Effective business intelligence used to mean waiting for your engineers to run complex SQL queries. The product team would send a data request, the tech team would take time away from development to answer, and by the time the data came back, it was already outdated – or there were ten more requests lined up.
The best self-service business intelligence tools solve this problem, freeing up your tech staff and empowering your whole team to access, explore, and learn from your company data.
But you need to choose the right BI tool for your company’s requirements – and avoid overly complicated options that can actually create more work for your engineers.
One open-source tool, Metabase, is popular due to its high-quality data visualisations and drag-and-drop query system for non-technical users.
But there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, and Metabase won’t be the right choice for every company. Ease of use comes at a price, and some business users find the query options limited or have issues with open-source setup and use.
This article outlines the benefits and limitations of 6 Metabase alternatives that will let your whole team tap into the power of data analytics.
- Metabase removes the SQL barrier, allowing your non-tech team to get answers to their data questions in just a few clicks.
- Intuitive, comprehensive dashboard which offers a birds-eye view of your business and KPIs.
- Strong visual analytics with attractive data visualisations.
- Integrations that allow you to automate alerts and reports.
- Limited granularity and ad-hoc options. Metabase’s query builder is quite basic, and users will often need to fall back to writing SQL to get the answer they need. This defeats the purpose of a self-service tool, and means more questions for your engineers and analysts.
- Setup often requires technical proficiency – “plug and play” connectors are only available for some data sources.
- Doesn’t allow data joins from multiple SQL data sources, so it’s not a great choice for companies who don’t have a data warehouse but still want to combine data from multiple data sources.
Paid plans include Growth and Enterprise options, which offer a limited number of users and email support questions.
Is Metabase free?
There’s a free self-hosted open-source option, but this has no customer support other than a help forum – which means your engineers will have to troubleshoot any issues.
6 Metabase alternatives and competitors
The best Metabase alternatives offer the accessible, effective features Metabase is known for – but they go beyond Metabase’s limitations.
Trevor.io is a self-service tool that allows everyone in your company to learn from data without programming or SQL knowledge. Like Metabase, the software offers intuitive no-coding data visualisation tools, but with an expanded capacity for custom integrations and ad-hoc queries.
What it offers:
- Rapid setup with a gentle learning curve, helped by automatic detection of the relationships between your database tables.
- No-code, step-by-step queries in seconds. Trevor.io is easy to use even for non-tech users, which frees up overstretched data teams.
- Live chat support: all of Trevor.io’s plans include live-chat support and fast reply times.
- Attractive data visualisations and an interactive dashboard that makes it easy to get an overview of your company’s data.
- Highly versatile and customisable, which allows business users to perform normally complex queries with ease.
- Deep drill-down functionality that makes it easy to explore data connected to each database row.
- Low-cost plan that includes unlimited users with no hidden costs – which makes it an accessible option for a wider range of companies.
- Scalability for growing businesses – it easily scales with increasing numbers of end users and data query demands.
- Fast, effective customer service for all users – and you’ll always speak with a human, not a bot.
- A huge number of integrations, allowing you to automate actions in third-party tools including Gmail, Slack, Salesforce, Xero, and hundreds of other platforms.
- Continuous development as the Trevor.io team launches new features all the time.
All pricing options include unlimited users, unlimited dashboards, and unlimited database size. Trevor.io also offers a free trial, a 75% discount for your first 3 months, and a 50% discount to early-stage startups for one year.
Companies seeking a versatile, flexible solution that allows their whole team to run both simple and complex data queries, including ad hoc queries. Especially good for growing SaaS and marketplace companies that need a scalable data analytics tool to free up their data engineers for development.
Like the other Metabase competitors, Looker is a BI tool that helps non-technical users to leverage their organisation’s data. Now part of Google Cloud, Looker uses a centralised, DSL modelling layer designed to customise data analytics.
What it offers:
- High levels of customisation, including custom applications and an embedded data analytics solution for shareable metrics.
- Real-time dashboards with highly attractive data visualisations and in-depth analysis.
- Integrations with third-party apps including Google Docs, Excel and more to automate workflow processes.
- Complex data modelling meant for large-scale deployment through its own modelling language, LookML. This means you really need a data engineer or data team to use Looker.
- Other features include multicloud flexibility and several support options.
Looker gives bespoke quotes and doesn’t publicly release its pricing information. As a ballpark, pricing is typically $3,000-$5,000 per month for 10 users, making it one of the pricier analytics platforms.
Larger enterprises that have a sizable budget for data customisation, modelling and workflow integration, and a data team with the time to implement complex business intelligence software.
Holistics, which has offices in Singapore, Vietnam, and Indonesia, is another effective alternative to Metabase. It’s a self-service cloud-based business intelligence platform with a data modelling layer that defines and unifies company metrics.
What it offers
- Sophisticated data analytics tools accessible to non-tech business users.
- Unified data modelling layer that maps all data and business logic in the same place.
- Integration and automation functionality that lets companies automatically share data insights over email, Slack and other web apps and mobile apps.
- Cross-database joins for combining data.
- Additional ELT (extract, load, transform) capacities for data preparation and movability.
- Data visualisations, though these are a little basic and don’t currently support certain chart and graph customisation options.
- Lack of drill-down features.
- Supports multiple users but some users report it can be slow to load heavy queries and process reports.
Pricing starts at $100 per month for a limited package. For unlimited reports, you have to go up to the Professional option.
Companies that want an intuitive data analytics tool and prioritise tech functionality like data modelling and ELT capacities over designer visuals or drill-down features.
Microsoft’s Power BI tool is one of the leading alternatives to Metabase for Windows users, offering interactive data analytics in its proprietary language DAX rather than the standard SQL.
What it offers
- Easy to use drag-and-drop functionality.
- A unified, scalable interface and dashboard
- Complex data visualisations including custom visualisations with your company’s branding.
- Extensive connectors for easy loading of data from multiple sources.
- Integrations that allow companies to share data insights across Microsoft Office apps.
- Features for large organisational synergy like collaborative dashboards.
- Proprietary Power BI DAX language which can make it tricky to debug.
- Analytics work with clean data only, meaning you need to spend time cleaning up the data before loading it.
- Geared towards Windows users, not Mac, though there are some workarounds.
Microsoft Office users can access a free plan with limited features and no direct customer support. Paid plans include per-user or per-capacity options.
Larger enterprises who work with Microsoft operating systems and have the engineering resources to set up and troubleshoot queries in a non-SQL language.
A Salesforce-owned business intelligence platform that allows all team members to generate data analytics to increase productivity and effectiveness.
What it offers
- Business users can ask questions in natural language to unearth the data they need, though it has a high learning curve and non-tech users may struggle.
- Appealing and highly interactive data visualisation that lets your team dig deeper, explore, and filter data.
- Integrates into all stages of the workflow, across data access, analysis, prep and governance.
- Centralised metadata.
- In-memory datastore rather than SQL – but this means it’s more difficult to troubleshoot when things go wrong.
- Add-ons to enhance data prep and governance and deploy predictive models; however, these cost extra.
- Functions best with clean data, meaning you’ll need to invest in a separate data cleaning program or use your engineering team.
There are several different options depending on the numbers of users and functionality you want. The cheapest option, Tableau Viewer, is a limited plan that doesn’t allow you to drill down or explore data.
Enterprise-scale organisations that value effective data exploration and who have the resources to deploy an engineering team for data cleaning and in-memory troubleshooting.
One of the more visualisation-focused alternatives to Metabase, Google Data Studio converts Google Analytics data into shareable reports for better metrics, reporting and communication.
What it offers
- Quick, easy setup and simple to use by selecting from pre-designed templates or creating your own theme.
- Interaction with data through real-time filters and customisations for metrics plus a drill-down hierarchy.
- Highly shareable and integrated with Google tools.
- Primarily designed to work with data collected from Google programs, though it does have connectors for partner datasets.
- A visualisation tool, rather than a business intelligence tool – so no functionality for deep analysis and data modelling, complex data queries or high-level customisation.
- Like many free or open-source tools, it has no direct customer support.
Due to its limited querying capabilities, Data Studio is more suited to smaller companies who just want basic visualisations to get an overview of their metrics, and who don’t need business intelligence data analytics to go deeper.
What’s the best alternative to Metabase?
The best alternatives to Metabase are easy-to-use business intelligence tools that offer increased granularity and ad-hoc queries as well as drill-down functionality, integrations, and customer support.
Take a look at our table comparing the 6 best Metabase alternatives to decide which tool is right for your organisation.
Overview of Metabase alternatives
|Trevor.io||Looker||Holistics||Power BI||Tableau||Google Data Studio|
|Accessible to non-tech users||Yes||Less accessible, requires data engineers||Yes||Yes, but requires engineering support||Less accessible, it’s a complex tool with a steep learning curve||Yes|
|Attractive data visualisations||Yes||Yes||Yes – but more basic than other options||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Drill down features||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Some|
|Customer support||Yes||Yes||Yes||Only on Pro option and above||Yes||No|
|Pricing||Low-range, with unlimited users, dashboards, and database size||High-end bespoke pricing||Mid-range, per user per month||Mid-range, per user per month||Ranges from low to high-end, but with limited users and data features||Free|
Choosing the right business intelligence tool for your company gives your non-tech team data superpowers. By finding the best software option, your organisation can become data-driven without wasting time, money, and engineering resources.