Business intelligence software solutions are critical when it comes to efficiently handling business data. These tools use data to identify your organization’s strengths and weaknesses in real time. The catch? Most business intelligence tools are expensive (almost $3,000/year, on average).
If you’ve avoided investing in a BI tool because of cost, worry no more. Free and open source business intelligence software solutions exist, and you can start reaping their benefits without spending a dime.
In this article, we highlight the seven best free and open source BI software options, explaining each product and its cost to upgrade. Each of these tools (arranged alphabetically) have a minimum user rating of 4.5 (out of 5) and at least 10 user reviews on Capterra (see full selection methodology here).
ActivTrak is a flexible BI tool that offers team behavior analytics. The tool can handle teams from five to 1,000 and is designed for business owners, IT and HR managers, and team leads who want to track their team’s productivity.
The tool offers mobile apps for both iOS and Android devices, and customer support via the web and phone during business hours.
Business intelligence dashboard in ActivTrak (Source)
Think ActivTrak is the right BI tool for you? Read user reviews.
ChartMogul is a BI tool best-suited for businesses that are trying to build or grow a subscription service, as it can measure churn rate and customer lifetime value. The tool offers 24/7 support through a live representative and online tutorials. Representatives also offer live online training to help businesses get started with the software.
Business intelligence dashboard in ChartMogul (Source)
Think ChartMogul is the right BI tool for you? Read user reviews.
Cluvio is a BI tool suitable for businesses that have an employee with some data analytics experience. This tool allows businesses to run SQL queries against their databases, can process data in R, and turns out some impressive-looking dashboards and data visualizations.
Cluvio offers customer support online and via phone during business hours. The software provider also offers webinars, live online training, and training materials for businesses that need help getting started.
Business intelligence dashboard in Cluvio (Source)
Think Cluvio is the right BI tool for you? Read user reviews.
Databox is a BI tool that allows businesses to track and report on their KPIs through a visually pleasing dashboard. The tool can deliver information across multiple devices and integrates with popular systems such as Adobe Analytics and Salesforce. Databox offers mobile apps for iOS and Android devices.
Business intelligence dashboard in Databox (Source)
Think Databox is the right BI tool for you? Read user reviews.
Matomo is an open source BI tool that is used by more than 1.4 million websites across 190 countries and has been translated into over 50 languages. This tool helps you view and evaluate user activities and engagement across websites using A/B testing, heatmaps, session recordings, goals tracking, and more. Marketers can use it to analyze website visitors’ actions and create visitor profiles for future reference.
Matomo’s on-premise deployment is the open source, free, and self-hosted PHP/MySQL version you can install on your own server.
Think Matomo is the right BI tool for you? Read user reviews.
Metabase is an open source BI and data visualization tool with SQL capabilities. It allows you to generate charts and dashboards, ask simple ad hoc queries without using SQL, and view detailed information about all the rows in your database. You can set it up in less than five minutes, and then ask simple questions and understand the data your application is generating.
Business intelligence dashboard in Metabase (Source)
Think Metabase is the right BI tool for you? Read user reviews.
Tableau is a BI platform that offers a streamlined user interface and allows drag-and-drop data manipulation and data visualization. It is best-suited for people who are comfortable with Excel’s pivot tables.
The tool offers mobile apps for iOS or Android. Tableau offers training through in-person sessions, online with a representative, webinars, and documentation. The software provider also offers support online and via phone during business hours.
Think Tableau is the right BI tool for you? Read user reviews.
How to choose the right free or open source BI tool for your business
These considerations can make your BI software choice a little easier:
- Consider the size and growth of your business. BI tools that only offer basic features are best for small businesses with less data variety and volume to manage.
- Prepare a use case for a BI tool. Different businesses need BI tools for different purposes, so identify your exact needs. For example, a logistics business would use BI software features to optimize routes, while a digital marketing company would need different features to measure user engagement.
- Consider your employee knowledge base. A simple BI tool with fewer features would be easier to learn when training beginner users, while a more sophisticated BI tool would be appropriate for employees who are well-versed in your chosen software.
- Check the cost to upgrade. It’s important to understand the paid pricing models of each BI tool you consider, as well as any upfront costs. Some vendors may offer flexible subscription-based pricing (monthly billing or annual billing), while others may require annual one-time licenses based on number of users.
- Ask about integration options. The real value of a BI tool comes from gathering disparate data from multiple sources into a single system. Be sure to ask the software provider whether or not their tool integrates with your existing systems.
Common questions to ask while selecting a free or open source BI tool
You’ll probably have many questions when selecting free BI software, and it’s important to get answers from software providers and/or their sales representatives. Here are a few key questions to consider asking:
- Does the software upgrade cost include phone-based tech support? This will help you get clarity on the type of premium support you’ll receive when you start paying for the software.
- What percentage of your customers are currently paying for an annual support contract? This will give you a fair idea of customer satisfaction. If the vendor doesn’t provide this information, it could be a warning sign of poor customer satisfaction/service.
- Can I easily create customized reports? You should always be able to get to your own data. If you’ll need a programmer to build new reports, that will hamper your ROI.
- Can I speak to a customer who has deployed your tool in the past six months? If the vendor avoids answering or is uncomfortable with you speaking to a recent customer, they could be concerned you’ll uncover some product or service cons.
How we rate
This article was updated on Jan. 20, 2021. Products considered for this article had to:
- Offer a free, stand-alone version of the software (not a trial version of the software where you must purchase a product after a limited amount of time).
- Meet our business intelligence market definition: Business Intelligence (BI) software helps organizations make operational decisions by enabling the analysis of historical performance data and other data sources.
Software that met the market definition also needed a minimum of 10 user-submitted reviews published between Jan. 1, 2020 – Jan. 15, 2021, and have an above-average overall user rating compared to other products in the category.
- “Top” free and open source tools had a minimum overall rating of 4.5/5 stars from reviewers on Capterra at the time of publication.
Note: The content in this piece that provides opinions and points of view expressed by users does not represent the views of Capterra.
Looking for Business Intelligence software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Business Intelligence software solutions.