Updated on 28th Nov, 22 2144 Views

For businesses to survive and grow in today’s competitive market, enterprises have to understand the state of the current market by analyzing large datasets in real-time. Business Intelligence helps one to act accordingly and to track the performance of various teams working on different projects.

In this blog on “Power BI vs Tableau,” we will be comparing two of the most popular BI and visual analytics platforms on various aspects.

What is Power BI?

Power BI is a business intelligence tool that allows users to extract and modify data from a multitude of sources—be it Excel files, images, videos, etc.—into insightful reports and interactive Power BI dashboards. Data analysis and visualization have various techniques and methods of conveying information to users. Power BI is deployed for cleaning and integrating complex data and identifying underlying trends and patterns to run ad-hoc queries.

Check out this video on Power BI and start learning:

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What is Tableau?

Data-driven storytelling has become the new language for businesses. Tableau generates visualizations in the form of understandable dashboards, reports, and worksheets. This paves a way for the easy reading of complex data, without any technical knowledge, and draws insights that are beneficial for the revenue and growth of businesses.

You can check the Tableau Certification Course online to learn more about Tableau!

Now that we have learned about Power BI and Tableau, let us come to the main topic of this blog, Microsoft Power BI vs Tableau.

Key Difference between Power BI and Tableau

TableauPower BI
Tableau deploys MDX for dimensions and measures.Power BI uses DAX for measuring and calculating columns.
Tableau can handle huge colume of data and still offer better performance.Power BI is best for limited volume of data.
Tableau has better Data Visualization.Power BI offers many data points for Data Visualization.
Tableau works best with huge data.Power BI is sub-optimal with huge data.
Experts and experienced users use Tableau.Power BI is used by beginners and experienced alike.

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Top 10 Differences between Power BI and Tableau

Every business has its own set of goals and targets to increase its revenue and drive its growth in the right direction. We will discuss the difference between Tableau and Power BI in some important areas where there is a major contrast. Let us now compare the two to know which is better between Power BI and Tableau.

1. Cost

Cost

Tableau is expensive when compared to Power BI. The Tableau Creator costs USD 70/month/user. The yearly subscription to Tableau Pro comes over USD 1000.

Power BI is affordable compared to Tableau. The yearly subscription to the Power BI Pro version will be around USD 100. Startups often prefer Power BI over Tableau due to budget constraints and then later switch to Tableau depending on the need.

2. Data Visualization

Data Visualization

Tableau is the industry-best at Data Visualization. It allows users to create customized dashboards, catering to different devices.

Power BI offers easy drag-and-drop functionality to offer attractive visualizations inside reports and dashboards.

3. Deployment

Deployment

Tableau comes first when considering deployment flexibility as it has more cloud-based and on-premises options. When huge data is stored in the cloud, Tableau works well.

Even though Power BI has both on-premises and cloud versions, it is limited to Azure in the cloud. This limits the level of flexibility that Power BI can offer.

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4. Complex Data Handling Capacity

Complex Data Handling capacity

Tableau handles large data more efficiently than Power BI. Tableau works best when data is huge. That’s why Tableau is preferred when the use case has a huge data repository to work with.

Power BI has the tendency to lag when encountered with heavy data. It lags in performance when there is a huge data repository.

5. Functionality

Functionality

Tableau performs better as compared to Power BI when it comes to questions on data. This suggests that the depth of data that can be worked with is much more sophisticated with Tableau.

Power BI doesn’t offer that much functionality when compared with Tableau.

6. Integration

Integration

Both Tableau and Power BI easily integrate with third-party data sources. However, Tableau has an edge over Power BI for slightly divergent integration. It connects well with wide-ranging databases and even to Hadoop databases. Tableau also identifies the resource automatically. Power BI cannot connect with Hadoop Databases. It connects well with Google Analytics, Azure, and Salesforce.

7. Programming Tools Support

Programming Tools Support

Both Power BI and Tableau can blend smoothly with all major programming languages. R integrates much better with Tableau.

Power BI doesn’t have the best integration with R. It requires an external tool, called Microsoft Revolution Analytics, to connect to R; Microsoft Revolution Analytics is also only available for enterprise-level users.

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8. User Interface

User Interface

Tableau is usually used to create customized dashboards with sleek designs to enable a user-friendly interface. Both tools come with a good user interface that makes them easy to work with.

Power BI, on the other hand, is much simpler to learn and has a more intuitive interface than Tableau. So, businesses tend to prefer Power BI over Tableau because of its ease of use and simplicity.

9. Support and Community

Support and Community

The older the technology, the better will be its supporting community. Power BI is relatively new compared to Tableau. So, its user community is smaller than Tableau. This helps Tableau users to network better.

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10. Features of Power BI and Tableau

Here are some of the important features to compare Power BI and Tableau:

Features of Power BI and Tableau

Tableau Features:

  • Tableau dashboards: Dashboards in Tableau have a variety of filters, layouts, and formats, and they can present the data in the form of stories. They enable users to apply a custom filter and copy them or their elements from one report to another.
  • Data sources in Tableau: Tableau offers a variety of data sourcing options to fetch data from multiple sources, including relational and non-relational databases, data warehouses, on-premises, and on-cloud data, big data, and more. We can establish a secure connection with data sources and get a combinational view of the data to create visually interactive reports.
  • Data connectors: Tableau supports many data connectors such as SQL Server, Salesforce, Google Sheets, Presto, Hadoop, Amazon Athena, Cloudera, Dropbox, etc.
  • Advanced visualizations: Tableau provides a variety of visualizations that users can add to reports as per the requirements. In Tableau, visualizations range from basic pie or bar charts to advanced treemaps, boxplots, histograms, motion charts, Gantt charts, bullet charts, donut charts, advanced charts, and more.

Learn more about Tableau from this Tableau Tutorial!

Power BI Features

  • Customizable dashboards: A typical dashboard in Power BI consists of multiple tiles and visualizations. A tile is a single chart or visual created by analyzing data. A Power BI report is generated by combining one or more of these Power BI dashboards.
  • Power BI Service: It enables users to share reports or dashboards, on both cloud and on-premise servers, with other users. With Power BI Service, we can add more connectors, create workspaces where our partners can work with us on any reports and dashboards, and enable AI features, such as Power Query, for a smooth data flow, making it easy for users working on Power BI projects.
  • Data Analysis Expressions (DAX) functions: Data Analysis Expressions in Power BI are a set of predefined codes used to perform operations on data. Currently, there are more than 200 DAX functions in the Power BI function library that can be used to make business data analysis more efficient.
  • Natural language question box: Power Q&A is by far one of the best features of Power BI. Power Q&A allows users to search for data, transform it, and create visuals by asking questions in natural language. Users need to double-click on the dashboard, write down the variable that they want to add, select the desired graph or chart name, and Power Q&A will create the visual.

Go through our Power BI tutorial to learn more about this Microsoft BI tool.

Advantages of Power BI and Tableau

Here is the list of advantages of these Business Intelligence tools before concluding this debate on Tableau vs Power BI:

Power BI Advantages

  • Price: Power BI provides all the features and services at US$10 per user per month. With Power BI Pro, the user can access the whole range of Power BI components, along with Microsoft Services such as Cortana for running voice-based queries.
  • MSFT integration: Power BI can easily integrate with Azure/O365 and anything else that Microsoft has created, which proves to be a huge advantage for the user by smoothly running all operations on Microsoft.
  • Ease of use: For a newbie, Power BI provides an intuitive learning curve, and the interface resembles that of MS Excel, which makes it easier to navigate. In Power BI, we can take the advantage of DAX query language and execute the queries on datasets in natural language.
  • ETL/Discovery suite: When compared to Tableau, Power BI has a robust set of tools for implementing ETL capabilities. Data preparation is more than 90% of any reporting requirement, and Power BI can directly build these reporting data marts without involving third-party software.

Check out these Power BI Interview Questions if you are preparing for a job interview.

Tableau Advantages

  • High performance: Tableau provides high visualization and data transformation capabilities to the user. Also, it operates faster on big datasets with better efficiency. This high-performance feature gives Tableau an edge over other Data Analytics toolkits.
  • Multiple data source connections: Tableau can establish connections with more data sources such as Hadoop, DB technologies, SAP, and Google BigQuery. This improves the quality of data analysis and enables the user to create informative reports. Reports with such connections deliver accurate information about the situation and help the user make better decisions. Tableau uses languages such as Python and R for complex table calculations and avoids any performance drop.
  • Thriving community and forum: Through collaboration and sharing, Tableau fans provide useful insights and resources in the community that helps newbies increase their knowledge on data parsing and reporting. By sharing the experience with the software, the forum visitors help any user settle their issues.
  • Mobile-friendliness: With mobile apps, Tableau enables users to keep all the statistics at their fingertips. Tableau apps are available for both Android and iOS devices and support all the functions that Tableau Desktop has.

Prepare yourself for the industry by going through these top Tableau Interview Questions and Answers!

Disadvantages of Power BI and Tableau

We have discussed the best parts of using these tools, let’s now focus a bit on the disadvantages or downsides of these tools.

Power BI Disadvantages

  • Table relationships: Power BI is prone to running into difficulties while handling data that has complex relationships with tables. In many cases, data models need to be carefully created with unique fields for the sole purpose of joining tables together.
  • User interface: Power BI has a cluttered interface with many icon options obstructing the view of reports and dashboards. Additionally, Tooltip in Power BI also has limited functionality.
  • Compatibility with iOS: Power BI does not have a compatible option for desktop Mac users. Power BI cannot be directly installed in iOS; a virtual machine needs to be installed to run Power BI Desktop.
  • Limited Excel integration: Excel integration is a major advantage of Power BI, but only data of up to 150,000 rows can be downloaded, which can be very limiting at times.

All in all, Power BI is an excellent tool for data analysis and visualization, and the advantages far exceed the disadvantages.

Check out our blog on Top MSBI Tools Advantage over Other BI Tools!

Tableau Disadvantages

  • High cost: Tableau is not much expensive if we compare it with BI giants such as IBM and Oracle. However, the license is more expensive when put in the same bucket with other competitors like Power BI. It will not be an issue for big organizations but will be a considerable disadvantage for small or medium companies where money is the central focus for all decisions made.

Besides, Tableau requires proper implementation, maintenance, and staff training for effective analysis. Therefore, it is best for the organizations that can pay for the licensing cost.

  • Steep learning curve: In light of the learning curve, Tableau is quite steep as the user has to get proper training in data analysis and acquire decent skills in R and Python programming. Also, the process of data extraction, transformation, data modeling, and visualization is pretty manual, which means that we might face data incompetency while connecting our data sources with Tableau.

In Power BI, on the other hand, if we know the interface well, we just need to write our queries in our language using Power Query or drag-and-drop our data columns onto the visuals.

  • Time- and resource-intensive staff training: Tableau does not require technical knowledge to run basic operations. However, like the way Power BI maintains user-friendliness for complex operations, Tableau does not. Tableau users need to undergo comprehensive employee training for performing such operations. Not only does this take more time, but it also adds up to the expenses, which is quite detrimental for small businesses.
  • Hard to integrate with Microsoft BI solutions: Microsoft has many BI solutions and cloud-based services used by multiple organizations. When Power BI can easily integrate with them and provide better efficiency with features such as Power Q&A and Power BI Service, on Tableau, integration with products such as Dynamics 365, Microsoft Flow, and Office 365 is a bit exhausting because of the single sign-on process.

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Tableau products

Here are various types of Tableau products:

Tableau Desktop: Tableau Desktop offers a comprehensive set of features, and it allows you to code and customizes reports. You can share the dashboards and workbooks locally or publicly.

Tableau Desktop Personal: This is a personal version of Tableau Desktop. Workbooks created here cannot be published online, they can only be distributed in two ways; offline or in Tableau Public.

Tableau Desktop Professional: It’s similar to Tableau Desktop. There’s full access to all sorts of data types.

Tableau Public: Tableau Public is built with affordability in mind. Anyone can view or access the files present in Tableau Public. There’s no privacy to that.

Tableau Server: It’s used to share the visualizations and workbooks created using Tableau Desktop across organizations. Only licensed users will be able to access the files or the work uploaded to the Server.

Tableau Online: It’s Tableau’s online sharing tool having functionalities similar to Tableau Server. The data gets stored on cloud platforms maintained by Tableau.

Tableau Reader: This is a free-to-use tool that will enable you to view the Tableau Desktop or Tableau Public generated workbooks and visualizations.

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Power BI products

Here are various types of Power BI products:

Power BI Desktop: It’s the primary tool to author and publish in Power BI. Developers use it to generate new models or reports.

Power BI Service: It’s an online Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) used to host Power BI reports, data models, dashboards, etc.

Power BI Data Gateway: As the name suggests, it functions as the bridge between Power BI Service and on-premise data sources like Direct Query, Live Query, etc.

Power BI Report Server: This product from Power BI can host paginated reports, Power BI Desktop Reports, and mobile reports. Using this tool, users can modify Power BI Reports generated by the development team.

Power BI Mobile Apps: This app is available on Android, iOS, and Windows. This app allows you to view reports and dashboards on the Power BI Service Report Server.

Conclusion

Clearly, from the above Microsoft Power BI vs Tableau discussion, you can make out which tool will serve you more, of course considering our requirements. A user, who is not a Data Analyst, will prefer Power BI over Tableau as the latter is not as intuitive and commands more effort in learning. So, Power BI triumphs in terms of ease of use and simplicity. However, when it comes to speed and capacity to handle complex data, Tableau is the sought-after one. There is a guarantee on the quality of visualizations users can generate with Tableau, especially for medium-to-large enterprises that have no limitation on spending.

Here, we have brought to you only the Power BI vs Tableau pros and cons. There are other options as well to choose from as Business Intelligence tools for your enterprise. However, now, you have gained enough knowledge to choose either Power BI or Tableau according to your needs.

Check out Intellipaat’s Business Intelligence Community to post and clear your doubts.

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