Choosing the right BI tool for your start-up: A top 10 review in tweets

Whether you’re reporting revenue to The Board, presenting the success of your last marketing campaign to the CMO or visualising gaps in your delivery system, real-time business intelligence (BI) is becoming increasingly important for start-ups focused on operational and financial KPIs.

As opposed to a tedious, time-consuming process, BI tools help to automate reporting, bringing data to life through data aggregation and visualisation.

Following a hefty review of the most popular tools around, I spare you the lengthy summary you might see in Which? magazine and give you the pros and cons in 140 characters…

1. Truedash: Democratising data through dashboards

User-driven, SaaS platform offering more than just BI. Machine learning, model automation, and web tracking. Great for online retailers

2. ThoughtSpot: Best of both worlds?

Sleek search tool with a plug and play attitude. A natural-language interface for searching through data that promises companies to search mass data quickly and easily.

3. Tableau: Community-led data visualisation platform

Fast to build feeds, easy to use and supported by a cult following of forums and extensions. Fast becoming the dominant design in data vis

4. QlikView: Clunky but effective

If you like Windows, you’ll love this! Used extensively by banks, telcos and logistics partners… Perhaps that says it all? It’s clunky but effective.

5. Periscope: ‘Write SQL get charts’

Does what it says on the tin. Great if you are happy building reports in SQL, looking for customisation not automation. Not suitable for non-analysts.

6. Chartio: Another dashboard application

Well, it’s just another dashboard app… Easy to customise and share across teams. No frills, no drills

6. Domo: Chartio but cheaper

A cheaper, chirpier version of Chartio with an apparent focus on mobile. Perfect for presenting reports on the move, on mobile or tablet

7. CartoDB: King of maps

For people who grew up playing Risk, this is a real-time mapping tool that will knock your socks off! Watch as your visualisations take over Europe and the USA

8. GeckoBoard: The developers choice

Simple, customisable development tool suited to building dashboards and office displays. Less relevant to analysts. Designed for devs…

9. D3: A step up from Python

JavaScript library for producing dynamic, interactive data visualizations in web browsers. For those comfortable with HTML5 and CSS

10. IBM Watson Analytics: Smart but not smart enough

Designed as a training program for IBM’s Watson project. Give it data, it gives questions, plus an attempt at some answers. Fun, not too serious

Of course every man, woman and their dog want to be in this space. The larger ERP providers have been pushing their own in-memory analytics platforms to deliver real-time business insights to its customers. The jury is out on whether BI is best delivered as a standalone product or embedded within an existing enterprise platform. For start-ups and medium-sized businesses, one thing is for sure… the best SaaS alternatives offer more than just data visualisation and reporting.