Finding software can be overwhelming. Software Advice has helped thousands of businesses choose the right cloud BI software so they can mine historical data for insights and create dashboards.

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TapClicks

TapClicks is a smart marketing cloud-based set of automated marketing solutions designed to work in unison, powered by your data. We make the complex world of marketing easy with everything a business needs to differentiate itself... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 12 recommendations

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Domo

Domo is the Business Cloud®, empowering organizations of all sizes with BI leverage at cloud scale in record time. With Domo, BI-critical processes that took weeks, months or more can now be done on the fly, in minutes or seconds,... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 9 recommendations

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ClicData

ClicData is a business intelligence (BI) dashboard solution designed for use primarily by small and midsized businesses. The tool enables end users to create reports and dashboards. A drag-and-drop interface designed for ease... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 9 recommendations

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Style Intelligence

InetSoft Style Intelligence is a business intelligence software platform that allows users to create dashboards, visual analyses and reports via a data mashup engine—a tool that integrates data in real time from multiple sources. ... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 6 recommendations

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Infor Birst

Birst, an Infor Company, is a web-based networked BI and analytics solution that connects insights from various teams and helps in making informed decisions. The tool enables decentralized users to augment the enterprise data mode... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 3 recommendations

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BullseyeEngagement Business Intelligence Dashboards

BullseyeEngagement's Business Intelligence Dashboards synthesize data from various sources and make complex information easily understandable. These highly customizable dashboards were built to give busy business leaders real-time... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 3 recommendations

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Grow

Grow is a cloud-based business analytics and reporting solution suitable for small to midsize organizations. The solution allows users to create customizable dashboards for monitoring business workflows and key activities. Gr... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 2 recommendations

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Logi Analytics

Logi Analytics is a business intelligence (BI) platform that provides self-service analytics tools for businesses. It can be embedded directly into the applications that employees use every day. Key features include a dashboard, d... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 2 recommendations

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Yellowfin

Yellowfin, a business intelligence platform, is a single integrated solution developed for companies across varying industries and scaling sizes. This system is customizable to suit businesses in accounting, advertising, agri... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 2 recommendations

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Incorta

Incorta is a unified data analytics platform that provides a true self-service data experience. The software enables organizations to quickly and accurately make decisions based on vast easy to digest data sets. Incorta is a ... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 2 recommendations

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Klips

Klipfolio is a cloud-based business intelligence solution that serves businesses of all sizes. It helps marketing agencies, analytics firms, system integrators, business solution providers and technology providers create business ... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 1 recommendations

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PlaidCloud

PlaidCloud is a comprehensive business analytics platform that combines data analysis tools, flexible workflows, and business processes to deliver a solution designed to help analyst teams collaboratively develop business models a... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 1 recommendations

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Precision BI

PrecisionBI is a healthcare analytics and visualization platform that combines clinical, financial, and business data all in one place; turning disparate data into insights for impactful decisions. With over 25 years of expe... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 1 recommendations

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Iotics Event Data Platform

Iotics is a solution for any business looking to enable unconstrained data interactivity to their tech stack. Iotics digital twin technology allows for communication across the entire digital ecosystem of your assets. Whether it’s... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 1 recommendations

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Microsoft SQL Server

Microsoft SQL Server Business Intelligence (BI) Edition is a database management and BI software solution designed for companies of all sizes. The system offers relational database management, which allows users to access enterpri... Read more

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Tableau

Tableau is an integrated business intelligence (BI) and analytics solution that helps to analyze key business data and generate meaningful insights. The solution helps businesses to collect data from multiple source points such as... Read more

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Sisense

Sisense is an agile business intelligence (BI) solution that provides advanced tools to manage and support business data with analytics, visuals and reporting. The solution allows businesses to analyze big and disparate datasets a... Read more

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Revel Systems

Revel is a cloud-based business platform that integrates operations and customer channels with point-of-sale (POS) functionality in a single dashboard. It is suitable for stores and restaurants of all sizes and provides users with... Read more

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Boomi

Boomi is a unified cloud-based integration solution designed to centralize data, applications, and processes into one unified ecosystem, effectively breaking down data silos. Using Boomi's integration capabilities, businesses are ... Read more

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PieSync

PieSync is a cloud-based data sync platform that automatically syncs data between applications including email, CRM, customer care platform and more. PieSync’s features include 360-degree customer view, 2-way sync, applicati... Read more

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Buyers guide


Last Updated: April 13, 2021

As more companies seek information and insight into their operations, the demand for business intelligence (BI) software is growing. A multitude of software products are now available to meet this demand. Many of these solutions are also cloud-based, offering the advantages of affordability, mobility and flexibility.

But is a cloud-based business intelligence system right for your business? This guide will help you answer that question. Here’s what we’ll cover:

What Is Cloud BI?
Key Capabilities of Cloud BI Software
Benefits and Potential Issues

What Is Cloud BI?

Organizations today generate a staggering amount of data. BI software helps businesses gather data from disparate sources and collate that information into a single source. This single source acts as a historical data archive that allows businesses to make more informed predictions and decisions regarding future business operations.

What distinguishes cloud BI software from other business intelligence and analytics solutions is that it is hosted offsite, typically on the software vendor’s servers. Users access the system remotely through a network (i.e., the Internet).

Cloud-based software is commonly sold via subscription licensing, which means that businesses pay a recurring monthly or annual fee to use the software. This fee includes the cost for hosting, support, maintenance and automatic updates to the system.

Cloud-based hosting means that organizations don’t incur the costs of maintaining the software on their own internal servers. As a result, upfront costs for cloud-based software are generally lower than for on-premise—though over time the costs for subscription and perpetual licensing eventually converge.

Cloud BI systems can integrate with other software your organization is already using, including customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions.

Integrating BI software with these systems provides businesses with unique understanding on the scope of business operations, including:

  • Customer buying trends
  • The effectiveness of sales and marketing campaigns
  • Performance of staff
  • Market changes and demands

Analyzing data from a variety of sources using cloud BI tools can provide a wealth of insight on your customers, clients, sales, operations and more.

While capabilities vary, cloud BI software typically helps businesses gather, catalogue, store, analyze and interpret data from a variety of sources in order to make better business decisions.

Gather: Data can include internal data, i.e., within company departments or data from external sources, such as marketing, social or industry information.

Catalogue: Many data management tools help organizations “clean up” bad data and organize information according to type, format and source. Cloud BI tools help standardize and integrate data from diverse sources.

Store: Data is then loaded and stored in a target system, i,e., a database or warehouse, where analysts can later sift through the data.

Analyze: Data discovery applications, such as data mining or online analytical processing (OLAP), help analysts sort the data and generate reports on findings.

Interpret: Data visualization tools, such as dashboards and reports, help present BI data in meaningful ways that allow executives to make better business decisions.

Key Capabilities of Cloud BI Software

The functionality that cloud BI software offers can be very complex and technical (visit our BI page for more detailed information). Broadly speaking, however, the capabilities of cloud BI software include some or all of these categories:

Data management Tools for data quality management help users standardize information collected from various sources and ensure data is accurate.

Extract, transform and load (ETL) functionality collects data from other sources, transforms it into the right format and uploads it to a database or data warehouse so it can be analyzed.
Data discovery Allows users to analyze data sets to spot trends and make predictions. Data mining tools sort through large data sets to identify patterns and guide further analysis.

Predictive analytics functionality allows users to make predictions based on past and current trends, while semantic and text analytics tools identify patterns and sentiment in text data (e.g., data collected from social networks).
Reporting These tools present the results of data analysis in an easy-to-understand way. Visualizations display information in charts, graphs and other visual formats.

Dashboards present a snapshot of key performance indicators (KPIs) at a glance. Scorecards rate performance and show progress toward goals, while report writers allow users to easily create custom reports. Dedicated KPI applications can pull performance data from disparate systems to report on it in one view.

Benefits and Potential Issues

Some businesses may have concerns about the safety of storing sensitive corporate data in the cloud. For example, the high-profile data security breaches of the past two years rattled consumers and business leaders alike. But the truth is that, with the right safeguards in place, data stored in the cloud is just as secure as data stored on-premise—if not more so.

The benefits of cloud BI are vast, including:

Mobility and remote access. One of the biggest advantages of cloud-based systems is that they can be accessed from any compatible device with an Internet connection. That means users aren’t tied to their desks: They can log in from their laptop, home computer, tablet or smartphone to access the information they need at any time. If your users will need frequent mobile access, look for a system with a native mobile app, as these are designed to perform better on small screens.

Lower costs of entry. Cloud BI systems are typically easier and cheaper to implement than their on-premise counterparts. There’s no additional hardware to purchase, since the system is housed on the vendor’s servers. Implementation also tends to be quicker, because there’s both nothing physical to install and the vendor typically handles the initial setup after the company sends over its data.

Faster analytical insights. In today’s business environment, things are constantly changing, and users need to have critical reports and analytics information in real time. Cloud BI systems can be accessed from anywhere and update automatically, so you’ll always have the most current data at your fingertips.

Business users can access information without the IT department. Cloud BI systems are more intuitive and user-friendly than traditional BI and analytics software. Increasingly, these solutions are being aimed at—and adopted by—the business user. No more going through the IT department to gather insights or produce a key report, only to have the information be outdated by the time it gets to you. Get information when and how you want it, and all without a technical background.