Free BI tools can come in handy for those who are considering to use Business Intelligence software for their businesses. Business Intelligence software collects and processes a large amount of internal and external information for your business.
Companies of all sizes utilize the benefits of using a BI tool and technology. When used correctly, they can be highly beneficial in many ways. Having a BI solution can help your business soar in so many ways.
Using a BI tool allows you to become a data scientist without actually trying (or at least pretend to be).
The Evolution of Analytics (and the cost)
When it comes to providing data in real-time, generic analytics are no longer cutting it for many businesses. A BI tool holds power to provide accurate reports by automatically extracting data directly from your source.
The amount of data stored by companies is growing by the day. BI systems supply recent data, allowing managers and business owners to track up-to-date activities and reports. This allows for a more efficient decision process.
There are many aspects to running a business that did not exist forty years ago. The need for business intelligence to evolve was evident. This sparked the billion dollar BI industry, because with the need, there was an opportunity for large profits. And over the years, BI has gone from a small cost, to a large cost, and now, with most vendors adopting a subscription model, an ongoing cost.
The cost of BI has become too darn high in many cases!
Indeed, there's currently no existing shortage in available BI tools, but in this article, we are going to talk about the free ones.
Navigating the Choppy Waters of Free BI Tools
Using a business intelligence tool can make your life much easier. Many businesses that are just beginning with business intelligence tools often choose to implement the free versions straight out of the gate.
Using a free tool is lovely if you're starting your BI journey. This is because most of them offer a fantastic stage in which to learn.
Free software is a good fit for small use cases as well. Data visualization becomes much easier when you use free BI tools as well.
However, it doesn't take long for the waters to get rough and choppy when you're utilizing a free BI tool, depending on your business's size and overall scale. A majority of free BI software tools are incredibly limited in the features they provide.
Also, it's not uncommon for free BI tools to offer free features that work better when paired with another aspect of the software that requires an upgrade to access. In a sense, it's safe to say that free BI tools are the gateway drug of the business intelligence world. A workspace won't work well if you rely on free BI tools all your life.
Most companies will find that the accessible version of whatever BI tool they've decided to employ will not work for them in the long run.
That can be a problem if a dashboard you designed for your business won't work in the long run because of the free nature.
Here is a breakdown of standard free BI tools and what they mean
Freemium BI tools come with various features, but those features typically do not include everything you'll need to use the software successfully for free.
These tools will get the job done for a minimal amount of time. Essentially, a Freemium BI tool is a light version of the full software, explicitly encouraging you to upgrade. This helps you establish the data model you need for your business in a short time.
This can be a money trap, especially if you consistently finding yourself paying extra for features you need here and there along the way. Often, establishing a set price is more manageable, though often more daunting financially.
You can't turn a circle on the internet today without seeing the term "free trial." Almost every company is offering a service, from business intelligence to at-home fitness, which draws consumers in with the concept of a free trial.
It's very typical of a free trial to offer every single feature of the software for free. This way, a customer like you becomes entirely hooked on the software mentioned above and is more than willing to pay in full when your trial ends.
This method is also another way for them to gain customer engagement since they give you a sample of how their app or free tool works.
Any time a free trial is concerned, make sure you know the exact price point of the software you're about to buy into, if tiered pricing is an option, and whether or not it's an excellent fit for your company.
Open-source BI tools are a little bit more challenging to navigate unless you've got someone who has the experience on your team. Very basically, open-source means that the software code has been released under a license by the copyright holder. In other words, an open-source BI tool works because the software code is under a license by the copyright holder.
When taking the open-source road of free BI tools, you can change, use, and distribute the software to anyone and for any purpose.
It's an excellent method to incorporate business intelligence software into your company, but it can be incredibly time-consuming and challenging to set up.
The Pros and Cons of Free BI Software
Every free BI tool has a list of pros and cons; such is life. No matter the BI software you choose, you're going to find things you love about it and something you hate. The key is to find a software method that works so well with your business; you rarely think about the cons.
Free BI Software Pros
1. You'll gain the ability to understand your business data on a deeper, more informative level for free.
2. You can become familiar with the software of your choice before purchasing it.
3. You do not have to make a long-term commitment to free software. Even some free trials don't require credit card information to proceed.
Free BI Software Cons
1. Free BI software tends to create more work for your report writer, especially if they have to export to excel or PDF to share reports with their team. An affordable self-service BI works with the entire team.
2. Power limitations apply with free BI tools, either because the accessible technology isn't advanced enough or the company would like you to upgrade to access a better version.
3. Free tools are likely unable to handle a large amount of data, and eventually, you'll have more than it can take.
In this article, you'll find that we're focusing on Freemium. We will also comprehensively cover Free Trial and Open-Source in separate pieces of content.
Here's our list of six fantastic free BI tools and why you should be careful when implementing them.
Top 6 Free Business Intelligence Data Tools
Proceed with care when choosing a free BI tool. The following list consists of our favorites, but we'll inform you on why you should be cautious as well.
Without further ado, here are the top 6 free BI tools and why to be cautious.
Google Data Studio
A key feature of Google Data Studio is to allow users to access a beautiful interface with automated reports and interactive dashboards.
It intends to inspire better, real-time business decisions, but be aware, the platform is incredibly technical. Without question, Google Data Studio requires a developer to leverage correctly.
Microstrategy Desktop promises users to fast, self-services data and analytics technology.
This technology will lay the groundwork for companies to exist within and base decisions on the accurate data provided. Artificial intelligence is used extensively to provide data-driven decisions for the businesses using it.
The platform is excellent, but be careful here because Microstrategy is very expensive. Before you get hooked on the free version, be prepared for the price tag that comes with the paid alternative.
Zoho Analytics offers potential clients a 15-day free trial and promises to mix the perfect data analysis and value amount. The platform allows for blending and collaboration among your team when you pay for it. The free version only allows for two users, 10,000 rows of data, and storage in the Zoho Cloud is required.
Power BI Desktop
Power BI Desktop is a free application installed on a local computer and allows users to connect visually to their business data. They also work as web applications. The visuals are beautiful and easily shared with team members. However, the accessible version of Power BI only supports one user. Upgrades get expensive very quickly, but you can read more about that here.
Tableau Public is another form of free BI visualization software that lets users publish their data publicly. They encourage networking and business connections, but we encourage you to proceed with caution. There is no security on this free platform, and your reports are available to the public.
Status Quo (Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets)
Spreadsheets such as Excel and Google Sheets are typically a fantastic way to collect and present information to employees and team members.
When kept on a smaller scale, they make information sharing relatively straightforward. Reporting is much easier because you can already see the data in front of you.
However, as your business grows, this type of BI tool can cause communication to falter. Eventually, this becomes a rather time-consuming process.
DashboardFox Isn’t Free, But It Can Be Considered
BI tools are very beneficial to every business, big or small. These tools help manage the companies much easier because they can do so many tasks in a streamlined manner that saves more time, effort, and money than manual labor for these tasks.
However, since these are free tools, you have to worry about how long they will be available. And in many cases, the users would feel like they can only do so much because of the limited options that most free BI tools offer.
One key thing about free software, if you’re not paying for the product, you are most likely the product.
What are the vendors of the free software learning from your usage? How else are they targeting you, collecting data points to market and sell other items, or simply to use the free option as a gateway drug to more expensive upsells?
Using a BI tool for free might feel like you're missing out on several features, and that's how we enter the picture.
DashboardFox is not free, unlike the BI tools mentioned above (we do have a free trial), but this is the next big thing since you'll be able to experience everything all in one payment.
Yes, you read that right. This is not a subscription, so with one single price, you can get to enjoy all the features of DashboardFox without missing anything out. It only takes a one-time payment and nothing else.
Your one-time payment comes with a year of upgrades and dedicated support for your needs and concerns. There is an optional annual maintenance fee that you can pay if you want to continue experiencing the dynamic features DashboardFox has to offer, but it's entirely up to you.
Get all the unique features and convenience of using a premium BI tool, all in one single payment.