Get true insight into Business Intelligence software, quickly!

How to enhance decision making with BI software?

As a manager / architect or consultant you want to know how to organize your information more efficiently. Business Intelligence software automates the process of selecting data from different source systems, transform that data into valuable information and combine it in a single report or dashboard.

It delivers intelligence to employees and management

This type of software helps organizations to achieve efficient enterprise wide reporting and it delivers “intelligence” to employees and management who need it to make better decisions than yesterday and better decisions than their competitors.

What are the biggest benefits of BI-software?

You need to implement BI-software when your organization is ready to:

  • organize its information more efficiently and visualize it very effectively
  • provide each employee with insights they need in order to improve business processes
  • make better decisions at all levels of the organization on a daily basis
  • create a competitive advantage by creating insights your competitors don’t have

Read also ‘The 5 Biggest Benefits of Analytics for Managers and Knowledge Workers’

Without the right software companies experience more trouble

Companies that don’t use Business Intelligence software, or didn’t select the right software, are often exposed to higher risks than companies that use such software. This became very clear from our independent research among 389 organizations: companies that are successful with Business Intelligence have a higher profitability, more satisfied customers and employees.

Which solutions are available in the market?

An overview of the major vendors of this type of software can be found in the list of BI software which is provided and maintained by the Passionned Group. We have more than 15 years’ experience in Business Intelligence and that’s why we created an ideal instrument to select the right software very quickly: our Business Analytics Survey 2015.

How to select the right software for your company?

Step 1: Define the key Business Intelligence requirements from an IT- and user perspective.
Step 2: Use the list of requirements to get all the answers from the BI-vendors (RFI).
Step 3: Put all the answers in a matrix for the different vendors and analyze the information.
Step 4: Create a Business Intelligence software-short list and set-up a proof-of-concept.
Step 5: Negotiate with the BI vendors and choose the software that suits your needs best.

Ranking of Business Intelligence software

Our truly independent survey of BI software tools contains at least twelve graphs. You can use the graphs to compare the different software solutions on many different aspects:

Core functionality

Ranking in the category 'Core functionality'.


Ranking of Business Intelligence software in the category 'Infrastructure and Architecture'

Cloud support

Ranking in de category 'Cloud architecture'

Usability & visualization

Ranking of the different Business Intelligence software in the category 'Usability and Visualization'

Mobile BI

Ranking in the category 'Mobile Business Intelligence'

Performance & Big Data

Ranking in the category 'Performance Issues & Big Data'

Performance Management

Ranking of the software in the category 'Performance management & planning'

Predictive Analytics

Ranking of BI software in the category 'Predictive Analysis & Data mining'

Security & connectivity

Ranking in the category 'Security & Connectivity'

Search & alerting

Ranking of the software in the category 'Search & alerting'

Overall ranking

Ranking of Business Intelligence software across all categories (15) based on many criteria

Download our Business Analytics Survey 2015

Following all the five steps can be a very time consuming process and you cannot always be sure that the answers of the vendors are 100% right. That are the two main reasons why we have developed our 100% vendor independent Business Analytics Survey. All Business Intelligence software available in the market is thoroughly compared on 197 key evaluation criteria so you don’t have to perform step 1 to 3 anymore. The names of the different tools are in the graphs above removed. They are of course displayed in our survey.

Classification and list of BI software

Many of the solutions are able to create pixel-perfect reports, but some can do a lot more and have features on board for corporate performance management, mobile Business Intelligence, Data Integration, Data Discovery, and advanced statistics. There are four categories that contain a list of business intelligence software:

1. Enterprise Business Intelligence software
Enterprise Business Intelligence softwareThese products are completely independent of the database, the operating system, and the ERP package even though the company may be now be owned by a database or ERP vendor. These products were developed by companies that live exclusively from providing BI-software and the maintenance and services around them, although in recent years they have nearly all been acquired by companies who have a different main source of income.

They had/have to be very good at what they do to survive and most of them have been on the market for at least 15 years, they have thousands of customers and millions of users and they have dominated the Business Intelligence market place for years – it is interesting to note that whilst all the major products have survived the companies behind them have not BusinessObjects for example is now owned by SAP (an ERP supplier), it will be interesting to see if the product remains an enterprise software-product or becomes an add-on for SAP.

Products in this category

Cognos is owned by IBM and although it has taken two years, it is now clear what they intend to do with it, integrated with another of their acquisitions, SPSS, they have gone back to using the name Business Intelligence and they have the clear intention of producing the best Business Intelligence solution in the marketplace.

2. Database and packaged products
Database and packaged productsDatabase and packaged products are supplied as an option when you buy the database or packaged application software. Some of the functionality may be built into the database and/or the application and not be available separately.

The software is often database dependent and will not work with another database, this is not a restriction it is an element of the design. The value being that the product has been specifically tailored to run in a given environment. If you run your business in that environment there may be significant cost savings both in software and development costs. Until recently the functionality was often restricted, but some of the products with the most functionality in the market place have now been acquired by companies in this category (Hyperion, BusinessObjects, Siebel and ProClarity).

Products in this category

The question now arises what are the application suppliers intending to do with all the technology that they have bought. There are three possibilities: they can fully integrate the products into their applications, systems which should solve the information requirements of their customers and largely ignore their existing Business Intelligence customers who don’t use their applications, they can sell the software separately as an extra source of income independent of their applications or they can try and do both. Clearly all the Business Intelligence vendors we asked said they were doing both, but in many cases there is little evidence that they are succeeding.

3. Data Discovery and Visualization software
Data Discovery and Data Visualization softwareData Discovery and Visualization software: this is a new category of products which we have added in the 2011 July revision of the Business Analytics Survey. We have had difficulty in the past trying to categorize products like Qlik. Having had extensive discussions with both the vendor and many of their customers we came to the conclusion that they genuinely don’t fit into any of the existing categories that we had defined.

The products in this category are bought by the business (not generally by IT), and managed and used by the business itself – in many ways like Excel is used, but without most of the problems.

Products in this category

Whilst much of the functionality of this type of product is becoming available as an option in the other categories, particularly in the Enterprise Business Intelligence space, these products provide a level of user acceptance that we have never seen before. In general flexibility and speed of development together with presentation of results which is intuitive to the business are the major reasons for these products being successful.

4. Innovative, new and Niche products
Products that still have relatively low software revenue (less than $100 million) are generally only used at departmental level, not as THE corporate product of choice.

Most of these products come from a specific corner of Business Intelligence, like Balanced Scorecards or Financial Budgeting and have gradually extended their functionality into other areas of Business Intelligence. Whilst they usually don’t have the range of functionality of the other two categories, in general what they do – they do well.

Products in this category

For large enterprises, they are not the obvious choice, since most of these companies already have 10 or more different products in use, and are looking to reduce the number of products they support – not increase them. There are however about 40% of all our companies who have no existing Business Intelligence strategy or product (unless you count Excel as a Business Intelligence software product), for them this may well be a good place to start.

Another classification can be made as we look at how the software is created: open source versus closed source, or commercial software. Open source does not mean that you don’t have to pay for the software; it does only tell you that the source code is developed by an open source community. Often it is then exploited by a commercial company for example Pentaho or JasperSoft.

Important features of Business Intelligence software

Business Intelligence software ships usually with one or more of the following features:

Reporting1. Reporting

  • connect to one or multiple databases in a single report
  • loading millions of data records for aggregation and analysis
  • design a pixel perfect report including a variety of formatting options
  • conditional formatting
  • display plain tables or pivot tables
  • creating sections guided by a dimension
  • creating simple and complex filters
  • presenting data in many type of graphs
  • automatic summarization of figures: average, count, sum and so forth.


2. Analysis

  • clicking on data items to drill-down into the details
  • one click graphs
  • switching easily a dimensions by slicing and dicing
  • nesting dimensions
  • filtering
  • conditional formatting
  • automatic summarization of figures

Dashboarding3. Dashboarding

  • display measures visualized as meters
  • letting you to create a dashboard with one or more meters
  • defining norms and targets on measures
  • alerts and notifications when target values are reached
  • drilling into more details

4. Performance management

  • Performance managementdefine a framework of key performance indicators
  • setting the most likely impact of one indicator on another
  • defining norms, targets and objectives
  • support for the Balanced Scorecard methodology
  • support for strategy maps
  • support for planning & consolidation
  • adjusting norms and targets
  • visualization of the performance indicators in dashboards and reports

Social collaboration5. Social collaboration

  • creating notes regarding a specific indicator or graph
  • distribute the notes to your colleagues
  • real-time shared analysis letting your colleagues see what you see
  • instant messaging (IM) lets you chat about the figures

Most Business Intelligence software do have features for basic reporting and analysis. But we know from our research that not all solutions provide features for performance management and social collaboration. We know also that this software differ substantially in terms of functionality, connectivity, security, platform support, usability and price. We compared and evaluated all the BI software available in the market on 197 requirements.

Do you prefer to get in contact with us for BI-assistance?

If you want assistance in the process of selecting the right Business Intelligence software for your organization, please contact us for an appointment.