Business intelligence () and analytics platforms are a staple of informatics for medium to large businesses. Visual-based data discovery has been a key component of since about 2004; this trend has moved the responsibility for analytics from IT to self-service by business analysts and managers, with support from data scientists and database administrators. The emphasis of has changed from generating monthly reports from the system of record, to interactively discovering and sharing trends, forecasts, and answers to business questions based on data from a variety of internal and external sources. Instead of needing months to make a decision, businesses that have adopted self-service visual data discovery can often decide on a course of action in a few days.

How does one choose a self-service BI platform? Mostly, you want to find the platform that is the best fit for your company, both from the point of view of the users and from the point of view of the IT infrastructure.

Does the BI platform match the skills of the people who will use it? Can your people learn and use it easily? Does it make analysts’ jobs easier, or does it create more barriers than it destroys?

Is it able to read all of your internal and external data sources? Can you easily clean and transform your data within the platform? Is the platform able to display all the charts you require? Can you share your analyses with anyone in the company, or only with licensed users?

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