Visual Analytics Tools

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Showing 1 - 20 of 241 products
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Showing 1 - 20 of 241 products

Xtraction

Xtraction is a reporting tool that automates the extraction and organization of data. It requires little or no tech support to install and supports multiple data formats. Xtraction can deliver IT reporting to a number of busi...Read more

4.46 (13 reviews)

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BOARD

Created to combine business intelligence, corporate performance management, and business analytics, BOARD is a full-featured business intelligence system that serves midsize and enterprise-level companies in a variety of different...Read more

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Tableau

Tableau is an integrated business intelligence (BI) and analytics solution that helps to analyze key business data and generate meaningful insights. The solution helps businesses to collect data from multiple source points such as...Read more

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SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence

SAP BusinessObjects is a business intelligence solution designed for companies of all sizes. It offers ETL (extract, transform, load), predictive dashboard, Crystal reports, OLAP (Online Analytical Processing) and ad-hoc reporting...Read more

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TARGIT

TARGIT Decision Suite is a business intelligence and analytics solution that offers visual data discovery tools, self-service business analytics, reporting and dashboards in a single, integrated solution. TARGIT combines the ...Read more

4.47 (34 reviews)

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Infor Birst

Birst, an Infor Company, is a web-based networked BI and analytics solution that connects insights from various teams and helps in making informed decisions. The tool enables decentralized users to augment the enterprise data mode...Read more

4.08 (49 reviews)

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iDashboards

iDashboards provides easy-to-use, visually appealing, and cost-effective data visualization software for clients in a wide variety of industries. Our Enterprise Success Platform easily integrates with key data sources and users ca...Read more

4.56 (39 reviews)

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Sisense

Sisense goes beyond traditional business intelligence by providing organizations with the ability to infuse analytics everywhere, embedded in both customer and employee applications and workflows. Sisense customers are breaking th...Read more

4.52 (358 reviews)

1 recommendations

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TIBCO Spotfire

TIBCO Spotfire provides executive dashboards, data analytics, data visualization and KPI push to mobile devices. It complements existing business intelligence and reporting tools, while midsize organizations can use dashboards and...Read more

4.34 (55 reviews)

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Rapid Insight Construct

Rapid Insight is an on-premise Business Intelligence solutions for higher education institutions and fundraising, healthcare and data science corporations. The suite of applications includes dashboards and scorecards, data mining ...Read more

5.00 (5 reviews)

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Software pricing tips

Read our Visual Analytics Tools Buyers Guide

Subscription models

  • Per employee/per month: This model allows you to pay a monthly fee for each of your employees.
  • Per user/per month: Users pay a monthly fee for users—normally administrative users—rather than all employees.

Perpetual license

  • This involves paying an upfront sum for the license to own the software and use it indefinitely.
  • This is the more traditional model and is most common with on-premise applications and with larger businesses.

Rated best value for money

Phocas Analytics

Phocas is a team of passionate professionals who are committed to helping people feel good about their data. Our software brings together organizations’ most useful data from an ERP and other business systems and presents it in a ...Read more

4.79 (98 reviews)

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Pentaho

Pentaho is a business intelligence system designed to help companies make data-driven decisions, with a platform for data integration and analytics. The platform includes extract, transform, and load (ETL), big data analytics, vis...Read more

4.24 (39 reviews)

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Exago BI

Exago BI is a web-based solution that’s designed to be embedded in web-based applications. Embedding Exago BI allows SaaS companies of all sizes to provide their customers with self-service ad hoc, operational reporting, and inter...Read more

4.64 (58 reviews)

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SAS Analytics Pro

SAS Analytics Pro is a cloud-based business intelligence solution that provides businesses functionalities to access, manipulate, analyze and present information. The solution features data mining and data visualization capabiliti...Read more

4.70 (5 reviews)

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Salesforce Analytics Cloud

Salesforce Analytics Cloud, also known as Wave Analytics, is a cloud-based business intelligence (BI) system that provides an interactive platform to access and share business trends. The software provides data insights and helps ...Read more

4.25 (62 reviews)

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Chartio

Chartio is a cloud-based business intelligence solution that provides founders, business teams, data analysts and product teams in an organization tools to manage day-to-day business operations. Chartio's tools provide users ...Read more

4.54 (36 reviews)

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Style Intelligence

Style Intelligence from InetSoft is a business intelligence for midsize to global organizations. It offers users customizable dashboards and a data mashup engine that generates reports and visual analyses from real-time data....Read more

4.55 (42 reviews)

3 recommendations

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Analyzer

For companies in any industry, Analyzer from Strategy Companion is a modular, cloud-based business intelligence platform. The system gives users access to real-time analytics, allowing them to make informed decisions utilizing dat...Read more

0.00 (1 reviews)

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Adaptive Planning

Workday Adaptive Planning, founded in 2003, provides a web-based system for budgeting, forecasting and reporting. The solution is suitable for a wide variety of company sizes. Delivered over the Web in a software-as-a-service (Saa...Read more

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Dundas BI

Dundas BI, from Dundas Data Visualization, is a browser-based business intelligence and data visualization platform that includes integrated dashboards, reporting tools, and data analytics. It provides end users the ability to cre...Read more

4.52 (121 reviews)

5 recommendations

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Popular Visual Analytics Tools Comparisons

Buyers Guide

Last Updated: March 11, 2022

What is a Visual Analytics Tool

A visual analytics tool allows non-technical people who don’t know SQL to view and visualize data.

Visual analytics tools allow business analysts and other users to query and combine data sets using point-and-click gestures in a visual interface, instead of actually writing out queries in a programming language like SQL.

These tools represent a significant advancement in the modern "self-service” model of BI. In this model, business analysts access and query data themselves, instead of accessing and querying it through technologies controlled by the IT department.

Visualization is key to self-service BI, since it’s a way for users who don’t know how to write queries themselves to retrieve the data they need. Users can perform analytical operations merely by clicking on pie charts, adding new dimensions to maps etc., instead of expressing such operations in SQL or another language.

Table of Contents

Since visual analytics is still an evolving technology, we’ll describe the major capabilities these tools offer. We’ll also explain how the market breaks down, since visual analytics capabilities are found in various types of BI solutions.

We’ll guide you through the following topics:

Visual Analytics != Dashboards
Capabilities of Visual Analytics Software
Visual Data Discovery vs. Visual Analytics in Traditional BI Systems
Choosing: Dedicated Visual Analytics Platform, or Traditional BI?

Visual Analytics != Dashboards

Many readers will know enough SQL to recognize “!=” as the “does not equal” operator rather than a typo, but if not, that’s precisely why you need a visual analytics system. SQL syntax becomes even more complex once you go beyond the basic operators.

Visual analytics tools are frequently confused with dashboards. Let’s take a look at why.

Exhibit A is an actual dashboard:

Dashboard in BI software platform Board

Exhibit A: Sales manager dashboard in Board

Exhibit B is the interface of a visual analytics solution during analysis:

Visual analytics in Qlik Sense

Exhibit B: Visual analysis of accident reports in Qlik Sense

At first glance, it can be very difficult to tell the difference between these two visual interfaces for presenting trends in data. There are, however, a few, including:

  • The dashboard is customized for a role (“sales manager”), whereas the visual analytics interface is generic.
  •  
  • The dashboard shows key performance indicators (KPIs) at a glance, whereas the visual analytics system shows patterns in a data set.
  •  
  • On a related note, the dashboard is pulling data from a diverse range of sources, whereas the visual analytics application is primarily being used on a single data set.
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  • The dashboard is neatly templated, whereas the visual analytics tool looks like charts and graphs have been dropped in during analysis (because they have).

Dashboards are templated visualizations of KPIs that integrate data from a variety of operational sources: CRM systems, e-commerce/order processing platforms, inventory management systems, accounting systems, supply chain management systems etc. They either update in real-time or are regularly refreshed with new data. Most dashboards aim to help end users (sales managers, call center agents etc.) understand their individual performance or the business’s performance.

Interactivity is highly limited in a dashboard, because analysts in conjunction with business leaders determine how performance is calculated—not the end users. Users may be able to click on a chart element to get more details on a KPI, but they can’t decide, for instance, to swap out all of the line graphs in the dashboard with scatter plots, or to blend the data in the dashboard with a spreadsheet on their desktop.

Visual analytics graphical user interfaces (GUIs), on the other hand, are blank slates for accessing and manipulating data sets with point-and-click, drag-and-drop gestures on visual data displays (pie charts, tree graphs, heat maps, scatter plots etc.). Whereas the business “freezes” KPI calculations into dashboards, visual analytics tools are designed for free-form visual analysis of any old data set: a spreadsheet, a SQL database, a NoSQL database etc. Moreover, users can blend data from multiple sources during analysis, instead of having to rely on the blends that have been built into a dashboard.

Users thus choose the visualization types they want to use in visual analytics software. If one chart type doesn’t work, another can be used in its place. Users also choose the dimensions (data categories such as customer, product etc.) and measures (numerical values like the number of items sold in a given transaction) that they want to combine in these visualizations. Generally, analysis is a process in these tools—once a pattern has been spotted, the user explores it with further visualizations.

Visual analytics tools are thus specifically designed for business analysts who spend all day spotting new patterns in business data to explain problems and highlight opportunities.

The following table summarizes the differences:

Key Differences Between Dashboard and Visual Analytics Interfaces

  Dashboard Visual analytics interface
User base End users throughout organization Business analysts and other data explorers
Purpose Present role-specific KPIs Facilitate free-form analysis
Level of interactivity Minimal High
Data connections Prebuilt Ad hoc

Capabilities of Visual Analytics Software

Visual analytics tools generally offer the following capabilities:

Visual GUI A visual interface supports data manipulation via drag-and-drop gestures rather than SQL clauses.
Library of templated chart types Users can pick from bar charts, heat-maps, treemaps, scatter plots, bubble charts and a range of other visualization operations. Many tools will even recommend an appropriate visualization based on the data.
Ability to promote visualizations to dashboards Analysts can template KPI analyses as dashboards and share them across the organization (generally requires a server license in addition to user licenses).
Ad hoc data connections These tools can connect directly to a wide range of data sources, including spreadsheets, relational databases, NoSQL databases, cloud data sources etc.
Data blending Users can combine data from different sources on the fly to discover new insights.
Linked visualizations If a user alters one element of a visualization (say by adding a new dimension), the other elements will update automatically.
Data cleaning/preparation Since data access in visual analytics software is frequently ad hoc, data typically needs to be prepared for analysis with features for normalizing fields, removing trailing spaces etc.
Back-end SQL engine Visual analytics software includes an engine that translates users’ gestures into SQL queries.
In-memory data cache These tools also process data in random access memory (RAM) instead of writing it to disk, which allows for rapid processing of huge data sets.

Visual Data Discovery vs. Visual Analytics in Traditional BI Systems

Visual analytics tools—also known as data discovery tools—evolved as a response to two problems with traditional BI systems:

  • These systems lacked an easy interface to allow non-IT users to run ad hoc queries on data. Frequently, analysts had to resort to SQL querying.
  •  
  • Traditional BI systems limit analysis to data sources that have been integrated into the system, whereas data discovery tools are designed to open analysis up by connecting directly to a variety of data sources.

Dashboards and static reports are a strength of traditional BI systems, since in these systems the IT department works alongside analysts to extract data from operational databases, calculate metrics and push KPIs out to end users via PDF reports, dashboards or some other medium.

In this use case, free-form analysis by the end user isn’t necessary or even encouraged. Instead, the organization standardizes on a single data model (a schematization of the relationships between data types, data sources etc.), which is then built into the BI system.

Visual data discovery tools thus evolved for those end users who do need to perform free-form analysis, i.e. business analysts, since dashboards and scheduled KPI reports aren’t enough for these users.

It may seem that visual data discovery tools have a clear edge over traditional BI. However, data discovery tools suffer precisely because of the freedom they enable. One analyst may use a different process to visualize data than another, which makes it possible for the analysts to wind up with two significantly different interpretations of the same data set.

Traditional BI systems were designed to control access to data such that companies had a “single source of truth” about business performance metrics. Data discovery tools are catching up in this regard by introducing data governance features (role-specific access to certain data sources, data modeling languages etc.). However, they’re not as robust in this area as traditional systems.

Data modeling in Looker BI

Data modeling in Looker BI

Moreover, traditional systems have now incorporated many of the visual analysis features originally found only in data discovery tools. Both visual data discovery tools and traditional systems can be used to create dashboards.

Choosing: Dedicated Visual Analytics Platform, or Traditional BI?

The following table presents the most important selection criteria for deciding between these options:

  Visual data discovery tool Traditional BI system
Free-form visual analysis of data
Dashboards
Regularly scheduled batch extractions of data from operational databases (extract, transform and load)  
Standardized and centrally governed data model serving as a “single source of truth”  
Collaborative data modeling among workgroups
 
Ad hoc connections to new data sources and recombinations of data sources
 
Data warehousing  
Organization-wide deployment for end users  
Workgroup deployments for analysts
 

These criteria unfortunately aren’t always as clear as they’d ideally be, since, as we’ve seen, the distinction between these categories is gradually eroding away.

Some popular visual analytics software products include Tableau, Qlik Sense and Looker, but there are many more options on the market than this.

Traditional BI vendors that support visual analytics include Birst and Pentaho—again, there are a host of additional options.