Consumers produce a vast amount of information about their preferences, experiences and other activities that companies can utilize to improve their products and services to meet customer demands. Choosing the right analytics tool to capture and analyze this data is a crucial aspect in achieving business goals for increased engagement, higher sales and more efficient operations.

Begin by deciding on the data types you want to integrate, and how you intend to accomplish this. Some tools are designed for traditional enterprise reporting while others are designed to assist you carry out advanced mathematical analysis or track sensitive data like healthcare data. You also need to consider the way that the analytics tools you’re considering will fit into your existing workflow systems and data architecture.

Some tools offer an iterative experience for data scientists as well as advanced users, whereas others are designed to allow nontechnical or casual users to perform point and click analysis. Be aware of the capabilities and features of each tool, particularly those related to visualization of data. Some are built to support the creation of visual charts, while others depend on SQL or other third-party tools to create models of your data before you can analyze it.

After you’ve narrowed your options, pay attention to the cost and whether the platform is cloud-based or based on software licenses or subscription fees. Some tools are completely free, whereas others require an upfront investment and ongoing maintenance costs. Be sure to weigh these costs to the potential profit from the knowledge and efficiency obtained by using the analytics tool.