The data revolution is already upon us. The role of big data, data science, and open data in economies is as crucial as ever. It has led big corporations, businesses, and companies to utilize Business Intelligence tools to analyze data and present it in a precise and readable format.
The information is essential in product development, marketing strategies, and competitor analysis. In essence, Business Intelligence tools with reporting capabilities are critical for gaining a competitive edge.
The article reviews some of the best open source Business Intelligence software you can use for data analysis and generate reports whether you are getting started with your business or are an established entity.
What is business intelligence software?
A Business Intelligence software is a platform with specialized tools to extract relevant information from data to present helpful information. These software programs provide typical analytical, reporting, and management tools to give information on your brand, project, competitors, market demographics, online engagements, or your company.
There are many commercial Business Intelligence software that you can use by purchasing a license or paying a subscription or a service charge. However, the Linux community also provides many enterprise-level Business Intelligence platforms that are open source and are available for free.
Top open source business intelligence tools
BIRT (Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools) is an open-source BI suite from Eclipse. It is written in Java and is licensed under the Eclipse Public License. It was launched in 2004 is the most used open-source business intelligence software. It is used by some large corporations globally, such as IBM, Cisco, and S1. It receives development funding from IBM, OpenText, and Innovent Solutions.
BIRT features an elegant, user-friendly interface making it a leader and an industry standard. It is an embeddable tool that you can use o generate different comprehensive reports such as text, graphs, and various charts. Although it is designed to create intuitive reports, it includes data analysis functionality and presentation in a grouped and logical way. It can perform multiple functions such as summing, totals, and percentages.
- It features a visual report designer for creating BIRT reports.
- It features data access and scripting tools.
- A runtime environment to generate embeddable reports.
- It features an advanced chart engine for chart design and viewing.
- You can embed and integrate it with other web applications and JAVA?JAVA EE to create riveting reports.
2. Jaspersoft BI Tools – JasperReports Server
The Jaspersoft Community BI tool is a robust Open Source Business Intelligence software program available for free. Tibco launched it in 2014 to provide interactive reports and analytics. JasperReports Server software is an embeddable suite that can embed well in mobile or web apps and is the most embeddable BI platform. The suite comprises several tools, each with unique features. The tools in the suite include the following;
- JasperReports Server
- Jaspersoft ETL
- Jaspersoft Studio
- JasperReports Library
Among these, JasperReports Server is one of the key BI tools in the suite.
- JasperReports Server is a standalone reporting server you can use to create unique web-based reports.
- It features an intuitive user interface.
- You can customize the user interface with parameters such as colors, fonts, lines, logos, spacing, and image elements according to your brand.
- It provides a simple, drag-and-drop, self-service platform suitable for any user to create reports, dashboards, and visualizations.
- It supports Ad Hoc reporting with a web-based, drag-and-drop designer to create interactive reports for dashboards, web apps, or email.
- It features an advanced recurring scheduler to efficiently configure, distribute, and schedule reports and dashboards.
- It includes the Jaspersoft community, where you can share your queries, ideas, and other discussions.
Pentaho is a designated Business Intelligence tool created by Hitachi. One of the most interactive Open-Source BI software provides data analysis and integration to create logical reports through data visualization. Pentaho is offered in two different editions. The Pentaho Enterprise Edition is a subscription-based program that includes slightly more features than the community edition. The Pentaho Community Edition is an open-source business intelligence software with all the necessary features and options to create comprehensive analytic reports.
- You can generate output in multiple formats, such as Excel, PDFs, and HTML.
- It provides OLAP Analysis.
- It includes ETL, Data Mining, and metadata.
- It features advanced reporting.
- It features advanced dashboards to design and view reports.
- It is highly customizable through coding.
- It includes Pentaho’s CTools that let you create personalized dashboards and visualization.
The Pentaho Community Edition includes an extensive portfolio of tools such as;
- Data Integration
- Business Analytics Platform
- Schema Workbench
- Aggregation Designer
- Schema Workbench
- Report Designer
- Meta Editor
- Hadoop Shims
Although the Pentaho Community Edition features somewhat complex UI and programming tools, Pentaho’s community forum is always available to engage, ask questions, and discuss with other users and developers.
KNOWAGE is a modern open-source BI software developed by the Source Competency Centre of Engineering Group. It is one of the best open-source BI tools for reporting, data mining, and creating charts. The software boasts several analytic functions to create advanced visualization in reports. KNOWAGE Server is the most important module of this software. It includes the analytical model that fulfills the analytical requirements and the behavioral model that moderates the end-user roles for visualizing data.
- It features an elegant graphical interface.
- It features an OLAP engine for multidimensional analysis.
- It provides data mining, data analysis, and documentation.
- It features advanced dashboards.
- It allows users to combine data from different sources, including traditional RDBMS, NoSQL, big data, Solr indexes, open data, files, or external data services.
- It supports KPIs definition and monitoring.
- It features advanced reports and graphs, including Geo-referenced reporting and ad-hoc reporting.
- You can embed KNOWAGE with other third-party platforms.
- It supports ETL/EII Processes.
- It provides smart filters and real-time consoles.
- It provides various administration functionality such as user profile management, menu management, monitoring and audit, and subscription management.
- It supports the import and export of different file formats.
- It features a scheduler.
- It supports customization capabilities and allows high autonomy to the end-user.
KNIME (Konstanz Information Miner) is an inclusive open-source business intelligence software developed as an integration platform to create analytical reports. KNIME provides many components that are required for data mining and machine learning. Predominantly, this business suite includes two different programs; KNIME Analytics Platform and KNIME Cloud Analytics Platform. It prides itself as an end-to-end data science platform that helps you make better business decisions.
- It includes over 1000 modules to facilitate the data scientists and analysts.
- It includes several instant examples of analyses, a comprehensive toolset, and a range of algorithms.
- It allows you to perform multivariate analysis and data mining.
- You can extend its functionality using extensions from KNIME, its community, or partners.
- It is suitable for data scientists and experts who work with R, Python, or any predictive machine learning tools.
Note that KNIME is a specified software that may not be easy for beginners or apprentices.
ReportServer is yet another free and Open-Source Business Intelligence platform, with a commercial edition available. ReportServer is based on Java and runs on Apache Tomcat, Wildfly, and other Java application servers. It provides a native installer and cloud and virtual images for Linux, OSX, and Windows utilizing the Bitnami ReportServer Stack. The software is licensed under the AGPL.
A unique feature of the software is that it supports unlimited users. So, in essence, you can add as many users here as you want without worrying about any subscription plans.
- It allows you to integrate various BI reporting tools into a single user interface for convenience.
- You can integrate with BIRT, JasperReports, and SAP Crystal Reports.
- It enables you to apply several analytical tools to your data.
- It supports dynamic lists.
- It features interactive dashboards.
- It includes graphic reports and several report variants.
- It features extensive user management capabilities.
- It supports different data sources.
- It includes several managements tools like report management.
- It features the TeamSpaces component that supports communication.
Moreover, it has a dedicated community forum to ask queries, discuss, and get answers to your problems.
7. Seal Report
Seal Report makes into our list of free business intelligence software. It is another excellent BI tool for creating elegant reports and dashboards from any database or No SQL source. It is written in C# and developed for the Microsoft .NET Framework. You will be particularly impressed by its user-friendly dashboards and interactive reports.
- It supports dynamic SQL sources.
- It supports HTML 5 charts.
- It includes the Razor engine for HTML rendering.
- You can create and display your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in a single report.
- It supports LINQ queries that allow you to join and query different data sources such as SQL, XML, Excel, Mongo DB, HTTP Json, Olap Cube, and more.
- It supports native pivot tables.
- It allows the creation of charts in Microsoft formats.
- It includes web report servers.
- It features an advanced task scheduler to manage report executions and generate results in folders, SFTP server, FTP, or send them by email.
All these features interact to create interactive, comprehensive, easy-to-understand reports generated with minimum effort.
8. Zoho Reports
Zoho Reports also makes it into our list of free Business Intelligence software. It was created to help the business community by providing analytical dashboards and data reports. You can use it to analyze any data and create useful visual reports. It is best for telling stories.
- It supports data integration from over 250 data sources, including files, web URLs, feeds, business apps, and databases.
- It can automatically detect the data types.
- It allows you to manage your datasets by categories, data quality, custom tags, data readiness, and more.
- It features ML/AI-powered tools such as sentiment analysis, keyword extraction, language detection to transform and enrich your data.
- It provides built-in connectors to sync, connect, and unify data from over 50 popular business apps. Moreover, you can auto-sync in hourly intervals.
- It provides unlimited cloud storage with no restrictions regarding file size.
- It allows you to perform real-time data analysis.
- You can generate unlimited dashboards and reports.
- It is very extensible, allowing developers to create custom analytics apps.
On the downside, the software only allows two users at a time. Nevertheless, you can pay a subscription fee to add more users (but it will not be free then). Although Zoho Reports has a limitation of two users with its free version, it remains a better choice for real-time data analysis or when you want to generate unlimited reports and dashboards.
RapidMiner is yet another free and open-source BI software and is one of the leading OSBI tools. It provides many features required by data scientists for data mining and business analysis projects. It is a fully transparent end-to-end platform to perform data preparation, modeling, and deployment. The RapidMiner Community Edition is the free edition. It provides the RapidMiner Server, RapidMiner Studio, and RapidMiner Radoop tools.
- RapidMiner is an ideal tool for data scientists, with many of them endorsing it for its efficiency in data analytics.
- It features a simple expression editor to blend multiple datasets and create new columns.
- It is seamlessly integrated and optimized for building ML models.
- It supports interactive data exploration to evaluate its completeness, health, and quality.
- RapidMiner Server gives you up to 2GB free storage capacity.
10. Advanced Reporting Tool
Advanced Reporting Tool (ART) is a lightweight Java-based system that you can use in any modern browser. Its initial release was in 2013, and it started receiving regular updates and upgrades from 2017. Its design aims to deploy SQL query results quickly. However, you must download and run Java in your system to run it.
- It includes a JDBC driver for MongoDB and JSON files from its 2020 update.
- It features drill-down reports.
- It allows users to generate tabular reports, dashboards, and charts.
- It supports the scheduling of reports.
- It provides OLAP/ Analytics.
- It supports alerts and notifications.
- It supports dynamic data sources and dynamic job recipients.
- It is simple to install, administer and use.
- It is multilingual and is available in several languages.
11. Tableau Public
Tableau Public is free Business Intelligence software to create interactive charts and live dashboards. You can then publish them on the Internet, share them on social media, or embed them on a website.
- You can customize your charts for different displays like desktop, mobile devices, or tablets.
- You can connect it to Google Sheets.
- It allows you to create interactive visualizations easily.
- It provides access to an extensive library of data visualizations, including over 1 million user-generated possibilities for you to explore.
- It allows you to auto-refreshed your data once per day.
12. SQL Power Wabit
In 2008, SQL Power Group open-sourced Wabit. Wabit provides a framework for OLAP analyses and ad-hoc queries. Its designers aim to create a simple and intuitive BI Reporting tool on the market. It also works seamlessly with several database platforms.
- It features a drag-and-drop interface.
- It supports Ad-hoc Queries.
- It supports the creation of real-time reports and dashboards.
- It features custom dashboards and different chart types such as Line, Bar, and Pie Charts.
- It allows users to tap streaming data to create real-time dashboards.
- It allows drag-&-drop of source database tables into the platform.
- Use the Database Definitions to formulate required joins automatically.
- You can auto-create SQL queries without any coding.
- It makes it easy to generate, format, modify and customize standard reports using a button.
- It allows users to customize standard reports into multiple sections, assigning a different Query to each report section.
- It features a community edition that is free to deploy.
13. Microsoft Power BI
Microsoft offers a free version of its Bussiness Intelligence suite known as ‘Power BI.’ Microsoft Power BI is a cloud-based service that allows 1GB of data storage per user and once-per-day data refresh schedule.
- It features a user-friendly and interactive user interface.
- It features simple tools that are easy to use even if you have little to no coding experience.
- You can enter your data in simple English without learning any coding and programming.
- You can connect it with several online platforms to fetch the data.
- It uses connectors and pre-installed dashboards to analyze your data and present visually creative reports by connecting with Google Analytics, Salesforce, and many more.
- It is best for creating informative and creative reports.
- It provides a dedicated Power BI app that you can download and install.
Microsoft Power Bi is an ideal tool for users with little to no coding or programming experience.
My list of free, open-source business intelligence and reporting tools provides rich feature sets at the enterprise level. Any of these tools can significantly benefit your business or projects. Still, differences can be found in report presentations or the availability of a report server, integration with machine learning, availability of cloud storage, or availability of cloud images or virtual machines. And whether your presentation focus is web or print, you should look for a solution that works for you and fits your need.
Have you used any of these tools? What was your experience like? You can share your experience or suggest another tool in our comment section.