Finding software can be overwhelming. Software Advice has helped hundreds of business intelligence practitioners find the best BI and analysis tools for making smart, informed business decisions.

Showing 1-20 of 96 products

Dundas BI

Dundas BI, from Dundas Data Visualization, is a browser-based business intelligence and data visualization platform that includes integrated dashboards, reporting tools, and data analytics. It provides end users the ability to create... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 22 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: On premise
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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 model... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 15 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud, On premise
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IBM Cognos Analytics

Cognos Analytics is an upgrade to Cognos Business Intelligence (Cognos BI). By adding cognitive guidance, a web-based interface and new data visualization features, Cognos Analytics provides self-service analytics to large and midsize... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 14 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud, On premise
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BOARD

Created to combine business intelligence, corporate performance management, and business analytics, BOARD is a full-featured business intelligence system that serves midsize and enterprise-level companies in a variety of different... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 13 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud, On premise
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Domo

Domo is a cloud-based business management suite that integrates with multiple data sources, including spreadsheets, databases, social media and any existing cloud-based or on-premise software solution. It is suitable for company sizes... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 12 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud, On premise
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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 and... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 11 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud, On premise
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Looker

Looker is a cloud-based business intelligence (BI) platform designed to explore and analyze data. The solution helps businesses to capture and analyze data from multiple sources and make data-driven decisions. Looker provides business... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 9 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud, On premise
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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: 7 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud, On premise
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TIBCO Spotfire

TIBCO Spotfire provides executive dashboards, data analytics, data visualization and KPI push to mobile devices. It complements existing business intelligence and reporting tools, while midsize organizations can use dashboards and... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 4 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud, On premise
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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, agriculture,... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 4 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud, On premise
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TrenData

TrenData People Analytics is a cloud-based business intelligence (BI) solution designed for midsize businesses across various industries. The solution offers various HR analytics and workforce management features such as compensation... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 3 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud, On premise
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Halo

Halo is an end-to-end supply chain management and business intelligence platform that helps in business planning and forecasting inventory for supply chain management. The system uses data from all sources - big, small, and in-between... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 2 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud, On premise
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Exago

Exago BI is a web-based solution that’s designed to be embedded in web-based applications. Embedding Exago BI allows SaaS companies of all sizes to provide their customers with self-service ad hoc, operational reporting, and interactive... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 2 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud, On premise
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Corporater

Corporater is a cloud-based OSHA- and ISO-compliant business intelligence (BI) solution that provides midsize and large organizations across various industries with applications to plan for and execute their business outcomes. Features... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 2 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud, On premise
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Centerprise Data Integrator

Centerprise Data Integrator is an on-premise data integration solution that includes integration, transformation, quality and profiling. It enables users to choose from multiple integration scenarios and control individual users' view... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 1 recommendations

Platforms: Win
Deployments: On premise
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TARGIT Decision Suite

TARGIT Decision Suite is a business intelligence and analytics solution that offers visual data discovery tools, self-service business analytics, reporting and dashboards in a single, integrated solution. TARGIT combines the control... Read more

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud, On premise
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Ambition

Ambition is a cloud-based business intelligence (BI) solution that provides tools and functionalities that help businesses drive employee performance and manage sales operations. Key features include data transformation, private cloud... Read more

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud, On premise
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Rapid Insight

Rapid Insight is an on-premise Business Intelligence solutions for higher education institutions and fundraising, healthcare and data science corporations. The suite of applications includes dashboards and scorecards, data mining and... Read more

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Platforms: Win
Deployments: On premise
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Intellicus

Intellicus is a Business Intelligence and Analytics platform. It offers an end-to-end BI solution, covering the complete spectrum of business intelligence – from Data Extraction and Data Processing to Delivery of Insights. Key features... Read more

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Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud, On premise
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icCube Data Analysis & Reporting

icCube Data Analysis & Reporting is a cloud-based business intelligence platform that offers real-time data analysis and visualizations through configurable dashboards, charts and widgets. The solution is accessible on tablets, smartphones... Read more

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Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud, On premise
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Buyer's guide


Last Updated: April 17, 2019

Self-service BI is a term for business intelligence (BI) tools aimed at business users, instead of the IT department. These tools help analysts explore databases through visual interfaces, instead of SQL queries and custom scripts.

We'll take a look at the types of self-service BI tools on the market and explain how they differ from traditional platforms. Here's what we'll cover:

What Is Self-Service BI?
Common Functionality of Self-Service BI Tools
What Type of Buyer Are You?
Benefits and Potential Issues
Market Trends to Understand

What Is Self-Service BI?

To answer this question, you have to understand traditional BI.

Back in the 80s and 90s, BI platforms were so complex that IT staff had to help business analysts create custom reports by writing SQL queries and custom scripts. Moreover, organization-wide reports were typically produced by the IT department.

IT was traditionally in charge of BI because traditional BI platforms store data in a data warehouse, which is a dedicated database system for historical business data (e.g., many years' worth of sales data, accounting data, customer information etc.).

Essentially, data warehousing involves pulling data from business applications (CRM systems, accounting systems etc.) and storing it so that analysts can spot and diagnose issues with the business's operational and financial performance:

data warehouse processing

Before data could be loaded into the warehouse, however, IT departments had to prepare it for analysis by normalizing dimensions (e.g., ensuring that “customer ID" means the same thing in all the tables in the database), aggregating certain metrics, cleaning dirty data etc. This is known as the “extract, transform, load" or ETL process, because data is extracted from applications, transformed into standard formats for analysis, and loaded into the warehouse.

When an analyst had to combine a new source of information, such as a web analytics system, with data in the data warehouse, the IT department would often have to reinvent the whole ETL process.

This was definitely not a user-friendly situation for analysts, and the IT department didn't really like being reduced to the work of data waitressing either.

Common Functionality of Self-Service BI Tools

Self-service BI tools emerged in the last decade as a response to this situation. They differ from traditional systems in the following ways:

self service vs traditional bi
  • Direct/live data connections. With a traditional BI platform, data is loaded into a warehouse before analysis. With a self-service tool, analysts simply connect directly to the data source, whether it's a cloud application, a relational database, a NoSQL file system, a flat file etc. Analysts can then explore and combine data from the data source with other sources. Moreover, instead of pulling data from the source in batches, analysts can configure a "live" connection to the source so that dashboards and visualizations automatically refresh with new data.
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  • Self-service data preparation. Instead of having the IT team clean and prepare data for analysis, self-service tools allow analysts to prepare data themselves. After the analyst connects to a raw data source, they can specify cleaning procedures and transformations that the data needs to go through before being presented in, say, a dashboard.
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  • Self-service data modeling. As analysts clean and transform data from a raw data source, a data model emerges. For instance, the analyst decides which columns in which tables should be aggregated using the “customer ID" dimension. Essentially, with traditional BI systems IT settles on a data model before data is loaded into the warehouse, whereas with self-service BI business analysts create the data model as they clean and transform data sources for analysis. Pre-configured data sources can then be shared with other analysts for use across the organization.
data modeling looker

Self-service data modeling in Looker BI

  • Graphical user interface. Self-service BI tools include a graphical user interface for data analysis. Analysts can drag and drop dimensions and measures into charts to create data visualizations. They can then click on parts of the visualization (e.g., a wedge in a pie chart) to drill down to more granular data. The drag-and-drop gestures that analysts make in the user interface are transformed into SQL queries by a backend engine. This means that analysts don't need to know programming languages to get data out of databases.
geospatial data visualization board

Visual data exploration in Board

What Type of Buyer Are You?

Analyst workgroup.