4 Key Criteria for Selecting a Business Intelligence Solution

Once a media company has decided to get started with business intelligence (BI), they must choose a vendor. There are many vendors that offer solutions in this space, but for most, SaaS (software-as-a-service) tools like Domo, Tableau, Grow, iDashboards, Birst, Qlik, Looker, and Microsoft Power BI offer great functionality without the need for lengthy and costly integration into a publisher’s existing systems.

In the process of selecting a vendor, publishers need to achieve a balance across multiple criteria rather than looking at just a single factor (e.g. cost). Below is a list of criteria that are key for publishers in choosing a BI solution. Each is presented with a Decision Weight (DW) that indicates its impact on the final selection – this is where participation from multiple departments is needed to determine the best solution.

: How much of vendor’s total business is from specific client?

Pricing and Proof of Concept

It is particularly important that an extensive proof of concept (PoC) be conducted with the selected solution (or the shortlisted solutions, if possible) to ascertain whether the various departments involved are satisfied with the solution’s actual functionality in a real environment.

A publisher should only look at pricing after evaluating and selecting a shortlist of possible BI vendors according to the four criteria groups above. Though various pricing models exist in the BI space that depend on whether the solution is SaaS or on-prem, the publisher should focus primarily on comparing:

  • Per user costs over three years (including support and maintenance)
  • Training costs
  • Proof of concept (PoC) costs
  • Any consulting and third-party integration/implementation costs

While the long-term success of a BI solution is heavily dependent on how important data and the intelligence deriving from it is to an organization, selecting the wrong vendor can hamper even the best laid plan.


David Renard has 20+ years of international strategy, product management, marketing, analytics and consulting experience with a focus on digital and media/publishing. He has built startups in the media and tech space (Stare, Netcirculation, Mediaideas, The Loadown) and advised both multinationals (e.g. Gartner, Reliance Games, Random House, Conde Nast) and start-ups (e.g. Surface Media, V Magazine, Complex, 7Park Data) on corporate strategy, performance analytics and business intelligence, pricing, digital/social marketing and audience development.
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