Best Cloud BI Vendors for Small and Medium Sized Businesses

dashboard-mobileYurbi is a great solution for many small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), but we realize it isn’t the right fit for everyone. For example, on occasion we’ll start talking to a potential customer and realize they have specific business needs that a Could business intelligence (BI) solution will serve best. Because Yurbi isn’t a Cloud BI tool (at least per the definition we outline below) we’ll offer to direct them to Cloud BI solutions that might meet their needs. -And when we do, they’re not only surprised that we’re willing to talk about other BI products, they’re also shocked that we’re knowledgeable enough about Cloud BI solutions to make recommendations. But the way we see it, whether it’s Yurbi or not, helping businesses find the right BI tool is our goal and part of our commitment to Customer Success.

If your SMB is considering a Cloud BI tool, or if you’re not sure if Cloud BI is right for your organization, you’ll find this article helpful. We encourage you to read and share!

What do we mean by Cloud BI?

Ask a room of technical types what constitutes a “Cloud BI vendor” and you’ll get a number of different answers. That’s because there is no hard-and-fast definition of a Could BI vendor. For the purposes of this article, we’re referring to Cloud only BI vendors. In other words, we’re covering BI vendors whose primary focus is on delivering business intelligence solutions through the Cloud, and not a hybrid version of managed hosting of an existing on-premise solution.

Not only do the businesses we’re spotlighting market themselves as offering Cloud BI, they also pitch that they cater to the needs of small to medium-sized businesses. So, you won’t find business intelligence solutions like IBM Cognos and Oracle BI listed below, because they are priced and designed as traditional enterprise solutions.

What do we mean by small to medium-sized business?

We’ve outlined what we mean by “Cloud BI vendors,” but it’s also important you understand what we mean by small to medium-sized business. We are not defining SMB by revenue or employee count. In this article, we’re talking about a group of users that ranges from about 5 to 150 people. The group can comprise the majority of workers in a small business, or a team or unit within a medium or large business.

Why Yurbi isn’t on our list of the best Cloud BI vendors.

On occasion, we talk with business leaders who aren’t clear about the difference between Yurbi and a Cloud Business intelligence (BI) solution. Although from an interface perspective Yurbi is a 100 percent web-based business intelligence solution and it can be installed on a Cloud server and has the data level security to provide multi-tenancy, we don’t consider Yurbi as a “Cloud BI” solution, and we don’t market it as such.   Yurbi is a great choice for Software Vendors or Agencies that want to embed or OEM a BI solution into their existing Cloud solution but right now our focus is on making great software, not managing Cloud infrastructure. Therefore, this article won’t discuss Yurbi.

Click here to download “Business Intelligence Buyers Guide (Part 1)”

Use cases of small to medium businesses

The SMBs that might consider leveraging a Could BI vendor we’re featuring will generally have one of the following use cases:

  1. Your data sources are overwhelmingly in the Cloud.

    These SMBs have a Cloud first mentality; their data sources and core applications are Cloud-based. For example, they might use Google Analytics, Zendesk for their help desk, or Salesforce for their customer relationship management.

  2. You don’t want the technical burden or expense of managing BI in-house.

    Maybe some of their data is in the Cloud, and some or nearly all of it is inside their network. Either way, these SMB view a Cloud solution as a cost savings opportunity. Rather than pay someone with the technical skills to manage an on-premise BI solution, they’ve chosen to use a Cloud-based solution.

As you review our list of the best Cloud BI vendors for SMBs, keep in mind that we’re giving you a high-level overview of what each company has to offer. We encourage you to do your due diligence before you invest in a Cloud BI solution.

Best Cloud BI Vendors for SMB

Microsoft Power BI

{Updated Feb 2016}

We didn’ initially include Microsoft Power BI in this article because Power BI was released in July 2015 and this article was written before that.  But thanks to a commenter on this post we are happy to add it.   Since it’s preview release in 2015, Microsoft has made numerous improvements to Power BI to make it a real force in the Cloud BI market  (as well as their free version for desktop users).

If you are a heavy Microsoft shop or have a user base of Microsoft Excel power users then Microsoft Power BI may be the best option for you.  It’s very affordable (at $9.99 per month per user),  it integrates very well with the entire Microsoft stack from SQL Server to Azure,  and it has a nice set of visualization and dashboard output types.

Plus Microsoft is investing time and resources into this product. Though the product doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles that other BI products on the market have, it doesn’t mean that more advanced features won’t be available in the future.

Looker

{Updated Feb 2016}Headquartered in Santa Cruz, California, Looker was founded in 2011 and has received $16 million in venture capitalist funding.

Headquartered in Santa Cruz, California, Looker was founded in 2011 and has received $96 million in venture capitalist funding ($48mil in Jan 2016). We used to say that Looker was a solid option for SMB with the second use case listed above.  However, recent information provided by an evaluator of Yurbi vs Looker informed us that a 10-user license of Looker cost $3000 per month.  In the words of that user that put it out of reach for them, even though the technology was extremely modern and nice.

What you can expect from Looker: attractive dashboards, lots of drag and drop functions, and connectivity to a variety of data sources. Looker can connect to databases behind your firewall in your network, as well as Cloud-based databases you might use- for example, Google Big Query, and Amazon Web Services.

Chartio

Chartio is a Cloud BI vendor that’s been around for about five years. The San Francisco based company has received four rounds of funding, that totals nearly $7 million.

Chartio is similar to Looker in that they focus on connecting to on-premise databases as well as cloud-based databases. They have also dabbled a little in offering prebuilt connectors to other Cloud-based products, such as Salesforce and Google Analytics. Like Looker, Chartio is a good option for SMB that don’t want the technical burden or expense of managing BI in-house.

It’s also important that you know that although neither Looker nor Chartio publishes their pricing on the web, we feel confident that both are price aligned to the Medium-sized market. They aren’t as affordable as Yurbi, Microsoft Power BI, or a few other BI solutions, but they’re not as pricey as Tableau or QlikView either.

Sisense

{Updated Feb 2016}

Sisense is another Cloud-based BI solution to be considered.  Added to the Gartner Magic Quadrant for BI and Analytics Platform in 2016,  Sisense has a great set of features including, interactive dashboards, connectors to both on-premise and web-based data sources, and the ability to handle large data sources very efficiently.

One caution for small business is the cost,  a recent evaluator of both Yurbi and Sisense commented their starting price point was 5 users for $21,000, which represents a sizeable increase from their earlier price models.  However, this is not completely unexpected with the amount of VC funding they have recently gathered ($50 million round in Jan 2016 for a total of $94 million raised).   When VC’s put that amount on money on the table they expect a big return.

If you are more of a medium-sized business with the money and the technical expertise to set up the Sisense ElastiCube data model,  you may find Sisense an excellent option for your business.

Bime

{Update:  BIME was acquired by ZenDesk in Oct 2015.}

Bime is a French-based company which was founded in 2009. So, it’s been in the Cloud BI space longer than Looker or Chartio.

Due to the fact that it was founded more than six years ago, it makes sense that Bime’s initial focus was on providing connectivity to Salesforce and SasS based websites. Over time, Bime began to offer connectivity to powerhouses like Google Analytics, Zendesk, and QuickBooks. Today, Bime also connects to Cloud-based databases such as Amazon Redshift, Google BigQuery, and HP Vertica.

What primarily differentiates Bime from Looker and Chartio is that Bime not only services in-house databases such as SQL and Oracle and a number of popular Cloud-based databases, it also offers connectivity to Cloud-based services such as YouTube, Gmail, Dropbox, Google Drive, and more. In short, Bime has adapted to Cloud BI’s changing landscape and its reach is very broad. Getting all of this connectivity from one product is valuable to an SMB working with limited resources.

We were impressed to find that Bime publishes their pricing, and it’s reasonably affordable for SMBs. Bime starts at $490 per month.

Grow

Based in Provo, Utah, Grow is a new entrant into the Cloud BI space. In fact, Grow just launched in January 2014. Grow markets itself as providing “Simple BI Dashboard software for small and medium businesses,” and we think there’s a good chance it will be successful in the SMB niche.

Grow offers particular value for SMBs that use Cloud services extensively, such as the first use case we outlined above. That’s because Grow integrates with over 140 Cloud-based companies- reaching far beyond the basics like QuickBooks and Salesforce, Grow connects with many other SMB friendly tools, such as Asana and MailChimp.

Grow requires less expertise than Looker, Chartio and Sisense, giving business users the power to pull data from sources like spreadsheets, DropBox, and Facebook, into dashboards and reports. It’s important to know that Grow provides pre-built metrics and dashboards- so the user doesn’t have to create them, but on the other hand that means the user can’t produce highly detailed or customized reports, or drill down into data. But if you’re an SMB looking for high-level information, Grow has a lot of potential.

Another plus: It’s affordable. When Grow launched, they published their pricing, but they have since removed it. However, based on our internal information we believe its price was (and likely still is), lower than other Cloud BI vendors listed here.

Klipfolio

Klipfolio has been in the BI space since 2001, and in 2011, it converted to a Cloud BI solution. Klipfolio is an option for small to medium-sized businesses that fall under the cloud-only type of use case mentioned above, or those SMBs that want to upload spreadsheets or data via Excel, CSV, TXT and more. It offers connectors to a wide variety of sources, including all the big players like Salesforce, Dropbox, Google Analytics, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Klipfolio advertises pricing starting at $24 per month, per user. However, just last month they received $6.2 million in venture capitalist funding, so we expect that Klipfolio’s price may go up to cover the cost of sales, marketing, and engineers. On the plus side, it’s a good bet that their product features will likely improve.

Runners-up: Three more companies SMBs may want to consider for Cloud BI

The three products listed below offer many features a Cloud BI solution should bring to the table for SMBs, and they market to SMB, but we feel they are cost prohibitive for most SMBs. However, if your SMB has the budget, these products are worthy of consideration.

Domo

{Updated April 2016}

You can think of Domo as a combination of Bime and Grow. Like Bime, it connects to on-premise databases, and similar to Grow it offers pre-programmed widgets.

Domo doesn’t post its pricing, but from what we’ve been told, it starts at about $3000 per user, per year and typically won’t engage in contracts that are less than about $50,000. Plus, from what we’ve researched, Domo charges hefty professional services fees ($25,000 implementation fees and up). {Update: Domo has released a public pricing page, read about it here}

GoodData

GoodData has enjoyed much success in the Cloud BI space, but SMBs that are considering it should be aware of two possible drawbacks: complexity and price.

GoodData offers an array of powerful and complex functions. While that’s a plus for organizations that need it, it’s a drawback for many SMBs because its complexity means it requires developer expertise. So, although GoodData is easier to leverage than traditional BI products, it’s not business user-friendly. We don’t have exact pricing for GoodData, but word on the street is it is more expensive than any of the Cloud BI vendors we recommend for SMBs.

Salesforce Wave

Salesforce Wave is a business intelligence power player that’s making a name for itself in the SMB Cloud BI space, but we feel it’s currently may be priced out of reach for most SMBs. {Update: the price is coming down, so we may move this above the fold as we learn more.} To learn more about the pros and cons about Salesforce Wave, read this Straight Talk Review.

Bottom Line: Best Cloud BI Vendors for Small and Medium Sized Businesses

Your use case and budget should be primary factors when considering any type of BI tool, whether it’s a Cloud-based or traditional one. You’ll also want to get familiar with the level of support the vendor provides, as well as the costs associated with implementation and training.

That said if your small to medium-sized business fits one of the two use cases we described at the beginning of this article and your budget can absorb the cost, then one of the Cloud BI solutions we’ve reviewed might be a good fit for your organization.

Click here to download “Business Intelligence Buyers Guide (Part 1)”

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