In the current data frenzy era, many companies are delivering their own data visualisation tools. Even Google is stepping into this domain with a product calledData Studio 360, included as part of its ‘Google 360’ suite.
Tableau has been leading the market for quite some time already as the company was the first to introduce a data visualisation tool and its product is still considered the best. The ease at which Tableau’s tool can be used is hardly comparable to any other product in the Data Viz world.
Nonetheless, a noteworthy competitor to Tableau has emerged recently. The BI tool from Microsoft called Power Bi is quickly catching up with Tableau, and it appears that Microsoft’s offering is close to becoming the number one BI tool in the market.
These are the 5 reasons why Power BI is aggressively competing with Tableau.
1- INTEGRATION AND SHARING
Power BI is integrated into the Microsoft Office 365 Suite, which means that it is highly compatible with all Microsoft (Office) applications such as Excel and others like SharePoint.
What really makes PBI powerful is the sharing options it provides. These allow the segmentation of users we want to send information to, with the possibility of selectively displaying or hiding information that we don’t want certain users to see. This is particularly applicable to vendors or external entities with whom a limited amount of information needs to be shared.
2- DATA SOURCES AND MODELLING
The number of Data Sources included in the Desktop Version of Power BI cover those that Tableau offers. In the online version, we can even find options such as the web query, which creates a dashboard from a web search (although it only works with Bing). Also in the online version, Power BI has recently rolled out a quick analysis tool that analyzes a specific data set, returning valuable insights using Machine Learning.
The Data Modelling options that are served after loading the dataset have improved significantly. One can create complex relationships between tables, add columns and rows, import from one table to the other, join, filter and much more. This feature, in some cases, requires advanced knowledge, but the options that are available are infinite, and few are the cases that the Data Modelling of Power Bi does not cover.
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3- CUSTOM VISUALS
This is a very smart feature, as you are not limited to the default number of visualizations that are part of the Desktop Version. Rather, you can use the custom visualizations published in the Viz Community. The number of available visuals grows each week and some of them are truly spectacular such as the SandDance (you have to watch this video) or the sunburst charts.
For those who import data from Google Analytics, the Drop-off (Sankay-Bar) chart is very useful as well.
4- DAX EXPRESSIONS
Dax Expressions are very similar to the Excel formulas but are much more advanced. DAX expressions can be used to create calculated fields, new columns, aggregations, changes to data formats and granularity and you can even modify the data in the tables or join tables. A comprehensive guide to DAX expressionscan be found here.
Probably the most important distinguishing factor between the two products; cost is where Power BI far surpasses Tableau.
I estimate the current price of Tableau to be around 800 to 1000$ license/user per year, on average. This does not include implementation costs.
The standard version of Power BI, on the other hand, costs 12$ month/user. That is 144$ year/user.
It is no surprise then, that for most small-mid-sized companies, opting for Power BI is a no brainer.
Rolling out a BI tool across a company could entail huge costs in the case of Tableau. Always keep in mind that a high percentage of the softwares installed on company computers are hardly ever used. (IT readers may want to read this amazing article covering the topic: ”The cost of unused software”).
Licensing Power BI, if not included in the company’s Office 365, is definitely affordable, and the return on investment is just a few Visualizations and Dashboards away.
While Tableau updates its product once or twice a year, Power Bi launches an update on a weekly basis. On top of that, Power BI selects new features to include in its updates based on requests made by end users through the Power BI Community portal. Microsoft is actually listening to its customers and giving them exactly what they ask for.
Tableau – and this is my personal opinion – is still the best BI Tool in the market, but from a business perspective, Power Bi could probably prove much more efficient.
The continuous efforts made by Microsoft to improve the tool have elevated its quality and it is currently a very appealing product with a fast-growing community.