The College supports three main tools for business analytics, as well as some smaller, specialist tools. These tools are used for different purposes and, together, should provide a solution to the vast majority of your business analytics needs.

Each tool has a specific set of use cases, and should only be used with that in mind. For example, Power BI is good for quick data modelling but is not suitable for large scale, business critical reporting. Deployment in Power BI requires individual super-users to maintain and update. ICA, on the other hand, provides stable standardised reporting from systems of record but is not a good tool for data mash ups. It requires pre-set, rigid data models and is not designed to handle fuzzier matching.

Bullet points on ICA, Discoverer, Microsoft Power BI

Imperial College Analytics (ICA)

  • To provide an established source of truth
  • As a key analytics tool with a large set of users
  • To provide high levels of business continuity
  • To provide re-usable data


  • To provide operational and ad hoc reporting from ICIS

N.B. Discoverer is no longer supported by Oracle and is being replaced in 2017.

Microsoft Power BI

  • To prototype for ICA
  • To mash up ‘dirty’ data
  • To report in small silos
  • To investigate and iterate
  • For users who do a lot of ad hoc reporting

If you wish to set up new business analytics, the Information Insight team can advise on the right platform for your project. If you wish to access an existing set of business analytics, you should raise the request via ICT Service Desk.

Please note that access to Power BI requires information security and in tool training before the software is activated for your use.