5 Enterprise Reporting Software Tools (+ How to Choose One)enterprise-reporting-software

The right reporting tool will help you analyze large amounts of data more efficiently as your business grows. Here are the top five tools we recommend.

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by Matias Emiliano Alvarez Duran

01/02/2023

Enterprise reporting software opens a window to the key performance indicators (KPIs) of your business so you can get actionable insights and easily forecast scenarios. 

Without a reporting tool, you’ll end up relying on the data engineering team and overwhelming them with daily requests that stop them from completing other important tasks. Instead, you could have direct access to dashboards that answer your most urgent and frequently asked questions.

Here are the top five reporting tools for enterprise and our tips for choosing the right option for you. Spoiler alert: if you’re thinking about creating custom reporting software, we’ve included a solution for you too.

Table of contents

Ready to build your own custom software with a team that cares about you and your processes? We’re not code monkeys, we care about you

What to look for in enterprise reporting software

Researching new software for your business can get old pretty fast. Eventually, all tools start to look the same.To be in the best position to scale with your enterprise software, look for a tool that’s secure and has a shallow learning curve. 

Here’s everything you need from your next enterprise reporting tool:

1. Connectivity to different data sources 

A reporting tool centralizes all of your business data in one place. So you need your enterprise software to connect to your multiple data sources at the same time. Before you research different tools, list all the different databases. servers, tools and 3rd party APIs that you need to connect to. For example, you might need a tool that can retrieve data from SQL and no-SQL databases, or you might want to plug it into your customer relationship management (CRM) through an API connector.

2. Robust security features

Enterprise-level software security is especially important when you’re searching for a reporting tool as it’ll have access to all of your company’s data. Granting access to the wrong one might make you vulnerable to a ransomware attack—which could cost you millions of dollars to get your data back. Look out for these security characteristics:

  • Single sign-on (SSO) to ease user authentication and integration with your organization.

  • Multi-tenant or granular access security so you can determine specific permissions for each unique user.

  • User-specific data sources to allow certain queries or database access depending on the user.

  • User privilege parameters to control user-specific permissions per report database (row-level security).

3. Powerful reporting functionalities

Each business intelligence or KPI dashboard software will come with its own ad-hoc reporting capabilities. The best features for enterprise reporting software are:

  • Drill-downs and drill-throughs. These allow you to access hidden data from the main dashboard by clicking and scrolling down or clicking and opening more information in a different tab.

  • Filters. This feature lets users change the variables and review different correlations between their data in the same dashboard. 

  • Chart zoom. This functionality is basically like zooming in on a particular data set. For example, let’s say you have a graphic showing your historical sales in Michigan. It shows data starting in 2002 up to now. If you want to review a particular month in 2021, you can use this feature to zoom in on March 2021 and see the detailed sales information during that time.

  • Custom fields. A crucial feature to look for in enterprise reporting software is the ability to add and customize your cells and calculations. This means you can create custom formulas and correlations easily without needing to write an SQL query. 

  • Data maps and interactive diagrams. You want your reporting software to let you edit and make custom connections with your data. You can do this by editing the data maps and creating interactive diagrams where you can choose which links you want your data to have.

  • Dynamic text boxes. Dashboards need to be visual. You should be able to see your most important metrics at-a-glance. Dynamic text boxes allow you to highlight relevant metrics that may not require a graphic or visualization. For example, you can create a text box to share your always-updated cash flow instead of adding a trend chart to show the fluctuation over time. 

4. Shallow learning curve

Some reporting software has a steeper learning curve than others. It doesn’t necessarily make one better than the other. However, if you need to start using it right away without much intervention from your data engineering team, you should pay for one that’s easier to set up and use. Some reporting software is no- or low-code, but others require a lot of coding background and SQL knowledge. Keep this in mind when you’re choosing one for your business.

5. Excellent performance

Pay attention to user reviews and performance reports from other enterprise-level companies. Since these tools manage a ton of information, they can become slow or buggy for enterprises as the data may be too large for them to handle efficiently. Make sure you choose software that  supports large-scale data processing so your reports can grow with your business.

You can either host on your servers or use a cloud-based platform that accesses your data directly rather than making a copy of it—this makes the app more lightweight and efficient.

Go for enterprise reporting software that has most of the mentioned characteristics. Price is also important, but you shouldn’t make it the decision-maker.

5 Best reporting tools for enterprise

An enterprise reporting tool should be suitable for the size of your company and your internal analytics needs. These are the five we recommend:

  1. Sisense

  2. Mode

  3. Tableau

  4. MicrosoftPower BI

  5. Looker Studio

1. Sisense 

Use Sisense to review your business's most important KPIs at a glance. Source: Sisense.com

Sisense is an enterprise reporting software that uses predictive analytics and machine learning to forecast future scenarios based on historical data. It connects to over a hundred data sources of any form: applications, cloud data warehouses, or files (Excel and .csv). 

Sisense doesn’t make a copy of your data, but accesses it directly from the source, which makes it more lightweight. This tool also allows you to add data from different sources and merge them using Elasticube.

Best features 

  • Highly secure. Sisense approaches security from three different perspectives: users, data, and platform. It allows you to regulate user access and permissions and secure data access and assign row-level security. It also lets you do session management, white list domains, and use secure socket layers (SSL).

  • High performance. This platform is mostly known for processing large amounts of data at a fast speed. It can process 10 terabytes of information in 10 seconds due to in-chip analytics. 

  • Powerful dashboard capabilities. Sisense comes with a large library of data visualization options for you to tell your business story. It also comes with templates that you can use right off the bat.

Main drawbacks

  • Steep learning curve. You need SQL knowledge to use their Elasticube technology to merge datasets and to set some front-end customizations. But, once you do that, reporting with Sisense becomes relatively easy as the interface is highly intuitive.

  • Pricey. According to user reviews, Sisense is a costly solution. Pricing isn’t disclosed on its website, but this seems to be one of the biggest drawbacks. However, if you’re basing your business decisions on the data that comes from these tools, you can’t go for the cheapest solution as the data might be outdated or inaccurate.

Pricing

Sisense offers a free trial but doesn’t disclose prices online. However, some users have shared their quotes online showing that they set prices based on: 

  • Annual contracts

  • Hosting type (on-premise or the cloud)

  • Number of users

Rating: 4.3/5

Sisense is rated 4.3/5 stars on G2.

2. Mode

Mode has a strong filtering feature that allows users to review different data segments in the same dashboard. Source: Mode.com

Mode is an enterprise reporting and dashboard software that allows users to create powerful data visualizations in a few minutes. This is a great tool for companies of all sizes. It mixes SQL, Python/R notebooks with powerful and interactive dashboards.

Best features 

  • Shallow learning curve. Mode claims that it takes less than an hour to create a metricsdashboard that leads to actionable insights.

  • Customizable features. This software lets you add calculated fields to reuse and create custom formulas. It also lets you customize your graphics and visuals as you’d like. 

  • Secure platform. Mode is a secured platform and meets GDPR, HIPAA, CCPA, and AICPA/SOC requirements.

Main drawbacks

  • Lacks some automation. Users need to run queries to get the most up-to-date data as it doesn’t happen automatically in real time. 

  • Time to load. Some users say that Mode takes longer than expected to get answers to their queries, especially when managing large files. 

Rating: 4.5/5

Mode is rated 4.5/5 stars on G2.

Pricing

Mode doesn’t disclose its prices online but you can get a free trial on its startup plan. 

3.  Tableau

Tableau offers one of the largest visualization suites in enterprise reporting software. Source: Tableau.com


Tableau is an analytics platform for creating business intelligence (BI) interactive reports. It’s owned by Salesforce and uses its own programming language called VizQL. This tool connects to databases and servers and allows you to merge them by creating relationships between them.

H4 Best features 

  • Large visualizations library. Tableau is a reporting software that offers a wide variety of visualizations that exceed regular bar graphs and interactive tables.

  • Dual hosting options. If you use Tableau, you can choose to use the cloud-hosted version or the self-hosted one. That means you can control where you want your data to be located. 

  • Customizable security. This platform lets you customize your security preferences. You can configure your authentication, data security, and network security to your needs.

Main drawbacks

  • Speed and performance. Tableau will process extremely large datasets but it’ll take time (around 2 mins per drag-and-drops) if your information isn’t properly organized in a workbook. Hosting your information on internal servers streamlines this process.

  • Learning curve. It can be easy to use Tableau’s basic functionalities. However, if you want to create custom complex queries, you’ll need to have some SQL knowledge. 

Rating: 4.4/5

Tableau is rated 4.5/5 stars on G2.

Pricing

Tableau defines the price per user and varies depending on where it’s hosted. 

  • $70 per month per each “creator” or admin (same for cloud or self-hosted)

  • $12 to $42 per additional user per month (varies depending on cloud or self-hosted)

These prices are based on the annual subscription.

4. MicrosoftPower BI

The Power BI desktop solution has a similar toolbar to Excel or other Microsoft Office products. Source: PowerBI.microsoft.com

Power BI is a reporting solution that uses DAX as its proprietary formula and natural language query builder. It’s owned by Microsoft, so the interface will feel intuitive if you’re familiar with Office products. Power BI connects to multiple datasets at the same time and can be hosted in the cloud or on-premise as an open-source solution.

Best features 

  • Large suite of visualizations. Power BI has an intuitive drag-and-drop interface that lets you create hundreds of different visualizations. 

  • Highly secure. This platform is encrypted end-to-end, monitors access in real-time, lets you configure roles, and assign granular access permissions. 

  • Connections. Power BI can use data coming from API connections, CSV files, spreadsheets, Google Analytics, Salesforce, and multiple other data sources. 

Main drawbacks

  • Performance. The on-premise version of Power BI can feel slow when analyzing large databases. The cloud-hosted version is slightly faster but it’s paid. 

  • Steep learning curve. Similar to Tableau, Power BI is easy to use at a basic level and when creating dashboards out of templates, but you’ll need someone with coding knowledge to fully understand DAX and build custom queries. Also, if you choose to use the open-source version, you’ll need IT to help you set it up.

Rating: 4.5/5

PowerBI is rated 4.5/5 stars on G2.

Pricing

Power BI offers a free open-source version that you can host on-premise. To pay for the cloud-hosted version, you can pay for a number of data capacities. Prices for this version vary from $9.99 to $20 per user per month. Pricing if you opt for capacity starts at $4,995 per month.

5. Looker Studio

Looker Studio (formerly Google Data Studio) is a great free reporting software solution. It lets you create interactive dashboards using different data sources. Source: Cloud.Google.com

Formerly known as Data Studio, Looker Studio is a Google interactive reporting solution for businesses that use the Google Workspace suite. We use Looker Studio at NaNLABS because it’s easy to use and lets us automate using Apps Scripts—which also integrates with all other Google products.

Best features 

  • Ease of use. Looker Studio is easy to connect to different data sources and create advanced reports using powerful visualizations. 

  • Security. This tool comes with great authorization granularity as it uses the same Google user directory.

  • Price. This is a free tool for all Google users, and while it might feel limited to non-developers, at NaNLABS we code custom scripts for any automation that we can’t find. 

Main drawbacks

  • Limited features. If you’re not tech-savvy or a developer you can find this tool lacking in functionalities and automations.

  • CSV size limitations. Looker Studio isn’t suited for company-wide access to a central database. It’s more useful for departmental use or for smaller businesses. 

Rating: 4.4/5

Looker Studio is rated 4.4/5 stars on G2.

Pricing

Looker Studio is free to use, you only need to have a Google email account. 

Buying existing reporting software vs. developing a custom solution

Deciding whether to buy existing off-the-shelf reporting software or develop a bespoke solution isn’t necessarily a tough decision. There are enough great solutions on the market that most businesses won’t need to go down the custom enterprise software development  route. 

However, for some companies, the benefits of custom enterprise software are undeniable. Here’s our advice.

Off-the-shelf software will do the trick if you…

  • Will only use it internally for reviewing analytics, forecasting scenarios, and making decisions

  • Only need to answer simple queries or queries with some level of complexity that can be solved with an SQL script

  • Will find it more cost-effective in the long run, as these tools can get quite pricey as your business users increase.

You need a custom solution if you…

  • Have specific queries that you can’t answer with a simple SQL script

  • Have specific security requirements and need to have the data hosted in your servers and without third-party dependencies

  • Will sell it as part of your software as a service (SaaS) tool. For example, if you sell a CRM platform that comes with an analytics dashboard module, you should build your own internal product. The same applies if you’re selling a BI dashboard tool as software.

How to build custom software without the in-house talent

If you want a custom reporting module for your enterprise, but don’t have the in-house capacity or expertise, then you should consider team augmentation or software consultancy services with an agency like NaNLABS. 

The same applies if you have some in-house expertise, but it’s in regular software development vs enterprise software development. When you partner with NaNLABS, we’ll integrate fully with your team to make sure that you benefit from our experience and Agile development practices.

"
“NaNLABS is part of the team,” said the Chief Product Officer from a privacy management company. “They participate in my daily stand-ups, do scrum with us, and are part of our sprints. They're integrated into our team on a day-to-day basis.” Like we did for this client, we’ll handle the development, testing, and maintenance of your business intelligence software creation while keeping you fully involved.

We’ve built custom reporting modules for enterprise SaaS businesses before, like a cybersecurity company that analyzes an enormous amount of information and provides highly customized reports to its customers. When we build analytics dashboards, we usually build ETLs (extract, transform, load) to combine multiple sources of data into a single one that’s easier to query and consume. 

Then, we work on the data visualization using libraries such as HighCharts and D3.js in the front end. And we use these other tools when building enterprise application like embedded BI tools: 

  • For real-time data movement

    • AWS Glue

    • AWS MSK

    • Amazon Kinesis

    • AWS Database Migration Services

  • For analytics

    • Amazon Athena or Amazon Kinesis for interactive analytics 

    • Amazon EMR for big data processing 

    • Amazon Redshift for data warehousing 

    • Amazon OpenSearch Service for operational analytics 

    • Amazon Quicksight for dashboards and visualizations 

    • AWS Glue DataBrew for visual data preparation 

  • For data lake

    • Amazon S3, AWS Lake Formation for object storage 

    • Amazon S3 Glacier and AWS Backup for backup and archiving 

    • AWS Glue, AWS Lake Formation for data catalogs 

    • AWS Data Exchange for third-party data management

  • For predictive analytics and machine learning

    • AWS Deep Learning AMIs for frameworks and interfaces 

    • Amazon SageMaker for platform services 

Implementing an internal analytics tool is challenging, but it could enable your business to access a large set of data processing capabilities. This will improve the quality of the insights you gather from your information and improve your decision-making. 

Ready to build your own custom software with a team that cares about you and your processes? We’re not code monkeys, we care about you

Which enterprise reporting software is right for you?

Whenever you’re looking for business intelligence tools for your enterprise-level company, you should consider: 

  • Connectivity. Does it connect to your needed sources of information?

  • Performance. Will it support the size of your data analysis requests?

  • Security. Does it comply with your internal security guidelines?

  • Features. Does it empower your non-technical users and allow you to create user-friendly and eye-catching reports?

Our favorite off-the-shelf reporting system is Looker Studio, but if you have the budget, you could consider Sisense. It’s easy to use (for technical end-users), comes with an extensive visualization library, connects to multiple data sources at the same time, and it’s encrypted end-to-end. Plus, it processes large amounts of data in seconds. 

However, if you’re about to offer self-service reporting as part of your SaaS application, or you have strong security requirements, you should consider enterprise applications development with an agency like NaNLABS. We’ll work closely with your team to create a robust solution that you can scale and maintain in the long term.

Ready to build your own custom software with a team that cares about you and your processes? We’re not code monkeys, we care about you

Frequently asked questions about enterprise reporting software

What is enterprise reporting software? 

An enterprise reporting software is a business intelligence tool that lets you easily create reports so your stakeholders can have a visual representation of your business insights in a snapshot. 

What are the benefits of enterprise reporting software? 

There are several benefits to enterprise reporting software, some include:

  • Giving you visibility of your business's most crucial performance metrics at-a-glance

  • Shortening the data-driven decision-making process

  • Empowering decision-makers to forecast scenarios through the interactive dashboards

  • Reducing time spent on manual reports

What’s the difference between enterprise and non-enterprise reporting software? 

The difference between enterprise and non-enterprise reporting software is the size of the data that the platform can handle and the ability to connect to multiple data sources at the same time. The first one suits big companies; while the second one is better suited for smaller businesses.

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