Business intelligence is rapidly becoming the latest must-have technology for competitive companies. Through BI tools, businesses can find out what's working (and what's not) in various areas, improve profits, decrease operating costs, and increase customer satisfaction.

As with any hot new technology, there are countless vendors out there competing for your business. Which companies provide the best software for business intelligence? Let’s take a look at some of the top providers.


The company behind Java, the global standard platform for network applications, offers a comprehensive suite of BI tools that is, not surprisingly, fairly easy to integrate with any existing system. Oracle solutions are suitable for businesses of all sizes.

Oracle's BI applications include an enterprise suite, as well as individual analytics for financial data, human resources, procurement and spend, supply chain and ordering, sales, service, contact center, and marketing. They also offer foundation products like Business Intelligence Answers and Real-Time Decisions.

Why choose Oracle?

  • Widely established and respected vendor
  • A market leader in data warehousing tools
  • Oracle's Siebel Business Analytics platform was recognized by Gartner as among the most visionary BI platforms on the market
  • Seamless integration with existing databases
  • Offers both on-premise and hosted solutions

IBM Cognos

Another technology heavyweight, the IBM Cognos 8 business intelligence system offers a range of powerful tools for reporting, analysis, dynamic business intelligence, score carding, and personal information. A trusted data source, IBM's BI tools bring ease of use through operational, tactical, and strategic dashboards.

Some of the key strengths of Cognos 8 include:

  • Affordability, particularly for mid-sized organizations, with a single web-based solution that consolidates every phase of the reporting lifecycle, with highly adaptable outputs
  • A full range of BI capabilities that facilitate inter-company data sharing, with data drawn from all enterprise sources
  • Strong OLAP (online analytical processing) functionality
  • Capability to perform complex analysis quickly and intuitively


We expect that no one is surprised to find Bill Gates' mega-corporation on the list. Since so many businesses rely on Microsoft solutions for daily use, and as a nearly universal document exchange format, it makes sense for Microsoft to provide BI tools that are compatible with its other products.

Dynamics GP Business Intelligence solutions from Microsoft feature activity monitoring, business insight, budget, forecast and planning tools, and Microsoft FRx for financial reporting.

Microsoft's highlights for business intelligence tools:

  • Ranked among the leaders in Gartner's 2008 Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms
  • Built on widely used and user-familiar Microsoft technologies, and highly attractive to companies that already use Microsoft standards
  • Backed by an extensive network of indirect sales, service channels, and application developers


This up-and-comer in business intelligence is well-suited for small- and mid-sized businesses. Qlick uses open information architecture to support a wide variety of information formats, making data broadly available at affordable prices.

Most of Qlick's business intelligence tools are highly customizable, enabling users to set report scheduling and distribution that's formatted specifically to their business needs. Qlick applications feature a patented in-memory analysis structure for multi-dimensional “slice and dice” analysis, without relying on OLAP -based BI.

Some highlights for QlickTech:

  • High scores in customer satisfaction
  • Affordable for any size business, with a fully functional free trial and 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Rated as a visionary in Gartner's 2008 Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms

An extended list of contenders

Hundreds of software vendors are offering BI tools in an already crowded market. Some of the other forerunners on the BI front include VAI's S2K Enterprise, SAS Business Intelligence, Information Builders, MicroStrategy, Actuate, SAP AG, JasperSoft, and Pentaho.

With all this competition, businesses can only benefit from BI tools that are aligned directly with their needs. You can find any level of customization your company requires to help you gain a competitive edge.

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