Business intelligence tools: Choosing the right BI product

There are loads of business intelligence tools out there on the market today. Our business intelligence expert provides some valuable resources for choosing the right BI product.

I recently read that half of all companies surveyed by Gartner plan to buy business intelligence (BI) tools in the coming year. My company is one of them! Can you give us some basic pointers on selecting BI products? Also, can you comment on any specific vendors/products out there?
It depends what you mean by business intelligence tools. There are several categories of BI tools such as data access tools, database management systems, extraction-transformation-loading tools, analytical applications, data modeling tools, data mining tools, data visualization tools, etc. Tools from several categories are needed to produce a business intelligence environment.

If you don't have current investment in these business intelligence tools, you might consider one of the handful of "framework" approaches to BI that minimizes the number of vendors you need to deal with but yet provides you access to everything, or most everything, you'll need.

There are a few buyer's guides out there for data warehousing on the web such as the one at ( buyer's guide/Data Mining & Warehousing) that should provide you a starting point. If you're a member of Gartner or Meta, you can utilize their research or have access to their analysts. DM Review magazine has tool reviews in each issue and at their website at

Choosing a business intelligence tool can be a minefield. I would highly recommend the services of someone experienced in BI that can do a quick study of your needs, recommend a short list (or final recommendations) and a process for selection that may include an RFI and/or in-house testing.


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