Power BI vs Tableau
Updated on 27th Feb, 24 9.4K 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. Business intelligence practices help companies in fulfilling this task. To a substantial extent, BI is driven by data analytics tools like Power BI and Tableau. Many businesses use these tools predominantly to analyze their data and convert their findings into a dashboard.

However, for many data professionals, choosing one tool out of these two becomes a difficult task. You need to understand how to make this decision by comprehending the attributes of both these tools. In this Power BI vs Tableau blog, we will answer this question for you with a thorough comparison. Let’s dive right in.

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Check out this video on Power BI and start learning:

What is Power BI?

Power BI is a business intelligence tool that was developed by Microsoft in 2015, which is used to extract and modify data from a multitude of sources, such as Excel files, images, videos, etc., into insightful reports and interactive Power BI dashboards.

According to the data from 6Sense, over 83,238 companies are using Power BI as of 2024, and around 47.62% of those companies are from the United States, which are Walmart, ExxonMobil, and Apple. 

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.

Enroll in Power BI Certification Training to become proficient in this BI tool.

What is Tableau?

Did you know Tableau was developed as a computer science project in 2003 at Stanford University? It was designed to visualize the data in a better way. Later in 2019, it was acquired by Salesforce. 

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

Key Differences Between Power BI and Tableau

Power BITableau
Power BI uses DAX for measuring and calculating columns.Tableau deploys MDX for dimensions and measures.
Power BI is best for a limited volume of data.Tableau can handle huge columns of data and still offer better performance.
Power BI offers many data points for data visualization.Tableau has better data visualization.
Power BI is suboptimal with huge data.Tableau works best with huge data.
Power BI is used by beginners and experienced alike.Experts and experienced users use Tableau.

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

Difference 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.

If you are thinking of implementing a data visualization tool within your business, then this comparison will make your choice really easy. 

1. Power BI vs. Tableau Cost

Tableau is expensive when compared to Power BI. Startups often prefer Power BI over Tableau due to budget constraints and later switch to Tableau, depending on the need.

Let’s compare all the versions of Tableau and Power BI and try to understand the features they provide at different price points

CategoryPower BITableau
VersionFree AccountTableau Viewer
CostFree$15
FeaturesVisual analyticsView lineage and impact
VersionPower BI ProTableau Explorer
Cost$10.00$42.00
FeaturesPublish your reportsManage, share, and certify
VersionPower BI Premium per UserTableau Creator
Cost$20.00$70.00
FeaturesLicense Specific, enterprise-scaleTableau Desktop, prep Builder, and Tableau Cloud

2. Power BI vs. Tableau Data Visualization

When comparing Power BI and Tableau for data visualization, several factors come into play, and they are:

FeaturesPower BITableau
Drag and Drop FunctionalityYesYes
Customization OptionsLimitedExtensive
Geographical DataLimited supportPre-installed features for geographical data like postal codes and cities
Visualization TypesColumn bar, Area Chart, Line Chart, etc.Simple Bar charts, to complex Gantt charts and more

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3. Power BI vs. Tableau: Deployment

Power BI and Tableau offer on-premises and cloud deployment options. However, there are a few differences, let’s try to understand them with the help of this table:

Power BITableau
It can only be integrated with Azure;Cloud ServicesIt can be integrated with all three cloud service providers (AZURE, GCP, and AWS)

4. Power BI vs. Tableau: Complex Data Handling Capacity

When comparing the complex data handling capacity of Power BI and Tableau, it’s essential to consider various factors that impact their performance in managing intricate datasets. To understand these factors, here’s a breakdown:

AspectsPower BITableau
Processing CapacityPower BI can process 10GB of data at a timeTableau can handle billions of data
Cloud Services RequiredNot Required
PerformanceIt tends to lag when encountering heavy data. It lags in performance when there is a huge data repositoryIt works best when the data is huge. That’s why Tableau is preferred when the use case has a huge data repository

5. Power BI vs. Tableau: Ease of Learning

When comparing how easy it is to learn Power BI and Tableau, there are a few things to consider:

Power BITableau
In terms of learning, Power BI is easier to learn especially for new users and for those who are not data analystsTableau requires more technical knowledge, such as R and Python. Tableau is more popular among experienced data analysts, as it’s known to have a steeper learning curve

6. Power BI vs. Tableau: Integration

Power BITableau
Power BI lacks a native connector for Hadoop, but users can still connect through alternate methods like ODBC. Power BI integrates well with Google Analytics, Azure, and Salesforce, enabling data retrieval for analysis.Tableau excels at integration, connecting with various databases, including Hadoop. It automatically identifies resources and establishes connections seamlessly. It also provides REST API so that you can integrate your data visuals in your application without much coding.

In summary, Tableau offers broader database connectivity, while Power BI provides strong integrations with specific platforms.

7. Power BI vs. Tableau: Programming Tools Support

Power BI and Tableau can blend smoothly with all major programming languages like C, C++, SQL, and Python.

Power BITableau
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.Languages like R, MATLAB, and SAS, which are difficult to integrate into Power BI can be easily integrated into Tableau. That’s why Tableau is considered better at programming support than Power BI.

8. Power BI vs. Tableau: User Interface

FeaturesPower BITableau
Drag-and-Drop FunctionalityAvailableAvailable
Dashboard CreationOffers pre-made templates for easy startAllows for creating customized dashboards with sleek designs
Visualization OptionsData tab, Visualization tab, etc.One-click visualization option
Data Blending CapabilityLimitedAllows combining data from various sources

9. Power BI vs. Tableau: Support and Community

When it comes down to learning certain technology, having a good support community is very critical. Both Power BI and Tableau have strong support communities. If you come across any problem while working on these tools you can raise the query, and experts around the world will answer it for you. Here’s a difference between the size of both communities. This also builds trust among the users.

Power BITableau
Power BI community support is one of the fastest-growing communities in the industry with almost 10 million monthly users.Tableau has more than 3 million users with a million posts in its community forum. It is one of the largest active data visualization communities out there.

If we compare both the platforms in terms of community Power BI wins because of the huge audience it has.

Learn about Power BI with our Power BI Certification Course in London!

10. Power BI vs. Tableau: Features 

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

Power BI Features

Power BI Features

  • Dashboard: In Power BI, a dashboard is made up of multiple tiles and visualizations. Each tile represents the visualized data, and thus, users can arrange these tiles and customize their dashboard to create a comprehensive Power BI report.
  • Service: It allows users to share reports and dashboards with other users by using cloud services or on-premise servers not only that it also lets you create a collaborative workspace. Power BI has AI features like power query for better data flow, which makes it super easy to work on Power BI projects.
  • Data Analysis Expressions (DAX) Functions: DAX is nothing but a collection of pre-written functions of code, which helps in data analysis. There are around 200 functions in the Power BI library.
  • Power Q&A: With this tool, users can ask natural language queries to search through data, manipulate it, and generate visuals. To add a variable, users must double-click the dashboard, choose the desired chart or chart name, and then fill in the variable. Power Q&A will then generate the required visualization.

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

Tableau Features

Tableau Features:

  • Dashboard: It includes powerful tools, that lets you customize the presentation of data with the help of different layouts and filters. Tableau dashboards can be designed as stories, and you can represent your data in narrative format.
  • Data Sources in Tableau: Tableau offers a wide range of options for sourcing data from different systems. These include both relational and non-relational databases, on-premises, cloud services, and data warehouses. That’s not it, Ttableau gives you the option to blend the data from multiple resources.
  • 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 their 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 much more.

Learn more about Tableau from this Tableau Tutorial!

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 is preferred for small to medium level companies due to its affordable price point. Power BI provides all the features and services for 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, SQL Server, 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 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 drops.

Thriving Community and Forum

Through collaboration and sharing, Tableau fans provide useful insights and resources in the community that help newbies increase their knowledge of data parsing and reporting. By sharing their experience with the software, 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 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 Mac users. Power BI cannot be directly installed on 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 outweigh the disadvantages.

Data Science SSBM

Tableau Disadvantages

High Cost

Tableau is not very 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 as 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 of 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 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 to perform such operations. Not only does this take more time, but it also adds up to 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.

Do you want to get certified in Power BI? Here is the Best Power BI Training in Bangalore you are looking for.

According to the Forbes report of the best data visualization software of 2024, both Power BI and Tableau are ranked at the top. Power BI received a rating of 4.5 and Tableau with a 4.4 rating.

Global adoption figures for  BI show a 26% adoption rate in 2024, according to the report by DataProt. The reason is that Power BI is very easy to use and does not require much of programming and data science skills On the other hand, Ttableau is more difficult to use and requires programming skills.

Power BI Products

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.

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

Tableau Products

Tableau Products

Here are various types of Tableau products:

Tableau Desktop

Tableau Desktop offers a comprehensive set of features. It allows you to code and customize 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 in 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 with functionalities similar to Tableau Server. The data is 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.

Learn how to use these products by enrolling in Tableau Training in Bangalore.

Power BI vs. Tableau: Which One Should I Choose?

Well, which one should you pick: Power BI or Tableau? In the end, both are helpful tools for business intelligence (BI) out there. Before choosing one, you should identify your needs and use case.

If you are not a data analyst and just starting out in this field then I would suggest you go for Power BI because it is a self-service tool and very easy to understand. 

On the other hand, if you have good knowledge of programming languages related to data analysis you can prefer Tableau because it offers more features than Power BI

Obviously, there are other factors to consider as well, such as cost and accessibility. In the beginning, you can start with Power BI and later you can switch to Tableau as knowing both tools will be really helpful.

Conclusion

Clearly, from the above Microsoft Power BI vs. Tableau discussion, you can tell which tool will serve you better, 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 requires more effort to learn. 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 to choose from as business intelligence tools for your enterprise. However, 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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