Consumers produce a vast amount of information about their preferences, experiences and other activities that businesses can use to enhance their products and services to match the demands of their customers. Finding the right analytics tool to capture and analyze this data is a crucial step in meeting business goals to increase engagement, better sales, and more efficient operations.

Start by deciding which data types you want to integrate, and how you intend to do so. Some tools are designed for traditional enterprise reporting while others are designed to assist you carry out advanced mathematical analysis or track sensitive data, such as health data. It is also important to consider what analytics tools you’re looking at will fit into your existing workflow systems and data architecture.

Some tools offer an iterative experience for data scientists and advanced users, while others are designed to allow non-technical or people who are not experts in data to perform point-and click analysis. You should also be aware of the options for data visualization and features that each tool offers. Some are designed to allow the creation of visual charts, while others rely on SQL or other tools from third parties to model your data prior to when you can examine it.

Once you’ve narrowed your choices down, take a look at the cost as well as whether the software relies on subscription fees or software licenses. Some tools are free, but others require a substantial upfront investment to begin and ongoing maintenance costs. Make sure you compare these costs with the potential benefits from the insights and efficiencies that can be gained from using the analytics tool.