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exporting capabilities.

Since we originally reviewed these BI tools, IBM has discontinued offering IBM Watson Analytics for purchase. Instead, IBM introduced Cognos Analytics 11.1, which offers guided data discovery, automated predictive analytics, and the ability to interact with data conversationally.

There is a wide range of art depictions that data visualization tools can create. Some depictions are simple, some are complicated. Some are beautiful, some are crude. And there are some that are truly individual creations. But most spring from templates in the traditional forms associated with statistics.

The simplest examples of data visualization are the pie and bar charts you’ve been able to access via Microsoft Excel for many years now. But as BI has matured as a platform, so, too, have the options available to you for seeing your data and presenting it to others.

The tools we review here reflect the medium to higher end of the spectrum in BI; they’re capable of performing sophisticated queries without the need to understand Structured Query Language (SQL) coding. Plus, they can render analytics in a wide variety of visual formats—going far beyond the basic bar chart to include geographical mapping, heat maps, sparklines, and even more specialized visualizations such as the spider chart below.

Source: Lachlan James,