15 Top Data Analytics Tools

Data analytics tools are, to be sure, in great demand. A May 2017 story in The Economist declared that data is now more valuable than oil. While it can’t run your car, data nonetheless is a key commodity that many of the world’s biggest businesses run on and is the life blood of many corporations.
In treating data as an asset, that means the tools to perform data analytics are just as vital to the business, because without analytics you have no context, no knowledge. You just have data, which, like raw petroleum, is useless unless it is refined.

The big data and analytics market is expected to jump from $122 billion in 2015 to $187 billion in 2019, according to IDC. There are players big and small in this market that automatically collect, clean, and analyze data. Others deliver information and if they are really good, predictions. Predictive analytics are the riskiest of analytical arts but potentially the most rewarding. That’s why they are the hardest to do.

What Is the role of data analysis? While the term "data analysis" seems self-explanatory, it’s also fairly generic in that it could mean any one of a lot of things. It’s usually used in the context of business intelligence (BI).

In BI, data analytics tools are often the final step in the chain of gathering, structuring, and processing data. The process starts with unstructured data and ends with actionable intelligence. Data examination is a part of predictive modeling. You can’t make predictions without examining the past, even in situations where past performance is no indication of future activity. That’s where the top tools come in.

What follows is a list by no means complete, but a comprehensive list of the different data analytics tools available. Some are free, others with a fee. They are in no particular order.

Leading Data Analytics Tools

1) Microsoft Excel
Probably not the first thing that comes to mind, but Excel is one of the most widely used analytics tools in the world given its massive installed base. You won’t use it for advanced analytics to be sure, but Excel is a great way to start learning the basics of analytics not to mention a useful tool for basic grunt work. It supports all the important features like summarizing data, visualizing data, and basic data manipulation. It has a huge user community with plenty of support, tutorials and free resources.

2) IBM Cognos Analytics
IBM’s Cognos Analytics is an upgrade to Cognos Business Intelligence (Cognos BI). Cognos Analytics has a Web-based interface and offers data visualization features not found in the BI product. It provides self-service analytics with enterprise security, data governance and management features. Data can be sourced from multiple sources to create visualizations and reports.

3) The R language
R has been around more than 20 years as a free and open source project, making it quite popular, and R was designed to do one thing: analytics. There are numerous add-on packages and Microsoft supports it as part of its Big Data efforts. Extra packages include Big Data support, connecting to external databases, visualizing data, mapping data geographically and performing advanced statistical functions. On the down side, R has been criticized for being single threaded in an era where parallel processing is imperative.

3) Sage Live
Sage Live is a cloud-based accounting platform for small and mid-sized businesses, with features like the ability to create and send invoices, accept payments, pay bills, record receipts and record sales, all from within a mobile-capable platform. It supports multiple companies, currencies and banks and integrates with Salesforce CRM for no additional charge.

4) Sisense
Sisense’s self-titled product is a BI solution that provides advanced analytical tools for analysis, visualization and reporting. Sisense allows businesses to merge data from many sources and merge it into a single database where it does the analysis. It can be deployed on-premises or hosted in the cloud as a SaaS application.

5) Chart.io
Chart.io is a drag and drop chart creation tool that works on a tablet or laptop to build connections to databases, ranging from MySQL to Oracle, and then creates scripts for data analysis. Data can be blended from multiple sources with a single click before executing analysis. It makes a variety of charts, such as bar graphs, pie charts, scatter plots, and more.

6) SAP BusinessObjects
SAP’s BusinessObjects provides

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