Business Intelligence tools: a focus on Google Data Studio

business intelligence

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Business Intelligence tools allow companies to access, analyse and share information to improve the decision-making process by gathering performance metrics. Therefore, they are important tools both for startups and companies.

Are you curious to learn the advantages that Business Intelligence tools can bring to your organization?

  • Fast and precise reporting
  • Competitive analysis
  • Increased operational efficiency
  • Identification of market trends

These are just some of the benefits that you could find out by using these tools, but if you want to learn more you can read this article Business Intelligence Software for small businesses we wrote on the subject.

In this article, in fact, we will focus on one of the best Business Intelligence tools for startups: Google Data Studio. You probably have already heard about it, but we will give you all the information that you need to get to know this tool and start using it as a real expert!

What is Google Data Studio, one of the best Business Intelligence tools for startups

Google Data Studio is a Business Intelligence platform created by Google in 2016 to visualize data in a simple and more intuitive way. In fact, you can upload different sets of data into the platform and transform data into reports. In addition, it is a cloud-based system, so it is very easy to share your reports with anyone you want.

The main difference between Google Data Studio and other Business Intelligence tools is that you can use pre-integrated connectors to connect your data sources to the tool. In this way, data are automatically imported into the tool and converted into metrics and dimensions. Furthermore, the dashboards that you can create with Google Data Studio are dynamic, which means that data within them are automatically updated.

Google Data Studio advantages

Do you want to know why we think that Google Data Studio is one of the best Business Intelligence tools for startups on the market? Let’s see some of its advantages:

  • It is free: all you need to use this platform is a Google account.
  • It is easy and quick: it has an intuitive interface to create reports.
  • It is customizable: you can choose a template and customize it or build your report from scratch.
  • It is dynamic: anyone can interact with your reports thanks to filters and interactive controls.
  • It is sharable: you can share reports with customers and team members.

The main features of Google Data Studio

Before starting talking about the practical part of this Business Intelligence tool, i.e., how to create a report step by step, let’s give a look at its main features to put the first bases on the functioning of this tool.

The features that we will now see in detail are:

  • Connectors and data sources
  • Access permissions
  • Templates

Connectors and data sources

As we anticipated, the main peculiarity of this Business Intelligence tool is that it relies on data sources, which are Data Studio’s representation of your data.

The pre-integrated connectors, instead, are the mechanism through which the platform establishes connections with data platforms, such as Google Analytics. 

There are three types of connectors that can be imported into Google Data Studio: 

  • Google Connectors
  • Partner Connectors
  • Open-Source Connectors

The first one is native to Google, while the others are owned by third parties and need integrations to be able to import data into Data Studio.

Access permissions

This is a very important topic to understand before starting using any Business Intelligence tool, as you probably don’t want to share your business data with anyone or even give them the possibility to edit your data.

Google Data Studio gives you the possibility to:

  • Set report permissions
  • Set data sources permissions
  • Set owner’s and viewer’s credentials

Report and data sources permissions are pretty similar. In fact, although they are independent from each other, they have the same levels of access permissions:

  • Owner access: it gives you complete control, including the ability to delete the report and choose who can edit and view it and who can share, download or copy the report. There can only be one owner.
  • Edit access: it gives the possibility to create or edit charts, controls or other design elements. People with this access can even edit the report simultaneously and see each other’s changes in real time.
  • View access: it gives the possibility to view and interact with the report without making any changes.

When taking into consideration to give someone this kind of accesses, you should remember that they won’t be able to see your reports if they don’t have access to the data set too, which can be done only from the platform that generates the data. 

To avoid the above issue, you can take into consideration these two credential options:

  • Owner’s credentials: you give access to the credentials of the data source owner to allow the access to the data set.
  • Viewer’s credentials: those who want to view the data provided by the data source must have their own access to the data set as well.


Another peculiarity of this Business Intelligence tool is the possibility to use templates to create your reports. In this way, it will be much easier and quicker to give your data the visual representation they deserve. 

Some examples of templates that you will find are:

  • Acme Marketing Website
  • Display and Video 360 Performance Report
  • GA Audience Overview
  • GA Acquisition Overview
  • GA Behavior Overview
  • Ecommerce Store
  • Adwords Report
  • Youtube Channel Report

Short tutorial of this Business Intelligence tool

Do you want to learn how to use this Business Intelligence tool? Now it’s the moment to put everything we explained into practice! 

We will see in detail how to accomplish the following phases:

  • Connect data
  • Create a new report with charts
  • Add report controls
  • Share reports

Connect data

To start integrating your business data into Google Data Studio, you will just have to click on the “Create” button in the corner up right of the homepage and select “Data Source”. In this way, you will land on another page that shows all the connector options.

Once you select the connector where there is your data set, you will land on the data source edit screen. Here you can view and edit all the fields from your data. For example, you can edit the data type and choose among the following options:

  • Numeric
  • Text
  • Date & Time
  • Boolean
  • Geo 
  • Currency URL

Otherwise, you can add calculated fields, which let you create new metrics and dimensions that perform arithmetic, apply mathematical formulas, extract or transform text, or return new information based on logical comparisons.

You can even add multiple data sources to your reports. In fact, if you click on “Resources” in the report creation mode and then select “Manage added data sources”, you can both edit those that you already added and insert new ones.

Create a new report with charts

At this point, you should be in the report creation mode of the Business Intelligence tool, where there is a blank canvas.

First of all, you should give a name to your report to easily distinguish it from others. Click on “Untitled Report” and type the name.

Now you can choose the number of pages. In fact, reports have only one page for default, but if you click on “Add page” in the corner up right, you can customize this aspect. You can also give a name to each page and move them in the order that you prefer by clicking on the arrow on the same button.

If you want to put your logo on the report, you have to click on the image icon and select it from your device. You will have the possibility to resize it and change the position. In addition, if you click on “Arrange” and then select “Make report-level”, it will be automatically added to each page of your report.

At this point, you can start to create charts. Click on “Add a chart” to visualize all the possible charts and choose one. From the menu that appears at the right when you select a chart, you have the possibility to:

  • Change metrics and dimensions
  • Add filters
  • Change the type of chart
  • Select a time frame
  • Edit the data source
  • Edit the graphic style of the chart

Since there are so many charts’ options, we want to focus on this aspect and give you a few suggestions before going on with the last two phases.

All the different types of charts

The most difficult part of a Business Intelligence tool could be choosing the chart that best represents what you want to communicate. For this reason, we would like to give you a few suggestions:

  • Bar charts: they are useful to compare dimensions or categories through vertical and horizontal bars.
  • Line charts: they are useful to keep track of changes and trend over time because they can represent the relationship between two or more variables over time.
  • Scorecards: they are useful to focus on a single metric and are impacted by filter controls.
  • Pie charts: they are useful to understand the composition of a set of data because they compare the different parts of a whole.
  • Geo maps: they are useful to visualize data in the real world because they represent the variation of a measurement across a geographic area.
  • Scatter and bubble charts: they are useful to discover relationships between variables because they can identify the correlation or lack of correlation between data points.
  • Bullet charts: they are useful to see the performance of selected data against a target.

Add report controls

Once you have built your report, you can give viewers the possibility to use report controls according to their needs. There are three types of report controls:

  • Date range control: it allows viewers to change the time frame of a report.
  • Filter control: it allows viewers to select one or more-dimension values.
  • Data control: it allows viewers to change the data set used by a specific type of data source.

Share reports

Google Data Studio still has another peculiarity that makes it stand out from other Business Intelligence tools, which is the ability to share reports with team members and customers.

There are different ways to share your reports. The first one is by clicking on the person icon in the report creation mode. You will be prompted to enter the emails of the people you want to invite. When you enter the email address, the icon of a pencil appears and by clicking it you can edit the access permissions of that specific person. When you send the invitation, the other person will receive it as an email.

The second way to share your report is with a shareable link, which you can obtain by clicking on the same person icon we mentioned above and selecting “Get shareable link”. Now you can send the URL of your report as you prefer.

Google Data Studio also allows you to download your reports and create a thumbnail image of the report to send to anyone you want. In this way, you won’t have to worry about access permissions and no one will be able to edit your report.

Conclusions on Business Intelligence tools and Google Data Studio

Are you ready to start using Business Intelligence tools and create interactive reports with Google Data Studio? In this article we gave you all the necessary information to become an expert on this subject. However, if you want to explore Google Data Studio by your own, you can give a look at this tutorial or become a certificated expert with this free course offered by Google. 

Be curious! Do not limit yourself and do not stop at our proposal of tools! Check out our article Software Discovery platforms: the top 9 for us to find the one that best suits your needs.