The Best BI Tools For Data-Driven Executives in the C-Suite


Data is the new oil, and like oil it needs to be refined before it can be used. Business Intelligence software is the right tool to put data in context when and where it’s needed.

With the flood of products competing for attention, though, even the sharpest executives can fall prey to options paralysis.

Below are the best tools for handling data in every department.


Chief Information Officers (CIOs) are responsible for creating business value through technology.

They make data actionable and translate it for their organization’s specific information requirements.

CIOs need tools that cover as many BI functions as possible to limit operational complexity.

Recommendation: Sisense

Sisense is a comprehensive BI solution that collects data from a wide collection of sources, stores it in one place, allows for intense analysis and customized visualization of results, and makes it easy to share data within an organization.

Sisense is popular with CIOs for several reasons. It provides real time data analysis with a single point of truth.

The software is simple enough for non-technicians to operate.

System Administrators can customize dashboards for different needs and access levels. Sisense connects with most data storage platform and can import data quickly.

Sisense shines as a BI multi-tool, covering most functions a CIO would need.

Here’s a breakdown of standard BI needs and the percent Sisense can handle:

  • Reporting: 89%
  • Analysis: 92%
  • Data Integration: 87%
  • Data Warehousing: 94%

In all of these areas Sisense surpases the industry average coverage ratios.

There are two main drawbacks, however. Sisense has limited workflow options. Admins can customize individual dashboards, but sharing them with subordinate users is difficult.

Sisense also has slightly reduced support options, covering 6% fewer support functions than comparable software.


Chief Marketing Officers (CMO) track data to ensure marketing priorities are aligned with larger organizational goals.

They have a rainbow of responsibilities which translates into a wide range of potential technology choices like AdWords, HootSuite, HubSpot, and MailChimp.

That makes it hard to narrow down recommendations, but there is one tool commonly preferred by experienced CMOs.

Recommendation: Salesforce

One of the first SaaS CRM solutions, Salesforce has had time to mature into a dependable option for tracking and managing customer interactions. It offers marketing automation and lead nurturing tools, too.

Salesforce is quick to set up and runs in the cloud. Mobile versions for smartphones and tablets let employees work on the go while synchronizing their data across devices.

CMOs with special requirements will appreciate how customizable Salesforce is, with a variety of analytics widgets that can be configured however necessary and intuitive dashboards that provide real-time data.

Because of its maturity and established quality, most incoming sales team members will already be comfortable with Salesforce. Training costs are typically lower while adoption rates are high.

The downside of extreme customization is that it can get pricey. Charges for third-party widgets and extra features add up.

Salesforce can also be too complex for companies that don’t have a high or steady volume of data to track.

It has to be mentioned that Salesforce’s tech support has a reputation for being hard to access.

There are third-party vendors who handle tech support for businesses that have trouble getting through to Salesforce.


The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) has oversight over the entire company’s operations. They need enough detail to make informed decisions without getting too bogged down to see “big picture” trends.

Recommendation: Microsoft Power BI

Power BI serves as a “front page” of the various analytical tools being used within a company.

It connects with the majority of analytics tools and databases being used today including Google products like Google Analytics, Microsoft products such as Excel, Azure SQL Database, Oracle, Salesforce, MailChimp, and more.

Programs that aren’t supported can be “bridged” to Power BI by a software developer.

Using these connections, Power BI facilitates data preparation tasks. It helps create and distribute reports throughout the organization.

Power BI’s impressive visualization tools offer a good selection of options for creating and customizing charts.

Power BI operates on a freemium model with plans that start as low as $10 per user. It has a large, active support community.

Because it’s backed by Microsoft, it receives consistent maintenance and upgrades.

The concern with Power BI is that while it’s easy to get started, it can be complex to master. There are so many features that deciding which to use for a specific purpose takes time.

It has trouble importing massive datasets, too, though users can get around that by migrating their data into an SQL server.

Finding The Right Tool For The Job

These are intended as broad-spectrum business intelligence tools that will assist most tasks within a department.

No one tool can do everything, and off the shelf software necessarily focuses on broad appeal rather than niche functions.

To get complete coverage, consider combining tools or building a custom app for more exacting requirements.

Business Intelligence separates major players from little league enterprise. If you’re interesting in upgrading your business intelligence process with a custom-built analytics dashboard, Concepta’s experienced developers have the answers you need. Schedule your free consultation today!

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Power BI vs. Tableau

power bi vs tableau

Big Data and the Internet of Things are, or soon will be, affecting every facet of our lives. We are overwhelmed with information — more data has been produced in the last 24 months than the total amount created in all previous years combined since the beginning of time.

At work, you may be one of many business owners and managers struggling with so much data. A recent Forrester report indicated that almost three quarters of companies say their goal is to be “data-driven,” but only 29 percent were able to make productive connections between data and business insight.

Data visualization tools can help you make sense of it all. Microsoft’s Power BI and Tableau are two of the most popular business intelligence tools — this comparison will look at their strengths and weaknesses to help you choose the right one for your organization.

Power BI

Power BI was first published by Microsoft in late summer of 2014 and released to the general market in the middle of the following year. It is a descendant of Power Pivot, Power View and Power Query, a popular trio of Excel add-ins.The current product suite includes Power BI, Power BI Desktop, Power BI Mobile and Power BI Embedded.

Power BI was originally tied to Office 365 but was soon separated out as a stand-alone, freemium service. With that change came several other enhancements. Free users can download Power BI Desktop to begin working right away and also get 1GB free storage. Power BI Pro is reasonably priced at $9.99/month per user at this writing, allowing full program access and 10 GB of storage.

Power BI lets you connect to third party SaaS services like Marketo, GitHub, Salesforce and Zendesk to extend and enhance your data.There are preset connectors and content packs so you can leverage the data in the third party service and combine it with your data to create analytic graphics, reports and dashboards.

Power BI’s advantages includes its free tier, sheer power and performance, and wide support of third party data sources. Its similarity to Excel makes it a natural choice for users of Excel and other Microsoft products.

Disadvantages include limited data sharing capabilities and the inability to publish reports with relevant data from Power BI Desktop.


Tableau is a Seattle-based data-visualization provider. Tableau software was released in 2003 by former Stanford professors and Ph.D. candidates in an effort to commercialize their research in data and business intelligence.The Tableau family of products include Tableau Server, Tableau Desktop, Tableau Reader, Tableau Public, Tableau Mobile, Tableau Online and Embedded Analytics.

Tableau is lean, flexible and fast. It can connect to a wide variety of data sources, including relational databases, big data, flat files, spreadsheets, OLAP cubes and online sources.You can connect to your data “live,” where changes in the spreadsheet are reflected in real time in Tableau.

However, some users feel the live connection is slow. Alternatively, you can extract a smaller data subset and pull it into Tableau manually, or you can connect to Tableau’s query engine. In the 2013 edition of Gartner’s “Market Share Analysis: Business Intelligence and Analytics Software” Tableau customers lauded the easy to use interface, providing fast access to the most important data.

Other Tableau advantages include custom geocoding, flexible analytics, multi-platform support, SharePoint Web support, Front End calculations and ease of customization.

Cons include lack of an Extract-Transform-Load (ETL) tool and no diagram view for data modeling.

Leading the Market

While Tableau led the market for several years and has a large user base, Power BI has quickly become the premier data visualization platform. Power BI has grown and iterated rapidly, shedding its early awkward teenage years as a group of Excel add-ins, evolving into a powerful, comprehensive data visualization platform.

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