There is no shortage of business intelligence solutions. And so the potential user is spoiled for choice. This article provides an overview of the most common BI tools, their functionalities and their strengths and weaknesses.

To illustrate ideas and visualize data: The variety of tools in the field of business intelligence make it difficult to decide on a particular solution. Which main features are relevant to my company and which solution is optimal for the individual requirements? In its tool comparison, Vision11 GmbH offers a detailed analysis of the functions and key parameters of Tableau, QlikView and Qlik Sense, Power BI as well as Lumira Discovery and Lumira Designer.

Tableau

Tableau is the market leader in BI visualization. Tableau dashboards are very flexible and offer a variety of customization features. In the extensive library of visualization types, the user can quickly find his way around. It is easy to use and special visual effects such as filters and drill-downs can be quickly found and used. Also, the processes are well documented and labelled and the data is communicated clearly, attractively and interactively. Tableau provides deep insights into the data and enables efficient visualization of complex decision-making processes. Tableau is also an optimal solution for sharing within a team.

QlikView and QlikSense

QlikView is one of Qlik’s market-leading BI products. It is the most flexible BI platform for converting data into knowledge and is designed to share BI reports and data visualizations. It allows users to build applications with embedded analytics. However, this requires Qlik-specific development skills. Qlik Sense, another Qlik product, was designed as a modern data exploration platform like Tableau.

The second product of the company Qlik Sense is very user-friendly. It is very flexible when it comes to embedding analytics in external applications. It supports common web standards like HTML and has a responsive design. This allows users to create reports and visualizations that are optimized for viewing on different devices. The objective of product development at Qlik is to further update and harmonize the two solutions QlikView and Qlik Sense.

Power BI

Power BI is Microsoft’s simple, web-based interface with a wealth of features. So the scope ranges from a customizable visualization to a control of the data sources. The primary Power BI tools include Power Query for extracting and transforming. Power Pivot to model and analyze and Power View or Power Map to visualize the data. The Power BI Designer consolidates each tool in an all-in-one application and resolves dependencies on Excel or Office.

So PowerBI.com is used to exchange records, reports and dashboards. Special benefits of Power BI technology include an in-memory analysis engine and a column-based database. In addition, the technology offers the perfect blend of performance and ease-of-use due to the relatively simple DAX scripting language. Other benefits include monthly updates and a free version that reduces purchase barriers.

A clear disadvantage, however, are the missing user parameters, which means that entity-specific dashboards can not be created. There are also very few limited data sources that enable real-time connections to Power BI. While a dataset can span multiple data types, Power BI reports and dashboards can only serve data from a single dataset. Another disadvantage of Power BI is the limitation of file sizes to 250 MB. The goal of the solution is to extend and not replace existing reporting tools so that it can not be seen as a replacement for an enterprise data warehouse.

SAP BusinessObjects Lumira

SAP BusinessObjects Lumira is a self-service data visualization tool for business users. The tool can be used with the in-memory platform of SAP HANA or without. SAP Lumira is both a self-service BI discovery tool and a visualization tool. This tool brings data to life by simplifying the creation and release of interactive maps, charts, and infographics.

With Lumira Discovery, data can be imported from a variety of on-premise and cloud-based sources, and visual BI analytics can be performed with intuitive dashboards. Lumira Discovery is a comprehensive client for business key users who need a flexible solution. This tool can be used to connect data sources, and to capture, manipulate, and merge data. In addition, the solution provides an analysis of offline and online data. Through visualizations, findings can be obtained ad hoc from all species to be created.

The SAP Lumira Designer Edition enables interactive, mobile-optimized visualizations for business dashboards. In this way, the information gained can be presented to the decision-makers and the most important findings can be obtained from the data. Lumira Designer is the tool for professional users (IT departments) to create reports for business analysis.

It provides the same UI elements as Lumira Discovery and allows customization of look-and-feel and user interaction through scripting and CSS stylesheets. In addition, shared UI elements can be created. The reduction of complex applications into small parts enables the management of extensive BI deployments.

Who is the winner?

The devil is in the detail: A perfect solution for all requirements does not exist. Choosing the right tool depends on several factors. So it is important, which software already exists, because the compatibility creates special advantages. This makes it possible to integrate Power-BI into Microsoft products such as Excel or SharePoint. In contrast, SAP Lumira recommends a connection to the SAP backend (HANA views or BW). QlikView / Qlik Sense and Tableau, however, are vendor-independent tools.

Tableau also offers a variety of features, provides the best UX, and connects to many data sources. But due to the regular updates and new product developments, a tool comparison is always a snapshot. Thus, the products are in different phases of the life cycle and what is true today could be out of date in twelve months.