Best Dashboard Software and Tools 2020

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Today’s top dashboard software enables business users to create a visually compelling report from a wide array of metrics and Big Data trends. These business intelligence dashboard tools – with pie charts and colored trend lines – offer an easily digestible “data story” from complex data analytics.

Significantly, dashboard applications allow executives and team members to more quickly assess key data trends, and so more efficiently mine the data for competitive advantage. In cubicles all across America (and the world) at this very moment, staffers are analyzing business dashboard apps – and sometimes using them for predictive analytics.

These dashboards incorporate data and metrics of every kind, from travel expenses to inventory levels to sales trends. They are usually updated in real time to allow constant monitoring of time-sensitive data trends.

Today’s data analytics dashboards increasingly make use of artificial intelligence and machine learning. They draw data from databases, structured and unstructured data, and data warehouse tools. Many dashboards are based in the cloud and are available as SaaS software.

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In this example of dashboard software, from Klipfolio, a diverse array of complex metrics are shown on a single screen.

How To Select the Best Dashboard Software

When choosing among the best dashboards, consider the following essential factors to find a dashboard app that best fits your company's needs.

User Interface

Quality and style of dashboard user interface is surprisingly important when choosing a dashboard. In short, is the “visual  story” presented by the many pie charts and colored trend lines actually clear to you? Does this BI solution's reports allow you to quickly and fully digest the information it presents? Also, some dashboard software offers dazzling displays, while some are quite plain. What works best for your team?

Level of BI and Analytics Expertise Required

Some dashboard software is designed for ease of use. In fact, that’s very much the prevailing trend these days. However, you’ll find plenty of dashboard applications that can digest oceans of data and require a data scientist to truly use it effectively. Neither approach is necessarily superior, but you want to select one that fits your team.

Collaboration Features

By their very nature, dashboards are about collaborating with team members, executives and colleagues. Does the dashboard you’re considering purchasing have extensive cross-company sharing features? Can the dashboards be easily published and distributed, even to a URL for the general public if need be?

Dashboard Data Sourcing

The question of “connectors” to data sources is a critical one for dashboards. A given dashboard will have connectors to data sources like, say, AWS or Dropbox or Facebook, or any one of dozens of data sources. It’s important to know before you select a dashboard: does it connect to the various data sources you need? Plus: can it accept a real time feed and update the dashboard in real time? 

Embedded Analytics

Some dashboard solutions specialize in enabling users to embed the report into an application. Maybe the application is, say, something the sales reps access constantly,  and you want to embed a real time chart that shows sales figures. Is the dashboard capable of this? How’s the toolset for this function? Does it seem clear and well designed?

Best Dashboard Software

1) Domo

Key Insight: If a clear, intuitive user interface is a priority for you, Domo could be a good fit.

The goal of the Domo dashboard is, in essence, to create a visual narrative from your data. It offers all manner of colors and charts and graphs – a complete visual portrait of your data. To make it user friendly across all of your staff – from data scientists to sales reps – no software code is required to build these complete data-driven narratives. Plus, the Domo solution allows you to add commentary to the data portrait. The system ingests and uses data on a real time basis, so your portrait is always up to date during the next sales meeting.

The solution includes a vast amount of connectors to add visualizations. Significantly, Domo has partnered with Snowflake, the cloud-based date vendor. Likely even more significant, Domo is hooked into the AWS platform, with connections to some growing cloud-based database tools.

2) Looker

Key Insight: A good mix of advanced analytics and ease of use.

Acquired by Google (the deal closed in February 2020), Looker has grown aggressively based on its real time dashboards that strive to offer in-depth analytics in an easily digestible form. The solution leverages a nimble core that is designed to interoperate efficiently with a variety of cloud-based data tools. This cloud native interoperability extends from Snowflake to AWS to (of course) Google BigQuery.

To cater to the cubicle crowd, Looker connects with Slack. Impressively, Looker deploys SQL commands that create user-designed data models; this system is automated for greater ease of use – the heavy in-database work is done in the background so users don’t need deep coding skills to generate some sophisticated analytics reports.

To be sure, now that it is being absorbed into the ecosystem of Google software, the company will get a big boost – yet it’s unclear how the product itself will change.

3) Dundas

Key Insight: For those companies seeking in embedded analytics deployment, Dundas could be a top choice.

Founded in 1992, the Toronto-based Dundas has garnered a handful of industry awards as a provider of business intelligence dashboards. It offers the ability to embed customized data analytics dashboards; indeed, a good portion of the company’s sales comes from embedded BI. Its open API connection are a core element of this.

The company has made some key upgrades in recent years, including a NLP functionality, and Linux support. To better serve the market for dashboards – which favors ease of use highly – Looker also added easy click data trend tracking. Its in-memory engine should improve speed and efficiency.

The company is well regarded for client support. New users can learn from the user community that Dundas nurtures. It has a well developed list of partner alliances. Most impressive, Dundas enables users to create advanced, personalized data portraits from a blank slate – which can then be built into cloud or on-premise applications.

4) Yellowfin

Key Insight: Although Yellowfin is not a household name, it has an impressive enterprise client list and its products offer top functionality.

The Yellowfin dashboard is part of an browser-based BI solution for creating data analytics visualization. It offers some advanced functionality, including enhanced augmentation, data prep, and, the ability to automate data alerts using machine learning. For an international audience, the dashboard offers natural language generation in a number of languages.

The dashboard can combine data and text into a single coherent portrait to put the results of a given query into a large context. To fill out these portraits, Yellowfin can draw content from the popular Microsoft Power BI, Qlik or Tableau. Indeed, Yellowfin’s dashboard can combine automated analysis and data-based storytelling in displays that update in real time. Updates in 2020 include a new REST API and a code-mode for dashboards (this enables developers to extend dashboards).

5) Microsoft

Key Insight: Even among the top dashboard vendors, Microsoft is arguably the leader.

Microsoft offers such a dominant dashboard solution that it is essentially the default choice for business users. Moreover, the company’s Power BI solution is reasonably priced at $10 per user monthly; additionally it is bundled in a version of Office 365, which means that a large swath of enterprise users already have it.

Add these factors to the enhanced functionality of Power BI and it’s clear why the analytics tool – excellent for tracking metrics and KPI’s of all description – is used by so many users. It features automated machine learning tools and AI-fueled functionality. It can analyze and create visual narratives around image and text data. The interactive dashboard is a mature tool that benefits from Microsoft’s longstanding expertise in enterprise development.

Filling out the picture is the depth of the Azure cloud offering, which Power BI integrates with and greatly benefits from. Naturally, Microsoft (for competitive purposes) only offers the solution via its own cloud platform.

6) Tableau

Key Insight: Already one of the most popular analytics dashboard, Tableau’s acquisition by Salesforce should improve it still further.

As the Tableau dashboard program grew in marketshare and sophistication, it caught the eye of some bigger players. Consequently, Tableau was acquired by Salesforce in 2019. It’s no surprise that the Tableau dashboard is favored by users: its eye-catching, interactive dashboards are packed with data from many sources, from KPIs to intense cross-referenced metrics. It’s likely that the Tableau dashboard visual displays are among the most compelling in the sector.

The Tableau portfolio is well regarded for its governance capabilities, in which the company has invested significantly. To prepare the data to be consumed in a dashboard, Tableau boosted the toolsets in Tableau Prep. These tools and the advanced functionality of the platform has made Tableau a favorite of the enterprise crowd. Its new owner, Salesforce, will almost certainly continue to invest heavily in furthering the sophistication of the Tableau dashboard.

7) Zoho

Key Insight: If you’re looking for an option that is very user friendly, Zoho could be a top choice.

In the world of data analytics dashboards, there tends to be a choice between deep complexity, allowing the most complex of reports, and ease of use, which allows solid functioning without any training in data science. Zoho comes down squarely in the ease of use camp. Along those same lines, it's competitively priced in comparison to other top choices in the dashboard sector.

Additionally, Zoho is known for solid customer support. Users report reaching out to tech support and expecting an answer in a timely manner.

While Zoho has many of the features that tech-heavy dashboard leaders like Tableau have, the platform isn’t likely to satisfy the most demanding data scientist. To be sure, some users have wished for greater ability to drill down in chart, and for more advanced options for dashboard layout. Still, Zoho offers a full compliment of KPI widgets, graphs and visual themes to create a compelling narrative around your data story – without requiring an enterprise budget.

8) Information Builders

Key Insight: A sophisticated enterprise-level platform that supports a dashboard geared for advanced queries from data scientists rather than non-tech business users.

Founded in 1975, Information Builders has a long legacy in the dashboard analytics sector. The list of high end reporting functions supported by the Information Builders dashboard is substantial. These include augmented analytics, boosted by AI; embedded analytics, in which a white label version can be placed in an application with great flexibility; distributed analytics, which allows a team to distribute a dashboard or interactive report across the company; and federated analytics, which enables a dashboard to connect to a exhaustive array of data sources.

All of this adds up to a dashboard designed for large enterprise users; the emphasis is on sophistication, not ease of use, so ideally a company that selects Information Builders has a team of data scientist or other specialists trained in analytics. To modernize its offering, Information Builders has refreshed its user interface; clearly, given today’s emphasis on ease of use (as more staff gets access to dashboards) this was key. Additionally, the company has focused on a strategy that’s geared toward microservices – which should speed its processes.

9) IBM

Key Insight: For a large enterprise with a team of data scientists, the IBM Cognos dashboard can be an excellent fit.

The Cognos dashboard enables enterprise teams, working collaboratively, to build upper-level visualizations of business metrics. Users don’t need to be coding pros or known SQL  to create a dashboard, yet Cognos is for professionals, not casual users. To its credit, a Cognos dashboard can be built by a user with mid-level data skills, then share that dashboard with a data scientist for a more in-depth treatment.

IBM has shown signs of real commitment to its analytics dashboard solution. To a platform that already had augmented analytics and enterprise-level reporting, it added the Cogno Analytics and Planning Analytics toolset. That allows a greater capability for a data scientist to query with a hypothetical scenario. Additionally, IBM’s acquisition of Red Hat helps Cognos; the company unveiled an offering that employs the Red Hat OpenShift platform.

10) ThoughtSpot

Key Insight: Capable of processing large data sets, ThoughtSpot is a data workhorse.

The ThoughtSpot dashboard is not known to be particularly complex or visually compelling. But the company works to balance ease of use with sophisticated data storytelling. ThoughtSpot does this by offering an interface that allows user to employ multi-variable, sophisticated queries, and then boosts the results with AI augmented analytics. In a neat touch, ThoughtSpot users can use speech or text to enter their queries.

To drive these queries, ThoughtSpot enables large data sets to be crunched. The company’s analytics allows users to spot relationships, and possible discrepancies without advanced technical skills. An array of alerts can be set up to automate various processes. Not surprisingly, this combination of ease of use and in-depth analytics has earned ThoughtSpot an impressive array of customers, from RBS to OpenTable to Walmart.

Best Dashboard Software: Additional Market Leaders

ClicData

Geared for the SMB market, the ClicData solution is used to create BI visualizations based on a wide array of variables, from sales commission fees to inventory costs. The focus is on ease of use, and its connects with sources ranging from Dropbox to Google Analytics.

BOARD

The BOARD dashboard, available on-premise or cloud-based, allows users to fashion reports from business metrics, KPIs, and performance trends. Special feature: BOARD has a cross-cultural menu of languages so reports can be distributed to teams and customers across the globe.

Klipfolio

If there’s a favorite form or style that that a busy professional wants to see their business performance dashboard in, it’s likely available in Klipfolio: pie charts, colored scatter maps, tables, and more. To make these charts, Klipfolio offers pre-built templates. Additionally, the dashboard is updated in real time for the latest data visualization.

Grow

In an effort to expand market share in the rapidly growing SMB sector, Grow offers unlimited users for a select account level. Connecting data sources from a long list that includes Twitter, Salesforce and MySQL, Grow allows users to mix and match data points in a way that fits their business’s performance KPIs. Multiple data sources can be filtered and combined to create a unified report.

Best Dashboard Software: Vendor Comparison Chart

Company

Key Products

Differentiators

Cost

Domo

 

·  Domo

 

·   Intuitive user interface

·  Pricing available upon request

Looker

·  Looker

·   In-depth analytics in a real time dashboard

·  Pricing available upon request

Dundas

 

·  Dundas BI

 

·   Strong in embedded analytics

·   "Adaptable pricing that fits users needs"

Yellowfin

 

· Yellowfin Suite

·   Advanced functionality, including data prep

·   $50 per month, per user

Microsoft

·   Power BI

·   Leverages the powerful Azure cloud platform

·   Power BI Pro is $9.99 user/month

Tableau

 

·   Tableau Creator


·   Compelling visual display in dashboards

·   $70 per user per month

Zoho

·   Zoho Enterprise


·   Known for ease of use

·   $35 per user per month

Information Builders

·   SAS Viya

·   Embedded analytics in an enterprise dashboard

·   Pricing available upon request

IBM

·   Cognos

·   Very well suited for professional users

·   Cognos Analytics On Demand is $15 user/month

ThoughtSpot

·   ThoughtSpot

·   In-depth analytics


·   Pricing available upon request



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