In this age of digitalization and analytics, the importance of data cannot be overstated. Companies big and small rely on accurate data and reporting to make informed decisions about customer acquisition and retention, employee utilization and business processes.
While it’s no secret that data analysis is important, only 45% of small businesses track their critical business data. As more small businesses begin to discover the cost of not investing in data, the adoption of business intelligence tools has become a priority for leadership.
Below we will dive deeper into:
What Are Business Intelligence Tools?
Business intelligence software is used by businesses to transform their data into actionable insights so that they can gain a better understanding of the state of their business and make more informed decisions. With a business intelligence tool, users can create visual reports and dashboards to analyze and present their analytical findings to leadership and internal and external stakeholders.
A great business intelligence solution brings value to business owners and business customers alike. With access to accurate, real-time data, businesses can highlight trends, showcase value of a product or service, identify areas of improvement, make adjustments to improve profitability and better serve their customers.
Benefits of Real-Time Reporting and Performance Dashboards
Business leaders often need to make swift decisions but those relying on last month’s reports or an unorganized data set are often missing opportunities for improved efficiency and profitability.
With a business intelligence tool, leaders have access to real-time data that lets them know how their business is operating today — not last month. This access leads to more informed decision making about the company, its processes and its customers in its current state.
Some key advantages of business intelligence tools include:
- Accurately measuring key performance indicators (KPIs)
- Analyzing industry trends to gain an advantage over competitors
- Creating one source of truth for your business
- Faster decision making with access to real-time, quality data
- Gaining insights that lead to greater operational efficiency
- Better understanding customer behavior and personas
All businesses can benefit from having more access to reliable data, but small businesses that rely on efficiency can see even bigger returns from business intelligence tools. Let’s explore some of the best software solutions for small businesses looking to gain better control of their business data.
Top Business Intelligence Tools for Your Small Business
As a small business seeking a business intelligence solution it’s important to consider a variety of factors including customizability, cost, ease of use, available integrations and quality of support.
Below we’ll highlight some key features of the best BI tools for small businesses and share their strengths and weaknesses so you can compare.
- Microsoft Power BI
- Zoho Analytics
Accelo is an end-to-end client work management platform built to help professional service businesses automate tasks, increase profits and gain insight into business performance.
While it offers robust reporting and business intelligence features, Accelo also offers solutions for all stages of client work, including sales and quoting, customer relationship management, a complete ticketing system, billing and retainer management.
- Reporting across your entire client journey in one centralized platform
- Profitability reporting by projects, tickets and retainers to identify your most profitable clients and work
- Revenue analysis and forecasting to determine your future revenue
- Team member performance dashboard to identify top performers and measure cost vs. billable value
- Accelo’s end-to-end client work management platform connects your business reporting to all stages of your client journey — creating one source of truth for your business
- The platform’s integrated time tracking collects accurate employee time data, providing your business valuable insights with reports like billable vs. non-billable time, planned time vs. actual time and more without the need for an additional time tracking tool
- The platform is best suited for teams of five or more, so it may not be the best choice for smaller teams or solopreneurs
- As a complete client work management solution, Accelo is designed for professional service businesses and wouldn’t work well for other businesses
Start making informed decisions about your client work today. Sign up for a free trial of Accelo to explore how its interactive dashboards and predictive analytics can set your business up for success.
If you have further questions about how Accelo’s client work management platform can provide your team with actionable insights, request a demo with one of our product experts.
Board is a business intelligence software that offers planning tools and data visualization to help teams discover critical business insights and helps them gain full control of their organization. The platform can help users through the entire planning process, from goal setting to project execution.
- Reporting tools with a drag-and-drop interface
- Real-time data modeling and visualizations
- Workflow management with task automation
- Performance management for budgeting, planning and forecasting
- The platform is flexible and can fit the needs of a wide range of business types and industries
- An available add-in can connect Board’s data model and charts to your MS Office documents and PowerPoint presentations and sync updates between the two tools
- There are limited third-party integrations available, making this option a challenging one for teams needing to connect multiple cloud-based tools
- While Board offers integrated business planning tools, small businesses likely still need additional software solutions like a CRM, ticketing system or billing software to support all aspects of their work
Looker, part of the Google Cloud suite, is a business intelligence tool that supports multiple data sources and offers real-time dashboards and embedded analytics. With access to consistent data, the platform offers teams the ability to make data-informed decisions to create more efficient workflows and provide a better customer experience.
- Real-time dashboards to access in-depth data
- Data-driven business workflows
- APIs support integration with custom and third-party applications
- Embedded analytics to share live metrics with customers, suppliers and partners
- Looker offers a wide range of data visualization options and offers custom visualizations beyond their available Looker Marketplace directory
- The platform’s SQL Runner allows analysts to send easy-to-read reports to less technical users
- According to some users the platform is expensive and the larger investment may be more difficult for smaller teams
- Some users say that the platform can be unstable, with long loading times and disappearing reports
4. Microsoft Power BI
Microsoft Power BI is a business intelligence software that helps teams model and visualize their data. Users can monitor KPIs, collaborate on dashboards and share reporting with external stakeholders. Power BI offers multiple products in their suite, including Power BI Desktop and Power BI Embedded, so teams have flexibility on how the platform fits into their existing tech stack.
- Self-service analytics tools
- Data visualizations with built-in AI capabilities
- Excel integration to gather, analyze, publish and share reports
- Sensitivity labels to protect critical data
- A free version is available for individual users
- Power BI integrates with Office 365 and Microsoft Teams, so businesses using these tools may find this platform fits easily into their existing workflows
- While simple visualizations can be completed with minimal effort, the platform’s rigid formulas can make it challenging to combine multiple elements — limiting the ability to create custom visualizations
- The platform is only supported on Azure and not on any other cloud services like Google Cloud or Amazon Web Services
Reveal is an embedded analytics solution that brings the power of data to your customers, employees, partners and suppliers. The system provides interactive data visualizations and collaborative tools to allow teams to make quicker, data-driven decisions without interrupting their workflows.
- Custom dashboards and visualizations and a drag-and-drop interface
- Reporting for pipeline and sales performance, financial performance and revenue and profitability
- A wide range of supported data sources
- Granular user access levels to support data security
- Full control over platform branding to ensure your reporting UX is consistent with your business color palettes, fonts and more
- Rich API gives businesses the ability to fully customize how dashboards are loaded and saved and which UI features are available to users
- Although Reveal offers a variety of fixed price plans, the cost is significant and may be too high for small businesses, especially those who are also paying for additional software
- One user shared that there are some limitations to the available data visualizations in the custom dashboards
Sisense is a cloud-based business intelligence solution that provides organizations with the ability to share important company data through embedded analytics. The platform offers customizable dashboards that showcase business value.
- Connects data from multiple sources including cloud, in-app and on-premises data
- AI-powered analytics for identifying trends and forecasting value
- Data visualization with dashboards, interactive widgets and reports
- Embedded analytics to share your real-time analytics with customers and other stakeholders
- Data analysis supported by code-first, low code and no code tool options so business users of all skill sets can benefit from the reporting capabilities
- Extensive APIs make the platform easy to integrate with existing workflows
- Some users shared that the system can be “buggy” and that support response time can be slow
- Because Sisense is purely a business intelligence solution, businesses will need to find additional software solutions to support their work and collect their business data
Tableau is a visual analytics platform that helps organizations of all types and sizes transform the way they use their data to make informed business decisions. The platform supports the analytics journey, from data preparation, to real-time analysis, to sharing insights with teammates and other stakeholders.
- Informative dashboards with options to include images, visual objects, text and more
- Supports a wide range of data sources
- Mobile-friendly dashboard layouts for sharing data on the go
- Trend lines and predictive analysis to support business forecasting
- Tableau offers the ability for users to host the system on their Tableau Cloud or businesses can choose Tableau Server to host the platform in their own infrastructure
- An integration with Slack makes it easy to weave data insights into your company’s existing workflows through automated alerts
- Some users share that the cost is steep and that smaller businesses may want to start with another platform and upgrade to Tableau if the need arises
- Users also share that the platform can be slow to load, especially when linked to live data
8. Zoho Analytics
Zoho Analytics is a business intelligence and analytics platform with self-service capabilities that help businesses create data visualizations and access valuable insights. The platform allows users of all skill levels to access, build and share reports with teammates, customers and other stakeholders.
- Easy data imports with automatic duplicate deletion
- Drag-and-drop interface to create and share reports and dashboards
- Collaborative tools to support team communication
- Open API capabilities for integrating with existing systems
- Zoho Analytics offers a free version with a limit of two users
- Published reports and dashboards can be embedded on blogs, website, applications or shared through a public-facing URL
- Users share that the platform can be complex and difficult to set up and that support response can be slow to resolve issues
- Data synchronization only takes place during certain time intervals, so it can be difficult to generate accurate, real-time insights
Improve Customer Satisfaction With Better Business Insights
Business insights can be a tremendous asset for strengthening your workflows and improving internal efficiency but they can also have a huge impact on your customer experience.
Using the power of data visualization, your business can more quickly identify customer trends and pinpoint areas in need of improvement. With these improved insights your business can develop better relationships with customers, through more effective communications or specialized support services, and increase overall customer satisfaction.
Control Your Business With Smart Technology
Whether your goals are to create one source of truth for your business data or to obtain insights to grow your revenues, finding a business intelligence solution is the best step you can take toward gaining full control of your business.
For small businesses supporting clients, the best solution is a client work management tool like Accelo. The platform is an end-to-end system for managing your client work with all the business intelligence features you need for making informed decisions.
The platform connects all stages of your client journey so you have access to all your critical business data in one platform, saving you the time and cost of integrating with multiple tools.
Ready to start making more data-driven decisions? Request a demo and further explore how Accelo’s robust reporting can provide your team with the actionable insights you need to meet your business goals.
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Kit Lewis is a Content Manager at Accelo, where she manages content projects, social media and content reporting. With a decade of writing for industries ranging from education to tech, past experience supporting client work and a commitment to building efficient systems, she is passionate about creating valuable content to help professional services teams.