Top 21 Data Source Connectivity Features of BI Tools

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(This is a multipart series about how to evaluate and select the right BI tool for you and your team. To see the entire outline of the series and a framework for how to evaluate a BI tool, see How to Select the Best BI Tool for You.)

Like shopping for a car or a new electronic device, there are likely a lot of features that the average Jane won’t need. We aim to cover the breadth of features that the top tools and analysts in the market are talking about.

It’s important to focus on what’s right for you and your use case. We recommend buyers be careful to not let features creep onto their “Want to have” or “Mission critical” lists when doing your research. It can be really easy to learn about a cool feature and then think about all the cool and creative ways you could use it. Curiosity and creativity is to be human.

Remember: You started shopping to fill a specific need. Keep that front and center as you research while getting educated on other cool features and how you may use them after your initial set of requirements are delivered.


It’s worth noting that most teams working to build a BI stack for the long haul will likely want to integrate their data into a data lake and data warehouse, making direct connections to the sources less relevant.

If you do need to connect directly to source systems, this list is worth a read through and we will likely miss something critical for your team in this list. If you are planning to build a data lake + data warehouse, the only sources relevant for you may be relational databases and perhaps NoSQL databases.

Here are the top data source connectivity features of BI tools to consider as part of your evaluation.

1. Accounting Platforms

The solution connects to popular accounting platforms like Intuit Quickbooks, FreshBooks, Sage, etc.

2. Big Data Ecosystem

The solution connects to various tools and platforms related to Big Data ecosystem like Apache Hive, Apache Spark SQL, Cloudera Hive, Cloudera Impala, Databricks Cloud, Hortonworks, MapR Drill, Pivotal HAWQ, Google BigQuery, Presto, Neo4J, etc.

3. Cloud Files Storage Systems

The solution connects to popular cloud storage and synchronization systems like Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, etc.

4. CRM Platforms

The solution connects to popular CRM platforms like SalesForce, HubSpot, Insightly, FreshSales, etc.

5. Customer Success Platforms

The solution connects to popular customer success platforms like Freshdesk, Intercom, Zendesk, etc.

6. Data Integration Tools

The solution integrates with popular data integration tools like Informatica, etc.

7. E-Commerce

The solution connects to popular e-commerce platforms like Shopify, Magento, Big Commerce, etc.

8. Enterprise BI Platforms

The solution connects to popular enterprise BI platforms like SAP HANA, SAP BW, IBM Cognos, Oracle Analytics Server (OBIEE), etc.

9. Enterprise Messaging Platforms

The solution connects to popular enterprise messaging platforms like Slack, etc.

10. ERP Platforms

The solution connects to popular ERP systems from SAP, Oracle, etc.

11. JDBC, ODBC and Parameterized Connections

The solution connects to various databases through JDBC and ODBC connectors by using simple parameters like URL, port, username, password, etc.

12. Marketing Platforms

The solution connects to popular marketing platforms like Marketo, Pardot, Eloqua, MailChimp, Survey Monkey, Unbounce, Google Adwords, etc.

13. NoSQL Databases

The solution connects to NoSQL databases such as MongoDB, Cassandra, Apache HBase, Couchbase, etc.

14. Payment Processing Platforms

The solution connects to popular payment processing platforms like PayPal, Square, Stripe, etc.

15. Project Management Platforms

The solution connects to popular project management platforms like Jira, Asana, Trello, etc.

16. Relational Databases

The solution connects to relational databases such as Oracle, SQL Server, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Sybase ASE, IBM DB2, etc.

17. SEO and Web Analytics Platforms

The solution connects to popular SEO and web analytics platforms like Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, Heap Analytics, Ahrefs, etc.

18. SFTP/FTP Support

The solution connects to stored data via SFTP or FTP.

19. Social Media Platforms

The solution connects to popular social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, etc. and gathers data for further analysis.

20. Standard Files

The solution enables creating datasets from files like Excel, CSV, XML, JSON, PDF, etc.

21. Statistical Files

The solution connects to SAS (*.sas7bdat), SPSS (*.sav), and R (*.rdata, *.rda) data files.


Follow the links above to read more about core functional requirements of a BI and analytics tool.

Did we miss something? Drop us a line and we’ll see about getting it added.

Need help with your BI tool selection? Book a call with us and we’ll see if we can help. If we can point you in the right direction with a short phone call, great! If you’d like to hire us to do an evaluation and selection for you, contact us and we’ll make a selection together.

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