By Russell Rothstein
Choosing the best business intelligence tool can be a confusing process. There are dozens of vendors of business intelligence and Big Data analytics solutions whose marketing messages all sound alike.
I founded IT Central Station to help enterprise software buyers sort through all the help by offering hands-on reviews by real users, and I wanted to share some of what we've learned with the readers of Enterprise Apps Today and other QuinStreet Enterprise websites.
IT Central Station is like Yelp or TripAdvisor for the enterprise, but all reviewers are strictly validated to ensure that each review is authentic and based on a real user's experience. We are an open, vendor-neutral site, and we do not endorse one vendor or another.
That said, here is a sampling of some of the latest BI user reviews that have appeared on IT Central Station. We do not endorse these views, but hope to give enterprise IT buyers as much information as possible to aid them in their purchasing decisions.
Microsoft BI: Microsoft's business intelligence solutions are pretty popular, if the five stars our 45 users have given them are any indication. According to a review by a BI expert at a large university, the Microsoft solution is flexible and relatively straightforward to deploy. Its reports can be delivered without any additional license fees. Reports can also be placed on subscriptions with the Enterprise version of SQL Server. This allows different people to get the same report with data that is tailored to their perspective. The user liked the cost compared to other solutions, but wanted better SharePoint integration for dashboards.
SAP BusinessObjects vs. Microsoft BI: One BI expert recommended BusinessObjects if you are looking for better formatting and an easy to use GUI. But if you want better flexibility and less rework, then Microsoft is a better choice, he noted.
MicroStrategy vs. Tableau: Tableau has found its sweet spot as an agile discovery tool that analysts use to create and share insights, according to one tech company products manager. It is also the tool of choice for rapid prototyping of dashboards. MicroStrategy's Visual Insights data discovery tool works for applications that need scheduled delivery to email/file/print or have complex security requirements, he recommended. MicroStrategy VI is also a good Web-based tool for providing self-service visualization creation capabilities to business users, he said.
QlikView vs. Tableau: A financial services user says he likes the ease of use of QlikView. However, compared to Tableau, he was underwhelmed by its charting ability – the defaults and the tutorial seem to regard graphic representation as an afterthought, he said.
BusinessObjects vs. IBM Cognos: One user says that when it comes to ease of use, BusinessObjects is more intuitive and straightforward than Cognos, which seems to require more steps to get the same results – and some of those steps are tough to figure out. The term "clunky" comes to mind when he thinks of working in Cognos. Licensing costs and how you want to architect your server infrastructure are going to be the key to which product fits your organization better, he said.
Based on reviews, you may also want to consider smaller, innovative vendors in this market such as SiSense and icCube.
Russell Rothstein is founder and CEO of IT Central Station. He has spent more than two decades in the enterprise technology industry at the crossroads of technology and business. Before founding IT Central Station, he worked at enterprise tech vendors including OPNET (acquired by Riverbed) and Oracle. Russell was co-founder of Zettapoint (acquired by EMC) and Open Sesame (acquired by Bowne/RR Donnelley). He received a BA in computer science from Harvard University, an MS in technology and policy from MIT and an MS in management from the MIT Sloan School of Management. Follow Russell on Twitter @RussRothsteinIT .