business intelligence

What to look for in a business intelligence (BI) platform

Every company today, regardless of size or industry, can drive better performance by leveraging business intelligence. That’s why business intelligence (BI) platforms have moved up the ladder in terms of priorities for chief data officers looking to build data-driven organizations. 

Put simply: Without BI Platforms, the value of data goes to waste. That means unhappy customers, inefficient supply chains, wasted spend, and unrealized potential.

As businesses become more data-driven, these powerful tools are essential for organizations to make better decisions and produce higher levels of efficiency, accuracy, and profitability. Put simply, the business intelligence benefits are limitless.

But what exactly is a business intelligence platform? Why is this technology that’s been around for decades getting fresh attention? And what do companies need to look for in these platforms if they want to make well-informed decisions backed by real insights?

What is a business intelligence platform?

A business intelligence (BI) platform is a suite of tools and applications that enables organizations to analyze data and uncover insights that can be used to fuel decision-making. By using a business intelligence platform, companies can  discern and address areas of strength and weaknesses, identify trends in the market as they arise, and optimize operations to drive a more efficient, profitable business. With a BI platform, especially as part of a modern data stack, organizations have the information they need to make more informed decisions that result in improved efficiency and better outcomes.

Top 5 benefits of a business intelligence platform

BI platforms benefit businesses in multiple ways. Most BI platforms today also allow users to create data visualizations, such as bar charts, histograms, and other types of graphs, to make it easier to understand. Modern BI platforms have taken these capabilities much further, making these data visualizations interactive, so users can endlessly drill into the data without requiring pre-built paths. The most valuable of these platforms not only make these visualizations interactive, but enable everyday business users, not just data professionals, to find their own insights with self-service business intelligence.   

With the right BI platforms that democratizes insights, organizations can reap multiple benefits.

1. Increase operational efficiency: 

Every iota of efficiency helps businesses today; using data is essential to driving this efficiency. A modern BI platform enables organizations to quickly identify gaps in performance and areas of improvement, allowing them to optimize their processes and increase efficiency. By empowering teams to find their own insights into how different areas are performing, organizations can make adjustments as needed to streamline operations.

2. Gain a competitive edge: 

As countless research studies show, companies leading with analytics are outperforming their lagging peers. By enabling every user to find and act on accurate data and insights with the right BI platform, organizations can gain a competitive edge in their industry. By utilizing data to identify trends, anticipate customer needs, and have a better understanding of the market, businesses can make more informed decisions that give them an advantage over their competitors.

3. Improve decision-making: 

For modern companies, every decision counts. We’ve moved beyond the years where planning happened centrally on a quarterly basis. Business intelligence tools provide reliable insights into performance metrics and trends that enable effective decision-making. When these tools can be used by everyone, not just data professionals, intelligence can be infused into decision-making across the company. This helps everyone, from frontline workers managers to executives make decisions based on accurate data rather than relying solely on gut feeling or intuition.

4. Enhance customer experience: 

With so many different touchpoints, many of them digital, companies have the opportunity to understand customers in a far more nuanced, meaningful way than ever before. By understanding customer behavior, businesses can create a better customer experience by providing personalized services that are tailored to their needs. That requires insights that BI tools can provide. They can also enable organizations to track customer feedback, allowing them to quickly respond to any issues and improve the overall customer experience.

5. Identify opportunities for growth: 

With markets quickly moving, opportunities quickly arise - but also disappear. BI platforms provide a comprehensive view of the market, allowing organizations to identify ways to improve products or services, such as by adding embedded analytics, and capitalize on new paths to growth. It also helps them better understand their customers’ needs, which can lead to more effective marketing strategies that result in increased sales.

Common business intelligence (BI) platform use cases

With the right BI platform that expands access to information, organizations can unlock the value of their data and achieve greater success than ever before. Here are just some of the common use cases for a business intelligence platform.

Sales and marketing: 

When customer, sales, and marketing data is analyzed in a BI platform, organizations can better segment customers, understand purchasing trends, create efficient marketing campaigns, and optimize pricing and promotional campaigns.

Customer intelligence: 

Customers today have more power to choose the products and brands of their choice, which means companies need to deliver bespoke, custom experiences if they want to delight customers. By tracking customer behavior and feedback, organizations can gain better insights into customer needs and preferences. This helps them provide more personalized services and enhance the overall customer experience.

Financial analysis: 

With a modern BI platform, businesses can monitor their financial performance in real-time to identify areas of improvement or potential opportunities for growth and improve margins. It also enables them to generate accurate financial reports for external stakeholders like investors and creditors.

Risk management: 

Often, avoiding risk as an organization requires analyzing and understanding dangerous trends quickly, before they evolve into real problems. Organizations use BI tools to identify and monitor potential risks that could have an impact on their business. By providing insights into areas of vulnerability, businesses can take proactive measures to reduce the likelihood of any negative outcomes.

Supply chain optimization: 

Every business today has become a global business. Supply chains are no different. While these supply chains present opportunity, they require optimization and resilience. Companies use a BI platform to track inventory levels, supplier performance, and other supply-related data. This enables them to identify inefficiencies in their supply chain and make adjustments as needed for improved efficiency.

What to look for in a business intelligence (BI) platform

BI platforms have been around for decades, yet data leaders continue to cite low adoption of analytics and data maturity. Luckily, new breeds of BI platforms have emerged that drive more business impact, spread data literacy throughout an organization, and empower users to leverage data to drive decisions. 

When evaluating a BI platform, organizations should consider several key factors to ensure that they select the right one for their needs.


As data explodes and companies embrace cloud data platforms like cloud data warehouses and data lakehouses, it’s critical your BI platform can handle these data volumes. Choose a BI platform that can scale with your business and your data as it grows. It should be able to easily integrate with new data sources, analyze this data granularly instead of in aggregations, cubes, or summaries, and accommodate additional users without sacrificing performance or speed.

The apps that thoughtspot syncs with.


Cybersecurity remains a key data priority for organizations, which makes sense given the potential risk associated with any data breaches. Look for a BI platform that offers robust security features to protect sensitive data from unauthorized access and malicious attacks. It should also have an effective audit trail for tracking user activity. Ideally, your platform has strong data governance, enabling you to control which user has access to what data, all the way down to the row and column level. 

Ease of use

BI platforms for years have promised to democratize data by boasting the ease of use of their technology. When selecting a BI platform, especially if you are thinking about self service analytics, ask yourself ‘who is this product self-service for?’. Select a BI platform that is intuitive and easy-to-use so that anyone in the organization, including business users, can quickly learn how to use its features without any prior experience or training to answer their own data questions using search and AI. In doing so, you’ll increase the ROI of your analytics investments while freeing up your data team to work on more strategic projects. 

See how companies are generating 289% in ROI and $6.3M in value with ThoughtSpot’s BI platform


Consider the cost associated with implementing and maintaining a BI platform. Look for one that offers value for money without sacrificing features or performance. SaaS BI platforms offer exceptional value here, as they are managed by the vendor, with customers getting updates and new features as soon as they are available.


While many users use BI platforms to answer data questions and find insights,  they can also be added into existing products, applications, and services. With embedded BI, users can find insights directly in an application or product without having to change workflows. This can also be used to build stickier product experiences, delight users, and monetize data. 


Pricing is a critical consideration for businesses with any technology purchase, including BI platforms. Look for BI platforms that offer you choice when it comes to pricing, including consumption based pricing. Historically, BI platforms have charged on licenses; unfortunately, this means business intelligence software often becomes shelfware. With consumption based pricing, you only pay for what you use. 

See how companies are paying for value with consumption based pricing from ThoughtSpot.


With the right data strategy in place, your business will be in a position to grow. Choose a BI platform that is priced for what you need today, but flexible enough to accommodate changes in your organization’s requirements and grows with you over time. This will ensure it remains relevant and useful in the long-term.

See how upstarts and growth companies can take advantage of special pricing with ThoughtSpot for Startups

By understanding these key factors, organizations can make an informed decision when selecting a business intelligence platform—one that will help them unlock the power of data and achieve greater success.

How to implement a BI platform in your organization

Once you’ve selected the right BI platform for your organization, the next step is to implement it. Here are some tips to help you do this successfully:

1. Create a data management strategy

Develop an effective data management strategy that outlines the goals and objectives of your BI project, as well as how it will be implemented. This should include setting up processes for collecting, storing, and analyzing data from both internal and external sources.

2. Identify stakeholders

Identify all key stakeholders who will be involved in the implementation process, such as IT personnel, analysts, and decision-makers. Make sure they are all on board with the project and understand their roles within it.

3. Train users

Provide comprehensive training to all users so they are familiar with the BI platform and know how to use its features effectively. This will help ensure a successful implementation.

4. Monitor progress

Once the platform is in place, it's important to monitor its effectiveness and make sure it meets the needs of your organization. This includes tracking user adoption, usage trends, performance metrics, and other data points that will help you assess whether or not the platform is meeting your expectations.

5. Support staff

Designate dedicated support staff who can assist users in solving any issues or queries related to the BI platform. This will ensure any problems are quickly addressed and resolved, minimizing disruption to operations.

Do you have the right BI platform in your data stack?

The right business intelligence platform is an important tool in the arsenal of any successful organization. It offers many features that are essential to optimizing operations, such as data analysis and visualization capabilities. The key to selecting the best BI platform lies in thoroughly evaluating which ones fit your company’s needs best and will enable the greatest ROI from your investments while driving adoption and impact. 

With ThoughtSpot's revolutionary AI-Powered Analytics, you get an easy-to-use interface so nontechnical users can find and act on insights, as well as advanced platform technology with robust features like data governance and data modeling. Sign up for a free trial today and see what makes ThoughtSpot the most powerful BI platform for cloud data.