The field of data visualization and analytics is super competitive and there are a variety of tools that are fighting to grab a piece of the pie. A data analytics tool needs to get a lot of things right for it to be considered a powerful one. Power BI and Tableau are two of the most popular data analytics tools in the market.
Let us look at these tools separately and then stack them against each other to find out the major differences between them.
What is Power BI?
It is a data visualization and business intelligence tool which converts data into interactive dashboards and BI reports. Microsoft’s Power BI provides a variety of software connectors and services. It has the ability to handle data from different sources. Power BI even provides visualization after the cleaning and integration process.
- Customizable dashboards
- Online Analytical Processing (OLAP)
- Interactive reports authoring
- End-to-end reporting and data visualization tools
- Datasets and reports
- Q&A question box
- Ad Hoc reporting and analysis
- Real-time dashboards
What is Tableau?
It simplifies raw data into an easily understandable format, and is one of the most popular data visualization tools that is used in the business intelligence industry. Tableau creates visualization in the form of dashboards and worksheets.
Features of Tableau:
- Data collaboration and data analytics
- Data blending
- List of native data connectors
- DAX analysis function
- Dashboard commenting
- Translate queries to visualizations
- Share and embed dashboards
- Highlight and filter data
Let us look at how each of these tools compares against each other for certain functionality:
Power BI connects users’ external sources including JSON, SAP HANA, MySQL, etc. It automatically determines the relationship when users add data from multiple sources. The tool enables users to connect to 3rd party databases, MS Azure database, and from services like Salesforce and Google Analytics.
Tableau supports big data options such as NoSQL and Hadoop as well as OLAP. Just like PowerBI, when users add data, it automatically determines the relationships as well. Tableau provides its users the ability to create or modify data links according to their convenience.
Although both Tableau and PowerBI are able to connect to various data sources, the former provides better support for connecting to a distinct data warehouse, while the latter is heavily dependent on its Azure platform.
Power BI has a desktop option that is free. Apart from Desktop, there are two other versions- Pro and Premium.
Pro costs $9.99/user/month. It includes a mobile app and has the following facilities- 1 GB size limit, ability to push and share reports, eight data refreshes every day, ability to connect with more than 100 data sources, and more. The Pro version is available freely for those who use Microsoft 365 E5 plan.
The Premium plan is priced at $20/user/month. Apart from providing you all the features that Pro gives, it offers the following- 100 GB size limit, 48 data refreshes daily, 100 TB maximum storage, application lifecycle management, advanced AI features, can analyze data stored in Azure Data Lake Storage and more.
The Premium plan comes at $4,995/month with dedicated cloud compute and storage resources. Apart from having all the features of the Premium plan, it also provides a 400 GB model limit, multi-location deployment management, autoscale, and Bring Your Own Key (BYOK).
Tableau offers three options- Creator, Explorer and Viewer
Creator- $70/user/month. It provides you the full functionality of Tableau.
Explorer- In this plan, the users here want self-service analytics without the data prepping and cleaning. For on-premise deployment it costs $35/user/month and for cloud deployment it costs $42/user/month.
Tableau’s Viewer plan is for users who want access to visualizations that have been already created. Users need at least 100 viewers if they would like to purchase this plan. On-premise deployment would cost $12/user/month while Tableau can host it for you at $15/user/month. There is also a 14-day free trial available for those who are not ready to make a commitment yet.
PowerBI is the more affordable one. But if you would like to take a free whirl, then please note that PowerBI offers a 60-day Pro trial. While Tableau starts at $35, PowerBI starts only at $9.99/user/month.
PowerBI allows users to create visualizations by asking queries with natural language. Uploading data in PowerBI works like a charm. Users can upload data from a sidebar into the visualization by choosing the numerous visualizations available as blueprints. There is a 3,500 datapoint limit when it comes to analyzing datasets.
Tableau allows its users to create a variety of baseline visualizations that include scattering plots, line charts, and heat maps. The interface is extremely simple and it doesn’t require the ability to code in order to create complex visualizations.
Both Tableau and PowerBI are fantastic tools when it comes to helping with visualizations that unearth patterns, reduce costs, speed up incumbent processes, and so on. Since Tableau allows an unlimited number of datapoints to conduct analysis, it comes on top as PowerBI limits one’s usage.
For PowerBI, all users, including the ones using the free version of the tool can submit a support request. They also offer a bunch of resources including a guided learning system, a community forum, support resources, documentation, and so on.
Tableau offers both phone and email support. You can also submit a support ticket by logging onto their platform. They also offer a knowledge base that includes a variety of resources that customers can use to solve their issues. They also have a community of users.
Regardless of the tool that you end up using, we would suggest you play with both of them. Just to add a few more comparisons between PowerBI and Tableau:
- PowerBI can only handle a limited amount of data while Tableau can handle vast quantities of data from multiple sources.
- Coming from the house of Microsoft, we know you won’t be surprised if we tell you that PowerBI is much simpler and easy to use. Tableau has a learning curve.
- Tableau uses a variety of outsourcing platforms which include Microsoft-based platforms as well as outsource-based tools. PowerBI can work seamlessly with various data sources that include Power apps. Azure Power Flow, 365 Excel, SharePoint, and many other Microsoft products.
- Tableau is generally used for operations that require a lot of time and ad hoc analysis. Power BI is used for personalized graphics for dashboards and open source solutions.
- Community- There is not much difference between the two tools when it comes to getting support from the community for its respective products.
Business intelligence tools play a pivotal part in the organization’s success. As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, both PowerBI and Tableau are powerful tools that have their own pros and cons. We have given you a detailed assessment of the differences, you should make a decision only after finding out which one fulfills your business requirements.