You probably already have all the data, readily available, waiting to be viewed. The problem might be the tool to turn that data into maps, charts, graphs and tables. What software should you use? You’ll find quite a selection available, some of which have a significant associated cost. Fortunately, not every data visualization tool will totally undermine your budget.
But which ones? Let’s take a look at five tools you can use that won’t decimate your software budget.
If you’re looking for one of the simplest methods of creating charts, graphs and maps, Infogram is a great place to start. This service offers ready-to-use templates that allow you to animate objects (zoom, bounce, flip, fade and slide) to create exciting and easy-to-read visualizations for data from a spreadsheet or database. Infogram allows you to collaborate and publish visualizations from a team library.
Speaking of teamwork, your Infogram admin can manage team permissions by role and easily keep track of who’s working on what projects. You’ll also enjoy built-in version history, so you can restore earlier versions of your visualizations. And with plenty of analytic tools, you can keep track of how many viewers interacted with your maps and even make use of tracking links to help you understand which features of the published data visualizations saw the most interaction.
Infogram is optimized for both web and mobile devices to get the best out of viewing infographics, reports, slides, dashboards, maps and social media visuals. Infogram has a basic free plan as well as paid plans ranging from $19/month to an Enterprise Plan (contact the company for a quote).
Grafana is one of the most popular and powerful open-source data visualization tools on the market. Although it’s free to use, there is a paid Enterprise version as well. One thing to keep in mind about Grafana is that it does have a fairly steep learning curve (for both installation and use). However, if you want both outstanding flexibility and privacy (because you can host it in your own data center), Grafana is the way to go.
Out of the box, Grafana is geared toward visualizing data for server and desktop devices, but with the right plugins, you can make this visualization tool work with services such as time series databases (Prometheus, Graphite and InfluxDB), logging and document databases (Loki and Elasticsearch), distributed tracing (Jaeger, Zipkin and Tempo), SQL database (MySQL, PostgreSQL and MS SQL), cloud (Google Cloud Monitoring, CloudWatch and Azure Monitor), and other services (Wavefront, Splunk, Snowflake and Salesforce).
Microsoft Power BI
Microsoft Power Business Intelligence is one of the best tools for crunching numbers. This platform might be the ideal tool for those looking to visualize data from business functions, customer data, financial records and other BI-related sources. Microsoft Power BI offers self-service analytics to help reduce the cost, complexity and security risks that come from using multiple solutions. In other words, if your business already employs the likes of MS Office 365, Microsoft Power BI might be the perfect addition to your toolkit (as it seamlessly integrates with MS Excel).
Microsoft Power BI also includes built-in AI and pre-built and custom data connectors, which means you’ll find this platform can work with numerous data sources. The one caveat with Microsoft Power BI is that it can seem fairly complicated (especially for those thinking it will be as simple as Microsoft 365). Surprisingly enough, Power BI is fairly cost-effective. There’s a free offering, and the paid version should only run you about $10/person/month. You’ll find a web and desktop version of this tool available to use.
Tableau is one of the most popular data visualization tools on the market. This data visualization service is a part of Salesforce, so you know it’s ready to serve your business needs.
There are two versions of Tableau you can use: A paid version ($70/month for the Individual plan or $140/month for the Duo plan) or the Public version. Besides the cost, the biggest difference between the two is that the free (public) version of Tableau requires you to publish your data to the public.
Of course, if you’re not OK with publishing to the public, and you can’t afford the cost of the Individual or Duo plans, you can always apply for a free version of Tableau Desktop via the Tableau Foundation. For this, you must be a non-profit and meet the requirements found on the Foundation page. Even with the free version, Tableau allows you to visualize information from large data sets. Like most data visualization tools, there is a pretty steep learning curve to Tableau, but once you’re up to speed, you’ll be crunching data like a pro.
Zoho Analytics might be the lesser-known service on the list, but the company has been hard at work for quite a long time, delivering helpful tools to businesses all over the world. Zoho Analytics makes it easy to transform large collections of raw data into insights and actions within minutes. You can use data from files and feeds, business applications, cloud and on-prem databases, custom applications.
With your data imported, you can use the Zoho Analytics’ augmented data preparation module to prepare your data for analysis. Zoho Analytics is a great data visualization tool for those who aren’t as technically inclined as others, which means just about anyone can get the most out of this platform. And for those who want to get even more from their data, Zoho Analysis also includes a smart AI assistant to help generate automated insights, predict trends, do cognitive and what-if analysis, and even build smart alerts. Zoho Analytics offers a Basic plan ($24/month for two users) up to an Enterprise plan ($455/month for 50 users).