There are many great free Business Intelligence (BI) tools available, each with its own strengths. Here are a few popular ones and why they are noteworthy:

  1. Tableau Public
  2. MS Power BI Desktop
  3. Google Data Studio
  4. Metabase
  5. QlikView Personal Edition
  6. Apache Superset
  7. Acho

Sure, there are a lot of free dashboard tools online. However, few are truly great. When it comes to evaluating these tools, here are some strengths and weaknesses to each of them.

BI Tool Strengths Weaknesses
Tableau Public Intuitive interface, strong visualization, large community Limited data connections, data must be public, less functionality than paid version
MS Power BI Free Integration with Microsoft products, robust data modeling features, large variety of data connectors. Limited data capacity, less advanced features than the Pro version, can be complex for beginners.
Google Data Studio Easy integration with other Google products, user-friendly, good for ad-hoc reporting. Limited advanced analytics capabilities, can be less flexible for complex data operations.
Qlik Sense Desktop Strong data integration, responsive design, associative data modeling. Steep learning curve, limited sharing capabilities in the free version.
Apache Superset Good data exploration capabilities, supports SQL querying, customizable. Requires technical expertise to set up, less polished user interface.
Metabase User-friendly for non-technical users, good for SQL and basic analytics, open-source. Limited scalability, less suitable for complex data modeling.
Acho Good for SQL and advanced analytics, collaborative, and scalable for advanced interactions Learning curve can be steep for advanced functions

Even though many BI dashboards can be free, most may not deliver the level of BI reporting required to help you deliver impact and actually grow your business. Here's why we believe Acho's the best BI system for your team.

Data source connectivity

Most BI tools you run into would require a 3rd party ETL tool to connect with API data from applications. This can be an expensive option depending on your needs. Acho comes with a series of Self-service connectors for flat files, APIs, and databases so you can practically connect with any applications via APIs for free. Though it may take a bit of time to master, there are pretty good online tutorials for this already

Charting & Visualizations

You can’t call a BI dashboard builder good without good charting & visualization options. The problem with most BI tools is that their calculation methods can be very clunky and deterministic. In fact, AI is now intelligent enough to create detailed metrics through natural language as opposed to you having to learn a new language like DAX or a fixated workflow.

The charting itself has achieved “feature-parity” among most BI tools, what’s different here is actually how it “talks” to your data sources. Again the AI-powered semantic layer can help.

Again, the charting options are pretty easy to use. Coupled with the SQL and Metric node, you can perform some of the most complex calculations

Distribution & Deployment

I think one of the most overlooked aspects of BI dashboard is adoption and utilization. I’ve used Tableau my whole life and often find it to be more of a self-service desktop tool as opposed to as team collaboration tool. Often I find my dashboards to be sidelined or completely ignored by the users. Sometimes, it’s due to information overflow, lack of training, and misunderstood business requirements. Often it’s simply because it wasn’t easy to find. I think having user-specific roles and access would help users find and utilize certain dashboards.

Getting the users involved during the development process is pretty effective in my experience. When you invite them to a project before it gets released can really help your team iterate and strategize. I find myself relying on the collaborative environment for almost every BI dashboard project nowadays. I simply don’t want to go back to the old days of building everything on my own desktop and just have my app shelved into oblivion later on.

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