What’s the best BI tool to create dashboards with KPI and reporting?

What is the best BI tool to create dashboards with KPI and do reporting? Our team of B2B industry experts scoured our database to find answers and, after prolonged analyses, they came to a conclusion: Sisense. It’s agile, easy to use and scale, adaptive to various KPIs across industries and has one of the most future-proof platforms. But it isn’t the only BI software that merited their attention when it comes to great dashboards. Here are the five best BI tools with great dashboards and reporting:

  1. Sisense
  2. Looker
  3. Zoho Reports
  4. ReportPlus

Are you keen on the potential of business intelligence to growing the company? There has never been an easier time — and more affordable opportunity, too — than today, getting a business intelligence software to predict customer behavior and market demand, spot operational patterns and slice data in different ways. A quick look at our business intelligence software comparison pages places at your fingertips, right away, your best options in the market today.

And if you’re privy to the rapid advancement of BI technologies, you’ll probably be looking wide-eyed at such advanced features as OLAP, pattern indicators, predictive analytics and high-level financial planning tools, driven by machine learning and spurred by the promise of AI in business intelligence.

Well, they are powerful, yes, and promising; but before you get swayed by sophisticated tools, it’s good to remember the basics. Like, mmm… how these technologies display your KPIs that is easy to digest. Here, good ol’ intuitive dashboards and reporting come into play.

So, perhaps, the first question to ask when perusing over the most popular and powerful BI solutions in the market today is: What’s the best BI tool to create dashboards with KPI and do reporting?

Below, you’ll find five business intelligence software solutions that we’ve assessed and found to have great dashboards and reporting capabilities. We ran the numbers on them and concluded, they all have the factors that we look for in displaying KPIs and generating reports. In the BARC’s BI Trend Monitor 2018 study, data visualization (a.k.a dashboards and reporting) is the second most important feature driving business intelligence trends. Here’s a portion of that study:

Source: BI Trend Monitor 2018

Factors to look for in BI dashboard and reporting

What are  the key BI software features you need to look for in dashboard and reporting? In general, dashboards and reporting should allow you to play around your unique KPIs, so you have flexibility in analyzing how the company is performing towards its goals. Consider these features:

  1. Depth of KPIs. The BI software can churn out metric variables across disparate disciplines and industries. This is especially important if you’re getting a horizontal platform. A really good BI software adapts to a variety of scenarios and processes distinct from each other, such as customer service, healthcare, ecommerce, manufacturing, education and management.
  2. Intuitive. Intuitive means you can use both dashboards and reporting without explicit instructions or help from the vendor. A few minutes of tinkering and you get the flow, and the tools are located where you expect them.
  3. Interactive. The data updates in real-time and in sync across multiple access points. If John made a few changes in Peter’s dataset, the latter is kept in the loop at once, as well as the other users of the same dataset.
  4. Ad hoc query. The platform allows multiple users to source from the same dataset and at the same time without the need to refresh; thus, cutting down data preparation significantly.
  5. Visual options. Bar graphs are not your only option, but a slew of pie charts, line charts, Gantt charts and other visual ticklers help you see actionable business intelligence “in the flesh.”
  6. Drag-and-drop tools. Who wants to enter syntax these days? User actions should be confined to dragging and dropping; the BI takes care of the codes.

Using the above factors as a baseline, we’re able to shortlist the best BI tool to create dashboards with KPI and do reporting.

5 Business Intelligence Software Solutions with Great Dashboards and Reporting

1. Sisense

Sisense is an agile, self-service data analytics software that can create quick visual insights off complex and disparate data. It’s an end-to-end platform that covers the whole process journey in business intelligence: from data cleansing to analyzing to visualization.

As a cloud solution it lends to you flexible access from all popular OS and devices. It is popular among midsized businesses and enterprises, but it also has an appealing tiered plans for startups and small businesses.

Sisense covers both horizontal and vertical markets and has stable data connectors to integrate with a wide range of applications, big data and data warehouses, including Google Analytics, HubSpot, MailChimp, Oracle, Salesforce and popular social networks. This means a more stable, future-proof BI system to your organization where your company is to pivot or expand fast tomorrow. The vendor has a great free trial plan if you want to check the features before subscribing to a package. You can sign up for a Sisense free demo here.

Dashboards and Reporting

The BI software is popular for its interactive dashboards that adapt to a wide array of KPIs, from the standard (ex. market share) to the industry-specific metrics (ex. physician allocation). The dashboards apply to a variety of industries, such as, marketing, customer service, CSR, finance, HR, healthcare, retail, ecommerce and manufacturing.

The dashboards are goal-specific, designed to help you take urgent actions on your KPIs to achieve company objectives. If you struggle articulating the next steps in planning or problem solving, Sisense dashboards will help you visualize a road map.

Meantime, reporting is generated in minutes and fed from real-time data; an appealing feature if you deal with volatile sources like stock indicators and web traffic.

But the real attraction of Sisense reporting is its move towards push business intelligence. The insights come to you instead of pulling data on a whim, which means you are notified of insights or data anomalies spot on as they occur.

Using insight-enabled devices and native-language queries, the software pushes insights via pulse and mobile alerts. You can monitor these alerts through a pulse feed and manage them on a page.

2. Looker

Looker is a self-help data-discovery solution designed to make fresh data accessible to all your employees for informed actions or decisions. It is available in cloud, on-premise and open API platforms, which means it adapts to whatever your current I.T. architecture is, and is accessible from nearly all desktop and mobile devices.

It has deep filtering and drill-down tools, enabling you to zero in on specific data points, thus, revealing insights with clarity. If you have programmatic skills you’ll appreciate Looker all the more: it has SDKs to help you integrate the system to your own. The BI software has plans for small business and enterprise. If you want to try the features at no cost you can easily do so when you sign up for a Looker free demo here.

Dashboards and Reporting

At the core of Looker is its LookML, a reusable modeling language. It allows users to describe and interpret a centralized data differently to serve their purpose, while ensuring data integrity is consistent. You can adjust the models in a snap for spot decisions or build blocks of data that’s unique to your case.

You can then place multiple tables and graphs on a page and create dashboards that are meaningful to you. This helps you quickly digest the correlation of related KPIs, for instance, campaign metrics vs. profits on a given quarter. To create a dashboard you use three general types of tiles, such as, query tiles, look-linked tiles and text tiles. You can mix and match these tiles on a blank template to create a unique dashboard.

Like Sisense, the dashboards in Looker can be interactive and filtered down to specific data. You can add dashboard filters to allow users to narrow down the data they need. By default, filters don’t have value, so you’ll need to input these (ex. sales territories) to zero in on specific data.

3. Zoho Reports

Zoho Reports is another easy-to-use BI software built as a self-service platform for management and employees. It has one of the most integrated platforms, not the least it’s part of the Zoho infrastructure of over 40 native apps bannered by popular brands Zoho, ManageEngine and WebNMS. Why is this important? Business intelligence works with different data sources; the more integrated the system the more flexible it can tinker with datasets.

The cloud-hosted software is ideal for small business and large enterprise. If you want to check its features you can easily do so when you sign up for Zoho Reports free trial here.

Dashboards and Reporting

Zoho Reports features drag-and-drop tool and layout options, making it easy for casual users — and convenient for data analysts — to generate custom reports. It also supports a range of elements that enrich your dashboards, such as, widgets, text formatting, images and URL links.

You have a variety of ways to build interactive reports using pivot tables, summary views, tabular views, query tables and data tables. This way, you can express your KPIs in insightful ways and avoid cluttering reports with noise. For instance, a high-level report like a sales stratplan can be sliced down to local  KPIs specific to different sales territories. In short, your sales teams can focus on metrics that only matter to them, while the sales director gets the big picture.

Known for its collaboration apps, Zoho, the vendor, unsurprisingly installed the same share and embed capabilities in its BI software. For example, you can embed dashboards in various online platforms via ready-made connectors for general consumption. You can even grant fine-grained access control to authorized users. Reporting becomes, not only in-depth, but widespread, while the BI system keeps all your data in sync for integrity.

4. ReportPlus

ReportPlus is a self-service BI system designed to make data visualization simple for everyone. It offers both on-premise and cloud deployment and targets the whole gamut of business size, from freelancers to enterprises. Some of its key features include: scheduled data refresh rates; priority support; mobile apps; and drag-and-drop tools.

Dashboards and Reporting

ReportPlus dashboards are evidently designed around user experience. The least tech-savvy will have no difficulty expressing datasets with the BI software’s “friendly” tools. Consider these:

  • Drop and drag tool allows you to connect data sources fast
  • Swipe feature lets you choose the visual you want in a snap
  • Setting filters is done by tapping a field
  • One-click share tool makes collaboration easy
  • 30 visualization types for the newbie in visual techniques

Another great feature: you can save the dashboards in the cloud or on premise, a plus for companies with legacy LANs.

Likewise, users can easily consolidate different datasets in real time. Some of the common data sources you can integrate with the BI system include: SQL, Hadoop Hive, Dropbox, Google Drive, Google Analytics, Microsoft Dynamics, Salesforce and popular social networks.

5. is your typical self-service BI platform for fast-growing companies. It can scale for companies with staff of 2 to 200,000 across industries. Fast-expanding startups are sure to benefit from this scalability.

The BI software positions itself as a “business command center.” Rightly so, deriving insights using this BI system will guide your entire organization on a more calculated, less risky path. It covers the essentials in business intelligence, such as, data cleanup, pivoting, filtering and grouping.

Dashboards and Reporting

Point-and-click makes practical to your non-technical employees, encouraging widespread adoption of the system. They can blend, mash and compare data to customize dashboards with ease. They can see their KPIs at a glance and the health of their business unit or, overall, the company’s.

The 300+ pre-built reports don’t hurt, too, allowing your staff to quickly start data modeling even with little experience on this field. The templates generate the most widely requested metrics, such as, financials, cash balance and sales leaderboards.

The BI software also offers unlimited real-time updates, features 150 integrations and allows formulas and functions to be applied to data to help you further customize dashboards and reporting.


Surely, you’ll find business intelligence solutions with more complex dashboards for KPIs and reporting than those of our five platforms above. But when it comes to usability and downright practicality (who needs the most advanced system when you can’t figure it out ?), these five BI software solutions may be setting the benchmark.  They’re easy to use, intuitive, adapt to various KPIs and, if we may add, fun to use. You have a slew of bars, pies and donuts (sounds yummy, right?) along with charts, stacks, histograms, timelines, areas and more to interpolate data.

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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