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What is a BI Platform and How to Choose One

by | Apr 5, 2024 | Business Intelligence

Today’s world is driven by data and businesses need effective tools to gather, analyze, and visualize their data in order to make informed decisions. This is where a business intelligence platform can help.

Key insights

  1. Empower everyone: A BI platform can democratize data, fostering a data-driven culture across your organization.
  2. See clearly, act confidently: A BI platform can give you a comprehensive view of business performance to identify trends, optimize processes, and stay ahead of the curve.
  3. Find the right fit: Consider factors like scalability, ease of use, and data management capabilities to choose a BI platform that meets your needs.
  4. Unlock the power of IBM i data: Consider LANSA BI, a robust BI platform designed to leverage the strengths of your IBM i investment.

What Is a Business Intelligence Platform?

A BI platform is designed to collect, integrate, and analyze data from various sources within an organization. A BI platform serves as a centralized hub for gathering and storing structured and unstructured data, enabling businesses to transform raw information into actionable insights.

A business intelligence platform leverages advanced analytics, data mining technologies, and visualization tools to uncover patterns, trends, and correlations that would otherwise remain hidden. By presenting data in an easily digestible format, such as interactive dashboards and reports, a BI platform empowers organizations to make data-driven decisions.

Why Are Business Intelligence Platforms Important?

In our data-driven world, using a business intelligence platform is more important than ever. A BI platform acts as the central nervous system of your organization, providing a unified platform to gather and analyze data from disparate sources.

The BI reporting features of a business intelligence platform democratizes data, making it accessible to a wider range of users across the organization. A BI platform fosters a data-driven culture where everyone can leverage insights to improve their decision-making.

Features & Capabilities of a BI Platform

A robust enterprise business intelligence platform does more than store data. An enterprise BI platform offers a comprehensive set of BI capabilities to empower you to unlock your information. These business intelligence platform capabilities can be broadly categorized into the following key functionalities.

Collect Data

A BI platform can gather data from a wide range of sources, including databases, spreadsheets, and social media. This ensures a holistic view of your organization’s performance. By leveraging its powerful data ingested capabilities, a business intelligence platform enables organizations to integrate and collect data seamlessly.

Process Data

Raw data often needs cleaning and transformation before you can use the analysis features of a BI platform. A business intelligence platform offers tools to ensure the accuracy and consistency of your data. Tools like LANSA’s guided natural language query (NLQ) facilitate the extraction of actionable insights, streamlining the journey from data to decision in the LANSA BI platform.

Analyze Data

Analysis is where data’s true potential is unlocked in a BI platform. A comprehensive business intelligence platform offers robust analytic tools that enable users to slice and dice data, create calculated fields, and perform ad hoc queries. With BI and analytics software, such as LANSA’s assisted insights generation, end users are empowered to make data-driven choices, and with guided NLQ, even non-technical users can customize their data exploration.

Visualize Data

Turning complex data sets into easily digestible visuals is a key strength of business analytics platforms. Interactive charts and graphs organized into customizable business intelligence dashboards make it easier to identify trends, patterns, and outliers. A powerful BI platform offers a wide range of data visualization capabilities, allowing users to communicate complex information. Learn more about how a business intelligence platform can help you visualize business data.

Understand Data

Once your data is collected and processed by the business intelligence platform, the BI platform provides functionalities to explore and comprehend it. LANSA’s video demonstrates how users can gain a deeper understanding of their data with their BI platform, fostering an environment where insights are not just seen but comprehended.

Report Data

A BI platform provides robust reporting features that enable users to generate comprehensive, customizable reports that can be scheduled, distributed, and shared with stakeholders. LANSA’s BI reporting capabilities empower organizations to make data-driven decisions based on up-to-date information. This is the power of data storytelling, which weaves data points into a compelling narrative, using visuals and clear communication to find insights that resonate with the report’s audience.

Benefits of Using a Business Intelligence Platform

Enterprise BI solutions and BI platforms offer numerous benefits to organizations, empowering them to make data-driven decisions, improve efficiency, gain a competitive advantage, and scale their operations.

Enhanced Decision Making Increased Efficiency Competitive Advantage Scalability
Make data-driven decisions Automate data analysis Gain market trend insights Handle growing data volumes
Achieve better outcomes Streamline workflows Understand customer behavior Accommodate more users
Predict future trends Free up employees Stay ahead of the competition Add more data sources


Considerations When Choosing a Business Intelligence Platform

When it comes to selecting business intelligence and analytics software, organizations must carefully evaluate their specific needs and requirements for using a business intelligence platform.


As your business grows, your data needs will inevitably grow as well. Your BI platform should be able to scale seamlessly to accommodate increasing data volumes and user demands. Can the business intelligence platform integrate with additional data sources? Can the BI platform handle a growing number of users?

Ease of Use

Not everyone in your organization will be a data scientist and your business intelligence platform should account for that. The chosen BI platform should offer a user-friendly interface that caters to users with varying technical skill sets. Look for features like intuitive dashboards, drag-and-drop functionality, and self-service analytics capabilities in a business intelligence platform.


In today’s complex IT landscape, the effectiveness of your business intelligence platform depends on seamless integration with existing systems. Ensure the BI platform you choose can connect everything with your data warehouses, CRM systems, and other applications to provide a unified view of your data. LANSA’s BI platform brings real-time insights to IBM i applications through JDBC-based Db2 integration.


Streamlining workflows and automated repetitive tasks is a key benefit of a BI platform. Look for features that automate data collection, transformation, and reporting. With these types of features, your business intelligence platform can free up valuable time and resources for your team to focus on analysis and strategic decision-making.

Data Management

Robust data management capabilities are essential for ensuring the accuracy and consistency of the data you use in your business intelligence platform. The BI platform you choose should offer tools for data cleansing, data governance, and user access controls to maintain the integrity of your information.

5 Best Business Intelligence Platforms

Having explored the key considerations for selecting a BI platform, let us examine some of the best BI tools on the market. These five business intelligence platforms are considered the best-in-class.


For organizations using IBM i data, LANSA BI stands out as a compelling business intelligence platform. This BI platform seamlessly integrates with your existing IBM i infrastructure providing a familiar and user-friendly interface for data exploration and analysis. LANSA’s business intelligence platform offers a powerful alternative to WebQuery, empowering you to unlock real-time insights from your IBM i data and transform decision-making.

Learn how LANSA’s BI platform can help you modernize your IBM i system on your own terms, or read about how Wiley & Sons re-engineered their applications for the web.

Yellowfin BI

Yellowfin BI prides itself on its user-centric design, making data exploration accessible to users across all skill sets. This BI platform has a drag-and-drop interface and self-service analytics capabilities that empower users to uncover insights without IT support. Yellowfin’s business intelligence platform excels in data storytelling, allowing you to create dashboards and reports to communicate data insights effectively.


Tableau is a BI platform renowned for its data visualization capabilities. This business intelligence platform offers a wide range of chart types, interactive features, and customization options. Tableau’s BI platform is well-suited for organizations that prioritize data insights to a broad audience.

Power BI

For businesses in the Microsoft ecosystem, Power BI is the top BI platform. Microsoft’s business intelligence platform is integrated with other Microsoft products, enabling a streamlined workflow. Microsoft’s BI platform also boasts a robust community and extensive learning resources, making it a user-friendly option for those familiar with the Microsoft suite.


Datapine positions itself as a solution that includes data management and a BI platform. This business intelligence platform has more features than a basic BI analytics software, like data warehousing, data cleansing, and data transformation tools. Datapine’s BI platform caters to businesses seeking a comprehensive solution to manage and analyze their data.

Feature LANSA BI Yellowfin BI Tableau Power BI Datapine
Strength IBM i integration, WebQuery alternative User-friendly, self-service Data visualization Microsoft integration All-in-one data management
Focus Analyze IBM i data Easy data exploration Visually compelling dashboards Streamlined Microsoft workflow Centralized data management & analysis

Making the right choice

In a world driven by data, a business intelligence platform is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. A business intelligence platform offers a comprehensive suite of features and capabilities, from data collection and processing to advanced analytics, visualization, and reporting. A BI platform empowers you to transform raw data into actual insights, fueling informed decision-making in propelling your organization towards success.

When choosing a BI platform, consider factors such as scalability, ease of use, integration capabilities, automation features, and robust data management tools. Solutions like LANSA BI, designed specifically for IBM i systems, offer a tailored approach for organizations operating in that environment, while BI platforms like Yellowfin BI, Tableau, Power BI, and Datapine cater to a different range of needs and data sources.

The right business intelligence platform can empower businesses to unlock the true value of their data, fostering a data-driven culture and enabling them to stay ahead in an increasingly competitive market.