Business

A Quick review of Holistics - A Business Intelligence Tool

Learn about how Holistics Software can solve your Business Intelligence (BI) needs.

A company that grows fast has to be informed about a seemingly endless amount of information: Sales revenue, customer acquisition costs, churn, retention, etc. To create those actionable insights, you could continue doing something like this:

  1. Get weekly data emailed to you as a .csv
  2. Clean and format the data in exactly the same way as last time using Excel
  3. Update all Tables, Pivot Tables, and Charts with the new info
  4. Fix the bugs and errors as they pop up

Instead of following a routine like this, you could switch towards using a Business Intelligence (BI) software. A BI tool helps with creating dashboards of summary data, ad-hoc visualizations, and helps in reporting. There are many BI tools but today we'll be looking at an exciting new entrant, Holistics.

What is Holistics?

Holistics is a self-service BI tool that lets non-technical users to create their own visualizations and insights, without having to involve your data team for requests. Unlike most BI tools, they have a usage-based pricing policy which lowers the financial impact on small to medium sized businesses. All Holistics requires is a basic knowledge of business intelligence, along with a SQL based data warehouse that you can access. If you don't know whether a data warehouse is right for you, see this article.

How to set up Holistics

After signing up for Holistics with your work email, you're guided to add a Data source. Holistics currently accepts 13 different database types including standard ones like Amazon Redshift, Google BigQuery and Snowflake. If you're confused about what's the right fit for your organization, we've got you covered. If your data is not neatly centralized into one SQL Data warehouse, consider using Dropbase to automate the process of collecting, cleaning and centralizing your data into an analytics ready-data warehouse. Setting up Holistics with Dropbase is dead simple.

  • Navigate to the worksheet you want to analyze. If you need to set up Dropbase first, check out our documentation here.
  • Click on the drop down menu in the top left corner, and select "Workspace settings".
  • Click on "Show credentials". You'll use the information here to connect to Holistics.
  • On the Holistics "Add data source" page, fill in the information like this, where the box on the left are your Dropbase database credentials. You should also copy over the same password from the credentials page.

And that's it! You're now ready to use Holistics and analyze your data.

Holistics: First Impressions

We used the demo account for Holistics and found it extremely easy to set up reports. Some of the features we love:

  • Automatically send reports via email/Slack to start the day with up-to-date product metrics
  • An intuitive drag and drop user interface. No need to remember (and debug) complicated formulas like in Excel!
  • Exporting reports as PDF to get gorgeous results like this:

You can also get a free trial of Holistics for 14 days which we did. We uploaded two datasets to Dropbase: Property prices by state and Education spending in the US. After uploading the data to Dropbase, we copied over the database information to connect the data source to Holistics. Their documentation helped with importing the data. We just wanted to see some basic charts, which were really easy to set up!

After loading in the Education spending data, all I had to do to create a "Filled Map" chart was:

  1. Click on the Filled Map Chart type
  2. Drag over the "State" field into Location and (in this case) 2001 into Value
  3. Click on Get Result. And voila!

Similarly, creating a Line chart is really simple and takes a few clicks to get this:

Final Verdict

Loved:

  • the ease of refreshing data. Refreshing all your reports is blazing fast in Holistics which would be extremely useful if you create reports frequently.
  • the slick UI. We were able to create some basic charts relying on just the UI and reading the docs for further detail. Onboarding users to Holistics should be quick!

Needs Improvement:

  • After uploading the Education spending data, Holistics didn't recognize the data type as an integer. And it looks like changing data type is an involved process right now. We'd recommend completely cleaning up your data in Database before making the connection with Holistics as that solved the problem for us.
  • For some reason, reports do not auto save. You have to manually click "save" to ensure reports are saved which is odd for an online-only tool.

Holistics is a fantastic BI tool to use if you'd like to minimize writing code and have a data warehouse already set up. It's pricing policy also makes it very attractive to small to medium startups. The biggest drawback is if you don't have a database and are dealing with only Excel and csv files since Holistics does not support it. In that case, we recommend using Dropbase to collect, clean, and centralize your data to be used with Holistics.

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