The Top 7 Data Visualization Tools (Plus 1 Bonus Option)

Data visualization is quickly becoming a more critical part of every business’s metrics. Everything we do is tracked, and there are definitive numbers to back up every move we make. More data is not always a good thing if we do not understand how to use it properly.

The growth of data has led to a more substantial need for advanced data visualization tools. These tools allow businesses to understand better how their day-to-day actions affect their results. Data visualization tools can cover metrics like sales, website conversions, customer demographics, and more.

We believe the most important thing about data visualization is a complete and honest understanding of what these services can do for you. That is why we remain truthful and transparent when providing information because we want you to make the best decision for your business needs.

In this article, we’re taking a look at the top seven data visualization tools to help you better understand your options.

1. Tableau

This business intelligence system connects and visualizes data seamlessly from desktop to mobile. With Tableau, you can drag and drop metrics live and quickly share them with your entire team. The tool offers a variety of different approaches that allow you to create a unique data management system that works for your business. For security purposes, you can set certain users in your organization to limited access or complete access so they can work within their own fields.

The main advantage that Tableau has over some of its competitors is the ease of use of the software. Without any experience or knowledge, a business owner can drag and drop and drill-down into charts without much effort or assistance. This is incredibly important for people who are looking to save time and get down to business.

However, many users have told us that Tableau still requires a power user skill level to get the most from it and it assumes you have a properly structured dataset to start with. We’re often told that while it’s great for the power user segment of their users, it’s not the right tool for general business use or for partners looking to embed within their product.

2. Sisense

Sisense is a business intelligence platform that helps you make informed business decisions through the use of visual data. They offer a full range of services including drag and drop dashboards and seamless movement from desktop to mobile. The software is fast-paced and uses an all-in-one tool that does not require additional purchases or add-ons as you scale up. Sisense also offers an on-premise or cloud-based option for your data.

Something that separates Sisense from the competition is their ability to work well with large data sets. They use a columnar approach instead of using rows which grants them the ability to pull large queries. Sisense does this by not only using system memory but the CPU as well to provide additional speed. If you are analyzing large data sets and don’t want to spend a ton of money on expensive hardware, Sisense seems like a solid option.

The key piece of info we consistently get regarding Sisense is that it’s super expensive and most of the potential customers we talk to don’t really have the amount of data or resources needed to justify that extra cost for the benefits provided.

3. Domo

Domo focuses on social collaboration and can provide you with real-time data in an easy to use dashboard. You get widgets, sparklines, and indicators that make things easy to understand for business owners and team members. You can also integrate Domo with software like Google Analytics for a more thorough aggregation. The software offers live messaging and notifications that you can sync with your smartphone which makes communication easy.

With Domo, you choose who has access to what information and you can control the capabilities of each in your organization. Lastly, Domo offers a free trial, so you have the opportunity to try the service out before committing.

The primary advantage with see with Domo is the social integration and connectivity that is available to you right away. Many of these integrations are already installed like Google Analytics or Shopify, so you don’t need to purchase any add-ons. Domo also has a fully functional and easy to use app that allows you to view charts from anywhere and send messages throughout the company.

What to watch out for with Domo is if you are looking to connect to your on-premise databases and need data level security features or have lots of data. Because everything eventually gets into their cloud, integrating on-premise data triggers steep implementation costs, security concerns and storage fees. Plus, the role and data-level security bumps you into their higher price tiers.

4. Yellowfin BI

Yellowfin offers a variety of different data visualization tools to meet the needs of every growing business. The tools allow you to visualize and explore your company data without having to code or run through complicated systems. They provide over 50 different interactive charts and infographics that you can use internally for your employees or externally for your marketing. You can embed and share all the charts as well. Yellowfin also offers Location Intelligence which gives you the ability to merge your spatial and traditional data to find opportunities in your market. The company offers a 30-day free trial as well.

We don’t interact with a lot of customers using Yellowfin so we don’t have a lot of experience with them. Most of our interactions are via BMC Smart Reporting which is a white-labeled version of Yellowfin BI and many point to limitations in the construction of ad-hoc queries in BMC that we solve in DashboardFox. However, this could be a limit to BMC’s implementation of Yellowfin, not an inherent issue.

5. Microsoft Power BI

This data visualization tool comes with a suite of different tools that turn your data into comprehensive visuals that are easy for employees and potential customers to understand. They offer unlimited access to on-site and in-cloud data, so you have a centralized data hub. Like with many Microsoft products; they also provide a thorough tutorial system that takes you through the product so you can fully understand how to implement it. Since it’s a Microsoft product, it integrates well with a variety of other software and it is cost-effective at only $9.99.

A lot of firms have turned to Power BI because it seems like a natural fit with their existing Microsoft infrastructure. Plus, for users of Excel, it seems like Power BI would be a perfect BI tool. What we find is that businesses quickly figure out that there’s a big leap from being advanced in Excel and being proficient in Power BI, which requires learning DAX.

Many companies also get turned away by the fact all their SaaS data or on-premise data has to flow through the Azure cloud and that was a step more than they were willing to take.

6. Chartio

Chartio specializes in focusing on the data that really matters for your business. They understand that many companies spend so much time sifting through reports of data that mean nothing for the profitability of the business. Chartio connects seamlessly with so many databases like Google Analytics, Amazon Redshift, and Oracle. Chartio’s system Visual SQL allows you to drag and drop data to design dashboards without having any knowledge. You can layer your data and take snapshots at any point to make comparisons and projections.

We don’t often run into Chartio, but the few customers we have interacted like the product a lot. The primary concern is the pricing, both the cost and the way it is somehow tied into how many queries you do and the size of your data. Our approach is that cost should never be tied to something so variable and unpredictable.

7. Looker

Looker was recently purchased by Google for $2.6 billion (wow). So clearly there was a lot to like about the software. Looker offers its own modeling language known as LookML. Looker is heavily involved and maintainable but more challenging to learn than some of the previous tools. This tool offers a wide assortment of advanced integration options as well like a max number of connections, but the system overall is a bit clunky. There is also some terminology involved with setting up your visuals in Looker that are not easily understood by someone with no experience in data analytics.

We suspect that Google will tie it in very tightly and perhaps replace Google Data Studio with Looker in the future. It’s hard to tell with Google if they will make the price lower or higher for Looker, but I’m sure they will figure out a way to monetize the data for advertising revenue in some way.

One More Data Visualization Option

As we said earlier, we believe in transparency and honesty. That is why we wanted to provide you with seven of the best choices for data visualization tools without including ourselves in that list.

Although we’re not on the list, we at DashboardFox provides a complete Business Intelligence platform that includes data visualizations, interactive dashboards, a central repository of reports that support self-service scheduling, ad-hoc reporting, embedded analytics, and advanced security and data governance.

Plus for organizations that need a helping hand implementing BI, we offer expert “done for you” services that match or exceed the expectations of our customers. We take all the thinking out of the equation, so you simply tell us about the data that matters to your business, and we take over.

Most of our customers find us via blog articles just like this, after researching 4-5 of the products listed above. And we often hear:

“DashboardFox is the best thing we’ve seen so much and it’s actually affordable.”

If you’re currently researching a data visualization and BI tool, take a closer look at a demo of DashboardFox and contact us so we can discuss your requirements to see if we’re a good fit.

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