Updated on 15th Oct, 21 1174 Views

For businesses to survive and grow in today’s competitive market, enterprises have to understand the current market state by analyzing huge datasets in real time. Business Intelligence helps one act accordingly and also 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.

Before reading about the difference between Tableau and Power BI in this Tableau vs Power BI comparison blog, let’s understand what Power BI is.


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 dashboards. Data analysis and visualization have various techniques and methods of conveying the information to users. Power BI is deployed for the cleaning and integration of complex data and identifying underlying trends and patterns to run ad-hoc queries.

Check out this video on Power BI and start learning:

You have briefly learned about Power BI in this ‘Power BI vs Tableau’ blog. Now, let’s get a clear idea of Tableau.

Want to learn more about Power BI? Enroll in this Power BI Certification training to become proficient in this BI tool.


What is Tableau?

Data-driven storytelling has become the new language for organizations. 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 beneficial for the revenue and growth of the business.

You can check the Tableau Certification course online to learn more about Tableau from basic to advance level.

Check this out for more clarity on what Tableau is:

After learning enough about Power BI and Tableau, let’s come to the main topic of this blog, Microsoft Power BI vs Tableau.


Difference Between Power BI and Tableau

Every enterprise has its own set of goals and targets set 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 they show major contrast in helping organizations achieve their goals. Let’s get into this Power BI vs Tableau comparison matrix based on distinct aspects.


1. Cost

Tableau is much more expensive compared to Power BI. This point is a deal-breaker for many firms as the costs are on the opposite ends of the spectrum. Anyone looking for an affordable option, the choice is clear. Hence, most of the startups opt for Power BI and later upgrade to Tableau when the need arises.


2. Data Visualization

When it comes to visualization, the best tool in the market today is Tableau. No questions to ask! It can break down large datasets into simpler visualizations and provide users with better drill-down features. Whereas, Power BI makes its mark on data manipulation, reporting, and predictive modeling.


3. Deployment

Tableau comes first when considering deployment flexibility as it has more cloud-based and on-premises options. Power BI, on the other hand, also has both on-premises and cloud versions. However, in the cloud, it is only limited to Azure.

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4. Complex Data Handling Capacity

Tableau handles huge data efficiently than Power BI. Power BI lags when encountered with heavy data.


5. Functionality

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


6. 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.


7. Programming Tools Support

Both tools can blend smoothly with all major programming languages. There is much better integration of R programming language with Tableau than Power BI. The latter requires another tool called Microsoft Revolution Analytics to connect to R, but it is available only for enterprise-level users.

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8. User Interface

Tableau is usually used to create customized dashboards with sleek design to enable a user-friendly interface. Power BI, on the other hand, is much simpler to learn and has a more intuitive interface than Tableau. Hence, enterprises prefer Power BI over Tableau, completely attributed to its ease of use and simplicity.


9. 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.

Learn about both Power BI and Tableau in our in-depth blog on Power BI tutorial and Tableau Tutorial.


10. Features of Power BI & Tableau

Here are some of the important features to compare between the tools in this Power BI vs Tableau debate:

Features of Tableau

  • Tableau dashboards: Dashboards in Tableau have a variety of layouts, formats, and filters, and they can present the data in the form of stories. They enable the user 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 the 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 the 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, and more.
  • Advanced visualizations: Tableau provides a variety of visualizations that the user can add to reports as per the requirements. In Tableau, the visualization ranges from basic pie charts 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!

Features of Power BI

  • 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 the user to share the 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 like Power Query for a smooth data flow.
  • DAX (Data Analysis Expressions) functions: Data Analysis Expressions in Power BI are a set of predefined codes used to perform operations on the data. Currently, there are more than 200 DAX functions in the Power BI function library that can be used to make our business data analysis more efficient.
  • Natural language question box: Power Q&A is by far one of the best features of Power BI that allows the user to search for the data, transform it, and create visuals by asking questions in natural language. The user needs to double-click on the dashboard, write down the variable he/she wants 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:

Advantages of Power BI

  • 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 the 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.

Advantages of Tableau

  • 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

Disadvantages of Power BI

  • Cannot handle large data sources with good efficiency: Power BI cannot accept datasets larger than 10 GB for normal analysis. We have to run direct queries if the size exceeds this, which limits the modifications we can do with our data. If we have huge datasets that need to be transformed, analyzed, and then visualized based on certain aspects, Power BI might not be the best option. Even with the Power BI Pro version, importing huge datasets might slow down our system.
  • Limited data sharing: Reports and dashboards created on Power BI can only be shared with the users whose email domain is listed in our Office365 tenant or the ones with the same email domain. Power BI works well in organizations where there is a group of Microsoft Power BI users. Professionals working on pivots tables and charts in Excel can use Power BI for quick analysis and visualization.
  • Complex in nature: Power BI is known for the easy connection, extraction, and visualization of complex information from different data sources. However, the interface is quite complex, which makes it hard to choose the right operation or visual we want to deploy on our dataset.
  • Performance issues: In one of the above points, we got to know that Power BI cannot load the datasets that are larger than 10 GB in size. Well, it has also been observed that Power BI Desktop is not able to process files with more than 30,000 rows without running into any issues. It sometimes aborts the queries while processing such datasets, which means that we might have to split up the process and run multiple queries to cover the full range of data.

Disadvantages of Tableau

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 the 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 this takes 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 many 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.



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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