4 free open source BI tools Canadians should be using

6 min read
Paul Teitelman

A lot of business owners are licking their wounds right now, trying to decide what to do next. Rather than make decisions based on gut, it would be smarter to gather as much data as possible to decide which direction to go. The good news? There are a number of open source BI tools that can supply the business intelligence you need now.

Open source usually means free.

Business intelligence (BI) is no longer just for multinational companies with huge budgets. The growth of affordable and open source BI tools in recent years has meant that good, actionable data is now available to everyone.

To help you find the best BI tool for your business at this crucial fork in the road, here is a glance at some of the most popular options.

Related: Where to find small business help in Canada

4 free open source BI analytics tools

There was a time when business intelligence (BI) was only available to big corporations with deep pockets. No longer. These four tools can be used by small businesses and entrepreneurs in any sector. Most can be customized to work for nearly any industry.

  1. ActivTrak.
  2. ChartMogul.
  3. Cluvio.
  4. Databox.

Let’s dive into the first of our four open source BI tools, including who this tool is best suited for and what happy customers say about it.

1. ActivTrak

This tool helps you “silently” monitor your employees’ daily activities to spot opportunities to improve.

Open Source BI Tools ActivTrak
This is ideal for any company with a distributed workforce or remote workers.

ActivTrak gives you insights into your employees’:

  • Application title bars
  • Website URLs
  • Activity duration
  • Screenshots
  • Passive time
  • USB activity

It’s aimed at companies with anywhere from five to 5,000 employees. Admins can generate reports with actionable insights in a matter of seconds.

Who this tool is for:
ActivTrak is ideal for team managers who want deeper insights into their workforce’s activities.

Who this tool is not for:
You’re going to get a lot of use out of this tool if your staff spends most of their time in front of their computers. However, if they don’t, it’s not much good to you.

This program does have a mobile app in the Google Play store. However, this is not the best solution to gain employee insights in an industrial, construction or service company.

What happy users say:
This program is almost universally praised for its simple integration and onboarding, with strong customer support along the way.

What unhappy users say:
The free version of ActivTrak has been criticized for being too “scaled back” and offering considerably less value than the paid version.

2. ChartMogul

ChartMogul serves clients in the subscription-based business market. They have won over several major clients, such as Typeform, Hotjar, and LiveChat.

It comes with tools such as:

  • Subscription hub
  • Revenue recognition
  • Developer hub
  • Mobile subscription analysis

Users get deep, real-time insights into their subscribers’ entire journey and habits, as well as monthly recurring revenue, churn rate and customer lifetime value.

Who this tool is for:
ChartMogul is aimed at product managers or success managers at subscription-based companies.

This can be a great tool to gain new insights and spot new opportunities with both big-picture and micro-level data.

Who this tool is not for:
This is clearly not a useful tool for anyone outside of the subscription-based business model. If you don’t fall into this category, explore other open source BI analytics tools.

What happy users say:
ChartMogul is praised for its simple interface and streamlined usability.

What unhappy users say:
A few negative reviews have pointed to a lack of training support.

3. Cluvio

Cluvio is a cloud analytics platform used by several big-ticket clients like Amazon, Musement and OUTFITTERY.

Open Source BI Tools Cluvio

Their tool can be used to tell “data-driven stories” and help you make better, more informed decisions. You can track and report on any KPIs (key performance indicators) you see fit, which can be anything from orders received to errors and revenue millstones.

Who this tool is for:
Cluvio is aimed at those who already have a bit of experience in big data or analytics. Their clients are able to run SQL queries against their databases.

Who this tool is not for:
This may not be the best tool if this is your company’s first foray into BI. However, the product is very usable and new users can learn it without much of a learning curve.

What happy users say:
The overall usability of the product is as good as you can find.

What unhappy users say:
The price might be too high for some smaller businesses or startups on a lean budget.

4. Databox

Databox is one of the most widely used and well-reviewed BI tools on the market today. It’s currently being used by over 15,000 businesses.

This tool gives you “All of your KPIs in one place,” and the ability to build your own dashboards with no coding experience required. The KPIs that it will track are entirely up to you.

Databox integrates with:

This means your dashboards can include any KPIs that your business wants to focus on, from sales to shares.

Who this tool is for:
Databox has done a wonderful job developing their tool so that it can be used by businesses of nearly any size, in nearly any industry.

It’s quickly becoming the go-to choice for entrepreneurs, as well as managers and C-level executives who want real-time data. Databox has been particularly well-received by the advertising and information service industries.

Open Source BI Tools People Holding Reports]

Who this tool is not for:
Databox has grown by positioning itself as the Swiss Army knife of data reporting. There is no obvious market they cannot serve.

What happy users say:
Many users call this a best-in-class solution, and say it’s “a must” for any company that takes its data seriously.

What unhappy users say:
Most of the user complaints are around very specific integrations and big data sorting.

4 open source BI tools to consider

As you can see, some open source BI tools are hyper-focused on companies in one sector, while others are actively trying to appeal to a broad marketplace.

When making your choice, be mindful of who in your organization is going to be using the tool.

Will this be rolled out to all front-line employees (which is the case with ActivTrak), or will it be limited to higher-level management or C-level team members? Those with fewer tech skills might need a solution that’s easier to use.

Taking full control of your data is invaluable in helping you make smarter decisions. Why fly blind, when you can make data-driven decisions?