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10 Key Features that Make a Business Intelligence Tool Work for You

By September 30, 2022May 9th, 2023Business Intelligence8 mins read
BI Tool Features


A BI tool will radically improve your business operations, but only if it’s the right tool for your organization. Choosing a BI tool can be a lengthy process since the BI tools market has become more fragmented and complex, making it difficult for businesses to make the right choice. There are hundreds of BI tools available today, each promising to deliver value and insights faster with less effort. This article will talk about some of the features you should look for in a business intelligence tool before choosing one for your business.

A good BI tool can help your business achieve better visibility into its data, leading to faster and more accurate analysis, streamlined reporting processes, and improved decision-making capabilities. A business intelligence (BI) tool is an application through which companies monitor the performance of their operations to achieve business goals. As such, a good BI tool should have specific functionalities that enable this monitoring and analysis.

What Data Will the Tool Track?

Choosing a BI tool requires you to choose which data sources you want the tool to connect to. This is often the first thing to think about when choosing a business intelligence tool.

·         What data sources does the business intelligence tool connect to?

·         What connectors can be used to access your organization’s data sources?

·         What data formats does the system accept?

·         What will be the data flow into the system?

·         What are the steps for data processing and enrichment?

·         What are the ways to add additional data sources?

The more data sources that you can connect to your BI tool, the more robust your analytics will be. Here are a few characteristics to look for in a BI tool when you consider adopting one for your organization:

1. Robust Analytics

There are a few ways that you can determine if the tool offers robust analytics. You want to be sure that the analytics is comprehensive. This will enable you to track almost every piece of data that is important to your organization.

Firstly, you have to understand what metrics and KPIs the tool tracks. Secondly, you can look at the user interface to see if there are easy-to-read graphs and charts. As part of your due diligence, you need to analyze user testimonials and past performance with competitors or substitutes in the same domain or industry.

Analytics isn’t just limited to numbers, either – they can also include text and images. With the help of analytics, you can also track sentiment and automatically detect the emotions of the customers by analyzing text data. This will enable businesses to quantify all unstructured data and use data visualization tools to transform text data into valuable customer insights.

2. Data discovery and exploration

The main challenge in data discovery and exploration is to find the data quickly and easily. A good BI tool facilitates this by providing an intuitive UI that requires no training to use. It enables you to search for data, visualize the result, and apply basic transformations on the fly.

A good BI tool also enables you to apply a variety of filters to select the data of interest, and to explore it in different ways—such as by charting it, creating heat maps, or applying other visualizations. With the right BI tool, data can be easily referred to and shared.

3. Bring context into your data

With the help of inbuilt features in BI tools such as data visualization and text analytics, you can bring more context to data. Here are a few to consider:

Data visualization tools – Data visualization tools are excellent options for helping you bring context into your data. Many offer a wide selection of visualizations that let you visualize data in many ways. They also often feature drag-and-drop functionality that lets you quickly create visualizations for different purposes.

Text analytics tools – If your data is in the form of written communications, text analytics tools can help you bring context into your data. These tools work by scanning written communications for key information, such as customer sentiment and other data points. They can help you quickly understand the general sentiment of your communications or dig into the details of specific communications if necessary.

4. Rich visualizations and analysis

BI tools allow you to visualize your data in a variety of ways like different chart forms, graphs, and heat maps. Visualization is crucial to helping you understand your data. It allows you to see patterns and relationships, identify potential issues, and make decisions based on the data without having to manually analyze it.

A BI tool is also equipped to perform various types of analysis on your data, including simple calculations, such as average values or percentages, as well as more complex ones, such as forecasting future values or extracting useful insights from your data.

5. Real-time monitoring and analytics

A critical aspect of any BI tool is its ability to provide you with real-time monitoring and analytics. Tracking key metrics and KPIs in real-time is crucial in gaining visibility into the performance of your operations and identifying any issues as soon as they occur. For this reason, BI tools allow you to set up real-time dashboards that display metrics and KPIs, such as sales metrics, inventory levels, profitability, and more.

You can set these up to display either manually or based on triggers, such as changes in values, providing you with real-time insights into your operations. BI tool should also allow you to dig deeper into any metric or KPI to explore related data, such as previous trends, or to perform more advanced analysis on your data.

6. Built-in APIs to communicate with other Systems

An API can help you integrate your business data with other systems and applications. An API can also simplify pushing new data into your business intelligence solution. If the tool that you’re considering has an API, it will be much easier to connect to other systems.

This can save you time and money in the long run. If you are using an on-premise solution, it is unlikely that the tool will have an API. This doesn’t mean that it isn’t a good solution – it just means that it won’t be as easy to integrate with other systems. If you are using a SaaS solution, it is likely the tool will have an API.

7. Data Governance and Quality Assurance

A good BI tool should allow you to set up data governance rules to ensure that the data you’re working with is of high quality and consistent. You should be able to set rules to identify potential issues in your data, such as values that lie outside acceptable ranges, an excessive number of null values, or repeating values.

The tool allows you to identify and correct issues with your data in real time, helping you to improve its quality. This includes correcting incorrect values, identifying duplicate records, or removing null values. It should also include functionality to identify potential issues with the structure of your data, such as tables with missing or inconsistent fields. It should also allow you to clean up your data, fixing issues such as the ones mentioned above.

8. Ad Hoc reporting

A BI tool should allow you to create ad hoc reports whenever you need them. This should be easy to do with a few clicks, without needing to set up complex reports. A good BI tool should also allow you to schedule reports, providing you with a way to automate the reporting process. This includes creating reports that are scheduled to be generated regularly and sent to different stakeholders who need them.

You should also be able to select the data to report on, and then select the visualization type and configure it according to your needs. This should allow you to create visually appealing reports with little effort.

9. Collaboration and automation

A good BI tool should have functionality that allows you to work collaboratively and automate repetitive processes. This includes creating a central place where you and your team can collaborate, review reports, and share insights. It should also allow you to perform ETL (extract, transform, and load) operations to integrate different data sources into a single system.

A BI tool should allow you to automate repetitive processes, such as data manipulation, report generation, or visualization creation. This should be easy to do by using simple rules, such as “If this happens, then do that”. You should also be able to create custom functions and formulas to perform more complex tasks.

10. Comprehensive Visualizations

A good business intelligence tool should allow you to create comprehensive dashboards that provide a high-level view of your business in a visually appealing format. Dashboards should combine various visualizations, such as charts and graphs, as well as information from other sources, such as KPIs and company data, to provide an overview of your business. A good BI tool should also allow you to customize your dashboards to suit your team members’ needs. This includes selecting the data to include, choosing the visualization types and the way they are presented, and configuring the dashboard according to your preferences.


Choosing a business intelligence tool is a big decision for your organization. You want to be sure that you’re choosing a tool that will best help you to track important data. It’s important to consider all of these factors when choosing a business intelligence tool.

You want to be sure that the tool is the right fit for your business. When all of these factors are taken into account, it will be much easier to find the right business intelligence tool for your business.

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