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Free Business Intelligence Software: What are the Best BI Tools that Cost Nothing?

What is the best free business intelligence software?

The best free business intelligence software is Zoho Analytics. The app is a powerful BI, data analytics, and online reporting tool with a forever-free plan. It is a reliable tool for generating data visualizations and actionable business insights.

Data is what powers today’s modern business. As companies generate huge amounts of data, business intelligence software transforms data into actionable information. It’s no wonder companies increasingly rely on BI-generated insights to guide strategic and tactical decisions, especially in uncertain times like the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, for start-ups and small businesses, deploying their own BI tool might be difficult, mostly due to budgetary constraints. And this is why we’ve made an extensive research to provide you this definitive list of the top free BI tools for your business.

Business Intelligence Software

Not long ago, business intelligence platforms were among the most expensive business technology solutions that only large corporations can afford to use. The advent of SaaS platforms introduced affordable cloud BI, leveling the playing field and offering business intelligence tools for small and big businesses alike.

In tandem with business intelligence KPIs, this class of applications is proven to allow decision-makers to come up with the best and fast decisions. It likewise enables business owners to gain visibility into and fine-tune processes. Moreover, it allows the discovery of customer behavior and market trends. As such, a concept related to business intelligence is decision intelligence. However, what makes decision intelligence different is its ability to provide the right information at the right time using faster, real-time data to help businesses achieve better decisions and better outcomes.

At the heart of business intelligence is data. When asked about the most important BI trends for 2021, a majority of users, consultants, and software vendors named master data and data quality management on the top of their list. It is particularly important for IT users and business users, which gave it an average score of 7.4 out of 10.

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Opinion on Value of Master Data by User Type

(ranked on a scale of 10)

Opinion on Value of Master Data by User Type
IT User: 7.4

IT User

Opinion on Value of Master Data by User Type
Business User: 7.4

Business User

Opinion on Value of Master Data by User Type
Consultant: 7.1

Consultant

Opinion on Value of Master Data by User Type
Vendor: 6.8

Vendor

Source: Business Application Research Center, 2020

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Some Caveats

Some of today’s leading business intelligence systems include free BI plans in their product lineup and we’ve gathered some of them here. Keep in mind that there are certain limitations of free business intelligence software. These include challenges when it comes to adoption, certain lack of functionality, and the ability to meet your requirements.

Furthermore, even if it is free business intelligence software or an open-source platform, it may cost you more in the long run in terms of lost opportunities because of incomplete functionality and incompatibility with other systems. If initially, you prefer the free route, we’ve narrowed down the choices below.

1. Zoho Analytics

Zoho Analytics Dashboard Zoho Analytics is our top free BI tool. This upgraded version of Zoho Reports is a powerful self-service BI platform. It offers one of the industry’s best data analytics and online reporting solutions. For instance, it can easily track core business metrics as well as identify obvious and concealed trends. What’s more, this tool is user-friendly that even non-tech-savvy staff can generate critical reports on their own.

This BI tool, likewise, supports close collaboration and provides industry-grade security. This means all your work teams can closely collaborate on projects or in meeting sales targets, etc. Even reports generated from multiple users can be easily shared with each other and with external partners or clients. What’s more, Zoho Analytics automatically sends smart notifications for updates, etc. You can also test-drive the premium plans for free.

Zoho Analytics

An award given to products our B2B experts find especially valuable for companies

Try out Zoho Analytics with their free trial

Freemium features:

  • Easy drag-and-drop functionality, no coding knowledge required
  • For on-premise use only
  • Single user support
  • Add up to 5 workspaces, 25,000 rows, and 10 tables

Detailed Zoho Analytics Review

2. Qualtrics Research Core

Qualtrics Research Core dashboard

Cloud-based research software Qualtrics Research Core is a built to empower businesses of different sizes to make informed decisions. The platform provides powerful tools that enable businesses to uncover customer insights like satisfaction rates as well as transactional and relational NPS. Besides, it streamlines product research, marketing research, brand research, and aid planning. 

At its core, Qualtrics Research Core makes it easy to design surveys, distribute surveys for speedy data collection, and analyze results to predict market trends. Most importantly, it helps businesses break up data silos and collect information and vital feedback across every channel in one place. With the platform, it’s easy to pull data from the third party systems like Zendesk, Salesforce, Freshdesk, HubSpot, Zapier, Tableau, and more. Should you want to test the premium features of this product, be sure to try the Qualtrics Research Core free demo.

Qualtrics Research Core

Qualtrics Research Core

Try out Qualtrics Research Core with their free trial

Freemium features:

  • 10 questions per survey
  • 7 question types
  • 100 responses
  • Summary reports and filtering
  • Online reporting
  • Survey logic

3. QlikView

QlikView Dashboard

QlikView is a BI data discovery solution that allows you to build your own guided analytics applications as well as dashboards designed to address business challenges. The solution enables you to unravel data insights and relationships from various sources utilizing unique data discovery and natural global search.

This robust tool offers both default and custom data connectors, letting you import data from popular databases. In addition, its open API means applicability for all sorts of software systems and usability for a wide range of analytics requirements and scenarios, regardless if you are a small business or a large corporation.

With QlikView, you get unprecedented control over analytics experiences, top-down control of analytics apps, and granular control of dashboards, layout, and design. QlikView can be deployed through its API, on-premise or via the cloud.

Detailed QlikView Review

Freemium features:

  • Fully interactive apps
  • Sharing with up to 5 users
  • Access to Qlik DataMarket Free
  • Free and unlimited access to Cloud Basic, Desktop, and Personal Editions

4. Microsoft Power BI

Microsoft Power BI Dashboard

Microsoft Power BI offers a suite of business analytics tools built to help businesses systematically scrutinize data and share insights. It allows you to transform your company’s data into attractive and comprehensible visuals, letting you easily collect and organize information and craft effective business strategies.

This BI tool is designed to identify trends as they occur, track your performance, and get answers fast through comprehensive dashboards that support any device. Originally planned as an add-on for the Microsoft ecosystem, the BI solution has transformed into a fully functional standalone product to serve the self-service BI market.

Among the benefits that Microsoft Power BI provides include unlimited access to on-premise and cloud data, shareable interactive visualizations, and quick data interaction. Finally, being part of Microsoft’s lineup of business products, it can be integrated with other widely used Microsoft business tools like Excel, Azure, and SQL Server.

Detailed Microsoft Power BI Review

Freemium features:

  • 1GB data capacity Limit
  • Create, view, and share dashboards and reports
  • Author content
  • Data exploration

5. Heap Analytics

Heap Analytics DashboardHeap Analytics utilizes an innovative approach in business intelligence—capture all user interactions. It does this by automatically capturing every click, tap, gesture, page view, and form submission done by all your users. Thereafter, it analyzes these user interactions without tracking codes and tags or waiting for data. This provides you with agile insights and helping you make better and faster decisions for your business.

Its insight automation infrastructure is loaded with features such as data capture, event visualizer, user search and interactions, and funnels, among others. Heap makes it easy for you to identify users in-depth, monitor custom events, and generate reports based on real-time data, resulting in accurate and timely reports.

In instances where events are not automatically captured by Heap, you can make modifications and assign custom events with a specific number of properties to thoroughly drill down on these events to give you the information you need. With Heap, you can get real-time insights in the quickest way possible without compromising the accuracy of your data.

Detailed Heap Analytics Review

Freemium features:

  • Auto capture
  • 5,000 sessions per month
  • 3 months of data history
  • Real-time insights and core analysis

6. Domo

Domo DashboardDomo is a business intelligence platform that boasts of the widest data set and connector support as well as a unique set of social collaboration features. Connecting all your people to all your data and systems has never been easier.

You can pull data from everywhere, integrate everything, and connect everyone with over 500 data connectors that can bring in data from any third-party source whether in the cloud, on-premise, or proprietary systems. It allows your employees to engage with real-time data, and decision-makers to easily act on data through more than 300 mobile and desktop interactive charts and dashboards.

Business leaders can run their businesses from their phones and have anything they need wherever they are. Domo’s native mobile app enables employees to quickly manage their tasks using their mobile devices while adding context to data, getting predictive notification alerts and having a holistic view in order to make more informed actions. Only a free trial is offered together with three premium plans.

Detailed Domo Review

Freemium features:

  • Free for 30 days
  • Up to 5 users and 5M rows of data
  • 500+ data connectors
  • 300+ interactive chart types

7. SimilarWeb Pro

SimilarWeb Pro DashboardSimilarWeb Pro is a BI solution that offers website analytics tools that enable you to see traffic statistics for any of your websites and provide complete visibility on your business health. This helps you track opportunities, review your performance against competitors, and make smarter business decisions.

Meanwhile, its capabilities make it an ideal solution for agencies, business analysts, marketing teams, and sales teams looking for ways to boost their traffic, broaden their audience, and discover new growth opportunities. A SimilarWeb browser extension is offered to allow you to gain insights into any website’s statistics and strategy with the click of a button, all in one tab.

With SimilarWeb, you’ll be able to identify emerging trends and new players as well as understand consumer intent and journey. Likewise, it allows you to explore new opportunities, discover your competition’s analytics and online strategies, and benchmark against your competitors and industry.

Detailed SimilarWeb Pro Review

Freemium features:

  • 5 results per website metric
  • 3 months of traffic data
  • 3 months of mobile app analysis data

8. Hootsuite

Hootsuite DashboardHootsuite is a social relationship software platform that helps you easily find, schedule, manage, and report on social media content. Think of it as your social media intelligence and communications platform to aid you in crafting your social media strategies and transforming messages into meaningful relationships.

This BI tool lets you simplify social media reporting by quickly finding and scheduling effective social content and quantifying conversions, all in a single secure platform. You can also find and filter social conversations by keyword, hashtag, and location in multiple languages to learn what people are saying about your brand, competitors, and industry.

Moreover, Hootsuite streamlines many processes including automatically scheduling hundreds of social media posts at once across your social accounts, managing, and pre-approving social content that your teams post. It also allows tracking and measuring the impact of your social media campaigns through comprehensive reporting.

Detailed Hootsuite Review

Freemium features:

  • 1 user, 3 social profiles
  • 30 scheduled messages
  • Basic analytics
  • Integration with 150+ free and paid apps

9. IBM Watson Analytics

IBM-Watson-Analytics DashboardIBM Watson Analytics is a one-click data discovery and predictive analysis solution, letting you enjoy the benefits of advanced analytics without the complexity. All you need is a web browser or an iPad app to quickly understand what your data is telling you.

You can explore relationships, test correlations, develop outlooks, search for insights, and instantly get answers. Its automated predictive analytics and cognitive capabilities, as well as smart data discovery, enable you to interact with data conversationally.

Harnessing the power of Watson Analytics is as easy as loading a spreadsheet or connecting to relational data and choosing a recommended starting point or typing a question, and you get instant visualizations. Hence, if you need to spot a trend fast or your team wants to view insights in a dashboard, Watson Analytics can provide it quickly. You can likewise find business drivers to create a target and quickly see its top influencers, and select a template to drag and drop data into and create a dashboard.

Freemium features:

  • 1 user and 1MB storage
  • File limits (for upload): 100,000 rows and 50 columns; size no larger than 1 MB
  • 30-day single user trial of the Professional plan
  • Public forum support.

10. Tableau Public

Tableau Public DashboardTableau Public is the free offering of the Tableau Software Company that develops an array of products for visual data preparation, best-in-class analytics, and secure collaboration to support your end-to-end analytical workflow. From connection through collaboration, Tableau gives you a secure and flexible end-to-end analytics platform for your data.

You can match the skills of any data worker with the capabilities they need as well as prepare, create, explore, or view trusted data with Tableau’s governed self-service analytics platform. With Tableau Public, you can create and share interactive charts and graphs, stunning maps, live dashboards, and fun applications in minutes, then publish them anywhere on the web.

What’s more, the software accurately shows you changes in discreet data and emphasizes levels of changes and durations in values. You can also design, customize and publish a single dashboard with optimized views on any device.

Detailed Tableau Review

Freemium features:

  • Device designer
  • Step and jump lines
  • Viz in Tooltip for deeper engagement of data
  • Direct connection to Google Sheets

Free business intelligence software can be limiting. If you need the full power of business intelligence at your fingertips then you should consider premium solutions. It can be a sound investment and a more profitable option down the road.

A Nucleus Research study in 2014 found that organizations experienced average returns of $13.01 for every dollar spent on analytics solutions, including BI software. That’s an immense 1300% ROI! Another good thing: premium BI solutions are now available in low-cost packages such as the three products we have included here.

Affordable BI Solutions

If you think free BI software is too basic for your needs, you can opt for a more complete BI solution without breaking the bank. Here are three top BI software solutions that will give you full functionalities and features, and give you a competitive edge in today’s cut-throat business environment at an affordable price.

Sisense

Sisense Dashboard

Sisense simplifies business analytics for complex data from any source and any size. You can get instant analytics for all your data coming from many different sources, and quickly get the answers you need. What’s more, its Single Stack architecture takes you from data integration to visualization with a single BI solution, without the need to use additional tools. Moreover, it boasts of unparalleled performance, shortest time-to-insight and unmatched TCO, data accuracy and real-time analysis, and smooth integration with other apps.

Sisense’s premium plans come in the form of an annual license, custom pricing, full-stack solution, customer commitment, and immediate ROI. The prices and features are scalable to your business requirements; in other words, you just get what you need at the moment and just add and upgrade later when you need to. The vendor offers a great free trial plan for those who’d like to try out the key features of the product first.

Looker

Looker Dashboard

Looker is a business intelligence solution that specializes in data discovery. It utilizes the LookML data modeling language which you can mix and match with SQL to build your visualizations and optimize data analysis. What this gives you is an effective self-service BI tool that helps you consolidate SQL and Big Data management across your enterprise.

So if your business generates huge amounts of data, Looker provides a powerful solution to make sense of it all. And this includes drag-and-drop functions, collaborative features, and handy visualizations. If you want to try the features at no cost you can easily do so through the Looker free demo. No data analytics and BI requirements are the same for all businesses. Hence, Looker’s pricing is quote-based depending on the size of your business and the features and capabilities that match your needs.

Wyn Enterprise

Wyn Enterprise DashboardWyn Enterprise is another leading BI software that provides enterprise-grade self-service data analytics and reporting features. Its smart dashboard designs enable businesses to easily generate engaging visual reports. Overall, this BI tool offers an extensive wide range of features and tools to address any business data and analytical requirements you’ll need.

What’s more, the software actually provides an integrated analytics hub. This means that no matter what business unit your data come from, you can readily process and analyze them. What’s more, Wyn Enterprise offers web portals that users can easily access wherever, whenever they need to process and analyze data. Should you want to try the product’s features, be sure to try the Wyn Enterprise free trial.

Wyn Enterprise

Wyn Enterprise

Try out Wyn Enterprise with their free trial

Beyond free business intelligence software

A free solution serves as your initial foray into the world of business intelligence. But like other freemium software, it can only give you so much. Freemiums are designed to be your entry points to more feature-rich premium offerings that unleash the full potential and prowess of business intelligence.

Leveling up your business is a priority and it starts with making information-driven decisions. These are decisions based on qualified and quantified information sourced from data that have been collected, cleaned, analyzed, and visualized, which are among the main BI benefits.

Yes, we are all for zero-cost solutions, especially if your organizational budget is reeling from the effects of pandemic-related economic freefall. However, desired returns are seldom delivered via the free path. Consider free solutions as stepping stones and then go for their complete versions. When you are ready to do that, you might want to ask four important questions before you proceed with the purchase

A full-suite BI tool has been proven to provide huge returns for every dollar you spend on it. In case you want to first try a top-level premium BI platform, just sign up for the Zoho Analytics free trial.

Chris Miller

By Chris Miller

Chris Miller is a senior customer service analyst at FinancesOnline. For more than 5 years now, he has witnessed and written about the tremendous impact of digital technologies that have deeply disrupted the customer service industry. The onset of chatbots and other AI/ML tech, omnichannel platforms, highly personalized service, the emerging blockchain methodologies specially created a deep impact, all of which are reflected in his writing. His reviews of customer service applications serve as invaluable resources for businesses of any size and scale.

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