BI reporting tools

IBM Cognos

Just like a repairman needs a toolbox full of screwdrivers and nails, people building their careers in business intelligence (BI) need to be familiar with a few software tools. BI includes tools, strategies, and functions organizations use to gather, process, and analyze data.

BI reporting tools help to discover opportunities for organizations to increase return on investment and competitive advantage depending upon insights found. These tools are applied among businesspeople, industries, and departments.

Let’s look at the benefits of BI tools and eight of the most used BI reporting tools.

What is a Business Intelligence (BI) tool?

BI tools gather, process, and analyze vast amounts of structured and unstructured data from both internal and external sources. Data sources include files, books, videos, images, documents, emails, journals, social media posts, and more. Queries provide this information to BI tools, which present the data in a user-friendly manner like graphs, charts, dashboards, and reports.

BI reporting tools perform several functions like performance management, reporting, predictive analytics, data mining, analytics, data visualization, text mining, and so on. Consequently, people can drive this data to make informed decisions depending on market trends, predictions, and key performance indicators (KPIs).

The Benefits of BI Reporting Tools

Businesses can take smart, data-driven decisions to achieve bigger objectives by using BI tools.

  • Centralized data: BI tool help to integrate all your data in one location. Businesses gather data from several sources like portals, enterprise resource planning systems, customer relationship management systems, databases, and others. You need a BI tool to bring the data altogether and offer certain forms of views like analytics, trends, and issues depending upon the query raised by an employee.
  • Make predictions: Forecasting and predictive analytics features allow users to generate insights depending upon a product and service performance history. You can make evidence-based decisions by accessing past and present data.
  • Reduces business costs: BI tools make analyzing, reporting, and planning processes much more accurate and efficient than ever before. For instance, BI helps you to analyze consumer behavior and sales forecasting to real-time process monitoring easily. Hence, reducing business costs.
  • Automatic reports: BI tools are automated as you don’t need to input data manually into Excel spreadsheets and others. You can add any information to a presentation easily, download any graphs or charts, and create interactive visualizations.

Top 8 BI Reporting Tools

  1. IBM Cognos: IBM Cognos is a BI and performance management software suite that help organizations of all sizes make better business decisions by providing accurate, timely, and actionable information. It enables you to easily connect and integrate your data. Key features include:
  • Reporting: IBM reporting software offers a broad range of reporting functionalities like operational reports, ad-hoc reports, and interactive dashboards.
  • Analysis: Cognos Analytics allows users to perform multidimensional analysis, which allows them to view data from multiple perspectives and analyze it in a variety of ways.
  • Score carding: You can create scorecards using IBM Cognos that track and measure KPIs against targets and goals.
  • Monitoring: Real-time monitoring of data and KPIs features are available for users which helps them to quickly identify issues and act.
  • Collaboration: It allows businesspeople to collaborate on reports and analysis, share insights and knowledge, and make better decisions together.
  • Integration: It can be consolidated with a broad range of data sources such as databases, spreadsheets, and other business applications.
  1. Sisense BI reporting: It provides an end-to-end reporting tool. Sisense is a self-service reporting and analytics tool which enables you to design powerful reports and interactive dashboards in seconds.

Moreover, even a non-technical individual can create robust visual reports without spending time in preparation. Key features include:

  • You can create fully interactive reports that update automatically.
  • Building and sharing dashboards have been made easy.
  • All dashboards and reports feed from real-time data.
  • Generate reports with a beautiful and wide range of visualization features.
  • Can be operated on any mobile or desktop device.
  • Generate reports with data from a wide range of data sources like text/CSV files, Excel, cloud sources, or any database (MySQL, Oracle, SQL Server).
  1. Power BI: Power BI is the BI and analytics tool from Microsoft. It allows you to connect to data sources, model data, and transform using built-in query tools, and visualize it through reports and dashboards.

Key features include:

  • Data visualization: You can create interactive visualizations using a range of visualizations such as charts, graphs, maps, and tables. This helps users to form data-driver decisions and gain insights from their data.
  • Data modeling: Power BI help users to transform, clean, and reshape their data. Users can create relationships between tables, create calculated columns and measures, and use advanced modeling features like data profiling and lineage.
  • Data integration: It consolidates several data sources such as Excel spreadsheets, SQL Server, SharePoint, and more.
  • Collaboration: Power BI enables you to collaborate on reports and dashboards, share insights, and work together to make effective business decisions. Users can share dashboards and reports with others, set up data alerts, and use natural language queries to access data.
  • Customization: You can add custom visuals, create themes, and use the Power BI API to integrate with other applications
  1. Looker: It is an amazing cloud-derived business intelligence tool with dynamic, beautiful reports and charts designed to help you explore, present, and analyze data.

Looker’s ability to create appealing data visualizations and great reports helps to make deeper analysis easy, simple, and quick. Charts and visualizations are developed on fresh data direct from the source and they update in real-time. Data analysis is interactive and convenient for Looker.

Additionally, you can easily share data-rich dashboards and reports anytime and from any device. Key features include:

  • It is entirely web-based and hence, no software to download.
  • Reliable support and rich self-service database.
  • Easy-to-read reports and beautiful dashboards.
  • Streamline collaboration features.
  • Improved visualizations through elegant details from trend lines to conditional formatting.
  1. Tableau: It is one of the most famous BI reporting solutions which helps companies to represent, report, visualize, analyze, and understand their data. Tableau functionalities are at a very high level in terms of reporting and visualization.

It offers live visual analytics and unlimited data exploration. Interactive dashboards help users to identify hidden insights from their data. Key features include:

  • Data Visualization: Visualization tools like bar charts, line charts, scatter plots, heat maps, and others are offered by Tableau. This allows you to explore and analyze your data in real time.
  • Data Blending: You can blend data from multiple sources, including spreadsheets, databases, and cloud-based data sources. This enables users to create a single, unified view of their data.
  • Data Exploration: Features like data filtering, drill-down capabilities, and data highlighting are available.
  • Integration: Tableau integrates with a wide range of data sources, including Excel, Salesforce, and Hadoop. This allows users to easily connect to their data and create visualizations. You can also collaborate with others by commenting on data or sharing their insights.
  • Mobile Support: It provides support for mobile devices allowing users to view and interact with their dashboards on the go.
  1. SAP crystal reports: It is designed to offer business reports which enhance decision-making. It makes presenting data using reports a breeze. You will get great flexibility and customization for several presentations and reports that you can design daily. Several people can feed and draw data from it.

Additionally, the system can generate reports depending on the information which is collected from almost any data source. Key features include:

  • Create multilingual reports.
  • You can create highly formatted and pixel-perfect reports quickly.
  • Efficient content delivery even across all departments of an organization.
  • Interactive report exploration.
  • Generate direct connectivity to data sources without data modeling.
  • Parameters values with zero requirements to refresh data.
  1. Datapine BI reporting: This reporting tool enables users to create and share dynamic online dashboards filled with tables and charts. This enables people across the organization to monitor ongoing internal operations consistently, quickly, and effectively. Key features include:
  • Integrate all data sources: You can collect all internal and external data sources into one single point of access. You can conduct cross-database analysis and complicated BI reporting without any SQL knowledge.
  • Benefit from SaaS solutions: Datapine is a Software as a Service tool that enables users to leverage the data power and extract actionable insights from an online environment. By adopting a BI tool like Datapine you can avoid update and maintenance costs as the software updates automatically on its own.
  • Easily create reports: It enables users to analyze data quickly using its drag-and-drop interface. Within seconds, you can create a professional report without writing any code. This feature is not provided by another MySQL BI tool.
  • Filter data: To help users represent their data story efficiently, this BI tool offers the opportunity to visualize your relevant KPIs on one screen. You can filter the data as per your requirement during the presentation process.
  • Multi-device usability: With Datapine BI reporting software, you can access your data from anywhere at any time. You can visualize your data on any device with an internet connection, even if you’re out of the office, with investors checking the data using their phones or iPads. Datapine can take your BI reporting to the next stage with flexibility.
  1. Sysomos: It is a unified, insights-based social platform that offers BI and reporting across paid, owned, and earned media. By going to social research engine, you can quickly make sense of social data and draw valuable insights.

Sysomos visual analytics help you discover new insights into the interests and behaviors of your target audience. The solution is brilliant for marketers or companies who need in-depth social media research, reporting, and analytics. Key features include:

  • Real-time monitoring.
  • Share, iterate, and collaborate.
  • Proactive social monitoring.
  • Powerful analytics and an easy-to-use interface.
  • Entire visibility and control over any companies or users’ paid, owned, and earned data.

 Why Your Company Needs BI Reporting Tool

There are various reasons why integrating a BI reporting tool in your company is significant.

Today, by using self-service BI tools, non-technical users can create their dashboards and reports. Companies can help employees to use data and gain valuable insight into significant business metrics. The BI tool promotes effective decision-making within teams and even shares the data with others. Managers can use BI data to support their decisions.

BI reports allow companies to look at the bigger picture by integrating data from several units and enabling users to interact with that data. This can be done in minutes as big data reporting tools are developed to reduce time spent analyzing data for reporting.

Moreover, BI platforms can publish reports on an automatic schedule that is customized as per the security permissions. Significantly, not all BI tools can perform these functions and hence, you need to analyze which BI tool is helpful as per your requirement.


Best Practice to Use BI Reporting Tools Effectively

Although BI reporting is specific to your organizational demands, there are few significant best practices in relation to BI reporting tools. These include:

  • Select the correct audience for the reports and work in collaboration with the IT team to set up permissions.
  • Learn about intelligent and interactive data visualizations.
  • Make a handy report with analysis in mind. Analyze how this report can be easily understood.
  • Be focused to adapt your BI reporting process to advances in technology and reforms in business requirements.


BI refers to the process of integrating data management, analytics, reporting tools, and other methodologies for analyzing data, visualizing, and providing valuable insights which help employees, leaders, and executives to form informed decisions. The main objective of BI is to offer data-driven decisions which allow companies to increase revenue, enhance efficiency, and gain competitive advantage over business rivals.

A detailed BI report provides you with accurate and complete information regarding the business position and further provides wise strategic recommendations. BI reports are intuitive, interactive, and dynamic. Overall, you should adopt a BI reporting tool that best suits the organizational needs, goals, and targets.

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