5 Popular BI Tools Used for Data Visualization

Last Updated on May 20, 2021 by MoneyVisual

Every company has to deal with a large amount of data almost every day. It uses varied sources and technologies to collect this data, analyze it and get actionable insights. We are sure that even your organization has got valuable data but it is of no use if you can’t utilize it for business growth and development.

The key to unlocking the power of data and ensuring proper visualization is Business Intelligence (BI) tools that enable you to create dashboards so your team can make data-driven decisions.

There are a plethora of BI tools available out there, ranging from highly technical and powerful ones to lightweight and user-friendly dashboard builders. All types of businesses rely on the potential of these tools and use them to improve their business and its performance.

They are the best and simplest way to mine data and evaluate it. As the BI phenomenon gained popularity, advanced tools and technologies were introduced in the market for customers. Especially in this era, when data has become a necessity, modern enterprises and HR software for small business are using BI tools to collect data regarding every aspect of their business, be it sales, marketing, productivity, workflow, performance, profitability, and more. 

As we already know that many data points exist in isolation and require efficient tools to connect the dots and put them together. Therefore, Business Intelligence offers the ability to look at the specific details of business operations to get crucial information from each perspective.

This further allows for real insights and predictions to improve business performance using KPIs. Moreover, several software solutions come with their own analytics which is exported into a BI platform. Some BI tools are driven by visualizations that you can share with stakeholders to communicate complex statistics through simple charts and graphs.

With so many options available, choosing the right BI tool can be a bit difficult. Depending on your business, its requirements, position in the market, who needs to access the data, tech stack, and more, you must select the tool that takes care of all the factors. In this article, we have shared top players in the field of business intelligence tools for data visualization. But before we discuss them, let’s understand what data visualization is. 

What is Data Visualization?

Data visualization plays a critical role in the business intelligence dynamic by providing a pictorial representation of a given set of data. It converts text-based data into visual graphics, such as tables, charts, maps, infographics, etc. Thanks to visualization, businesses explore hidden patterns and new insights into data. The primary aim of visualization is to find patterns, correlation, and trends between different data sets which are not possible to be analyzed in a non-graphic form. 

This process helps users to get a better and accurate understanding of the current situation in the market and determine customers’ preferences and needs. Also, it enables companies to evolve using new strategies and techniques that can enhance the business. Therefore, most data science companies are focusing on increasing the proficiency of their BI tools and their data visualization capabilities. Their motive is to explore and discover hidden information from the huge reservoir of raw data. 

Now, moving to business intelligence – it refers to all the technologies and tools that are used to collect, integrate, analyze, visualize raw data. As we witness ever-increasing amounts of free-flowing data, big data consulting firms are making the best of these BI tools to find the knowledge and details hidden in unprocessed and raw data. 

Top 5 Business Intelligence Tools for Data Visualization

Here is a detailed explanation of the top 5 highly-recommended BI tools that businesses can use for data visualization:

Tableau Desktop

Tableau Desktop is a standalone data visualization tool that shows live visual analytics. It is a new age data analytics and BI platform that offers flexibility and ease of use to users with a slick interface that has a drag and drop buttons, thereby allowing users to quickly identify trends in the data.

Tableau is considered a legacy giant among other BI tools and is one of the first platforms to lower the bar for entry into visualization, used by data analysts and scientists who create custom, dynamic charts, and complex visualizations.

It offers all the primary and necessary capabilities for data processing, extraction, sharing, and representing the final dashboards with others. The list of supported data sources for Tableau includes Box, Microsoft Excel, PDF files, Google Analytics among others.

Its older features make it robust but not too agile and is used as a base-level tool used by only a few experienced people. It is faster than other tools and highly intuitive, making it a perfect self-service BI tool. Moreover, Tableau provides connectivity to various data and big data sources, including MongoDB, Google Cloud, Oracle, Hadoop, Teradata, Amazon Redshift, Excel, SAP HANA, and more.

It is known to have the ability to connect with almost all types of databases and use a wide range of data blending options. Although it is a more expensive option as compared to other solutions, it includes the associated application of Tableau Prep under the Tableau Creator package.

Strengths & Features

  • Interactive dashboards, real-time data analytics features, quick responsiveness.
  • A vast user base that also offers huge community support to users.
  • Teams can join data from multiple databases.
  • Quite flexible to manipulate and use data in various ways.
  • No need to buy a connector license to connect to data sources. 

Microsoft Power BI

Microsoft also has a huge role to play in the BI tool space and their offering is Microsoft Power BI which is a popular data visualization tool that sits within a larger Microsoft ecosystem, integrating with Azure, Access, Excel, and more.

Microsoft Business Applications Summit also features Power BI along with various other applications. It is a cloud-based platform that is available in two versions- Power BI Desktop and Power BI Mobile and is preferred for its easy-to-use functionality for data visualization and preparation. It also comes with downloadable software so users can run analytics on the cloud and a reporting server. 

It is commonly used by larger companies that have numerous spreadsheet junkies that are heavily invested in Microsoft’s ecosystem. It offers a gamut of visualization features, such as Cortana personal assistant, custom visualizations, creating visualization using natural languages, etc.

Its sixty-day trial package guarantees to connect hundreds of data sources which also include Microsoft applications and other sources, including Sybase, Facebook, and Oracle that can prep data for analysis and create reports within a few minutes. 

Strengths & Features

  • Proficiency in Excel is enough to understand Power BI and its features.
  • Allows seamless integration with other Microsoft products.
  • Handles the flow of data and has excellent modeling capabilities.
  • DAX (Data Analysis Expressions) is Power BI’s proprietary language for modeling data.

Qlik Sense

Qlik Sense, another well-known data analysis and visualization software offers governed data discovery, BI, and agile analytics. It operates with an associative QIX engine that enables users to link associate data with various sources to perform analysis effectively. Using its scalable associative in-memory engine, it is used as a data mart and provides enterprise reporting. Moreover, it is also used as a popular data analytics platform by several users, including both technical and non-technical. 

While working on Qlik Sense, you can save a bookmark to the current sheet and combine bookmarks into stories and add text with other annotations to create a self-explanatory story. You can also use it for a live presentation and drill down sources for better data visualization and illustrate questions. As it has augmented graphics, Qlik Sense focuses more on data visualization and you can easily manipulate data in various technical ways through scripting. For analyzing and representing data with the best graphics, Qlik Sense is undoubtedly the right choice. 

Strengths & Features

  • Flexibility for users so they can carry out independent operations.
  • Automated machine-guided analysis.
  • Users can explore complex and vast data and draw intuitive conclusions.
  • Clients can share data applications and reports on a centralized hub.

SAP Lumira

SAP Lumira surely deserves a mention in our list and as per Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence platforms, SAP Lumira is recognized as a visionary BI tool with great potential. It is a self-service data visualization and analytics platform that is used by data scientists and analysts for its intuitive and ease-of-use features. You can give rich and interactive visualizations to the data using SAP Lumira and convert it into maps, charts, infographics, tables, graphs, etc. 

It offers two editions based on the purpose of use- a Discover edition and a Designer edition. The former allows users to create self-service data visualizations so they can publish them directly to  SAP BusinessObjects BI tools while in the latter, users have self-service visualizations for detailed analytic applications. 

Strengths & Features 

  • A user-friendly tool with a home screen with all data sources available.
  • Offers a single platform to create visualizations using imported data.
  • Input controls enable users to work on applications freely.
  • Access to real-time data, including metadata, governed data, cloud data, etc. 

Looker

Looker, a BI software, is used for modeling data with its proprietary language, LookerML, which offers limited data visualization capabilities and data inputs. It aims at empowering users, departments, and clients to use modern BI and analytics tools to support data-driven workflows. Google Cloud Platform acquired Looker in 2019 and moved it into the Google walled garden so that it may be combined with Google Data Studio. It helps users to explore, analyze, and share real-time business data easily and is used by over 2000 companies across the globe. 

With its robust library of analytics code which is known as Looker Blocks, Looker speeds up repetitive workflow. It is ideal for data teams that need powerful modeling capabilities. Looker is a cloud-based platform with enterprise-grade encryption and strict security that complies with HIPAA, SOC2 Type II, GDPR, etc. Thanks to its great support team that is ready to assist you during any technical glitch. 

Strengths & Features

  • Looker Blocks® is a pre-built analytics code, providing a jumping-off point for data modeling.
  • Presets like Looker Blocks® help users to start the process quickly if they know SQL well.
  • LookML, Looker’s proprietary data modeling language is its huge innovation.

Conclusion

We have only scratched the surface with our list of top BI tools. There are plenty of options available in the market that you can select from. There are comprehensive BI platforms with a primary focus on particular areas, such as distribution, sales, or marketing while there are some that are suitable for all the business workflows.

So, before you make your choice, make sure that you consider all the factors to make informed and profitable decisions. Go ahead, take your time for in-depth research and then choose the one that suits you best.

Alicia Canon

Alicia works with the editorial team of A3logics, a leading company offering IT professional services. Exploring the latest technologies, reading about them, and writing her views have always been her passion. She seeks new opportunities to express her opinions, explore technological advancements, and document the details. You can always find her enjoying books or articles about varied topics or jotting down her ideas in a notebook.