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Power BI and Tableau

The world of data analytics and visualization is rapidly growing. New players are entering the market while existing ones are overtaking the smaller players. But what makes a business intelligence tool good?  

A combination of price, ease of use, power, and brand recognition ultimately decides how good a data analytics tool is.  

Power BI and Tableau are two very well-known business intelligence tools. Both are equipped with the combination mentioned above necessary for being a successful tool. This is precisely what often makes choosing one over the other a difficult decision.   

How do you decide which tool is best for your organization?   

Worry not; we are here to help you make the right decision for your business and its goals when it comes to deciding which tool to deploy for your organization.  

Let us begin by briefly explaining each tool and some of its products, followed by a comparison between the two BI tools. Finally, we will discuss which tool is best for achieving your business goals.  

Power BI  

Power BI is a cloud-based business intelligence tool that creates data visualizations using Microsoft systems like Azure, Excel, and SQL. It was launched as an add-on to Excel in 2013.  

Being a Microsoft product is a bonus for Power BI as it is an excellent choice of tool for those already using other Microsoft products. It aims to create a data-driven culture and infrastructure that is equipped with business intelligence for all stakeholders.   

Here are some products of Power BI:  

Power BI Desktop  

This is a free data analysis tool used by developers to create new models and reports. It can connect to more than 70 on-premises data and cloud sources. It allows reports to share on the Power BI cloud service. Users can easily access these reports via the Power BI mobile app or web browser.  

Power BI Pro  

This product is a premium cloud-based tool that allows users to share and collaborate on data visualizations. It comes at a monthly cost of $9.99 per month.   

Power BI Premium  

Power BI Premium offers even better features than Power BI Pro. It is flexible enough to allow users to share reports across the company without needing multiple individual licenses.  

Tableau  

Tableau is a powerful business analytics tool that allows its users to create data visualizations in the form of worksheets and dashboards. It was launched in 2003 and was acquired by Salesforce in 2019.   

One must credit Tableau for being a pioneer in adding data visualization to its business intelligence tool. It styles itself as the “most beloved modern analytics platform in the world”.   

It is known for its fantastic data visualizations and ability to process large amounts of data quickly.   

Here are some Tableau products:  

Tableau Desktop  

This product allows users to code and customizes reports. The worksheets and dashboards created using Tableau Desktop can be shared both locally and publicly. It also offers access to large datasets which can be explored in-memory or live.  

There are other variations of this product as well. Tableau Desktop Personal and Tableau Desktop Professional. The former offers limited access, while the latter allows unrestricted access to all data types.  

Tableau Public  

Tableau Public has been specifically created for cost-effective users. Anyone can access files saved in Tableau Public’s cloud server. It offers no privacy to such files and is best suited for those interested in learning Tableau.   

Tableau Server  

Tableau Server is utilized for sharing visualizations and worksheets made on the Tableau Desktop across the company. However, the work first needs to be published on the Tableau Desktop before it can be shared with others using the Tableau Server.   

Differences Between Power BI and Tableau   

Power BI creates data visualizations using existing Microsoft systems like Azure, Excel, and SQL. This feature is also what gives it an edge over Tableau since it automatically suits those users who are already using Microsoft products. It is also comparatively more economical than Tableau.  

Tableau, on the other hand, is more into creating beautiful data visualizations. It has branded itself as a tool for corporate bigshots with deep pockets and experienced data engineers.   

Comparison Between Power BI and Tableau   

Price  

Power BI is comparatively more economical than Tableau. It offers a free version, a monthly subscription, and a premium version that is scalable and is more expensive than the other two.  

The Power BI Pro costs $9.99 per month, whereas the price of Power BI Premium is $4.995 per month.   

Tableau has recently switched from a bulk purchase model to a subscription model, which makes its pricing slightly confusing. It is a tiered pricing system that charges according to the user type.   

The price of the pro version is $35 per user per month, whereas Tableau Creator’s price is $70 per month.  

Ease-of-Use  

Most users consider Power BI easier to use when compared to Tableau. Power BI is suitable for both experts and novice users, whereas Tableau is easier to use for experienced data analysts.   

Popularity  

Tableau has a greater market share than Power BI. That is primarily because it has a nearly decade-long head start over Power BI and has therefore secured a greater market share.   

But Power BI is also very popular due to its ease of use and because it is a part of the Microsoft ecosystem. As of July 2022, Tableau has a market share of 14.88%, while Power BI has a 13.19% share – the gap is closing fast!  

Creating Visual Dashboards  

Users can use both tools to create visual dashboards to show data visualizations from various reports. Tableau is mainly known for creating attractive dashboards using an easy drag-and-drop method.   

Power BI also empowers its users to easily create dashboards using visualized metrics that are link to datasets and reports. It lets users pin these visualized metrics, also called tiles, from a particular report to make them appear on the dashboard.  

Deployment  

Power BI comes in various forms: desktop, pro, premium, embedded, mobile, and report server. Which form you should go for depends on your company’s needs.   

Due to its ease of use, Power BI allows its users to quickly connect data sources, spreadsheets, and applications through APIs and built-in connections.  

Similarly, Tableau comes in various forms, including individual, team, and embedded analytics plans. Tableau allows an initial free trial that lets the user set up their first instance.   

They can then use the dashboard to see a list of available connections. After connecting data sources, the user can build worksheets for data visualization.  

Dashboards and BI Reporting  

Power BI offers real-time data access to its users. This means that team members or users can react to new data immediately. The very idea behind Power BI is to create compelling visualizations in a relatively short time. It provides its users with powerful data analytics and discovery, whether experienced or novice.  

Tableau is equally powerful when it comes to dashboards and BI reporting. However, many of its features are hidden behind menus. It allows for live queries and extracts, which are vital for data analysts who stop the work for query processing.   

Tableau is not too difficult to use, provided the user is already familiar with datasets.   

Extra Features  

Power BI comes with native apps which allow the user to access data from anywhere. It also gives the option to ‘publish to web’ whereby the users can add visualizations to their websites or blogs.   

Moreover, Power BI offers extensive online help in using the tool to its users via webinars, a YouTube channel, and guided learning. One very significant feature provided by Power BI is that of natural language query. A user can ask any question about the data, and the tool will answer.   

Tableau also offers valuable extra features. It provides support tools that help the user navigate the setting up process of the software using initial data analysis. It also allows users to access and manipulate the data through a mobile app.   

This feature lets teams collaborate around shared dashboards. Although Tableau lacks language query, it does have Einstein AI, which can be used for data discovery.    

Which Tool Should You Go for?  

All in all, both tools are excellent for data analysis, data visualization, and business intelligence. What really matters is the requirement of your company.  

Tableau is more beneficial for established companies looking to leverage vast amounts of data. That is because it can process a larger volume of data than Power BI. It also focuses on creating attractive data visualizations.  

On the other hand, Power BI is more suitable for startups or small companies due to its ease of use. It can be use by resources who have had no prior experience in data analysis and visualization. Moreover, these companies can also benefit from Power BI’s relatively low cost.  

To sum it up, do a dispassionate analysis of your company’s needs and evaluate the technical knowledge of your resources. Once you have done that, make an informed decision by using the data in this article to choose the tool which best aligns with your business goals.   

If you still require any assistance, guidance, or information, feel free to reach out to us at info@xavor.com 

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Muhammad Abbas

Muhammad Abbas is an anthropologist at heart and a Marketing Specialist by profession. He has worked with leading marketing agencies over the years. While he considers himself a history buff, his interests also extend to topics like politics, economics, social justice, climate change, and tech.