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Which Business Intelligence (BI) Tools Are Right For Your Business?

By September 1, 2020November 27th, 2020No Comments

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In 2020, there are plenty of options when it comes to Business Intelligence Tools that may confuse business purchasers with over choice. There is an overwhelming number of factors to consider selecting the platform that suits your business’ needs the most.

Fortunately for you, we have gone through the trouble of evaluating four of the leading products on the market: Tableau, Microsoft Power BI, Google Data Studio, and IBM Cognos. These products are assessed across three main categories of features, price, and whom it is for.

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Top Business Intelligence Tools 2020

Top Business Intelligence Tools – Review & Pricing


For an individual user, the price is $70/month and is billed annually. That makes a bill of 840$ per year. For the needs of teams or organization collaboration, Tableau introduces three user types and freely allows you to create your option mix corresponding to the business’ needs.

User type Features Price No. of licenses
Creator – Connect to any type of data
– Visual data preparation
– Powerful analytics with Tableau
– Desktop and Tableau Server
– Includes everything in Tableau Explorer
$70/user/month (billed annually) At least one required
Explorer – Connect to published data sources
– Author and share tailored content on Tableau Server
– Includes everything in Tableau Viewer
$35/user/month (billed annually) Up to preference
Viewer – View and interact with trusted content on Tableau Server
– Stay connected with subscriptions, notifications, and mobile
$12/user/month (billed annually) Up to preference

Microsoft Power BI 

Power BI offers two enterprise pricing plans: a free version and a paid ‘Pro’ version that costs $9.99 per user per month.

  1. Free version – comes with basic reporting features and a 1GB data limit per user.
  2. Pro version – gives you all Power BI features, including real-time dashboard updates, more customization options for visuals, and access management controls for security.

Google Data Studio

Noteworthy, Google Data Studio is a-completely-free business intelligence tool to use and access. You will save dollars while still be able to access a relatively resourceful data system and share your reports with anyone.

IBM Cognos

Premium – This plan allows the solution to be deployed in a multi-tenant cloud architecture. It’s priced at $70 per user per month and includes:

  • Uploading data to cloud sources
  • Joining data from multiple sources
  • Sharing content with users
  • Ability to create dashboards with new or old content
  • Ability to create data stories using web pages, images, text, and other media
  • Data discovering using artificial intelligence
  • Advanced pattern detection

Enterprise – This plan includes the full capability of Cognos Analytics, such as 500 GB user storage and backup. Pricing is not publicly available, so you’ll have to contact IBM directly for a quote. Users can optionally purchase cloud throughput capacity and an additional 250 GB user storage.

Why Use Business Intelligence Tools?

Connecting to data

Probably one of the most important qualities (aside from visualizing) of business intelligence tools is connecting to the data. Here are the highlights from each:


  • 75+ built-in connectors
  • Option to extend connectors with ‘web data connector’
  • Supports most file types (CSV, JSON, Excel, etc.)
  • Connects to most databases (Microsoft, Amazon, Snowflake, SAP, Spark, Google, etc.)
  • Connects directly to some services (Google Analytics, Dropbox, Marketo, Salesforce)

Power BI

  • 90+ built-in connectors
  • Some connectors still in beta, but new ones being added all the time
  • Supports most file types (CSV, JSON, Excel, etc.)
  • Connects to most databases (Microsoft, Amazon, Snowflake, SAP, Spark, Google, etc.)
  • Connects directly to a variety of services (Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, Marketo, Salesforce, Facebook, Mailchimp, Mixpanel)

Google Data Studio

  • 17 built-in connectors
  • Put the onus of developing connectors on the community
  • Only support CSV file type
  • Support MySQL, PostgreSQL, and Google Cloud databases (BigQuery, Cloud SQL, etc.)
  • Connect directly to Google services (Google Analytics, Google Ads, YouTube, 360 Products, Search Console)

IBM Cognos

  • Allows different ways of importing depending on the data source, the complexity of the data, and how much control you want to have over the way that your data is mapped as dimensions, measures, and attributes

  • Supports most file types: CSV, TAB, CMA, ASC, TXT, and Excel
  • Supports relational data
  • Connects to IBM SPSS Statistics, Cognos TM1 cube views and Cognos TM1 dimension subset

Cleaning Data

We’ve all heard the statistic: “80% of the work is just cleaning the data to make it useful”. Based on our experience with business intelligence tools — we can’t agree more. Here is how each tool deals with it.


  • Supports basic left, right, inner, outer joins of two datasets
  • Tableau Prep — standalone product released in 2018 to compete with Power Query
  • Grouping, binning, and aliasing available once data is loaded

Power BI

  • Most advanced tool on the market
  • Power Query — separate interface from the main editor, allows for custom ETL and provides quick options for common tasks
  • Grouping and binning are supported once data is loaded, but no aliasing

Google Data Studio

  • Combining two datasets is possible, but not fully baked
  • No separate interface for combining data — occurs directly in the reporting interface
  • Grouping, binning, and aliasing are all unavailable

IBM Cognos

  • Adding filters, calculations or other logic at data set level
  • Combining data sets by joining them in module
  • Supporting trailing white space, converting case, returning substring of characters and handling Null

Analyzing Data

More of the BI tools are in general becoming good analyzers — and are starting to ramp up their efforts into predictive algorithms.


  • A robust list of supported functions
  • Advanced functions like FIXED that make it simple to perform complex SQL-esque functions.
  • Quick access to statistical tools like quartiles, box-and-whisker, clustering, forecasts, and trend lines.
  • Supports parameters of any type.

Power BI

  • Coming from Excel will help with functions
  • Advanced functions require creating custom data tables
  • Some statistical tools, but most are dependent on visual type.
  • Parameters are limited to numbers

Google Data Studio

  • Available functions are very limited and buggy
  • No advanced functions
  • No statistical tools aside from simple trendlines
  • No parameters either

IBM Cognos

  • AI implementation that automates planning, budgeting and forecasting
  • Built-in data analysis capabilities with numeric functionalities
  • Advanced tools like multidimensional analysis and planning on traditional MS Excel interface
  • What-if scenario testing options

Visualizing Data

A business intelligence tool was created all center around visualizations. The biggest watch out is to be careful as to what amount of work needs to go into it to make a visualization beautiful. Tableau has always been the leader in this area — but it can be complex at times.

What is data visualization? A definition, examples, and resources
Top-notch visualization features of Tableau


  • The standard for good visualization
  • Has the most granular features for getting your visual to look exactly the way you intend (without knowing how to code)
  • Anything other than a line or bar chart requires advanced knowledge

Power BI

  • Visual interactions are the killer feature
  • Ability to create custom visuals (even low code in Microsoft Visio) or download community visuals
  • Not as many customization features as Tableau but reaching feature parity with each release
  • Simple and effective approach to creating visuals

Google Data Studio

  • Makes it easy to create something that looks pleasing without much effort
  • Recently opened up the ability to create community visuals (community is very small right now)
  • Very limited customization
  • A very simple approach, but a little too simple

IBM Cognos

  • Visualization tools are not simple enough for average users to understand albeit being appealing itself
  • Insights in visualization are strongly enhanced
  • Enables responsive options and customizable actions
  • Engages the audience through scenes and stories with definable animations

Sharing Data

Visualizations are great — but not if you can’t deploy it to others. Here is where each stands:


  • Other than static files, sharing requires purchasing accounts for viewers at $12 per user per month
  • The online portal is dated and can be slow to refresh data
  • White-labeling is limited without embedding
  • Embedding is available but requires developers to make fully functional

Power BI

  • Limited export of static files
  • Power BI files can be shared, but end-user needs Power BI Desktop to view
  • Sharing online requires purchasing viewers (if outside your organization) @ $10 per user per month (no minimums required)
  • Same issues as Tableau with the online portal, white-labeling, and embedding

Google Data Studio

  • Built around easy sharing, but does require a Google account
  • The online portal is fresh and easy for users that are accustomed to other Google products (e.g. Google Drive)
  • Sharing is always free with no limits
  • PDF/printing is limited

IBM Cognos

  • Enables sharing via email or Slack
  • Embedding is available
  • Dashboards and be exported under PDF format
  • User can create URLs that open or run content objects, such as reports, dashboards, stories, and data module

How Do Business Intelligence Tools Help Business?

Tableau for businesses that want to invest heavily on data discovery and understand.
Power BI a viable option for many organizations that already run on the Microsoft stack.
Google Data Studio works for most teams that work with Google data daily and need a simple/free solution.
IBM Cognos should be used by businesses that aim for improvement of strategic management and financial performance.

About AgileTech

If you are looking for digital transformation solutions or consultants on ideal business intelligence tools for your business, don’t hesitate to contact AgileTech. Our experts will consult you on all matters and leave you feeling confident about your needs.

At AgileTech, we have expert Project Managers along with excellent teams who have delivered the best products to customers in more than 10 countries, mostly in the U.S, U.K, Germany, France, and Singapore. You can contact via at or (+84) 936 281 059 for more information.

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