Enterprise Business Intelligence Tools: What are the Best Enterprise BI Solutions?


Not all business intelligence tools are created equal. Sure, there are plenty of BI tools with great reporting, data analytics and visual functions. But just because a BI tool works great for one business, doesn’t guarantee it’ll have the same impact for another. This is especially true when you take the size of a business into account. 

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There are a plethora of self-service BI tools that work great for small and mid-sized companies. They provide great dashboards and ad hoc queries that make their decision-making processes easier. But these tools rarely work for large companies with even larger software requirements. As such, they need more than just BI software — they need enterprise business intelligence tools.

What are Enterprise Business Intelligence Tools?

To properly discuss the differences between enterprise business intelligence software and self-service BI, we first need to take a look at what constitutes enterprise software. At its core, it’s pretty basic: software designed for use in large businesses. The goal is to increase productivity and efficiency in the complex environment of an enterprise.

So enterprise BI, then, is simply BI software that caters its functionality to large businesses. But is that all it means? Of course not.

System Deployment and Management

Enterprise business intelligence software, due to size and complexity, requires a lot more management than self-service BI tools. Department-level management is the norm for self-service BI. However, enterprise business intelligence platforms are usually managed centrally by an IT department. This is especially common for enterprise BI tools deployed on-premise. A high level of budget and existing framework is needed to run an enterprise-level on-premise system. A fully functional, fully staffed IT department is essential.

Most enterprise business intelligence solutions used to be deployed exclusively on-premise. Many enterprises wanted to do as much as they could to avoid getting hacked. But as the cloud became more popular and secure, the number of vendors offering a cloud computing BI platform grew.

Today, most self-service BI tools are deployed on the cloud. But when it comes to enterprise business intelligence, businesses have a plethora of deployment options. That said, most BI buyers today don’t have a strong preference for either deployment, as long as their BI tool comes with the features they need.

Data Sources

The data that flows through enterprise BI systems differ from their self-service counterparts as well. First and foremost, there’s simply a lot more data that get processed in an enterprise BI tool. As you can imagine, a large business tends to collect a lot more data than smaller ones. This requires a system with a higher capacity for data analytics than average self-service BI tools.

As a result of processing this huge amount of data, enterprise BI platforms utilize different data sources. A small business can get away with using CSV files to collect a few hundred data points. All you have to do is upload it to a self-service system and it can produce insightful analytics. Unfortunately, a CSV isn’t sufficient to hold all of the data points large businesses need an enterprise BI solution to analyze.

In light of this, enterprise BI platforms analyze data taken from rigid, well-structured data models. Usually housed in data warehouses like a SQL server, these data models are complex but secure — and built specifically for use in data analytics.

Data Management

There isn’t much data management needed for self-service tools. More often than not, all that’s done to manage this data is saving and uploading a CSV file. However, managing the data for enterprise BI software is a sizeable undertaking.  IT departments generally have a huge hand in enterprise BI data management.

Because of this, self-service tools have shorter lead times, leading to quicker business decisions. But, the data isn’t governed.

Enterprise BI platforms, along with your IT department, provide thorough data governance. The platforms themselves maintain a high level of security and can help test your data for accuracy. This eliminates any duplicate data sets and other forms of bad data. Self-service tools can be better for on-the-fly decision making. For long-term, accurate planning, enterprise business intelligence tools are better.

What are the Best Enterprise Business Intelligence Tools?

Only a select few business intelligence tools can be classified as an enterprise BI solution. These are the best of the best — the vendors that cater to the needs of large enterprises looking to leverage its data more effectively and gain powerful decision-making insights.

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Cloudera Enterprise

Cloudera is a bit of a unique enterprise BI solution, in that it incorporates open-source capabilities within its system. They provide a community of Hadoop developers and experts to help businesses make full use of the open-source potential. In addition, they provide the usual enterprise BI functionality, such as data management. Cloudera also includes perimeter data security, fault-tolerance, automated backup and disaster recovery to protect your data.

Oracle BI

You would expect a powerful enterprise BI platform to come from one of the biggest software developers in the world, and that’s just what Oracle BI is. Like any good BI solution, it provides business intelligence dashboards for at-a-glance analysis. Their OLAP functionality is designed to help business users forecast performance levels and other analysis. Like a self-service BI tool, Oracle BI can process ad hoc analysis for quick decision making.

IBM Cognos BI

IBM Cognos BI is one of the easiest systems to integrate with. Whether you’re integrating it with another type of software or other IBM modules, Cognos makes it easy to evaluate all of your business processes. For example, integrating with Watson AI adds cutting-edge predictive analytics to its existing business intelligence features. Along similar lines, both the on-premise deployment and the cloud deployment of the system are built to be scalable. So no matter how many users you start out on the platform, you can increase them without trouble as you need.

SAP BusinessObjects

SAP’s BusinessObjects describes themselves as helping make companies great in the new “age of data.” With its full suite of applications, the claim isn’t far off. The system has no shortage of dynamic features, such as ad hoc reporting, predictive analytics, business intelligence dashboards and mobile applications. Integration with other analytics platforms like SAP Crystal and SAP Lumira only enhance these features, so businesses can perform heavy-duty analysis.

MicroStrategy Analytics

MicroStrategy Analytics is one of the simpler enterprise BI solutions to learn. It includes drag-and-drop functions, which is an often-underrated aspect of easy-to-learn software. The platform is available on your mobile device as well as your desktop. Additionally, it offers intuitive visuals and one-click sharing for the insights you unearth with the software. You can also combine multiple data sources, such as spreadsheets and Hadoop databases, to aggregate all of your analyses.

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Sisense BI is all about speed, Big Data analytics, intuitive reporting and easy-to-understand visualizations. Like MicroStrategy, you can combine data from multiple sources (without the need for IT intervention) for robust and accurate analysis. In addition, you can include custom permissions so that certain data is only accessible to certain levels of users.


Domo is a rarity in the enterprise BI landscape, in that its only deployment option is the cloud. Because of this, it’s naturally mobile-friendly, allowing data analysis on-the-go. The cloud helps to provide more collaboration, since you can share visualizations, reports and insights with any user.

Alainia ConradEnterprise Business Intelligence Tools: What are the Best Enterprise BI Solutions?


Join the conversation
  • Saad Hussain - January 31, 2019 reply

    Where is MS POWER BI? It’s also a big player in BI field.

    Kim O'Shaughnessy - January 31, 2019 reply

    Hi Saad,

    Thanks for your comment. We recognize Microsoft Power BI’s presence in the market, as it ranks as one of our top products on our BI Leaderboard. You can read more about this product on our website here.

    Nik Pavlov - January 12, 2020 reply

    Microsoft PBI is considered as a self-service BI not really a traditional, enterprise one.

  • Roksana - July 22, 2019 reply

    Thank you for the article. Enterprise Business Intelligence Tools are really cool. We use enterprise development when to transform business. It helps us modernize core legacy systems, switch to more innovative enterprise software minimizing the friction of such a bimodal IT strategy.

    Bergen Adair - July 24, 2019 reply

    Thanks for reading Roksana! It’s excellent to hear how BI impacts businesses in the real world. Thanks for commenting and sharing your perspective with other readers.

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