Having a Business Intelligence tool can help you look at your business from multiple angles. When implemented correctly it can save you hours of doing your own analysis and ensure transparency for your company. There are many tools for you to choose from some are free others can cost you tens of thousands a year. In order to help you decide on your tool here are a few requirements to consider:

  • Data Connections

A good tool would automatically pull data from all the sources that you are using such as Google Analytics, Social Media platforms, Digital Advertising Platform, CRM and so on. Before implementing any tool check to make sure all your data sources are covered either by using an API which only requires you to input your username and password or by being able to either email the report directly into the BI tool or reference the data in another way such as Google Drive.

Getting all data inside the BI tool is the most important element, as you do not want to report on partial data or have to spend a lot of time getting the data inside the tool.

  • Reporting Capabilities

While most BI tools will display data in a bar graph, pie chart and a table, a good tool will also allow you to compare data between periods, allow drill down from one chart to another and filter data based on your own requirements. While not as critical as data connections, not being able to view data the way you and your team want to view it can provide challenges.

  • Ease of Use

The tool should be easy to operate once it is set up and should have an interface that is easy for anyone on your team to use. Setting up the tool can come with its challenges and some business intelligence tools even provide automatic dashboards based on sources that you have uploaded. While, most of automatic dashboards are not very helpful it is a great starting point for those companies that do not have an analyst on staff.

  • Cost

Unfortunately, the tool that may be perfect for your team can mean spending more money than you have budgeted. If cost is an issue, you may look at alternative BI Tools that may not do everything you want but can be a good starting point.

  • Data Storage

Data security should be on your list. The data while it can be stored in the cloud, should only be accessible with a password. If you have sensitive data, you may wish for your data security team to assess the tools prior to moving forward.

The other part of data storage is the size of data that the tool is able to store. If you have millions of records of data that you want to bring in some tools may not be able to handle the volume, or they will charge you more for it.

  • Advanced Capabilities

There are a few things that most businesses overlook when shopping around for a BI tool and that is the ability to do some of the following:

  • Custom Calculations – Maybe you want to calculate ROI or Month over Month Growth or you want to look at a pacing budget using your own formula. Make sure you can create your own custom fields which are formulas.
  • Custom colors/fonts – If your dashboard is going to be used externally, as is the case for most marketing agencies you want to make sure that the colors and fonts are consistent with your branding. Therefore, having the ability to customize it may be of importance for your company.
  • Multiple Users – Some tools will charge you for extra users, so make sure you budget for it. Keep in mind, that you want to limit how many admin accounts are given as you do not want too many people having access to the raw data.
  • Exporting – Depending on how you use the data, you may wish to export a chart for your PowerPoint presentation or export a table into Google sheets to run additional analysis on. Make sure that the tool has that flexibility as some will only allow you to export a dashboard as a PDF.

Now that you have your criteria to evaluate potential BI tools here is a short list of some popular tools:

DataStudioIt is a free tool provided by Google, it has a lot of flexibility in terms of UI/UX, it connects with Google products and SQL but that is about it. Not a bad tool to use internally for some static data.

DashThis – It a simple tool to use, ideal for just your marketing data. It connects to most Social Media and digital marketing sources. It is reasonably priced at $39 per month to start. But has limited functionality.

Datorama – This tool has all the bells and whistles that you can think of but can cost you thousands per year. It is ideal for mid-size and larger companies as well as marketing agencies. But it does allow you to do drill down analysis, run pivot tables, store thousands of records and do custom calculations.

This is just a short list of tools, there are more available in the marketplace. When implementing a BI tool make sure you speak with a marketing analytics agency as the right analyst can save you time and money, by properly integrating your data sources, creating the right KPIs for your business and making sure everything is automated.