by Matt Mullarkey-Toner
Published on 6 March 2017
Here's the reality: as time progresses, your company will have more granular access to trackable data. Whether that's from sales, web traffic, or any other bit of quantifiable information, it's a good idea to make sense of it. In fact, your competitors are going to analyze their data to improve their business - so it's important you do the same. But don't worry if you are dataphobic because here are some of the top data visualization apps on the market that can help you out.
Data visualization software is designed to help you make sense of all that juicy company data in a simple way. These apps help you quickly visualize and share your data, allowing you to make meaningful observations about trends and activity within all aspects of the business.
In this article, we'll cover some of the best data visualization apps on the market based on user reviews from GetApp, SoftwareAdvice, and Capterra. Each app has been divided into three sections - key features, selling point, and price - to give you an overview of each product.
Although it's a business intelligence app, Tableau is famous for its data visualization. Its "vizzes" (what Tableau calls its visualizations) are often used by news organizations as well as educational institutions. Features include an extensive data import/export option, embeddable dashboards, advanced security permissions, and metadata management. It also has a user-friendly mobile app that makes it easy to access and view your vizzes.
Tableau lets me easily create dashboards to track my recruiting metrics. I took a simple intro class and was up and running in no time, without too much practice or experience. I am now able to create clean and insightful visualizations for presentations or reports on a continuous basis.
A data visualization using Tableau
There are mixed reports regarding the ease-of-use in Tableau; it depends on how deep and advanced you want to go with your vizzes and dashboards. It's a good idea to start simple with your visualizations, and eventually add more detail as you understand the app and data better. Capterra user Dave Davis writes:
Even the Google Datastudio team use[s] Tableau, that says it all. Tableau is the industry standard for a reason. Incredibly steep learning curve but the connectors (anything with an API) as well as custom data source support are beyond compare. No other competing product comes close. If you can master the art of creating visualization notebooks with Tableau, you'll become a lynchpin in your organization.
Tableau can be pricey for a small business. Licenses start at $500 per user per year. However, if your organization has someone comfortable with BI tools or data visualization and it can afford Tableau, it's worth going for. Aaron Marshburn, Capterra user writes:
While some consider their pricing to be expensive given the glut of "competing" BI platforms on the market, Tableau is consistently a leader in the space and ideal for companies who aspire to make their culture more data-driven.
It's worth keep an eye on pricing or you can make the same mistake as Capterra user Hasnain Milwalla's company. He writes:
Their license is a tad expensive as compared to like PowerBI from Microsoft so be careful if you buy it you use it. My company bought a bunch of licenses that we didn't utilize enough so tread carefully.
If you love (or are at least used to) the look and feel of Microsoft products, then Microsoft Power BI is worth checking out. It's a powerful tool that integrates well with other Microsoft products and has a staggering amount of capabilities. Some of these features include real-time dashboards, complex visualizations, and query data that uses natural language questioning.
Power BI also has a "publish to web" feature that allows you to quickly share a visualization across email and social media. Granted, you need to be careful when using this feature so that you don't accidentally publish sensitive data. Otherwise, it's a great tool for marketing campaigns or creative endeavors.
Microsoft Power BI
SoftwareAdvice user Juan Navarro writes,
I wasn't expecting to like tool as much as I did, I was able to create really nice visualizations and reporting based on simple spreadsheets and flat files that I have in a simple and fast way. If you are an Office user you will love this tool, clean interface with the look and feel of other Microsoft products that allow you to create dashboards from scratch easily.
Microsoft Power Bi is a part of the greater Office 365 family, but is also available on individual license. However, it's not worth spending much time getting into the nitty gritty of pricing - which can vary depending on your location and Office 365 plan- so just go check out the official pricing page.
Give it a try, it's free and well worth the time. It is an affordable end-to-end solution for your BI requirements. It is very visual and easy end-users / analysts to analyze data and create their own reports.
Chartio has some of the best options when it comes to data blending, which can make for some impressive visuals. Data blending is taking data from multiple sources and pulling it together for new insights. And Chartio can pull data from a lot of places including: PostgreSQL, MySQL, Amazon Redshift, Google BigQuery, Salesforce, Google Analytics, and Twilio.
SoftwareAdvice user Michelle Fox writes:
Chartio does a great job providing ease of use for both a technical and non-technical audience. The interactive mode makes it easy to pull and display simple data, and query mode gives the opportunity for more complex and custom queries. It is easy and quick to put together and customize dashboards. Chartio also very easily connects to many types of data sources and even allows for CSV uploads. It is an affordable product that provides a significant amount of value for the money.
Capterra user Peter Smith writes,
I have only tried a handful of data viz tools, but that's because I stopped looking after finding Chartio. I had bad experiences with their customer service - good luck with them - but I didn't find their product too be affected. I still use chartio and doubt I will be switching anytime soon because it is so easy to run queries, see the data results visually, then drill down deeper.
Chartio offers a free 14-day trial and then you can talk a representative to figure out what plan works best for you.
Zoho Reports is a part of the greater Zoho family. Reports aims to be easy-to-use and affordable, which means you might not get as many options as you'd like with a more expensive option. It's drag-and-drop style means that you can immediately start creating visualizations without too much difficulty. However, if you are interested in using more advanced features and data analysis, Reports can still handle it.
Capterra user Paul Cheek writes,
My experience has been great with Zoho Reports. I started as a free trial customer with extensive SQL experience but very little business intelligence / data analytics background. As a small company we quickly outgrew the free trial and the pricing tiers were perfect…good job setting it up to get us to convert to a paid subscription!
We have a non-traditional setup (we use MongoDB) as we do not have a SQL database but your upload tool was a great way for us to sync our database with Zoho. This upload tool is a feature that many of your competitors do not offer - a great selling point. I now feel very, very comfortable handling requests for data insights from our customers and investors with the combined drag and drop and SQL-style queries provided by Zoho.
GetApp user David Drew writes, "We have been using Zoho Projects and Zoho Reports for over a year now and our experience has been nothing less than amazing. After searching around for a month, we decided on Zoho due to the great reviews, unbelievable features, and low cost. All I can say is, wow. The synergy between the various apps places them way ahead of the competition. You can waste your money on more costly solutions that deliver half the features that Zoho has, or you can give them a shot. There's not much to lose with a free trial. I can brag about Reports all day but it's best experienced."
It's a bit tricky to fully explain the pricing structure for Reports because it's based on the number of users as well as the number of rows used in your data. Reports is free for the first two users, but then starts at $50 for 5 users and 500,000 rows. Just check out the pricing page to figure out what works best for you.
This is just a small selection of the apps out there in the data visualization wilderness. It's worth your time to look around and find an app that conforms to your tastes in design or data management. A good place to start is with a comparison of all the apps listed in this article, and following that up with a look at our data visualization category.