business intelligence reporting software

Comparing BI software to reporting software: which tool is right for you?

In this report, we define and compare business intelligence software and reporting software to help you decide which one suits your business needs.

Both business intelligence software and reporting software help businesses analyze their performance based on data-driven insights. But despite overlapping features and functionality, the two tools belong to distinct software categories. This report will identify the similarities and differences between the two software tools to help you understand which one is better suited for your requirements.

What is business intelligence software?

Business intelligence (BI) software helps organizations make operational decisions by analyzing historical performance data and other data sources. A BI tool collects raw data from internal and external sources and analyzes it via queries to get actionable insight. It uses interactive dashboards and other forms of visualization to present the data.

BI tools allow performance management teams to use descriptive analytics and convert complex data into easily understandable visuals such as charts, graphs, infographics, and animations. BI reporting helps analyze data from various categories, including customers, finance, production, human resources, and contacts.

What is reporting software?

Reporting software allows real-time access to administrative and operational data to help build multidimensional reports, such as financial statements, operational reports, and progress reports, from diverse data sources. It assists in tracking the success of sales strategies, monitoring responsiveness to regulatory compliance concerns, and managing internal controls or security audits.

Reporting software also supports the creation of custom reports per a business’s reporting needs. It allows managers and business leaders to measure and track performance metrics from departments such as sales, finance, human resources, and marketing. The software integrates with apps such as customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), and business intelligence to create data summaries, dashboards, and data visualizations.

What do they have in common?

There are a few similarities between a business intelligence tool and a reporting tool. Both help operational teams create ad hoc reports, visualize data, and forecast business performance for strategic planning. The data reports generated by business intelligence and reporting tools include various similar elements such as charts, tables, key performance indicators (KPIs), images, hyperlinks, and drilldowns.

Business intelligence and reporting software shared features:

  • Ad hoc reporting: Create business reports, which meet information requirements, on an as-needed basis.
  • Customizable dashboard: Alter the layout and content of dashboard graphs and charts to strategically track statistics and metrics.
  • Data visualization: Graphically represent data using elements such as charts, graphs and maps.

Business intelligence features:

  • Collaboration tools: Provide a channel for team members to share media files, communicate, and work together.
  • Data connectors: Connect to big data sources. 
  • Key performance indicators: Evaluate company performance based on business metrics. 
  • Metadata management: Manage and track reference data of files (i.e., tags, title, comments, date of creation, file size). 
  • Performance metrics: Use a set of indicators to track how well an organization, a division, or a particular project is performing. 
  • Predictive analytics: Predict future data based on historical data sets. 
  • Publishing/sharing: Share and publish business intelligence data reports with the organization. 
  • Self-service data preparation: Access, combine, transform, and store data without the help of an IT department. 
  • Strategic planning: Visualize a preferred outcome at a high level, define goals, and identify specific steps to achieve them.

Reporting software features:

  • Data import/export: Import and export information and reports to and from the program.
  • Drag and drop: Assemble applications and processes by dragging over and arranging pre-built components.
  • Forecasting: Form predictions based on past and present data/trends.
  • Search/filter: Search available resources to locate required information.

Which tool is right for you?

If your business needs to collect, track, publish, and share performance metrics, real-time updates, benchmarking, and visual data analytics, then a business intelligence platform is a better option. BI tools offer advanced insights for analyzing data, benchmarking, and analyzing business performance, thus facilitating data-driven decisions.

A reporting tool, on the other hand, is a good option for micro-reporting requirements, such as reports on how many candidates appeared for an interview or how much revenue your business generated last month. Reporting tools can handle standard volumes of data and can draw limited data streams to produce the final reports.

A BI platform is commonly used by teams that influence business decisions. Therefore, it might have a more targeted end-user base than reporting software, for which the audience is more general.

Once you decide which software to use, head to our business intelligence software and reporting software category pages where you can find a sortable list of products, software reviews from verified users, and comprehensive buyers guides.

If you wish to narrow down your search to only the most popular and highest-rated solutions, visit Capterra’s Shortlist reports for the top business intelligence software and reporting software tools—our reports are based on an analysis of thousands of user reviews.

Author: Barkha Bali

Source: Capterra