Business analytics software is a broad category, but one that’s increasingly important for CEOs and entrepreneurs to consider.
These days, business leaders have access to more data than ever before, in practically every department. Your employees are using software systems that are tracking their every move. Your customers are using accounts and devices that log their habits and spending decisions. In your own life, you’re likely relying on dozens of devices for planning and productive purposes.
So how do those millions of data points come together to illustrate the current state of your business? And how can you use them to make better business decisions?
These are the questions that business analytics software tools seek to answer. Using statistics, analysis, and predictive modeling, the right business analytics tools can help you understand your business from new perspectives and new angles, while also guiding you to better practices overall.
The question is, which business analytics tools are worth using?
Table of Contents
- Business Analytics Tools You Need to Consider
Business Analytics Tools You Need to Consider
These are some of the most important analytics tools you’ll find for business owners in the modern era:
EmailAnalytics is our own namesake tool. It’s designed for Gmail; in fact, you can think of it as a platform like Google Analytics, but for Gmail. You can integrate it with your own Gmail or G Suite account and the Gmail accounts of your employees and collect data on how many emails they’re sending and receiving, who their top senders and recipients are, and how long they spend writing and reading emails. You can even analyze the average thread length within your organization, average email response time, and visualize employee workloads. Best of all, it uses interactive data visuals to help you parse these data, so you can draw conclusions about your business productivity faster.
2. Google Analytics.
I already mentioned it in the previous entry, so I might as well give it its own slot. Google Analytics is a free software platform offered by Google to webmasters interested in learning more about how their website works. With it, you’ll be able to calculate and track metrics like how many site visitors you’re getting, where those visitors are coming from, and how they engage with your site once they get there. If your website is an important part of your business, this tool is indispensable; it’s easily the best web analytics tool available.
3. Power BI.
Power BI is Microsoft’s addition to the business analytics world, and it was created to be a tool that both business owners and data scientists find useful. If you’ve used Microsoft Excel before, the interface should look familiar to you. You won’t need any coding or development skills to use it, but you may find difficulty getting the integrations you need to make it run effectively for your business.
4. SAP Analytics Cloud.
The SAP Analytics Cloud is well-known in the world of data analytics, and much of its popularity is due to how it makes complex topics easy for even novices to understand. You won’t find many data cleaning or validating tools here, but assuming you have a clean batch, this tool will help you use stories and visuals to dissect those pieces of information. As you might imagine, this tool works especially well if you’re integrating it with other SAP products.
One of the most popular business analytics software tools available today is Tableau. It offers more than 150 built-in features you can use immediately to run calculations or analyze the data you’ve gathered, as well as ample data connectors to connect you to external sources. It’s a low-code tool, so you shouldn’t have to tinker with it much, and it has a fantastic mobile experience, letting you create and share reports from your smartphone as simply and intuitively as possible.
Chartio is an all-in-one analytics tool hosted in the cloud that offers several different options for different types of businesses. For starters, you can keep things simple with a drag-and-drop interface, or use a SQL editor if you have a development team on-hand. It also helps you connect to several other external software platforms, so you can track metrics from multiple outlets and analyze them cohesively using a single platform.
AnswerDock is an interesting entry on this list because it functions almost like a search engine, relying on AI and natural language processing to take your business questions and provide you with an in-depth, data-driven answer. Once you’ve integrated the right sources, you might search for something like quarterly office supply sales over the past two years, and generate an immediate graph detailing the metrics you’re interested in.
There’s also Panoply. This platform has more than 150 already built-in integrations for data sources like flat files and third parties (including many of the other analytics tools on this list). It has a native SQL editor so you can analyze your data in whatever internet browser you’re using, and if you’re more interested in the hardcore side of data science, there are plenty of Python- and R-based features to enjoy.
Sisense is a data analytics app that specializes in performing complex data-related operations quickly, using in-chip architecture. With it, you’ll be able to work with abnormally large data sets, which might cause other platforms to crash or lag. Reporting is web-only, which may or may not be an issue for you.
Not to be confused with Japanese mascot Domo-kun, Domo is a business analytics tool designed to be as user-friendly as possible. It has hundreds of built-in data connectors, so you should be able to pull data from just about anywhere, and a wide array of data visuals. It’s designed to use the cloud for analytics processing, but there’s also an option for you to run it on your own servers.
Periscope is a data visualization platform targeted to business owners. Relying on Python, SQL, and R, you should have plenty of room for customization—though that does mean you’ll need a team of developers on hand. Assuming you’re able to customize it, you can feasibly connect with any external data source, then compile those data together in one central location and visualize how they impact your business.
Datapine offers functionality both as a data integration tool and as a business intelligence tool. With it, you’ll be able to make use of 50 pre-built dashboard templates and customize your own dashboard, based on your needs. These dashboards are easy to create, and you’ll be able to import data from many external sources. Reporting is also a snap, and can be viewed on mobile.
Serving as a business analytics and feedback tool, Hotjar helps you analyze user insights and visualize their behavior at the same time. With it, you can use tools like heatmaps, cross-device surveys, and even one-on-one testing to get a better idea of how your business (and your website or app) is performing. You don’t need much technical expertise to make use of it, especially if you’re using a common website builder.
Mode is a data science platform focused more on the science end of things than the business end. If you’re looking for some high-level insights about your business, it may not be the best tool for you, but if you’re interested in doing more thorough statistical analyses of your target demographics or original research, it could be incredibly helpful. With it, you can create notebooks of information you can share with your employees, and you’ll have access to countless dashboards and data visuals, so you can intuitively explore your data, rather than trying to parse it manually.
Redash is a tool that offers a SQL-first interface, and it’s not dissimilar from Mode. What makes it unique, however, is that it’s an open source project; in other words, it’s free, and it has a thriving community of developers, business owners, and data analysts working on it on a regular basis.
16. Zoho Analytics.
Consider Zoho Analytics if you’re looking for a tool that provides plenty of automation, with a focus on easy-to-use interfaces. It collects data automatically and scans it for errors, so you can take action before those errors impact your analyses. You’ll also be able to set it up to generate reports automatically at specified intervals, and change the rules for how those reports are generated at any time. There are also a ton of learning tools, like tutorials and videos, in case you get stuck or aren’t sure how to use something.
Typeform is a customer feedback tool with a user-friendly and engaging interface. It’s designed this way to encourage submissions and gather better data, so you can make more informed decisions to improve your business. The tool is easy-to-use and quick to implement—try using some of their templates if you’re short on time.
Looker isn’t exactly novice-friendly, but it does have some awesome features to those willing to write a bunch of custom SQL queries. There are some entry-level data visuals and reporting features you can use to better understand your business, but if you’re going to make the most of this platform, you’ll want to make use of LookML, its native data modeling language. Again, there’s a bit of a learning curve, but it may be worth it if you want an in-depth experience.
Offered by Apache, Zeppelin is a “web-based notebook” tool that helps you leverage interactive data analytics and collaborative documents, using SQL, Scala, Python, and other languages. It’s free and open source, which is a huge plus, and can connect to a number of different third-party sources of data. It’s not the most intuitive tool on this list, but that’s part of the tradeoff of being open source. If you struggle, there’s an entire development community that will have your back.
Yellowfin is an end-to-end business intelligence and analytics tool that can help you store, analyze, and visualize your data. Most of the features rely on a simple, point-and-click interface so it shouldn’t take long to learn ore master, and once you establish some protocols for reporting, the ongoing reporting process is highly automated. You can also purchase different components of the tool a la carte, so you can build it and use it exactly in the way your business needs.
Metabase is another free, open source business analytics tool created to help you answer simple, yet all-too-important questions about how your business is doing. It’s incredibly easy to install and has an aesthetically pleasing and functional UI so you shouldn’t struggle with its integration in your business.
Obviously, there are lots of business analytics tools to choose from, and not all of them will work well with your business. Some of these tools work better for some industries over others. Some of them won’t give you the visualization tools or the comprehensive coverage you need. That doesn’t make them “bad” or “good,” but you need to be aware that your business’s needs are unique, and should be addressed uniquely. Try multiple platforms (most software platforms these days offer free trials), and think about how you’ll integrate them into your current practices.
If you’re interested in studying your employee productivity and project ROI through email, EmailAnalytics is the perfect tool to start with. It’s easy to use, fast to integrate, and can help you form high-level conclusions about how your organization works, inside and out. Sign up for a free trial today to get a first-hand look at everything it can do for you.
Jayson is a long-time columnist for Forbes, Entrepreneur, BusinessInsider, Inc.com, and various other major media publications, where he has authored over 1,000 articles since 2012, covering technology, marketing, and entrepreneurship. He keynoted the 2013 MarketingProfs University, and won the “Entrepreneur Blogger of the Year” award in 2015 from the Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs. In 2010, he founded a marketing agency that appeared on the Inc. 5000 before selling it in January of 2019, and he is now the CEO of EmailAnalytics, and co-host of the podcast The Entrepreneur Cast.