There are lots of powerful (BI) platforms on the market but the process of trawling through and comparing the various on-premise dashboard software solutions can raise more questions than it answers. 

For example, what kinds of dashboards are there, how can you tell what each platform specialises in, and which type of on-premise dashboard software is most suitable for your team’s needs?

Without a concrete grasp of the difference between operational, tactical, and strategic dashboards, you could end up investing in a product that’s complicated to deploy, reliant on an in-house engineering team to manage, and confusing or slow for the end-user.

But once you do have a clear picture of the capabilities of different types of BI dashboard and how their data visualisations can support your business, you can start delving into the software options to weigh up their respective pros and cons.

Read on to find out what the most important features are and identify the best BI dashboard software for your business.

Table of contents

  1. The importance of finding the right on-premise dashboard software
  2. Types of dashboard
  3. Dashboard software features to look out for
  4. On-premise vs cloud-hosted vs open-source dashboards
  5. Best on-premise BI dashboard software
  6. Trevor Self-Hosted
  7. Apache Superset
  8. Sisense
  9. Redash
  10. Metabase
  11. Zoho Analytics (on-premise)
  12. Tableau
  13. How to choose the right on-premise dashboard software for your business

Want to see if Trevor.io would work for your team? Try it free for 2 weeks!

The importance of finding the right on-premise dashboard software 

The purpose of a BI dashboard is to give you an accessible visual overview of complex data to help you answer specific queries, spot trends, or detect irregularities across key business metrics. 

You can then dive into that data for insights that play a role in your day-to-day decision-making or strategic planning.

As you probably know, BI dashboards can be used for just about any kind of business use case where large amounts of data collection take place. 

Some dashboards are catered for banking and finance, others for healthcare organisations, and other examples include higher education, human resources, or marketing and sales among many others. So it’s important your dashboard’s setup is specific to your business – you can see more on how different kinds of businesses use BI dashboards here.

For this reason, BI dashboards are normally customisable with a user-friendly drag-and-drop interface and a variety of widgets available for charts, graphs, maps, and other visualisations, which you can use in different ways, depending on your intent.

We talk about some of the main types of dashboard and how they can be used next.

Types of dashboard 

There are three main types of BI dashboard, each with a different focus in terms of the end user’s principal objectives:

  • Operational
  • Strategic
  • Analytical
  • Interactive or tactical dashboards

Operational BI dashboards 

Ideal for day-to-day operational uses among sales and marketing teams, operational dashboards give real-time updates for instant insight into performance metrics that can help with key decisions on campaigns or messaging.

Strategic BI dashboards

Whereas operational dashboards need constant updates to provide the latest data on business performance, strategic dashboards provide a bigger-picture overview on KPIs, which the executive team can use for medium to long-term planning.

Analytical BI dashboards

For vast amounts of historical data and deep dives into patterns of business performance, you need an analytics BI dashboard. These dashboards are mostly used by specialist data analysts so they can report their insights to executive and management teams.

Tactical dashboards

Falling somewhere between operational and strategic dashboards, tactical dashboards give oversight on longer-term KPIs while also letting you filter data for more day-to-day performance monitoring.

Dashboard software features to look out for 

Here are some of the main features you should be thinking about when looking at what BI dashboard best suits your business needs.

Data visualisation

The BI market has a massive array of platforms with eye-catching dashboards, some with stunning geographics, others with dazzling word clouds. When choosing a software solution though, you have to focus on the perspective of the end-user.

So ask yourself and your teams what questions they’ll need answering. 

For example, if it’s for a call centre sales team that needs an operational dashboard with a quick birdseye view on incoming call volumes and durations, how much use would they get from a word cloud? 

Instead, they’ll want a real-time stream of live data to give them up-to-the-minute insight on activity so they can make key choices on how to reduce the number of repeat callers, deal with trending issues, and bring down customer wait times.

Make sure your BI solution makes business insights quick and easy for its users.

Interactivity

If you want a management or data analytics team to dive in and explore months of historical data to identify trends and patterns, you need a BI dashboard with one-click filtering options and drill-down capability.

Real-time

Real-time data reports provide a constant stream of performance updates for a given dataset. 

Some businesses use these as a motivational tool for their sales or inventory teams, while for other businesses, for example in the finance sector, real-time dashboards perform a crucial role in day-to-day decision-making.

Compatibility with data sources and third-party software 

With the ability to connect to a range of data sources, like CSVs, databases, and data warehouses, your BI platform will give you a more comprehensive view of your business performance.

Level of customisation

How easily and extensively you’re able to customise your BI dashboard can be a crucial factor in its suitability to your business. Out-of-the-box dashboards may be quicker to set up, but they’re sometimes limited in how you can use them. 

This might be fine if you’re an ecommerce business that needs a view of standard sales and customer metrics, but if you’re a SaaS company building an online platform, you’ll probably need a highly customisable dashboard you can evolve over time.

On-Premise vs Cloud-Hosted vs Open-Source Dashboards

There are three main categories of BI platform – these are designed and hosted in different ways, each with its own pros and cons.

On-premise BI is hosted on the business’s own servers. These can have higher upfront costs, but they offer better data transfer speed and are often essential in industries where privacy laws for sensitive data mean cloud storage isn’t an option.

Cloud-hosted BI is initially cheaper and faster to set up, and they have no maintenance requirements, but they may have hidden costs. You can see an in-depth discussion on on-premise vs cloud-hosted BI tools here.

Open-source BI platforms are created by a community of contributors. Normally, this means a business will need an in-house IT team to adapt the dashboard’s coding for their specific needs.

Related Post: 10 Best Practice Tips for Creating Powerful BI Dashboards

Best On-Premise BI Dashboard Software

Every analytics dashboard software in this list drives actionable business insights with powerful BI engines and visualisations, and they all perform well across at least the majority of key features discussed above.

1. Trevor Self-Hosted

Trevore Business Intelligence: On-premise dashboard: Trevore.io
Source: Trevor

Trevor Self-Hosted dashboards adapt extremely well for non-technical users while also being extremely customisable, allowing you to create any number of dashboards with intuitive drag-and-drop functionality, data mapping, and easily filtered data.

Trevor Self-Hosted integrates seamlessly with third-party tools, so you can embed dashboards in your favourite apps, create automated data snapshots in Slack, livestream reports through to Google Sheets, or set up automated reporting to your email. 

Crucial to Trevor’s ability to work for non-technical teams is its super-fast setup, highly attentive support, and its ability to turn raw, messy data into clearly visualised, actionable insights. All of which makes it quick and simple to build data queries and get the answers you need.

With its intuitive interface and data visualisations, Trevor Self-Hosted is fast to incorporate into your existing workflows, and immediately get your teams interacting with key business performance data.

2. Apache Superset 

Trevore Business Intelligence: On-premise dashboard: Apache Superset
Source: Apache Superset

Apache Superset is an open-source BI platform with interactive charts and attractive data visualisations.

Superset’s query builder may not be as intuitive or flexible as Trevor Self-Hosted, but its big range of visualisation options has seen it become a popular choice among enterprise-level organisations.

However, as is typical of an open-source solution, Superset is less of a flexible choice if you don’t have an in-house IT team or developer, essentially limiting you to its pre-built dashboard options.

Here’s what one reviewer said about Apache Superset dashboards:

“The dashboarding and chart creation is a great tool. They have a lot of variety of charts available.

The dashboards can be shared easily with the peer and proper access control to each chart and dashboard is available. This is not a feature available with other open-source tools and it is a great form of analysis and data exposure control.”

G2.com

Related Post: 8 Alternatives to Superset That’ll Empower Start-ups and Small Businesses with BI

3. Sisense 

Trevore Business Intelligence: On-premise dashboard: Sisense
Source: Sisense

Sisense offers powerful BI software that works well with big datasets, though it can require a lot of in-house expertise to properly set up and manage, making it a better option for enterprise-level organisations with high-performance needs and the resources available to maintain system-heavy tools. 

For the front-end user, Sisense’s dashboards are flexible and easy to customise and use, with a good range of visualisation possibilities, including geospatial widgets and charts.

This is what one reviewer said about Sisense dashboards:

“The product is designed to be used or developed by a multitude of users from beginner to advanced. If the data is built well on the backend, creating a dashboard is fast, easy, and efficient.”

G2.com

4. Redash

Trevore Business Intelligence: On-premise dashboard: Redash
Source: Redash

Redash is an open-source BI platform with a good range of out-of-the-box dashboard options.

There are lots of visualisation types, including boxplots, cohorts, maps, and word clouds, and though there are some limits with its customisations, like colour schemes and tooltips, Redash’s interface is easy to get started with and use.

As a querying tool, Redash’s works best for smaller datasets, but its auto-complete feature is very effective at simplifying complex queries with table and column suggestions that appear as you write, which speeds up that element of the querying process.

Once you’ve got past Redash’s complex deployment requirements, its dashboards are very user-friendly and versatile, with charts and widgets that are quick to create.

Take a look at our breakdown of Redash’s benefits and drawbacks here.

Here’s what one reviewer said about Redash’s data visualisations and dashboard accessibility:

“It’s very easy to use and also the visual representation of the graphs and chart are added plus in Redash.”

G2.com

5. Metabase 

Trevore Business Intelligence: On-premise dashboard: Metabase
Source: Metabase

Metabase is another powerful BI tool with a great range of customisable dashboard options and visualisations. Also, its strong data reporting capabilities allow it to work well with big heavy-duty datasets from multiple data sources.

However, Metabase also requires a high level of expertise to deploy and set up, which is why it’s most suited to enterprises with established in-house tech resources and infrastructure. And although Metabase dashboards work well for non-tech teams with attractive charts and other data visualisations, its query builder is quite limited. 

You can see our deep-dive into Metabase here

6. Zoho Analytics (on-premise)

Trevore Business Intelligence: On-premise dashboard: Zoho
Source: Zoho Analytics

Zoho Analytics is a user-friendly BI tool that, like Trevor, makes report sharing within teams quick and simple. Zoho is also fast to set up, and provides data insights with a range of visualisations including geographics, that integrate well with multiple data sources with large datasets.

Though Zoho dashboards don’t have the same filtering or real-time capabilities of some other BI platforms, its intuitive interface and built-in integrations make it a good option for non-technical users.

This is what one Zoho user said about the dashboard’s drag-and-drop interface:

“My favourite part was the drag-and-drop feature that I usually used to combine my analysis reports into tabs which I have found to be very handy because I was able to find everything in one place well arranged.”

G2.com

7. Tableau

Trevore Business Intelligence: On-premise dashboard: Tableau
Trevore Business Intelligence: On-premise dashboard: Tableau

Tableau is a user-friendly BI tool with eye-catching dashboards that works well at sorting data with reports that are customisable and easy to share. It offers a drag-and-drop user interface, and has multiple built-in integrations.

Though Tableau doesn’t have the same BI capability or data querying flexibility of Trevor, its broad range of data visualisations makes analyzing KPIs simple for non-technical teams.

You can see a discussion on Tableau’s main benefits and drawbacks here

How to choose the right on-premise dashboard software for your business 

The best BI dashboards for data visualisation provide customisable platforms, an array of charts and imagery, and easy report sharing across teams – but just as each dashboard solution is different, so is each business. So which one is best for your team?

Here are some of the key questions to consider when comparing and contrasting dashboard software:

  • Does the platform’s BI engine match your needs?
  • What kind of data visualisations would your teams benefit from?
  • What level of customisation do you need from your BI solution or do you want an out-of-the-box dashboard?
  • Can it effectively pull data from multiple sources – if it can’t, is this an issue for your business?
  • Do you need real-time data streaming?
  • How much technical expertise does the platform require you to have?
  • How easy is it for you to build queries and retrieve answers using the dashboard?
  • How well would the dashboard integrate with your tools and into your existing workflows?

If you can confidently answer all these questions, you’ll be in a strong position to effectively narrow down your list of BI dashboard options, and choose what’s best for your business. 

For example, if you want a customisable tool that will give non-data teams access to in-depth data visualisations for business performance insights, Trevor is a fantastic choice. 

Alternatively, if you need a powerful BI solution and have the in-house capacity to manage a heavy-weight tool, you could choose Metabase or Sisense. But if your focus is on a relatively lightweight but visually impressive solution, you could opt for Tableau.

Want to see if Trevor.io would work for your team? Try it free for 2 weeks!

Related Post: 6 Affordable Alternatives to Geckoboard That’ll Take Your BI Dashboards to the Next Level

FAQs

What is a dashboard? 

A BI dashboard visualises your data in a single place for the end-user, making it easy to organise and analyse data streams and business performance with charts, graphs, and other graphics.

What is dashboard software?

Dashboard software refers to the platform or tool you use to analyse business performance data with business intelligence.

What are the most important dashboard features? 

The most important BI dashboard features are easily built SQL data queries, data visualizations, a user-friendly drag-and-drop interface, data filters, and real-time alerts and notifications. Trevor.io offers all these features as a comprehensive BI dashboard for non-tech teams.

Which software is best for dashboards?

There are some fantastic BI dashboard tools on the market. For a complete BI solution that’s fast to set up and fantastic for no-tech teams, choose Trevor.