With the increasing scale and critical influence BI can have on an organization, I consider support and account management to be of key importance. Functions and features don't matter a bit if the tool doesn't perform in your environment. When something fails, you want someone to be accountable and to provide a solution. Anecdotally, some vendors seem to fare better with this in part because of their business models, and in part because of lower employee turnover. Unfortunately, there's no objective guide that rates the vendors on support. (A Zagat Guide for BI would be good, wouldn't it?) As you evaluate the tools, assess if you can work with the BI vendor over the long term.
TABLE 2 Scorecard comparing architectures and market strategies of several BI suites.
The Best BI Tool
If you analyze each of the scorecards in theses seven reviews, you'll notice that no one vendor is particularly superior in all functional areas. Study those green scores well and leverage them in your own deployment. Conversely, be aware of the red scores and plan your implementation accordingly. In this respect, there isn't a single best BI tool in the market, but rather, a best fit for your company and particular deployment goals. Other products not included in this series may have best-of-breed functionality in particular functional areas. As I'm able to give you a similar apples-to-apples comparison for additional products, watch for future articles and details on www.biscorecard.com. Ultimately, the best BI tool isn't determined by market share or by who has appeared in this series. Instead, it's the one that most effectively enables users to fulfill their business goals!
Cindi Howson is the president of ASK, a BI consultancy. She teaches TDWI's "Evaluating BI Toolsets," publishes BI reviews at biscorecard.com, and is the author of Business Objects: The Complete Reference (McGraw-Hill Osborne Media, 2003).
Earlier installments online at IntelligentEnterprise.com: