3 Best Free & Open Source BI Tools For SME Business Intelligence

Published on 20/07/2020 by Anna Hammond

Business Intelligence (BI) tools first appeared in the 1960s in their initial form of decision support systems (DSS). Compared to other software solutions, BI tools have undergone extensive development. 

Best free open source BI tools for Australian SMEs
Businesses worldwide are discovering the benefits, value and wide range of applications of high-performance BI software. According to Statistics, the global BI market will reach about $41 billion by 2022, with an 11.1% CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate). Gartner reports that in Australia, companies will spend over $1.3 billion on business intelligence and analytics software in 2020, up by 13.8% from 2019.

The factors driving growth are the increased use of data analytics and high dependency on data in making strategic and operational business decisions. Open-source business intelligence tools help users upload, visualise and make business decisions based on information pulled from different sources. The software is free, customisable and offers a secure environment for confidential and sensitive data. 

Read on to find out about the benefits of using BI tools for small businesses and discover the three best free open-source BI tools based on our criteria (available at the bottom of this page.).

Why use business intelligence in a small business

For decades, BI has been considered the domain of multinational enterprises (MNEs). BI software has helped large organisations leap forward in market responsiveness, while small businesses often assumed BI solutions were too advanced or too costly for a company of their size. Thanks to technological advances, small businesses today can enjoy the benefits of the best free open-source BI tools. 

To help you understand why business intelligence is required, here’s a list of the top advantages BI tools provide:.

Smarter decisions

Small organisations are investing in BI solutions to increase their revenues, strengthen their competitive edge and improve the decision-making process. Small companies aim to make better decisions in the marketing, sales and customer-service segments to become more profitable.

Visual representations of data

Managers and executives can make smarter decisions by visualising historical and real-time data and dashboards, including insights on performance, percentages and comparisons. BI tools save time across all departments such as marketing, sales, IT and finance as they automate repetitive tasks.

Actionable and predictive data

BI dashboards and solutions deliver clear and direct metrics. They provide easy-to-absorb visual information such as charts, graphs and maps. BI predictive software helps small businesses anticipate their customers’ wants and needs. Companies can develop strategies to meet the market’s demands. BI tools offer instant access to product inventory, production costs and the evolution of sales projections.

Improved collaboration

Transparent collaboration is essential to all businesses, especially to small organisations. BI tools allow teams to access and share up-to-date and real-time insights and data between departments or within the same department.  

How does business intelligence work?

Business Intelligence software converts data and analytics into actionable insights, which deliver relevant information for tactical and strategic decisions. BI software accesses, aggregates and analyses data, and delivers reports, graphics, dashboards and charts to users with detailed information about the status of the enterprise. The tools deliver insights about the state of the business based on historical and real-time data.   

Best free & open-source BI tools

For an increased ROI (Return on Investment), organisations must apply BI tools across all sectors, such as sales, IT, marketing, customer service and finance. Departments can link their data sources to deliver the most relevant insights and information. When searching for the best free open-source BI tools, consider the main features such as data visualisation, integrated data sources, collaboration support and live dashboards. 

Here’s a list of the best free and open-source BI tools available. We’ve rounded up the top three BI solutions in Australia in 2020 based on a detailed methodology, which you’ll find at the end of this article.

1.  ActivTrak

ActivTrak dashboard BI tool
ActivTrak’s main dashboard for business intelligence and analyse (Source)

Overall rating: 4.6/5

Ease of use: 4.6/5

Customer service: 4.6/5

ActivTrak is a flexible and versatile BI solution backed by Elsewhere Partners. It’s a workforce analytics and productivity program, which allows companies to track their employees’ performance. ActivTrak is a free platform, which delivers insights and relevant data on teams ranging between 5 and 1,000 members. The software is made for small to medium-sized companies. The tool can be deployed via the web, cloud, and mobile.

Features include:

  • Activity dashboards;
  • Activity tracking
  • Automatic notifications
  • Real-time reporting and business intelligence
  • Reporting & statistics
  • Data leak prevention, threat detection
  • Employee monitoring, productivity reports, productivity tracking & monitoring
  • ROI analytics, real-time data, security event log, usage reports.

Price to upgrade: USD$9 per user/monthly to access the full suite of powerful features. Customisation is available upon request.

Free version: Available.

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2.  New Relic

New Relic open source BI tools

New Relic’s business intelligence dashboard (Source)

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Ease of use: 4.5/5

Customer service: 4.2/5

New Relic is a free monitoring tool, which helps users track the availability and health of SaaS, Web and mobile applications. The software provides insights across all app components such as the code, the user’s browser and the server infrastructure. You can dive deep and run SQL-level diagnostics to identify performance issues or code problems. The tool is available in desktop and mobile versions and it’s designed for small, medium and large organisations.

Features include:

  • Apdex Score
  • App availability tracking, notification and alerting
  • App typology mapping
  • Availability, deployment and scalability reporting
  • Custom dashboards
  • Platform plugins
  • Real-user breakdown by browser, web page and location
  • SQL performance insights
  • X-ray for business transactions.

Price to upgrade: USD$29/monthly.

Free version: Available.

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3. ClicData

Clicdata dashboard
ClicData financial reporting dashboard (Source)

Overall rating: 4.6/5

Ease of use: 4.3/5

Customer service: 4.7/5

ClicData is an intuitive and dynamic BI tool, which offers a range of graphics and widgets to help small, medium, and large-sized businesses make smart decisions. With automatic updates and high-performance report sharing features, businesses can increase their productivity and profitability. You can reach across the enterprise’s data landscape for the most relevant insights. The tool is available in desktop and mobile versions.

Features include:

  • Access control
  • Accounting integration
  • Activity tracking and reporting
  • Automatic notifications
  • Budget control
  • Business analysis
  • CRM integration
  • Charting
  • Cost analysis
  • Dashboard creation
  • Inventory optimisation
  • Real-time data and monitoring.

Free version: Available.

Price to upgrade: USD$25/monthly.

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Exploring the benefits of BI tools for SMEs 

Business intelligence software offers massive value to small businesses in terms of helping managers, executives or owners make smarter decisions. Through this, they can drive growth and increase the enterprise’s profitability. The best free open-source BI tools help organisations monitor and interpret data across different departments to ensure high performance and seamless business operation. 

Are you looking for business intelligence software? Check out our catalogue.

Methodology:

The tools selected for this list were taken from GetApp’s website, and had to meet the following criteria:

  1. A high number of reviews
  2. A high search volume (using SEO tools) in Australia
  3. Overview rating of 4.5 stars minimum
  4. A free or open-source version available
  5. At least 4 stars for its features, ease of use and customer service
  6. An Australian market.

This article may refer to products, programs or services that are not available in your country, or that may be restricted under the laws or regulations of your country. We suggest that you consult the software provider directly for information regarding product availability and compliance with local laws.


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