Software for data visualization is referred to as a business intelligence (BI) tool or analytics tool when it is utilized for reporting or analysis. Business intelligence tools include dashboards and reports frequently used to examine essential metrics and indicators.
If you’re looking into business intelligence tools and are researching the best tools out there, it helps to know exactly what to look for in terms of a good business intelligence tool.
In this guide, we’ll look at the attributes of a solid modern BI tool, focusing on self-service over legacy tools that tend to be more expensive and harder to implement.
10 Must-Have Features In Modern Business Intelligence Tools
1. Robust Security
Security should be your top priority when looking for a business intelligence tool. A self-hosted tool will usually be your best option when it comes to security because you can control all aspects of the software, the infrastructure, the data access, and the maintenance cycles.
Your modern business intelligence tool should offer role-based security and data-level security.
Role-based access controls what a user can do. Within DashboardFox, we have guest access, secure viewer, composer (the report builder), app builder (they have database layer access), and admins.
Role-base access can also be used to control access to resources, like dashboards, reports, and folders.
Data-level security, sometimes called department-level or multi-tenant security, is also essential.
DashboardFox takes it to another level and also provides semantic-layer security. This allows you to control what database fields a user can see and access, regardless of what their roles are.
2. Easy for Business Users
Your business intelligence tool should be a self-service, ad-hoc-oriented tool because many of your app’s users will likely be business users (not developers or technical experts).
If your users are using your application to analyze and visualize their data, the business intelligence tool you have integrated into your app must be extremely easy to understand with a relatively small learning curve.
DashboardFox was designed with the business user in mind, so the ease of use is factored into the design (not retrofitted from a technical, developer oriented tool).
3. Seamlessly Support Multiple Data Sources
A good business intelligence tool should support databases, Cloud APIs, spreadsheets, etc. Search for a tool that enables users to retrieve the data from numerous scattered SQL databases rather than storing the data in a single warehouse.
Some tools only specialize in a specific data source or have pricing or limited features depending on the data source. Make sure you have a clear understanding of where all your data resides and the plan for how and what to do with it. A modern BI tool should be able to fit well in most requirements.
DashboardFox supports API endpoints, databases, spreadsheets, and CSV files.
4. Mobile Interface
Employees who are outside of the office (working from home) or simply on the go will benefit from using an application featuring a business intelligence tool that they can use directly from their mobile devices, such as a smartphone or tablet. Ensure your business intelligence tool has a mobile interface.
Organizations have been democratizing data, and BI solutions have responded by emphasizing self-service analytics and ease of use. For many, the goal is to give each vital decision-maker access to a single source of truth.
The goal should also be to enable non-technical users to examine the data on their own, build custom dashboards and visualizations, and share results with their colleagues.
Once designed, dashboards and reports should be accessible not just from the desktop inside an organization, but also a user-friendly mobile application.
Of course, DashboardFox provides a mobile interface out of the box. And it doesn’t require a user to download an app or design their dashboards in special ways. They simply point their mobile browser to your self-hosted instance of DashboardFox and everything is automatically conveyed in the best possible way.
5. Scheduled Emails/Notifications of Reports
Not everyone wants to log in to their BI application, especially when they’re on the go– they want data sent to them. Look for a tool that offers scheduled emails or notifications of reports involving their data.
When choosing a BI solution, consider how easy it will be to share and communicate dashboards and reports via all the methods desired. This could be via embedding, the application interface itself, exports, printing, and of course, sent via email.
As your business grows, and you work with more mission-critical data, the importance of these communication functions increases. Data democratization enables all-important company stakeholders to gain access to the information and insights they require to improve performance and make informed decisions with the data at their fingertips, via their chosen method.
DashboardFox includes a scheduler feature where you can send reports, dashboards, or groups of reports on a minute, daily, weekly, monthly or larger frequency automatically. Plus, if you need to drop a report into a folder on the server, our scheduler can do that as well.
6. Robust Analytic Features
Robust and diverse analytic features are essential in a good business intelligence tool. Features like filtering and the ability to “slice and dice” data are key, but one of the most important features is the ability to use multidimensional drill-downs.
DashboardFox provides data grids with filtering and grouping to allow for the slice and dice operations, but the real power is the filter and saved views on the dashboard.
This allows an organization to seamlessly provide a group of data analyses out of the box with a dashboard, but also provide the business user the ability to create their own filter sets and save them as personal views.
7. Dashboards and Visualizations
A modern business intelligence tool should make it easy to organize data into dashboards and visualizations. Many BI technologies are automated, eliminating the need for human data entry into Excel spreadsheets or switching between various applications.
The program will provide a report on a product over a specified time if you need one. You can create an interactive visualization and download any charts or graphs you require if the information is substantial, and you want to use it in a presentation.
A good tool will also offer many bespoke visualization features that are relatively low-code (or no-code) to make it easy to turn data into something stakeholders and non-developers can use and understand.
Guess what, DashboardFox has visualizations, but one big difference between us and other tools: we try to only include the ones that most organizations need and use.
We don’t see much value in providing a 100 visualization to choose from when 98% of the time, you’re using a core set that business users intuitively understand.
For those we don’t have, a savvy developer can use our API to build anything they desire.
After assessing the various BI tool capabilities and their significance to your company, you must consider the cost. Public-facing websites don’t always give you pricing details, and many platforms demand that you ask for a quote. While some tools provide a free demo and trial, it might be difficult to find pricing information.
On the pricing sections of some products, users must complete a form with information about the project type, users, data volume, and timetable to receive a quote.
The cost of implementation and training, user count, deployment size, and other factors will all affect the pricing of many BI solutions.
In the end, the cost will depend on the size of your business and your specific use case.
We try not to lead with price, but this is where DashboardFox really beats the competition. Instead of annual subscriptions, we offer a pay once, use forever pricing model. And we share it on our public website.
9. Great Support and Customer Service for Your Business Intelligence Tool
When looking for a modern BI tool, many vendors don’t consider how important customer and technical support are. The best possible tools will have excellent customer support to help with everything from technical hiccups to customer needs to implementation to training.
Do your research and see what customers say about your prospective BI tool vendor’s support options. Good support should be readily available and helpful in a crisis.
DashboardFox includes 1-year of Priority Support (and you can renew it annually for a small maintenance fee). What is priority support? To put it simply, if you need help, you’ll work with a product expert, via screen-share if needed, and we help solve your issue. No limits, no Tier 1 support line to get vetted through first.
10. Dashboard and Report Embedding
You will want to put the dashboard and reports generated by your BI tool where your end users live and not always make them log into a new tool.
Having the ability to embed your dashboard and reports into your existing business apps using standard web technologies is essential.
Your users may act immediately without leaving the application thanks to embedded analytics, which places analytics where they are needed—within a process or application.
If integrated or infused analytics are your primary focus, a pioneer like DashboardFox would be a wonderful fit.
DashboardFox as Your Modern Business Intelligence Tool
No long recap here, we tried to make quick points above in each of the items that DashboardFox checks the requirements of a modern BI tool.
DashboardFox ticks all the checkboxes in this list and even more, such as its self-hosted setup, which prioritizes data safety among anything else, and its commendable data visualization skills. We also have no subscriptions to maintain, as we only charge once and are yours forever.
Consider DashboardFox your one-stop shop for business intelligence needs.