SAP, Microsoft, IBM: our top three BI analytics tools

By Harry Menear
As the need for greater efficiency and seamless, curated customer experiences becomes a business imperative, companies need ways to better understand th...

As the need for greater efficiency and seamless, curated customer experiences becomes a business imperative, companies need ways to better understand the world around them. Some of the most powerful tools at these companies’ disposal are those that allow them to analyse and draw insights from the oceans of data generated every day. However, while business analytics adoption rose as high as 59% in 2018, and continues to be adopted across every vertical, research by UK business intelligence (BI) firm MHR Analytics released yesterday revealed that, two-thirds of organisations are without a dedicated analytics or data science function.

Laura Timms, Product Strategy Manager at MHR Analytics, said: “Most businesses are still relying on spreadsheets to store, analyse and report on their data. The latest findings from our Data Maturity Quiz show 39% of medium to large organisations remain in the early stages of data maturity scale, with their data still managed in Excel.” 

For companies still stuck in a world of spreadsheets, the hunt for the right BI suite is undeniably daunting. BI tools are costly, complex (whole verticals exist of companies that make billions each year showing other companies how to pick and install the right tool) and the wrong one can sink a business. 

Thankfully, the good folks at MHL have put together their recommendations for the top BI tools for companies starting out on the road towards their own dedicated analytics or data science function. Here’s Gigabit Magazine’s breakdown of the top three. 

1. Microsoft Power BI

Power BI’s immediate appeal lies in its ability to quickly digest and translate complex swathes of data into “rich, easy to understand visualisations using a drag and drop canvas to communicate insights.” The data is then shareable, cloud based and easily made mobile-friendly. It also has a free version, with the Pro version costing $9.99 per user per month. Visually, Power BI resembles many Microsoft offerings - particularly Excel - so may be a comfortable transition for teams working on legacy systems. 

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2. IBM Cognos Analytics 

Cognos Analytics is billed as a “self service” platform, meaning great attention has been paid in its design process to ensure that users with little to no BI analytics experience can turn raw data into visualisations that express patterns and trends. According to MHR, “it can produce ‘data stories’ by combining charts with overlays and voiceovers, can quickly reveal hidden patterns and hard-to-find answers and relationships, and has a natural-language assistant.” 

3. SAP Analytics Cloud 

Built on its HANA BI platform, SAP’s latest analytics SaaS offering bills itself as a fully comprehensive service, allowing users to “experience everything analytics has to offer” through a sleek, cloud based solution with a minimalist design. According to MHR, “It makes data easy to understand with powerful visualisations. SAP Analytics Cloud enables organisations to plan and forecast in advance and can utilise machine learning to automatically generate insights.” 

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