Business analytics tools empower companies to gain valuable insights from their data and drive better decision-making. In 2023, over 50% of large enterprises will be using business analytics tools, showing the immense value these solutions provide. With the right platform, organizations can identify opportunities, predict future trends, and boost team performance.

Imagine the possibilities:

  • Predicting future trends and customer behavior to stay ahead of the curve.
  • Optimizing operations and cutting costs for a significant bottom-line impact.
  • Uncovering hidden opportunities for innovation and differentiation in your market.
  • Boosting team performance and decision-making with data-driven insights.

But with so many options to choose from, it can be challenging to select the best tool for your needs. This comprehensive guide will compare the top 10 business analytics tools and provide key considerations for making the right choice. Equipped with meaningful data, you can pursue data-driven growth and outperform competitors.

Analytics brings new insights that can make or break a business. In retail and distribution, for example, analytics has led to innovations such as same-day delivery services, as well as better customer targeting.

Even in sports, analytics could well be the driving force behind your favourite football team.
The power of these tools and techniques can be available to small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Business analytics tools header

However, few business owners understand how analytical modelling can be applied to their day-to-day operations. This causes them to miss out on opportunities to improve their products and services.

As with any other investment, business owners are primarily concerned with how business analytics impact their bottom line. That is, using the right tools can cut costs and boost revenues.

Beyond Insights: Analytics Fueling Business Transformation

Analytics isn’t just about gleaning interesting facts; it’s about turning data into actionable intelligence that can make or break your business. Consider these impactful examples:

Retail Revolution: Think same-day delivery wasn’t a game-changer? Analytics enabled retailers to predict demand, optimize inventory, and streamline delivery routes, creating a win-win for businesses and customers.

Sports Science Triumph: Behind your favorite player’s winning performance might lie a team of analysts crunching data to optimize training, predict opponents’ moves, and even personalize workout plans. Data-driven decisions are pushing the boundaries of athletic performance.

The Power in Your Hands: These same tools and techniques are no longer limited to large corporations. Small businesses and entrepreneurs can leverage affordable analytics platforms to:

  • Identify hidden patterns in customer behavior and preferences, leading to targeted marketing campaigns and personalized offerings.
  • Predict future demand and optimize inventory management, reducing waste and boosting profitability.
  • Analyze website traffic to understand user behavior and improve conversion rates.
  • Track employee performance and identify areas for training and development.

Unlocking the Bottom Line: Yes, cost reduction is important, but business analytics offers far more. It’s about:

  • Boosting revenue: By understanding your customers better, you can develop products and services they truly value, leading to increased sales and market share.
  • Improving efficiency: Optimizing operations with data insights leads to time and resource savings, ultimately translating to cost reduction and improved profitability.
  • Mitigating risks: Proactive analysis can help identify potential problems early on, allowing you to take preventive measures and minimize financial losses.

The true ROI of business analytics goes beyond cost-cutting. It’s about unlocking innovation, maximizing efficiency, and achieving sustainable growth.

Let’s take a look at what business analytics actually means.

What is Business Analytics?

Business analytics is a set of tools and methods aimed at helping you leverage data to improve the way your business functions. At the same time, some business analysts may choose to gather and manipulate data manually; these days, most use specialised business analytics tools.

Before we get into specific tools, let’s answer a more important question.

What can you do with Business Analytics?

As we said, analytics is all about using data to generate insights. This helps you to make better decisions about your business. This means that analytics can benefit you whenever you need to decide.

Specifically, business analytics involves doing the following:

  • Build analysis models,
  • Create simulations and scenarios,
  • Get a glimpse of the reality of the current state of your business,
  • Predict future stats.

The goal of each of these tasks is to help you take the most cost-effective and profitable course of action. The tools we’ll discuss provide easy ways to do all of this, using data mining, statistics, and predictive analytics.

Business analytics tools essentially provide solutions that large corporations have paid a data analyst to create but which are now available for anyone to understand and, more importantly, to apply to their own business.

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Why You Need Business Analytics

Most businesses today have many tools used to track business data. Data such as customer information, ordering information, product information, and service information may all be stored in their own silos. Some common business systems include:

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM),
  • Service Lifecycle Management (SLM),
  • Supply Chain Management (SCM),
  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).

You may have one or all these systems in your business. The challenge now is to find the relationships between the data in these systems and put this new knowledge to good use to grow your business.

With the power of business analytics, you will be able to find the opportunities for growth that your competitors are missing.

So, what can business analytics tools and techniques help you do with your data?

  • Experimentation – With today’s business analytics tools, you can perform experiments and project the results to see which of two (or more) paths might be better for your business
  • Correlation – You don’t know what you don’t know. With business analytics tools, you may just uncover the relationship between two separate products or processes that you never knew existed. For instance, selling more of Widget A means selling more of Widget X.
  • Regression Analysis – This is another handy tool for businesses that allows you to determine the effect that one action may have on another. For instance, if you raise the price of a product, how does it affect the demand for the product?
  • Forecasting – Forecasting is a must-do technique for future growth. By collecting data over time or using historical data, you can identify trends and patterns in your business and use these to predict future potential and events.

Business analytics tools are becoming easier to use and implement all the time. You no longer need to hire data scientists. The newest tools feature intuitive interfaces and helpful guidance so you, too, can use the power of analytics to drive your business.

Most of these tools will require some investment. However, there are some free business analytics tools, and some paid tools have free versions. Using a free or trial version is a great way to get a feel for a product.

Here are some of the most popular business analytics tools on the market today.

Clear Analytics

Clear Analytics Logo
Clear Analytics is one of the most versatile products on the market today. Image credit: Clear Analytics

Many small businesses like Clear Analytics because it is based on the power of Microsoft Excel, a tool that most businesses are already familiar with. Clear Analytics is a great choice for businesses concerned with compliance.

Using the power of Excel, all numbers can easily be traced back to their source.

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Microsoft Power BI

Microsoft logo
Microsoft Power BI is used by organisations of all sizes around the world. Image credit: Microsoft

You can easily connect the Microsoft Power BI product to the most popular data sources such as Oracle, SharePoint and Salesforce. Power BI is available on all your mobile devices and has a robust alert system to notify you when data changes.

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Microsoft Power BI is a widely used business analytics and visualization platform. Key capabilities include:

  • Drag-and-drop interface to easily create reports and dashboards
  • Connect to hundreds of data sources, from Excel to cloud services
  • Real-time data streaming to monitor live metrics
  • Natural language queries using plain text to ask questions about data
  • AI-powered insights to surface patterns, trends and predictions
  • Automated machine learning to build and optimize analytical models
  • Simple sharing and collaboration on reports
  • Available across devices – desktop, mobile and web apps

According to Forrester, “Power BI leads the analytics and business intelligence market” thanks to its intuitive interface and broad capabilities. Examples of Power BI customers include Adobe, BMW, and Dominos Pizza. In 2022, 60% of companies said Power BI was their primary analytics tool.


Attivio Logo
Attivio is popular for its knowledge graphic capabilities. Image credit: Attivio

You can give Attivio a try using their free trial. This software is wizard-based to help guide you through the steps, from importing your data to analysis to presenting the results. Attivio is efficient at synthesizing diverse sets of data.

You’ll also find advanced business analytics tools such as NLP and knowledge graphing. ServiceNow acquired Attivio IP, core technology, and select R&D talent.

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Tableau logo
Tableau’s data visualisation capabilities are some of the best around. Image credit: Tableau

The attraction of Tableau is in its visuals. This product excels at presenting your data with compelling dashboards that can be easily shared with colleagues and customers. Tableau helps you make sense of your data and fosters collaboration with its mobile app.

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There’s also a free version of this product.

Tableau helps businesses unlock value from their data through interactive visualizations. Key features include:

  • Powerful and fast data visualization capabilities
  • Sophisticated dashboards with advanced analytics
  • A broad range of charts, graphs and maps to visualize data
  • Natural language query function to easily ask questions of your data
  • Data blending from various sources into one analytics resource
  • Flexible pricing options, including subscription or role-based pricing
  • Ability to embed visualizations into applications or web pages to reach more users
  • Mobile optimization to view and interact with dashboards on the go

Tableau is trusted by leading companies like Charles Schwab, Verizon, and Netflix to make data actionable. In 2022, Tableau was named a Leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Analytics and BI platforms, recognizing its strong visualization capabilities, augmented analytics, and ease of use.

ToolIdeal For
TableauData Visualization, Reporting
Power BIDashboard Creation, Reporting
SAS AnalyticsAdvanced Analytics, Predictive Modeling
Qlik SenseData Discovery, Self-service Analytics
Google AnalyticsWebsite Traffic and User Behavior Analysis
Adobe AnalyticsDigital Marketing Analytics, Customer Journey Analysis
Zoho AnalyticsBusiness Intelligence, Data Visualization
LookerData Exploration, Custom Analytics
AlteryxData Preparation, Predictive Analytics
SisenseEmbedded BI, Large Data Sets Analytics
A list of popular BI Analytics Tools
  1. Tableau:
    • Known for its data visualization capabilities, allowing businesses to create interactive and shareable dashboards.
  2. Power BI:
    • A Microsoft product is known for creating dashboards and reports to provide insights into various data.
  3. SAS Analytics:
    • Provides advanced analytics through data management, predictive analytics, and business intelligence.
  4. Qlik Sense:
    • Known for self-service analytics and data discovery, allowing users to explore data and make discoveries.
  5. Google Analytics:
    • Primarily used for website traffic analysis and understanding user behaviour on websites.
  6. Adobe Analytics:
    • Provides digital marketing analytics, focusing on understanding customer journeys.
  7. Zoho Analytics:
    • A self-service BI and data analytics software that allows you to create visually appealing data visualizations.
  8. Looker:
    • A Google Cloud tool for data exploration and creating custom analytics suited to business needs.
  9. Alteryx:
    • Known for data preparation and predictive analytics, helping businesses prepare, blend, and analyze data.
  10. Sisense:
    • Well-suited for embedded BI and handling large data sets, providing insights through dashboards and analytics.

Each tool has its own set of features and capabilities, and the ideal choice may vary depending on the specific needs and context of a business.

Here are some examples of step-by-step visuals explaining specific analyses like funnel and cohort analysis in top tools, designed to make them less intimidating for users:

Tool: Power BI

Analysis: Funnel Analysis (Tracking Conversion Rates)

1. Data Connection:

  • Visual: Screenshot showing how to connect to your data source (e.g., CSV file, database).
  • Step by Step: Briefly explain the connection process and potential difficulties beginners might face.

2. Building the Funnel:

  • Visual: A pre-built funnel visualization highlighting key stages (e.g., website visit, cart addition, purchase).
  • Step by Step: Guide users through creating the funnel visualization, adding data points, and customizing metrics.

3. Analyzing Drop-off Points:

  • Visual: Chart showing conversion rates at each stage of the funnel, with potential drop-off points highlighted.
  • Step by Step: Explain how to identify where users are dropping off and provide tips for investigating the reasons.

4. Actionable Insights:

  • Visual: Actionable recommendations based on the analysis, like improving website checkout process or offering incentives.
  • Step by Step: Guide users on how to translate their findings into actionable strategies for improving their conversion rates.

Tool: Google Analytics

Analysis: Cohort Analysis (Understanding User Behavior)

1. Selecting Cohort:

  • Visual: Screenshot showing the “Cohorts” option within Google Analytics, with various parameters for defining groups (e.g., acquisition date, location).
  • Step by Step: Explain how to choose relevant parameters for defining your cohort groups and the implications of different choices.

2. Analyzing Cohort Behavior:

  • Visual: Side-by-side comparison of two cohorts with metrics like session duration, bounce rate, or purchase activity.
  • Step by Step: Guide users through comparing different cohorts, identifying trends and behaviors unique to each group.

3. Drilling Down for Insights:

  • Visual: Breakdown of specific metrics within a cohort, highlighting significant differences in user engagement or conversion rates.
  • Step by Step: Explain how to drill down into specific segments within a cohort to understand nuanced user behavior.

4. Targeted Strategies:

  • Visual: Examples of tailored marketing campaigns or content strategies based on the insights from the cohort analysis.
  • Step by Step: Provide suggestions for utilizing the findings to personalize outreach and improve engagement for different user groups.

Additional Tips:

  • Visuals: Use clear screenshots, diagrams, and charts to simplify complex processes and data visualizations.
  • Targeted Audience: Keep the tutorials user-friendly and tailored to the skill level of your target audience.
  • Interactive Elements: Consider incorporating interactive elements like dropdown menus or clickable buttons to enhance user engagement.
  • Additional Resources: Offer links to further resources like official documentation, video tutorials, or community forums for deeper learning.

Different types of business analytics tools are available

There are three main types of business analytics tools:

  • Self-service analytics tools: These tools are designed to be used by business users without the need for technical expertise. They are typically easy to use and have various features that make it easy to analyze data and create reports.
  • Enterprise analytics tools: These tools are designed for large businesses and organizations with complex data needs. They offer a wide range of features and functionality but can be more difficult to use and require more technical expertise.
  • Cloud-based analytics tools: These tools are hosted in the cloud and can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection. They are typically easy to scale up or down as needed and can be more cost-effective than on-premises analytics tools.

How to choose the right business analytics tool for your business

When choosing a business analytics tool, there are a number of factors to consider, including:

  • The size and complexity of your business: If you have a small business with simple data needs, a self-service analytics tool may be sufficient. However, if you have a large business with complex data needs, you may need an enterprise analytics tool.
  • Your budget: Business analytics tools can range in price from free to tens of thousands of dollars. It is important to choose a tool that fits your budget.
  • Your specific needs: Consider what specific features and functionality you need in a business analytics tool. For example, do you need a tool that can handle big data? Do you need a tool that can create interactive reports?
  • Ease of use: If you are not technical, you will want to choose a business analytics tool that is easy to use.
  • Support: Make sure to choose a business analytics tool that comes with good support. This includes support for installation, training, and troubleshooting.

Benefits of using business analytics tools

There are many benefits to using business analytics tools, including:

  • Improved decision-making: Business analytics tools can help you to make better decisions by providing you with insights into your data. For example, you can use business analytics tools to identify trends, patterns, and outliers in your data. You can then use this information to make more informed decisions about your business.
  • Increased efficiency: Business analytics tools can help you to increase your efficiency by automating tasks such as data collection, analysis, and reporting. This can free up your time to focus on other important tasks.
  • Reduced costs: Business analytics tools can help you reduce costs by identifying areas where you can save money. For example, you can use business analytics tools to identify inefficient processes and wasteful spending.

Challenges of using business analytics tools

There are also some challenges to using business analytics tools, including:

  • Data quality issues: Business analytics tools are only as good as the data that they are fed. If your data is inaccurate or incomplete, your results will also be inaccurate.
  • The need for skilled users: Business analytics tools can be complex, and it may take some time and training to learn how to use them effectively.
  • The cost of implementation: Implementing a business analytics tool can be expensive, especially if you choose an enterprise-grade tool.

Tips for overcoming the challenges of using business analytics tools

  • Invest in data quality: One of the best ways to ensure that your business analytics results are accurate is to invest in data quality. This means cleaning and validating your data before you use it with a business analytics tool.
  • Train your users: It is important to train your users on how to use your business analytics tool effectively. This will help them to get the most out of the tool and avoid making mistakes.
  • Start small: If you are new to business analytics, it is a good idea to start with a simple tool. Once you have mastered the basics, you can upgrade to a more powerful tool.
  • Use various data sources: The more data you have, the more accurate your results will be. Consider using a variety of data sources, such as internal data, customer data, and market data.
  • Set clear goals: Before you start using a business analytics tool, it is important to set clear goals for what you want to achieve. This will help you to choose the right tool and use it effectively.
  • Get help from experts: If you are struggling to use a business analytics tool, there are experts available who can help you. Consider hiring a consultant or taking a training course.

Data Quality Pitfalls & Analysis Errors: Your Bionic Toolbox for Top Tools

Navigating the intricate world of data analytics can be exhilarating, but also fraught with perils. Fear not, intrepid explorer! Here’s your bionic toolbox to conquer common data quality pitfalls and analysis errors across top tools.

Pain Point: Dirty Data Destroys Decisions

  • Remedy: Employ data cleansing rituals! Tools like Power BI’s “Get Data” offer options for filtering, transforming, and shaping your data. Check for duplicates, inconsistencies, and missing values. Use data profiling tools to analyze data statistics and identify anomalies.

Pitfall: Sampling Shenanigans Skew Insights

  • Best Practice: Choose wisely! Random sampling is your friend, ensuring unbiased representation of your population. Stratified sampling lets you focus on specific subgroups (e.g., age, gender). Avoid convenience sampling (grabbing the easiest data) or self-selection bias (only those who want to participate).

Analysis Error: Overfitting Obscura

  • Troubleshooting: Don’t overtrain your model! Test and validate your analysis against unseen data to ensure generalizability. Tools like Tableau’s “Test & Explain” provide insights into model bias and potential overfitting. Use regularization techniques to penalize model complexity and prevent overfitting.

Common Pain: Feature Fatigue Fogs Focus

  • Tip: Prioritize like a pro! Use correlation metrics or feature importance tools to identify the most relevant features for your analysis. Tools like Google Analytics’ “Attribution Model” help isolate the influence of different marketing channels. Avoid the “kitchen sink” approach of throwing everything at the model.

Data Quality Trap: Measurement Misadventures

  • Detangling Metrics: Ensure consistent and accurate measurement across data sources. Calibrate instruments, standardize units, and define metrics clearly. Tools like Power BI’s “Quick Insights” can automatically detect potential data inconsistencies.

Beyond Toolbox: Remember These Gems

  • Document, Document, Document: Track your data cleaning steps, analysis choices, and assumptions. Tools like Jupyter Notebook offer version control and collaborative editing.
  • Visualize the Journey: Use data visualizations to identify anomalies, patterns, and outliers. Tools like Tableau offer a visual feast for data exploration.
  • Communicate Transparently: Explain your methods, limitations, and uncertainties to avoid misleading interpretations. Showcase the potential impact of your findings on business decisions.

By wielding these tools and best practices, you can transform data challenges into opportunities for discovery. Remember, data analysis is a journey, not a destination. Embrace the learning, adapt to unexpected twists, and let your data guide you to informed and impactful decisions.


Q: What key features should I look for in a business analytics tool?

A: Key features include data visualization, dashboard creation, drill-down capabilities, natural language query, predictive analytics, data preparation, collaboration and mobility. Consider ease of use, flexibility, and scalability as well.

Q: How can business analytics tools benefit my company?

A: Benefits include identifying cost savings, optimizing operations, predicting future trends, spotting new opportunities, improving customer experiences, boosting productivity, and gaining competitive advantage through data-driven decision-making.

Q: What skills do I need to use business analytics tools?

A: Basic Excel skills are helpful. Look for tools with intuitive interfaces that don’t require coding. Many provide pre-built templates and how-to guides to get started. Analytical thinking and business acumen are important, too.

Q: How much do business analytics tools cost?

A: Pricing varies widely. Costs range from free entry-level options to premium tools at over $1,000+ per user annually. Consider how many users need access and your current data infrastructure.

Q: Should I use multiple business analytics tools?

A: Using multiple overlapping tools can create silos and inconsistencies. Focus on one primary tool that meets your needs and provides enterprise-wide access. However, complementary niche tools can fill gaps too.

Summary: Business Analytics Tools Are for Everyone

The power of business analytics tools may have been confined to the world’s largest companies, but they are now available to everyone.

If you want to truly understand your business data and use those numbers to pull ahead of the competition, your starting point is right here.

The right business analytics tool can take your organization’s decision-making and performance to the next level. Consider your budget, use cases, and technical expertise when evaluating options to select the best platform. Investing in a data-driven culture supported by analytics will yield game-changing business insights. With the surge of data today, business analytics tools are indispensable to outmanoeuvre competitors.

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