The 10 Coolest Business Analytics Tools Of 2021

The ability to analyze ever-growing volumes of data – data that’s increasingly scattered across hybrid-cloud and multi-cloud systems – is critical for businesses to remain competitive. Here are 10 business analytics tools that caught our attention in 2021 to help meet those challenges.

Analytical Approach

Businesses and organizations increasingly rely on data and data analysis for everything from making day-to-day business decisions, to long-range strategic planning, to managing major initiatives like digital transformation.

A major challenge today is finding business analytics tools that can be used by a broad range of information workers and can work with data that’s not always neatly packaged or easily accessible.

Today’s business intelligence software goes far beyond the basic reporting capabilities of BI tools of the past. They incorporate AI and predictive analytics capabilities, may be embedded within widely used applications, and can work with huge datasets that may be scattered across hybrid-cloud/multi-cloud systems around the world.

Here’s a look at 10 business analytics tools, some from startups and some from established companies, that caught our attention in 2021.

Cardagraph Platform

Startup Cardagraph debuted its eponymous business productivity analysis software in March following two years of development and beta testing. The SaaS-based Cardagraph Platform is designed to provide business data and analytical insights to business managers, particularly those in operations, financial and marketing roles, with the intention of replacing legacy business reporting systems that no longer make the cut.

The Cardagraph software connects to systems such as Salesforce, Slack, Google, HubSpot, Workfront, Jira and others, then applies proprietary algorithms, artificial intelligence and machine learning to the collected data to provide managers with information about what the company calls “areas of focus, opportunity and improvement.”

Firebolt Cloud Data Warehouse

Israeli startup Firebolt has developed a cloud-native data warehouse system with the bold goal of competing against such giants as Snowflake, AWS and Google.

Firebolt, founded in 2019, spent about two years developing its technology before going live with its data warehouse-as-a-service at the start of this year. The company promises “insane performance” for even the most complex data tasks, according to its website, and a competitive price-performance ratio.

Firebolt specifically targets developers and data engineers at businesses and organizations who operate or are building data-intensive applications and interactive analytical systems in the cloud – for both internal and external users – that tap into huge volumes of data.

Google BigQuery Omni

In October Google announced the general availability of Google BigQuery Omni, the company’s Anthos-based, multi-cloud data analytics service. BigQuery Omni uses the standard BigQuery interface to query data that resides not just on the Google Cloud Platform but on other clouds – including Microsoft Azure and AWS – without the need to move copies of data between cloud systems.

BigQuery is Google’s cloud-based data warehouse service that competes with AWS Redshift and AWS Athena, Snowflake, and Azure Synapse Analytics. But BigQuery Omni, announced in mid-2020, makes it possible for BigQuery users to analyze data that lies beyond the Google Cloud Platform.

BigQuery Omni’s ability to analyze data in multiple public clouds is made possible by BigQuery’s separation of compute and storage, creating scalable storage that can reside in Google Cloud or other public clouds, and stateless resilient compute that executes standard SQL queries. But before now data still had to be stored in Google Cloud.

Grafana Enterprise Stack And Grafana Cloud

Grafana Labs develops the popular Grafana data visualization and analytics platform for building data dashboards and visualizations for metric, log and trace data generated by IT infrastructure, networks, cybersecurity tools and other systems.

The analytics and visualization capabilities are used by IT and AppDev managers to monitor IT system performance and track users and events.

Grafana Labs makes an open-source edition of the software available and markets commercial enterprise and cloud service editions of Grafana with additional functionality, plug-in software, and training, professional and support services.

In November Grafana Labs struck a strategic partnership with Microsoft to develop a Grafana managed service that runs on the Azure cloud platform. The deal is similar to a partnership the startup has with Amazon Web Services.

HPE CloudPhysics

CloudPhysics provides a comprehensive analysis of on-premises IT environments, offering critical insights such as recommendations for infrastructure upgrades, application modernization and cloud migration projects. The remote, agentless software provides continuous IT system monitoring and analysis, enabling IT managers to accurately forecast the impact of such initiatives as right-sizing a virtual environment, moving to the cloud or optimizing on-premises infrastructure.

Key functionality includes the ability to extract configuration and resource utilization data at a granular interval – data that is then used to generate graphs showing the current snapshot of a data center and identify optimization opportunities.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise acquired CloudPhysics in February.

Qlik Forts

Launched in October, Qlik Forts is a new hybrid-cloud service, based on the Qlik Cloud platform, that the company says securely extends Qlik’s cloud analytics capabilities to wherever data and compute functionality need to reside.

Whether data resides on premises, in a virtual private cloud or a public cloud, Qlik Forts eliminates the need to move data for analytical tasks. That improves analytical performance, reduces costs and allows business and organizations to comply with data governance, jurisdiction and policy requirements.

The Qlik Forts service, managed by Qlik, is pre-packaged to run as a virtual appliance on premises or in any cloud. They can reside on an organization’s network and behind a firewall with all applications, data connections and data files remaining local to the Fort to meet data location requirements.

Sisense Fusion

Sisense Fusion is an AI-driven system for building customized data analysis functionality directly into customer- and employee-facing applications with the goal of delivering analytical experiences to users in the context of their work and in easily consumable and actionable formats work – what some are calling “data stories.”

Sisense Fusion, which debuted in February, includes a high-performance, scalable engine to simplify complex data and analysis, a platform with APIs for building customized analytical experiences, and AI technology to automate actionable intelligence.

Starburst Galaxy And Stargate

Starburst develops the Starburst Enterprise high-performance, massively parallel processing query engine, based on the Trino open-source technology, for analyzing distributed data.

In February the company unveiled Starburst Galaxy, a cloud-native, fully managed SaaS version of the Starburst platform that makes it possible to run analytical queries against huge volumes of data stored in multiple systems and locations. Galaxy originally ran on Amazon Wed Services, but as of November runs on all three major cloud platforms.

Starburst Stargate, launched in June, makes it possible to perform analytics on data across physical boundaries without moving data. Stargate also operates as the SQL-based query engine within IT environments built on distributed data mesh architecture.

Starburst Stargate, part of Starburst galaxy, enables organizations to run cross-cloud analytics on data distributed across the globe while ensuring compliance with data privacy and access control requirements. Stringent data transfer and data sovereignty regulations are making it difficult for multinational companies to analyze data that resides across international borders.

Tableau Augmented Analytics

Augmented Analytics, part of the Tableau analytics platform, is a set of capabilities that make data analytics more accessible and useful for a broad range of business users. Key capabilities include automated modeling and natural language queries that help users interact with their data within their usual work context.

This year Tableau expanded the augmented analytics capabilities of its software with new Ask Data natural language query features and new Explain Data functionality that uses statistical methods and machine learning to provide explanations – the “why” – behind analytical results.

Tableau, now owned by Salesforce, also added Ask Data for Salesforce that allows Salesforce application users to ask any question in Tableau CRM using natural language and semantic search tools. And the new Einstein Discovery for Salesforce Reports automatically analyzes data from Salesforce reports.

ThoughtSpot Modern Analytics Cloud

Business analytics software developer ThoughtSpot made a major pivot to the cloud in May when it introduced its Modern Analytics Cloud platform that the company said delivers consumer-grade analytics to every user across an organization’s cloud ecosystem.

The system empowers business users to answer data questions using self-service search- and AI-driven analytics. Interactive data apps can be built on the platform using low-code functionality and flexible APIs, and analytical insights can be pushed directly into business applications to operationalize analytics.

A key component of the platform is ThoughtSpot Everywhere, a developer platform – also launched in May – that allows developers to embed analytics within applications that take advantage of ThoughtSpot’s analytical cloud services.

The launch of ThoughtSpot Everywhere followed ThoughtSpot’s March acquisition of SeekWell and its software for operationalizing analytics by using SQL to push cloud data insights into business applications. The company’s cloud initiative got a further boost in May when it bought Diyotta and its advanced data integration technology.