The two most popular and powerful business intelligence solutions on the market today are Power BI and Tableau. Both are excellent tools that offer the functionality to explore data visually to enable better decision-making. But what everyone really wants to know is, in the battle between Power BI vs. Tableau, which is better suited for their business?
To help answer this popular question, we will be comparing key features of Power BI and Tableau to help see how they align with your individual business needs. Gartner identified these tools as leaders in the space for Analytics and Business Intelligence platforms in their latest review. They define a “leader” as a platform that commits to customer success, has attractive pricing models, and is easy to buy and use. For more information on the strengths and cautions of other popular business intelligence tools, please visit Gartner’s Magic Quadrant review. Their research does a great job of reviewing several platforms to help leaders make informed decisions.
Benefits of Business Intelligence Tools
Before diving into each BI tool’s characteristics, we will examine why they are so important. The amount of data available today is overwhelming. These tools help prevent analysts from getting swept up in a vast sea of numbers. Whether it is customer feedback, sales revenue, attrition, or claims volume, these tools help to harness the power of that information. Businesses use it to identify meaningful opportunities which help optimize processes, drive change, and put you ahead of your competitors.
Business intelligence tools enable storytelling with data and help find the root cause of failures and successes. There are several key benefits that these tools provide to businesses. These benefits include increased productivity, better decision-making, improved customer service, greater competitiveness, enhanced strategic planning, visualization of important information, and established benchmarking. For more in-depth insights into the benefits of business intelligence, check out: 7 Benefits of Business Intelligence.
The number of people using business intelligence platforms has increased significantly. The pandemic created a variety of use cases for BI tools driven by a need to know how COVID was impacting their business. According to Statista’s 2022 worldwide software market share analysis, Tableau leads ahead of Power BI with 12.5% and 7.2% of the market, respectively. Tableau launched 12 years ahead of Power BI, creating a solid base of users. With Power BI integrated into Office 365, it is quickly gaining popularity. For the past year, search interest for Tableau has remained steadily above Power BI.
The job market has skills for Power BI and Tableau in high demand. If you are looking to hire analysts, developers, or consultants to help establish these tools, it should not be too hard to locate brilliant individuals to fill those positions. The increase in remote work expands the talent pool, but if you are looking for a local hire, the availability of skills will vary depending on the region and industry. According to Google Trends, Power BI has a greater search interest in the mid-western and south-eastern regions of the US. Tableau has greater search popularity on the west coast and north-eastern regions.
Feature Breakdown: Power BI vs. Tableau
- Ease of Implementation & Use
- Data Connectivity & Preparation
- Self-Service Capabilities
- User Management
Ease of Implementation & Use
Both Power BI and Tableau are relatively easy to implement. They each offer great online training resources for designers and business users from their respective sites for quick deployment. In terms of online support, Tableau takes the cake with its extensive community that provides a space to ask questions, search for topics, and learn about new features from fellow users. That being said, it has been noted that Tableau has a steeper learning curve for new users. Power BI is more intuitive and suitable for beginners, especially those with intermediate Excel knowledge.
Your operating system is a big factor when choosing between these two tools. Additional challenges present themselves when working with Power BI if you are utilizing a Mac OS. Solutions to run Power BI on a Mac include remoting into a virtual machine. If you prefer not to go through those extra steps, Tableau will be the better option as it works efficiently on both Windows and Mac OS.
These tools can integrate with your enterprise architecture and scale to thousands of users. Power BI Report Server is their on-premises solution that is also compatible with the cloud. It allows reports to be securely published, organized, and updated as necessary. Reports can then be shared and consumed on the web and mobile devices. Power BI’s increasing integration with Microsoft Teams has improved their ability for remote work collaboration. Tableau Server is their trusted online platform that hosts data sources, workbooks, and dashboards. Similarly, deployment options include both on-premises and cloud solutions. Collaboration is made simple with information sharing through mobile devices, tablets, or computers. Data notifications from Tableau can now be delivered through Slack, allowing even easier sharing in the day-to-day workflow.
Data Connectivity & Preparation
The ability to connect to a wide range of data sources is true for both tools. This fact is important considering that most businesses combine data from multiple channels. Connectors include the standard Excel, text/CSV, JSON, direct queries, online analytical processing databases and SQL Servers. Access to specific connectors will vary depending on whether you use the free or paid versions. In terms of Power BI vs Tableau in performance, when utilizing data sets with significantly large volumes, Tableau tends to perform better. Depending on how you will be using the tool will help determine which is better suited.
No matter which tool is being used, you will certainly encounter some difficulties. Workarounds help solve these problems fairly easily when creating your data model. The logical approach used by Power BI when creating a data model is what has made it slightly easier to work with. Users can effortlessly create multidimensional tables. Tableau allows users to establish an active relationship between multiple tables and define multiple relationships for multiple fields. Both tools allow for data manipulation by creating calculated fields and manual data type conversion. Power BI utilizes its formula language DAX (data analysis expressions). This language is their library of functions and operations used to build formulas and expressions. Tableau utilizes MDX (multidimensional expressions) query language to create calculated dimensions and measures.
One of the main differences between Power BI and Tableau is how they each approach data visualization. Power BI focuses on allowing users to access, analyze, and share data quickly and easily. Dashboards can quickly display various tables and charts to illustrate key data points. Tableau provides an intuitive experience with a patented engine that supports its drag-and-drop interface. Visualizations are built on separate sheets that can be combined onto a dashboard to create interactive data visualizations.
Tableau is often referenced as the industry’s best in terms of quality and range of data visualizations. Tableau provides stunning, visually appealing charts and graphs. The breadth of visualization capabilities is extensive, but you may not use most of the details it offers depending on your level of expertise. Ultimately both tools provide the ability to showcase your data in various ways.
The ability to create and access interactive reports is available in both Power BI and Tableau. Tableau is more powerful in this area because it allows users to create their own visualizations and reports. Power BI is more focused on creating and sharing dashboards. In either instance, they both allow for the presentation of specific KPIs and data sets. This creates an environment that promotes visual self-service for end users.
Both tools take self-service analytics to the next level by providing the capability of natural language interaction. By selecting a data source and typing a simple question, you can find the answer to various inquiries. This makes data insights even more accessible to internal and external customers regardless of their roles. In addition to typing questions, the Power BI Q&A visualization feature leverages Artificial Intelligence to develop a list of suggested questions it thinks would be helpful. It will go a step further to create a supported chart type of your choice based on the selected question. Similarly, Tableaus Ask Data allows users to converse with data to gain insights and can recommend relevant questions.
Both Power BI and Tableau offer user management capabilities. Power BI focuses more on role-based access, while Tableau has slightly more advanced options that allow for granular user permissions. The Power BI roles allow you to define and filter views tailored to specific audiences. Tableau sets access by considering a user’s license type, site role and content permissions. Both tools allow you to create user groups, assign and remove users, and enable viewing access.
Power BI and Tableau have different pricing structures, making it difficult to compare them directly. Power BI has a lower cost-effective model when compared to Tableau and has managed not to sacrifice quality in doing so. Tableau’s comparatively expensive license cost is a factor that many current and potential users often consider.
Power BI has a more straightforward pricing structure, with three main options with an increasing layer of features: Power BI Desktop, Power BI Pro, and Power BI Premium. The free Power BI Desktop tool includes basic features such as data visualization and sharing capabilities. Power BI Pro costs $9.99/user/month and includes features such as mobile app access and publishing capability for collaboration. Power BI premium offers sophisticated features, which include advanced AI, dataflows, and Datamart creation. Pricing is per user or by capacity. The per-user cost is $20/user/month, while the capacity-based pricing starts at $4,995/per capacity/month.
Tableau has a tiered pricing structure, where costs vary depending on the level of product license purchased. Tableau Public offers a free version, but be mindful of what data you utilize. Files are saved in Tableau’s cloud and are made public once published, making this version best for individuals wanting to learn the tool.
There are three main license options for teams & organizations: Tableau Viewer, Tableau Explorer, and Tableau Creator. Prices vary slightly depending on deployment with Tableau Cloud or Tableau Server; for simplicity, pricing is based on cloud deployment. The most basic license is Tableau Viewer, which starts at $15/user/month and allows for viewing and interaction with dashboards and visualizations. Tableau Explorer costs $42/user/month and allows for data exploration and self-service analytics. Tableau Creator starts at $70/user/month and is the most comprehensive license allowing access to their powerful suite of products. There are additional enterprise-level pricing options for Tableau Data Management and Tableau Advanced Management.
Pricing Overview: Power BI vs. Tableau
Wrapping Up Tableau vs Power BI
Overall, we see both are excellent tools for business intelligence and data visualization when we compare Power BI vs. Tableau. Power BI tends to be a more user-friendly and affordable option but comes with less advanced features when compared to Tableau. Tableau has powerful and flexible visualizations but has a higher price tag and a steeper learning curve. It’s important to consider ease of use, connectivity, complexity of visualizations, user management and price when deciding between the two.
The best tool for your business will ultimately depend on how the strengths of each align with your individual needs. If your business is a smaller start-up or a mid-size firm, you might consider Power BI the better fit. Tableau may be a better fit if you are a leader at a Fortune 500 company with a larger budget and detailed analytical needs. Whatever tool you choose will be sure to become an integral part of your organization.
With the right tool, you can gain a competitive advantage and improve your business strategy. Once you have chosen the right BI tool for your organization, you can dive in and unlock the potential of business intelligence automation.
FAQs | Power BI vs Tableau
Which is better, Tableau or Power BI?
The better tool depends on how you intend to use it and your business requirements. Tableau is better suited for significantly larger data sets. It is also better if you require a wider range of data visualizations with detailed qualities. Tableau is often referenced as the industry’s best in terms of visualizations. Power BI has a lower price point without sacrificing quality. The lower price point and the user-friendly interface make it a great option.
Is Power BI more difficult than Tableau?
Power BI tends to be more intuitive and suitable for beginners. Intermediate knowledge of Excel is a great starting point for jumping into Power BI. Either tool can be mastered with enough time and practice. Both offer great training resources on their respective sites. Once you learn one tool, learning how to use the other is relatively simple.
Should I learn Tableau or Power BI in 2023?
There is skill overlap between the two tools that are equally marketable. Learning to use both is best if you have the option. If you must choose one or the other, consider the system you will be working on. Power BI integrates seamlessly with Office 365 but is not compatible with Mac OS. Tableau works efficiently on both Windows and Mac OS.
Can I teach myself Tableau? Can I teach myself Power BI?
The short answer is yes, to both. Multiple online resources allow for flexible learning, and free versions are available for Tableau and Power BI. There are courses available that offer sample data sets that allow you to practice creating data visualizations and analytical insights. Maven Analytics is a great resource that offers self-paced courses, boot camps, and learning paths.
How long does it take to learn Tableau or Power BI?
A fundamental baseline for either tool can be accomplished between 3 to 4 hours with an introductory course. Gaining proficiency takes considerably longer and will likely take a couple of months. Several self-paced training courses range from 15 – 50 hours that can accommodate your availability. As with any skill, the more hands-on practice you have, the better you will become.