In terms of business buzzwords – and the business world sure does love buzzwords – ‘business intelligence’ has been one of the more popular ones over recent years. But BI is also a rarity because it’s one of the few buzzwords that still retains its meaning and importance despite its liberal usage. Which is to say that business intelligence, while trendy, is still a great tool that nearly any business in any industry can use. But like a lot of other new tech and tools that help power the business community, BI can often be rather expensive.
While you will have to eventually shell out some cash if you want to take full advantage of what modern BI tools have to offer, there are a number of free options that can help you get acquainted with what each tool offers, the interface, the learning curve, etc.
After all, BI is impressive in its breadth and depth, being able to help in a tonne of different areas from SEO to marketing can really help you scale your company up.
And BI integration is an important step that many companies could benefit from taking. Consider that according to a recent report published by Market Research Future, the global BI market is growing fast. The value of the industry topped at $16.3 billion in 2016, but is expected to reach $34.3 billion by 2022.
The industry is playing an increasingly prominent role in the way that businesses make decisions and otherwise operate. Without the use of BI tools, your company runs the risk of not only losing a competitive advantage, but also being left behind by the competition as they take avail themselves of BI tools to make better marketing, development, and various other strategic decisions.
“As more of your business becomes digital, more of it also becomes measurable. The trick is to turn digital data into insight and draw conclusions that help drive the business,” wrote Mark Garrett, executive vice president & chief financial officer at Adobe.
Being able to look into your business from new perspectives and in novel ways can truly help transform your business so that it’s ready to handle the demands of the digital world while also using modern technology to its advantage.
With all this in mind, let’s take a look at three free offers from the tech industry’s heavy-hitters, what each one offers the user and how taking advantage of free business intelligence software can be a great first step on your company’s path towards full BI integration.
IBM Watson Analytics, offered by one of the market leaders in BI, is a great tool for companies to get their hands on to help make sense of all that information out there that has, before the creation of powerful software and computers, been unavailable.
The amount of tasks that Watson can fulfill is impressively vast and diverse. The home page brags about helping out in everything from elevator safety to healthcare involving tumors to aiding the NBA’s Toronto Raptors.
This once again speaks to the coming ubiquity of business intelligence, as analytics have opened us up to see usable data in everything. That data can then be gathered, condensed and presented by software like Watson.
Of course, there are limitations to what you get with the free version. Data and size limits being obvious shortcomings of using the free version of the software. At the same time, one of the best benefits of IBM’s offering compared to competitors is that it’s not only robust in its abilities but also easy to use. The famously gentle learning curve of Watson is one of the things that helps separate it from equally comprehensive software options like Tableau, which is famous for its many features but falls short in the UI department.
Which is to say that Watson saves you money off the bat due to its free version, but then continues to save money as you won’t necessarily need to hire a whole new team of IT experts to run the thing or go for outsourcing bring in outside help.
Also, bonus points granted for Watson’s performance on Jeopardy!. After all, how often do you get to use a former Jeopardy! champion to help make important business decisions?
Google is, like IBM, one of the biggest companies in the analytics game, and its connection with its dominant search engine make it an appealing choice for people looking to try out a BI tool.
Much like IBM, Google Analytics benefits from an easy-to-use interface and design.
Where Google Analytics really thrives compared to its counterparts, however, is in the usage, compiling and analysis of online data to help power your business forward. It too has a scaled pricing system, but the free tools can be very helpful in establishing a BI culture at your business.
Microsoft Power BI
The last of our Big Three on this list falls to Microsoft Power BI, a business tool offered again by one of the richest companies on the planet with a strong reputation for creating helpful business tools. After all, can you imagine a world without Microsoft Suite? *shudder*
Which brings up an interesting dichotomy between Google and Microsoft – which online services do you prefer to use?
But what does Microsoft Power BI offer that the many, many other options don’t? Besides being backed by one of the more well-respected companies around, Microsoft Power BI benefits from having a shorter gap than most between the paid version and the free version.
While there are certainly advantages to using the paid version, the free version is still more than capable of helping you get your BI game up and running.
So there you have it. Three well-known and well-respected companies that offer BI tools for nothing. Of course, you’ll still be missing out on certain features and face size limits, but the BI offerings are a great start for those looking to learn the ropes of BI without having to weather a huge initial cost.
Guest Author: Brooke Campbell loves to talk about both tech and business, so she made it a full-time job and works as a digital content manager for a Software Consulting Company. When not working, she eats and sleeps, in that order.