Although there are investments to be made at first, the pay-offs of a successful BI solution will soon show. Image by lumaxart.
Companies without BI solutions often find it difficult to integrate financial and operational data to get a holistic overall view of the company’s performance. They thus fail to see some essential trends, which they could have utilized to their advantage had they known about it.
Managers without BI solutions often wastes unnecessary time to gather information, which should have been available to them at the press of a button, thereby not finding themselves in a position to manage their business optimally.
The risk however is also there, that an organization may not yet be ready for a sophisticated BI solution, and by spending resources and time on that, could put them backwards instead of forwards if the project fails.
Sometimes a simple Excel spreadsheet is more than adequate to meet the information needs of a particular small organization, and advanced software is thus unnecessary.
Functionalities typically provided by BI software
Reporting: Report automation and also the facility to design own reports
Analysis: Where multi-dimensional data is analyzed. Fields could typically be dragged and dropped so that the user can slice and dice data at will, and drill down to the level of detail he wants to see.
Dashboards: Here the most important indicators for an organization are portrayed at a glance. This could include categories with pictures such as red lights vs. green lights on the screen, or compact graphs, which will enable a manager to grasp and be alarmed by problem areas immediately. A CEO may for example require a dashboard that gives him on one single screen one “picture” or graph of sales, one “picture” or graph of operations, one “picture” or graph of cashflow etc, so he can immediately know to spent his day focusing on particular “problematic” department.
Data Mining: Data Mining is a sophisticated function allowing for trend analysis and predictive analysis.
More about some of the top open source business intelligence software solutions
As a general guideline, typically a product that is very strong on data mining and analysis is not as specialized as a report writer and those who specialize in reports are typically not specialized in sophisticated functions such as data mining.
It is thus still important to see a demo of the various alternatives in order to make an informed decision for your organization and also to understand the most pressing needs of the organization first.
The following are a list of top open source business intelligence solutions for you to test, evaluate and implement.
Pentaho BI Suite is one of the world’s most popular open source BI suite which has won many awards.
Key capabilities: Reporting, analysis, dashboards, data integration, data mining
Runs on: Java runtime version 1.5 or higher and tested on Sun Hotspot Client VM
JasperSoft BI Suite is an easy to deploy and cost-effective enterprise strength BI suite which specializes in reporting tools suitable for organization departments, SMBs and ISVs.
Key capabilities: Reporting, dashboards, analysis, data integration
Runs on: 100% pure Java. JDK 1.5 and above. Supports any RDBMS with JDBC 2.0 driver.
OpenI is an open source BI application for on demand web-based SAAS deployment. Its web-based application allows you to connect to OLAP data sources, relational databases, data mining models for the purpose of publishing web-based reports.
Key capabilities: Reporting, analysis, dashboards
Runs on : J2EE web application environment with connectors to OLAP servers, RDBMS servers and Data Mining servers
SpagoBI is a unified BI solution built on top of a free and open source platform specifically for enterprises.
Key capabilities: Reporting, multidimensional analysis, dashboards, KPI models, data mining
Runs on: Java based web application, supported on Tomcat, JBoss and WebSphere. Also runs on portal applications such as eXo WebOS and Liferay.
Palo BI Suite was originally seen as essentially an add-on for Microsoft Excel but was eventually developed to a BI Suite called Palo Suite.
Key capabilities: OLAP server for real-time aggregation, Worksheet server for reporting, planning and analysis, and ETL server for transforming and loading data.
Runs on: Desktop application for Windows or Linux environment. Even has deep integration for Excel users.
Eclipse BIRT is an open source Eclipse-based reporting system that integrates with your Java/J2EE application to produce compelling reports. Also well-known as a reporting plug-in for Java and J2EE.
Key capabilities: Reporting features such as data access, report layout and scripting
Runs on: Eclipse platform, GEF, EMF, DTP and WTP packages
RapidMiner is a comprehensive data mining and analysis tool which is excellent for forecasts and predictive analysis.
Key capabilities: Distributed data mining, knowledge discovery, multi layer data view, machine learning library
Runs on: 100% pure Java
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Hope this list of top open source business intelligence solutions helps you with your BI software evaluation efforts.