A Simple Guide for Choosing the Best Business Intelligence Tool

Choosing the right Business Intelligence Tool for your company is a risky business. Here is a simple guide that would help you in choosing the best BI for your company:

- sit down and have a coffee with your managers to talk about the Business (What are the needs?), Functional (who are the users?) and Technical Requirements (what are your existing database and servers?).

- Get an idea of the Business Intelligence market using Gartner, Forrester, TDWI and Ventana Research.

- Think long-term. If you are going to choose and grow with this BI tool, think of how stable the company and how would it respond to your changing demands in the future.

- Estimate the Total Cost of Ownership. (Licensing for all possible users, first year technical support and maintenance, training, hardware - client and server requirements, anticipated system administration and consulting.)

(2) COMPARE ("Proof-of-Concept")

- As much as possible, make a list of 3 or 4 BI vendors (supporting multiple BI tools if possible) before contacting them. Put more "points" on features that your company need, items that you discussed during the 'coffee meeting'. Put fewer points on the additional "cool factor" of the product.

- Ask them for a presentation format that you design yourself.

- Choose 2 out of the 4 and do a Proof of Concept that you talk about during the presentation using your companies' test data.

- Weigh the advantages and the additional "cool features" that you discovered during the POC.


Choosing the right BI tool and vendor is a tough decision, so I hope this mini guide will help you make the right choice.

For more information, you may want to visit these websites:
DM Review - Choosing the Right BI Software and Vendor
BI Review - Lessons Learned
Intelligent Enterprise - Flying High with BI
BitPipe - Business Intelligence (BI) First Step
B-eye Network - Best Practices for Business Intelligence Tool Selection
Business Intelligence General Information
Wikipedia: Business Intelligence

Complete List of COMMERCIAL BI TOOL: (updated last April 3, 2006). I also added a link to Google Finance for more information on the company and its standing in the market. (Just remember that a strong and stable BI company is also a consideration in choosing a long term BI tool.) Here are the BI market's key players:
- SAP - G-Finance Product: SAP NetWeaver BI
- Microsoft - G-Finance - Product: Proclarity (acquired April 2006)
- IBM - G-Finance - Product: IBM DB2 Alphablox
- Microstrategy - G-Finance - Product: Microstrategy 8
- Cognos - G-Finance - Product: Cognos 8
- BusinessObjects - G-Finance - Product: Business Objects XI
- Informatica - G-Finance - Product: Informatica PowerCenter Advance Edition
- Oracle - G-Finance - Product: Oracle BI Suite
- Hyperion - G-Finance - Product: Hyperion System 9 BI+
- DataMirror - G-Finance - Product: Data Mirror BI

Other Companies:
* Actuate
* Alphablox
* Applix
* Business Objects
* Cognos
* Cyberscience
* DataHabitat
* Decision Technology
* Information Builders
* KCI Computing
* MaxQ Technologies
* Metrinomics - Metrivox
* MicroStrategy
* OutlookSoft
* Panorama
* QlikView
* Siebel Systems*acquired by Oracle
* SAS Institute
* Saksoft
* Synola Ltd
You can also visit Google Finance for the standing of the following companies.

Remember that there are also a strong Open Source Business Intelligence tools available in the market today. They are full blown BU Suite ready for implementation already like Pentaho, you can also view our own list of Open Source BI Suite.

Good luck on your search!

Gilbert on Monday, April 03, 2006


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