Governments and policymakers have primarily used Big Data Analytics, AI platforms, Data Visualization tools, and other entities to predict the effects and spread of the coronavirus. Businesses worldwide are also struggling to respond to this global pandemic, where leaders are likely to take rapid decisions about maintaining liquidity and controlling costs to address the ongoing challenges. As different entities leverage AI and Business Intelligence to halt the crisis’s effects, many tools and open data sources provide updated information.
As reported by The State of BI & Analytics Report 2020: Special COVID-19 Edition, during the COVID-19 crisis, 55% of businesses have started using data for improving efficiency, 47% for customer support, and 45% for predictions of future outcomes. As larger companies are more focused on cost-cutting and smaller companies are focused on efficiency and supporting customers, they have shifted to adopt new technologies. Approximately 68% of small businesses are using analytics in Operations, 50% in Sales, 56% in Finance, and 45% in Product. This essentially has created the excessive need for BI tools, the computer programs developed by open-source software for business intelligence, as companies can’t process vast collections of accumulated data manually.
Business Intelligence Infrastructure
Many businesses are establishing BI in their decision-making processes. They are striving to make more decisive data-supported decision making than ever before, which has resulted in accelerated demands for BI reports. Businesses now seek direct access to BI reporting and analytics through self-service portals, rather than requesting BI services through centralized IT departments. These developments are prompting rapid growth in the BI operations teams’ workload.
With the promise to be an instant solution to all sales and market questions, BI led organizations to invest heavily in related technology and infrastructure. Open-source BI tools allow one to extract and interpret from the mass of business data collected by their organizations daily, as making the right business decisions is difficult without any reliable information to base them on.
Processes Involved in Business Intelligence
As we see the BI market recently, it’s noticeable that Open Source Business Intelligence tools intensify today’s business landscape. The need to analyze and present data in a precise and readable format is necessary because of our markets being more reliable on big data. More processes and activities have been incorporated into business intelligence over the past few years to improve performance, as listed below:
Experts sift through the large data sets to discover trends and patterns. Data mining is a process of analyzing data from diverse sources and compiling it into relevant information, which also boosts revenue and reduces costs.
BI reports allow leaders to make better decisions by aggregating data from multiple departments and allowing users to interact with that data. Big data performs a vital role in online data analysis, business information, and intelligent reporting, which further shared with stakeholders for making conclusions.
Performance Metrics and Benchmarking
Performance metrics compare the current performance data with historical data to track the performance contrary to business goals. Benchmarking incorporates the process of reaching your business processes and performance metrics to industry standards, helping organizations to set significant targets, gaining insight, determining the necessary amendments, and enhancing overall business performance. By analyzing and controlling BI platform logs and metadata, 86% of organizations measured their BI benchmarks quantitatively, quoted in Forrester’s recent survey.
It uses preliminary data analysis to find out changes in business and make conclusions easily understandable to investors, managers, and other stakeholders. Return on invested capital (ROIC) is a descriptive-analytic, which gives insights to the company to find out the performance of its invested money to generate returns.
BI Query is an enterprise query, analytics, and reporting application that provide users the information they need by utilizing a data model, a graphical representation of data in a database.
The statistical analysis aims at identifying the trends. It takes the descriptive analytics’ results and further explores the data using statistics.
Data visualization is the transformation of data analysis into visual representations like graphs, charts, and histograms, allowing the user to observe, browse, understand, conclude, and employ data more efficiently.
In business intelligence, visual analytics is a visualization of data analysis, comprises a process of exploring data through a visual explanation to deliver insights. It involves easily understandable data displayed on a graphical chart or dashboard that eliminates the need for data scientists to understand it and reveal trends at a glance.
Data preparation consolidates multiple data sources compilation, dimension identification, and preparation for data analysis. The practice of data prescribes the analysis types that can be performed from the front-end of the data analytics solution and guides the difficulty level for end-users to answer business queries.
Challenges Confronted with Some BI Tools
Businesses need to be agile and innovative. Simultaneously, they need to make quick and well-versed decisions for their evolving growth in the market. Though BI tools help organizations with the above processes to make smarter and data-driven decisions, it incorporates some challenges:
1. Many users face a lack of support from the software provider, eventually ending up in limited investment returns. Businesses need to choose the software wisely, having sufficient support available for consumers.
2. Some of the BI tools don’t have an intuitive interface or require advanced training. It is necessary to ensure the tool is easy to use for everyone in an organization and requires minimal training.
3. Most of the BI solutions are not mobile. Businesses should choose the portable tool accessible from anywhere to avoid concerns with the lack of return on investment.
4. The BI tool should ensure to solve the pain points your organization is seeking to address. It is essential to maintain communication during the implementation process.
Top 13 Open-Source BI Tools in 2020
Open-Source BI tools are free to use and can be modified according to the organizational requirements to recover and analyze business data and make reports. These tools are increasingly becoming prominent as businesses now are processing diverse information about their operations, and customer and open source BI software provide a secure environment for sensitive data. The top 13 open-source BI tools are listed below:
1) BIRT Project
BIRT Project is a top-level open-source software project within Eclipse Foundation, provides the BIRT technology platform to build data analysis and reports for vibrant client and web applications, specifically Java and Java EE based. It supports a wide range of reporting styles and modules and is widely used across organizations to fulfill their business intelligence requirements. Its API gives access to all the functionalities over other BI applications.
BIRT Project Features:
1. BIRT includes a visual report designer that allows the user to customize the BIRT designs.
2. A runtime component is used to generate those designs, easily deployable to any Java environment.
3. The charting engine generates charts from the derived data and integrates charts into an application for publishing.
4. It supports various reporting styles that include charts, crosstabs, lists, etc.
5. BIRT designs can access diverse data sources that include JDO datastores, POJOs, JFire Scripting Objects, Web Services, SQL databases, and XMLz
Pentaho, a platform by Hitachi Vantara, offers a suite of open-source business intelligence (BI) products that help business users for data integration, reporting, OLAP services, data mining, dashboarding, and ETL capabilities. This suite has a community edition, totally free to use. Users can access the tools from any browser through their web platform.
1. It includes Kettle, which helps to obtain data from a source and load data to the data warehouse.
2. Features advanced report creation tool.
3. The 9.0 Pentaho distribution features PDI expanded metadata injection support.
4. Access to multiple Hadoop clusters within PDI.
KNIME, an open-source BI tool, specializes in data integration, linkage, and analysis. Data scientists and BI executives can build effective data pipelines with KNIME, as it provides them with data visualization, data mining, and machine learning capabilities. Based on Java, it works with the Eclipse Interactive Development Environment.
1. The well-defined API support enables the tool to extend the functionalities.
2. Access and retrieve data from any source.
3. Supports data cleaning and preprocessing with normalization, joining, binning, sampling, etc.
4. Easy to manage user interface without the need for technical background.
5. Users can optimize model performance with boosting, bagging, hyperparameter optimization, etc.
Metabase, an open-source business intelligence tool, allows the user to manage the database, track bug, monitor KPI, filer record, and generate dashboards with simple queries, excluding complex SQL statements. The tool allows users to ask questions and also answers them into the format of a bar graph or a detailed table. It works with a vast range of database solutions, including Google BigQuery, Google Analytics, Amazon Athena, Oracle, etc., and has the simplest installation system.
1. It can integrate with Slack for collaborative team works.
2. The user interface is clean with modern displays.
3. Docker image support to run into any device.
4. It supports popular services like Heroku and AWS Elastic Beanstalk.
ReportServer is an open-source BI tool that allows users to tweak and adapt ReportServer to fit organizational needs with a scripting interface. The community version of this tool is free to use, and its enterprise edition allows users for more customizations and flexibility, which costs some bucks. ReportServer scripts enable users to add custom output formats for different reporting engines and custom and dynamic data sources.
1. Supports an advanced ad hoc reporting tool that generates real-time reports according to the needs of the user.
2. Through integrated TeamSpaces feature it supports collaborative works.
3. Integrate with the Jasper BI Suite with some other BI software.
4. Flexible user interface.
6) Talend Open Studio
Talend Open Studio, a java-based open-source BI tool, runs on the Eclipse RCF development environment and is used to extract, load, and transform data. The graphical user interface consists of a graphic designer and a metadata repository for files that are easy to use.
Talend Open Studio Features
1. Supports scalability to gain more productivity from data analysis.
2. A built-in library of over 400 components for extending the features.
3. Features drag and drop metadata and component searching crucial for business personals.
4. It features an advanced business modeler for growing businesses.
7) Helical Insight
Helical Insight is an open-source BI tool based on Java and frontend being HTML and CSS. It has both community and enterprise edition for various users. Helical Insight enables users to develop data analysis and embed it. It also allows users to build plugins and add functionalities as per the business requirements. This tool comes with the Eclipse IDE preinstalled to help ser run this tool in any operating system. Community Edition is free but with a limited set of features and Enterprise Edition costs some bucks with all the features.
Helical Insight Features:
1. It provides technical support from its large community forum.
2. XML driven workflow management for businesses.
3. The software comes up with built-in user role management and email scheduling feature.
4. Community upgrades for bug fixes and security patches.
5. Features backend EFW method for reports, dashboards, and other data analysis creation
Knowage is the successor of the popular open-source BI tool, SpagoBI, which inherits the long history of SpagoBI. It provides a broad range of data analysis, supported by several popular analytical engines. It has incorporated some new features useful for emerging businesses such as collaboration, visual inquiries, location intelligence, etc. Its commercial edition provides additional administrative features with technical support.
1. Feature a graphic tool for interactive analysis and visualizations.
2. Provide a built-in search engine, notification service, collaborative tools, etc. for improved organizations’ productivity.
3. Feature advanced analytical model to perform standard analytical algorithms and create reports.
4. Provide real-time console and gauge dials.
WideStage, an open-source BI tool, is used to create reports for businesses. Its semantic layer allows users to query data without knowing the data structure and SQL or complex query languages.
1. Easy to create reports and dashboards
2. Powerful role management system to manage security aspects.
3. Supports various databases, which includes Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, PostgreSQL, MongoDB, etc.
10) Orange Data Mining
Orange Data Mining is an open-source BI tool, but moreover, a data science tool used to build data analysis workflows visually, with a large, diverse toolbox. Its graphic user interface allows users to focus on exploratory data analysis rather than coding.
Orange Data Mining features:
1. Features data visualization and machine learning.
2. Supports visual illustrations to train data analysts from the basics of data analysis.
3. Supports add-ons for extending features.
Dataiku is a collaborative open-source BI tool, democratizing access to data. It empowers everyone in the data-powered organization, including data scientists, analytics leaders, business analysts, data engineers. It has both free and enterprise versions, with the free version restricting to the maximum of 3 users’ support.
1. It can access over 25 different data sources.
2. Feature drag-and-drop data visualization tool for creating charts and graphs more attractively.
3. Provide a powerful visual interface for faster and more effective data preparation.
4. Provides automated ML features, eliminating the need for technical knowledge of data science to perform data analysis.
12) iReport designer
iReport Designer is the free and open-source BI tool for JasperReports and JasperReports Server. Users can create sophisticated reports such as images, charts, subreports, crosstabs, etc., with many visual elements. Data is accessible for users through TableModels, JavaBeans, JDBC, Hibernate, etc.
iReport designer Features:
1. Reports can be published in different formats such as RTF, PDF, XLS, XML, HTML, etc.
2. The tool is compatible with other JasperSoft open-source software.
Query2Report is an open-source and free BI tool that allows users to build reports or dashboards for enterprise reporting or business analytics. It transforms SQL queries into google charts, also provides real-time reporting.
1. Many video tutorials inside their SourceForge repository are available for users.
2. Provide separate reporting dashboards for public and personal use.
3. Integrate with various database management software.
Business Intelligence platforms help organizations collect, record, and organize their data, being the determining factor for businesses. It includes all processes from data analysis to reporting and helps create dashboards that can be easily shared with others. The open-source business intelligence tools listed above highlights different purposes according to diverse business requirements. Appropriate business intelligence solutions will generate distinct insights and expedite strategic decision making, accelerating your business.