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Best Business Intelligence and Data Visualization Tools for 2019

Data is burgeoning at a breakneck speed today and businesses are generating more data than ever. Business intelligence and visualization has become a separate function within organizations as technology has evolved from using advanced excel sheets to sophisticated tools.

Companies are using various business intelligence tools and platforms to generate meaningful visualizations from volumes of data. The tools are evolving to not only reflect trends, charts, infographics, but also generate actionable insights. There are various tools and large competitors in BI and visualization space.

Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence platforms 2019 lists some of the best tools and platforms with Tableau, Qlik and Microsoft recognized as leaders in the space.

Let’s discuss the top three BI and visualization tools.

1. Tableau

Tableau is a leader in the BI and visualization space. It provides an easy-to-use analytics solution and interactive dashboards. It works very well with Big Data engineering and machine learning platforms for data visualization. It can connect to structured/unstructured data sources like Excel, text files, JSON, statistical data, Oracle, Teradata, SAP HANA, and MongoDB. It also connects with cloud and advanced data sources, including Amazon Athena, Amazon Redshift, Google Cloud SQL, and Hadoop.

One of key reasons for Tableau’s popularity is that it is intuitive to use and allows creating meaningful visualizations with simple drag and drop functionality through its patented VizQL technology, promoting the concept of self-service BI.

The Tableau team has introduced a new feature called ‘Hyper’, which uses parallelism techniques to carry out analysis on large complex data sets along with high performance. Additionally, they have also added new features on data governance in the 10.4 release of Tableau server. A machine learning based recommendation engine also auto suggests logic in terms of joins, tables, etc.

Tableau easily supports an organization’s data strategy whether it is on premise or on public cloud like AWS, Azure, or others. By moving from perpetual licensing fee to software as a subscription service with role- based pricing (viewer, creator, explorer), Tableau has helped to lower customer’s total cost of ownership.

2. QlikView/QlikSense

QlikSense is the next generation platform for self-service analytics from Qlik. QlikView has a user-friendly interface, but it requires basic professional development skills in SQL to create meaningful visualizations. Interactive dashboards and analytics applications can be easily built by its users.

The platform offers new features like augmented intelligence capabilities, self-service visualization, mobile analytics, data storytelling, app development – open APIs, multi cloud architecture and cognitive engine. Qlik’s associative model allows data exploration and data discovery for users requiring less of IT software skills. It works on data associations and leads users on their own guided path to hidden insights.

QlikView offers default as well as custom connectors to connect to a wide range of Big Data as well as cloud data sources.  The drilldown especially helps in performing detailed analysis of a business problem. The learning curve for QlikView might be a little steep, but once the interfaces and bridges to other systems are set, it provides better analytics in terms of discovery.

QlikView and QlikSense help creating data cubes, hence it is often also considered as a data mart by companies with a strong data governance model. The scripting process allows ETL (Extract Transform Load) capabilities for developers. QlikView’s previous pricing model was considered expensive by many customers, but QlikSense is offered with user-based flexible pricing model.

3. Microsoft PowerBI

Microsoft PowerBI is a cloud based BI service and comes in two forms: PowerBI Desktop and PowerBI Mobile. PowerBI offers 74 data connectors including files like Excel, text, JSON; databases like SQL Server, Oracle, IBM, and Azure; online services like Dynamic 365, Azure DevOps, Google analytics, Salesforce, Mailchimp, and Zendesk.

PowerBI is famous for its ease of use with the desktop edition offering robust data preparation. Big data can be integrated now with the web service directly, enabling data reusability. PowerBI has a huge gallery of custom visuals; so, the same data can be presented in a number of ways.

PowerBI enables connecting disparate data sources and helps to correlate them.  Users can create visualizations with natural language, which has been enabled by Cortana personal assistant.  PowerBI comes at competitive pricing in comparison with other vendors with three subscription tiers – Desktop, Pro and Premium.

There are many other effective tools in the market, which are gaining traction. Some of the major ones include Sisense, Looker, ThoughtSpot, SalesForce, SAP, SAS, Domo, GoodData and Microstrategy. While the leading tools are packed with features that can fulfil the needs of most organisations, the choice of the correct tool and vendor depends on the what your business is looking for.

eInfochips offers BI and visualization services including expertise in industry leading tools and technologies along with consulting on tools evaluation, selection and assessment. Please get in touch with us for guidance, assistance and solutions related to business intelligence and data visualization.

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