If you are looking for a top-tier business intelligence and data visualization tool, your options include Power BI and Tableau. Though they are similar, there are differences in how each service works. Find out through this side-by-side comparison which product would work best for you.

Here, at Chameleon, our data experts advocate for Power BI because of the immense capabilities offered. We have this tool extremely useful in creating live and custom-made dashboards for our clients who are in need of various types of data analysis and visualization. This includes automating their financial data, analyzing their sales, or even showing the trends in the market.

However, we understand that the best service will ultimately depend on you and your preference. More importantly, what you are trying to create with the tool. This analysis won’t be looking into the coding language that is used to formulate the data or nit-picking at the features but will try to make it easier for consumers to decide which tool is best suited for them to showcase their data.

If you are looking for an in-depth analysis, showcasing both the strengths and weaknesses of both services, let’s begin. Remember, ultimately, it comes down to cost, functionality, and licensing.

Tableau was founded in 2003 but went public in 2013. Known for its functionality and ease, Tableau has a 10-year head start over Power BI, which may give them an edge. Tableau is all about product usability as well as “seeing and exploring” data. The amazing product support and flexible deployment options, the range of visualizations, user interface layout, intuitive data exploration, and visualization sharing capabilities enable immense flexibility when it comes to designing your dashboards. Tableau aims to create interactive visuals rather than generating reports. Through personal experience and use, if you have a question about your data, Tableau provides you with the right tools to answer your question by manipulating the filters and tools. Additionally, Tableau gives you live query capabilities and extracts, which is helpful for data analysts. Last but not least, Tableau can be purchased through an up-front license or a subscription and can be installed on an on-premise server or the cloud.

As for Tableau’s weaknesses, the main one is in its cost. When it comes to Tableau’s projects and building a data warehouse, it can often take up to at least $50k for the implementation budget plus the initial cost of the license. Additionally, users have noted how Tableau connects to fewer data sources. Other than these two factors, Tableau really is a top-tier data visualization tool and if used right, will provide you with the appropriate display of your data.

Now, let’s get into Microsoft’s data visualization option, Power BI. It debuted in 2013 and has gained ground on Tableau, and in some cases, edges out Tableau on “completeness of vision.” One of the main perks is how it is embedded within Microsoft and is included in Office 365, but that’s not all, it’s also cost-efficient, as in free for the “basic use”  license. For a pro-license, it’s only $10 a month per user. This is extremely attractive to companies who don’t have a large business intelligence project budget and are looking for something more risk-free. Power BI also has the capability of connecting to external sources beyond the cloud. Power BI is also most suitable for creating and displaying basic reports and dashboards and is most convenient for those looking to access KPIs as it doesn’t take much time to generate the information. Another huge perk is in Power BI’s ability to showcase real-time data, which means that users can react instantly to business changes that are fed from the CRM, sales, project management, and financial tools. Tableau does the same but you have to be a little intuitive because the tools are hidden behind menus, making it harder to learn and use.

As for Power BI’s weaknesses, Tableau still edges out Power BI when it comes to product functionality but its main weakness is in its deployment flexibility because it is only available on a SaaS model. Power BI must be in the cloud and if your business intelligence project doesn’t allow for this, Power BI won’t meet your needs. Also, you have to rent the software monthly as there isn’t an option to pay up-front. Additionally, as of right now, new features are being added to Power BI via Power BI Premium but Tableau still works better with larger amounts of data.

According to Technology Advice, “Power BI is built for the common stakeholder, not necessarily a data analyst.” But, as mentioned earlier, if we look back at the three main factors, it ultimately comes down to cost, licensing, and functionality. For us, Power BI takes the win with cost and it provides a range of visualizations though Tableau’s ease of use and capabilities are also great factors to consider.

We have also found a YouTube video that could be useful in helping you make an informed decision. Additionally, this article compares BI tools to another BI tool called Knowi, a modern business intelligence tool that is trying to distinguish itself from traditional BI tools by using data virtualization to eliminate the need for ETL.

Feel free to contact our data experts at [email protected] to schedule a free data assessment so that you can learn about all your options and see what we can offer you and your business!