This is a clash of the titans! Power BI and Tableau are the most popular data analytics tools in the world at a time when data analytics and visualization are becoming more and more important. There are many companies that are trying to decide which of these tools they should incorporate in their business model to move ahead of their competitors. So this article lists the key differences between Power BI and Tableau so that you can decide which of these tools is best for you.
Microsoft Power BI is a Data Analytics and Business Intelligence platform that can be used to create a data-driven culture in modern companies. This BI tool has various self-service analytics that can be used to collect, manage, analyze, and share the data easily in business. Microsoft Power BI offers hundreds of data visualizations with end to end data protection services.
Tableau is also one of the most popular Data Analytics and Business Intelligence platforms that are used by businesses to get an idea of their operations using data analysis. Tableau is very famous as it can connect to multiple data sources and also produce detailed data visualizations in a very short time. Tableau also allows its users to prepare, clean, and format their data and then create data visualizations that can be used by businesses to obtain actionable insights.
Power BI vs Tableau
Power BI is available as three main products namely Desktop which is the primary authoring tool, Mobile, and Server. The Desktop and Mobile versions provide for the desktop and mobile respectively while the Server is for the cloud for Software as a Service (SaaS). There is also the Power BI Data Gateway that is the gateway between the Power Bl Service and data sources available locally and the Power BI Report Server that provides reports such as mobile reports, desktop reports, etc. The easiest way to use Power BI for companies is to have an Azure tenant that can be connected to the Power BI using an Office365 Admin interface. Even though the setup of Power BI might be a bit complicated, it is still easy to use and companies can quickly create different visualizations using spreadsheets and data sources using built-in connections and APIs.
Tableau has many different products including Tableau Desktop, Tableau Online, and Tableau Server. Tableau Desktop is a desktop application and the fundamental offering of Tableau while Tableau Online creates data visualizations that are fully hosted on the cloud and Tableau Server is a server product for an organization. Tableau also offers Tableau Public which is a free and demo software. Tableau is easy to set up and use. You can initially use a free trial and then upgrade later. Tableau allows connections to various data sources and then you can create worksheets for your visualizations. Tableau Desktop also allows you to share your visualizations using Tableau Server or Tableau Online.
Power BI is comparatively cheaper than Tableau with a free version, a monthly subscription, and a premium version which is more costly. While Power BI is a Microsoft product, users don’t necessarily need a subscription to Office365 to use Power BI. Power BI Pro which is a self-service BI in the cloud costs 9.99 USD per month while the Power BI Premium provides advanced analytics and on-premises, as well as cloud reporting, costs 4995 USD per dedicated cloud-computing resource for a month. On the whole, Power BI is pretty affordable especially for those companies that already use Microsoft software in their ecosystem.
Tableau has a more complex pricing system as compared to Power BI. The pricing system is divided between individuals, teams, and embedded analytics. Tableau provides Tableau Creator for 70 USD per month. This provides access to Tableau Desktop and Tableau Prep Builder along with a Creator license of Tableau Server or Tableau Online. On the other hand, the pricing system for teams is further divided into Tableau Creator, Tableau Explorer, and Tableau Viewer. Tableau Creator is the same while Tableau Explorer provides one Explorer license of Tableau Server for 35 USD per month with min. 5 explorers and Tableau Viewer for 12 USD per month with min. 100 viewers. All in all, Tableau is more expensive as compared to Power BI but it provides more facilities as well.
Power BI has an interactive dashboard that provides drag and drops features as well. This is a good business intelligence tool that is easy to use for even the most novice users. So you can easily and intuitively build great data visualizations and perform complex data analytics without any detailed prior knowledge and experience. Power BI also provides real-time data access which means that users can instantly change the data visualizations on the dashboard with changes to the data.
Tableau also has an interactive dashboard with multiple features. However, its dashboard is a little complicated as many of its features are hidden in m multiple menus. Tableau also has a drag and drop dashboard where you can put the data types in the x and y axes and then Tableau creates the visualization using these data types. Tableau also focuses on VizQL which is query-based along with being a visualization tool. All in all, Tableau is quite powerful but it may take a little time to fully master its interface because of its complex dashboard.
4. Data Sources
Power BI provides lesser access to different data sources as compared to Tableau. But it still provides access to many different sources like Files, Databases, Power Platforms, Azure, etc. Some of the file options include Excel, Text/CSV, XML, JSON, PDF, etc. Database data sources include SQL Server database, Access database, Oracle database, IBM DB2 database, MySQL database, Amazon Redshift, Impala, Google BigQuery, Vertica, Snowflake, etc. Azure data sources Azure SQL Database, Azure Analysis Services database, Azure Database for PostgreSQL, etc.
Tableau provides a wide variety of data sources. Types of files include a text file, MS Access, MS Excel, JSON file, PDF file, spatial file, etc. Some server-based databases are Tableau Server, Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, Salesforce, Mongo DB, IBM DB, Maria DB, PostgreSQL, etc. Cloud-based Data Sources include Google Cloud SQL, Cloudera Hadoop, Amazon Aurora, etc. Some other data sources are Web Data Connector, Google BigQuery, ODBC and JDBC connections, OLAP, etc.
5. Learning Resources
Power BI provides Guided Learning courses so that you can learn this platform and understand its extensive capabilities. These are free courses of approximately an hour each. The courses include Explore what Power BI can do for you, Analyze data with Power BI, Get started building with Power BI, Get data with Power BI Desktop, Model data in Power BI, Use visuals in Power BI, Explore data in Power BI, Publish and share in Power BI and Introduction to DAX.
Tableau also provides resources for Guided Learning but these are much more extensive than those provided by Power BI. You can either use the free training videos, access live instructor-led training, join in-person training courses in select cities or select self-paced, guided learning paths online. There are also many Tableau certifications available which include Desktop Specialist, Desktop Certified Associate, Desktop Certified Professional, Server Certified Associate, and Server Certified Professional.
Lets look at some more differences of Power BI and Tableau in the below table –
|S.NO || Power BI || Tableau |
| 1.||R language based visualizations is supported.||Full integrated support for R and Python is provided.|
| 2.||It has stringent licensing.||It has flexible licensing.|
| 3.||It only run on Windows OS.||It can run on Windows and Mac OS.|
| 4.||It has a limited customer support with a free account.||The customer support is excellent because of large community forum open for discussion.|
Both Power BI and Tableau are excellent data analytics and business intelligence tools with different target customers. Power BI is a great option for the common employees in a company that are more interested in self-service business intelligence and not necessarily in complicated data analytics. This is because Power BI is more intuitive and easy to use so it is a perfect option for a user who wants to get started with data analysis but does not have great expertise or degree in the field. On the other hand, Tableau is a little more complex to understand and leverage its full capabilities. However, its also more powerful and so it is better suited to employees who have data analysis experience and knowledge.
Therefore Power BI is better suited to smaller companies and startups who do not have experienced professionals in data analytics. Power BI is also a great option if these companies already use Microsoft products. However, larger companies that have experienced employees and that are focused on fully leveraging the power of data analytics are better suited to Tableau.
Products of Tableau
- Tableau Desktop
- Tableau Prep
- Tableau Online
- Tableau Server
- Tableau Mobile
Products of Power BI
- Power BI Desktop
- Power BI Mobile
- Power BI Service
- Power BI Report Server
- Power BI Report Builder