JasperSoft
- Microsoft BI tools: Reporting & Analysis Services; Power BI; SharePoint, 2014, Microsoft
- MicroStrategy: MicroStrategy Report Services, v9.4.1, Microstrategy
- Oracle Enterprise BI Server: Oracle Enterprise Reporting, v220.127.116.11, Oracle
- Oracle Hyperion System: Hyperion Interactive Reporting, v9, Oracle
- Pentaho BI suite (open source): Pentaho Report Designer & Engine, v5.2, Pentaho
- Qlik: Qlik Business Discovery (no pixel-perfect reporting), v11.20, QlikTech
- SAP NetWeaver BI: SAP Crystal Reporting, v7.3, SAP
- SAS Enterprise BI Server: Query & Analysis, v9.4, SAS Institute
- Tableau Software: Does not contain a reporting tool, v8.3, Tableau Software
- WebFocus: Reports & dashboards; Query and Analysis, v8.01, Information Builders
- Yellowfin BI: collaboration, dashboards & mobile BI, v7.1, Yellowfin
The niche players Arcplan, Spotfire, Actuate, Talend and Panorama software were not included in our survey, because they did not want to fill in the questionnaire completely and the comparison cannot be done without the vendor’s cooperation. Perhaps they expect half way the questionnaire not to rank high in our our study?
The truth about embedded reporting tools
Many operational systems contain a reporting tool, they are embedded. Users are often not aware that they are even there, they just click on a ‘list’ and look into the results. Embedded reporting tools allow users to create reports based on data only of that specific operational system.
The real business value depends on how many data elements can be combined in one report. The more tables that can be joined the bigger the business value might be. This works exponentially if you select the right data elements and the data quality is good. The truth is that many embedded reporting tools have very less business value because the standard reports contain data from just 1 or 2 tables and they often don’t have data cleansing tools on board. However there are a few exceptions.
Do you prefer to get in touch with us for advice?
If you want assistance in the process of selecting the right reporting tool for your organization, please contact us for an appointment.