You wouldn’t drive a car without a dashboard. You wouldn’t fly with an airline that doesn’t believe in instrument panels. Once you start using free dashboard software, you’ll feel the same way about your business. To help you with that, I’ve compiled a list of the top free dashboard software to make your business intelligence initiatives easy.
Free Dashboard Software
A few best practices when making business intelligence dashboards:
- You should be able to make them without help from the IT folks, as Anthony Bradley noted at Software Advice.
- You should avoid overloading them and keep things to a single page, as Joe Stangarone argued at SmartDataCollective.
- You should provide context for your data, like Heiko Troster of Datapine said (a speedometer without the “MPH” or “RPM” listed would be data without context)
- You should make sure it’s easy to use, as the folks at Tableau said.
These suggestions are arranged alphabetically.
1. Arcadia Data
With Arcadia, all your data can be run in Hadoop. The benefit is that you’ll have a dashboard that runs at Hadoop’s ridiculous, and ever-improving speed. One of Hadoop’s engines upped its processing speed by 2.4 times over a six-month period in 2016. Arcadia comes in a Mac or PC version.
Bittle’s free plan has no expiration date. The number of KPI’s (key performance indicators, i.e., things to measure) and dashboards are also unlimited. KPI data can be the difference between success and failure: Dale Chang wasn’t kidding when he said: “data-driven operations is the new table stakes for survival today.” Bittle also lets you choose two connectors (i.e., data types to connect, from the three options of .csv files, Excel, or google spreadsheet files), and up to 50 views a month. Chat and support are also part of the package, so if you’re looking to get started with making dashboards, that extra help could make Bittle a great option.
ChartBlocks’ Basic version is free and gives you up to 30 active charts, all publicly viewable. You can also export charts as .png image files. The Basic version gives you 5,000 monthly views and up to 30 charts, with options ranging from bar charts and line charts to donut charts and area charts.
ClicData Personal, while only good for one user, is an agile solution that would benefit any SMB. With personal, you can upload Excel or text files, and you get one gigabyte of storage per month. You also get ten data refreshes (any time you update, change, or add data) a month, so if you’ve gotten new data in the past few days, you don’t have to wait until the 31st to crunch new insights.
Clicdata’s dashboards also provide a wide range of measurements and visuals (called “widgets”). Along with the standard charts, tables, and pictures, you can also use gauges (those things that look like speedometers), infographics, and specialty charts. All of the widgets and dashboards are active on the personal plan. What’s not included with the Personal plan are connections to Oracle, MySQL servers, and Quickbooks integration.
One of Cyfe’s strongest features has to be how many different data sources it syncs up with. Rather than tell you, here’s a screenshot of (most, but not all!) of them from Cyfe’s homepage:
Cyfe maintains this level of depth across its other features. This doesn’t feel like a free dashboard software program. Along with the usual functionalities (tracking KPIs, monitoring performance over time, keeping all the useful info in one easy-to-use place), Cyfe has some cool extras, like the ability to schedule emails to yourself of dashboard data in PDF format, and “TV mode,” which rotates between dashboards automatically.
Dash is delightfully simple. It took me seven minutes to sign up, poke around, and create a rudimentary dashboard. If this doesn’t impress you, here’s a visual representation of my natural tech skills:
Yet, in less time than it takes me to get ready in the morning, I had a dashboard with the local time, the latest news from ESPN, and a chart comparing blog visits over the past two months. There are other data sources you can add to the dashboard, from your twitter account (keep an eye on your followers) to your Fitbit (you may not want to make that one publicly viewable).
You can pick from eight types of dashboards: tech, business, politics, gaming, transport, food, sports, and fitness, miscellaneous.
Dashzen is another terrific free dashboard tool. Dashzen integrates with useful data sources like Google Analytics, Twitter, Salesforce, Github, and Facebook. If you’re interested in what you could track with Dashzen, take a look at their Gadgets page, where they list examples of outside information you can see on your dashboard. They range from the simple (check your Facebook page’s likes) to the more complex (check visitors to your website by traffic type, check new visitors by date range from your Google analytics account).
Dashboard and business intelligence software Databox offers a free version that connects to three data sources and is good for up to three users. You also get three datawalls. Your data’s refreshed daily, so it’s not quite real time, but certainly good enough for something that doesn’t cost a cent. What’s really impressive about Databox is that they integrate with data sources as diverse as Hubspot, Zenspot, Facebook, Twitter, Google AdWords, QuickBooks, MailChimp, Paypal, and many others. Even just three of those sources can give an SMB a big advantage.
Freeboard’s designed for the Internet of Things (IoT), so if your business has devices and sensors you need to track, this is the one to check out. Better yet, it doesn’t matter how many devices you want to track. You get an unlimited number, even in the free version. That unlimited thing also goes for the number of free dashboards you can create, too. The downside of Freeboard? No private dashboards in the free edition, so don’t upload any sensitive information.
iDashboards’ free version is good if you’re only looking for a single user. It’s cloud-hosted, so it’ll be available from any computer or device, and, as with a lot of these programs, there’s no limit to the number of dashboards you can create.
BI provider InetSoft offers a pared-down edition of their popular Style Scope product. Style Scope Agile Edition has the same visualizations and real-time analysis but offers it to a more limited number of users. You’ll get one free user license and one free concurrent user license with Agile Edition. That’s less than the unlimited user licensing you’d get with the full Style Scope program, but given Agile Edition’s price tag, I wouldn’t complain.
Agile Edition could be great for SMB’s who want to get a better handle on their data, but don’t have a business intelligence budget, or that many users planning to use the program. Another upside is that there is customer support; however, it’s through the InetSoft forum, so it’s not the same as having a dedicated customer service rep you can call anytime. That said, it’s still free.
Microsoft Power BI offers a free version. That’s great for two reasons: first, Microsoft again made Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence last week, and second, Power BI uses drag-and-drop and natural language query technology, so the program’s usability is as simple as dragging files into folders and googling (Bing-ing?) questions. Power BI users confirm this ease of use: the program made the top quartile in the 2017 Magic Quadrant’s ease of use category.
13. Qlik Sense
Both Qlik Sense Desktop and Qlik Sense Personal editions are free. Given that Qlik was one of only three leaders in the 2017 Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence, this is a reason for much rejoicing.
Both products are drag-and-drop so you won’t need to know SQL, R, Python, or any other computer languages to get answers. Heads up, though, the Desktop edition is only good for personal or internal business. For both products, though, you get the same high-quality multi-source data integration that’s made Qlik a market leader.
This may be the best SMB-specific free dashboard software on this list: if you make less than $1 million in revenue, you’re eligible for Syncfusion’s free Community license. You’ll actually get more than just a dashboard, though you’ll get that, too. Syncfusion Community also offers all the reporting capabilities, big data capabilities, and data integration of Syncfusion Essential Studio. The Community license is good for one to five users, and the license doesn’t run out, as long as you meet the $1 million qualification.
15. Zoho Reports
If you’ve got only one or two people looking to use your BI program, Zoho Reports’ free option is a good choice. The dashboards are unlimited for the free version, and you can load up to 100,000 rows of data. Databases, query tables, and scheduled imports are all limited (5, 3, and 3, respectively), but given that you’re getting Zoho’s quality level for free, that’s something you can overlook.
More free dashboard software programs?
If you use free dashboard software you don’t see here, or have a question about any of the programs above, please post it in the comments!
Or, if you’ve got any hints and tips about further dashboard best practices, I’d love to hear them in the comments below or in a review.
Looking for Business Intelligence software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Business Intelligence software solutions.