This story is about sharing my experience working with Tableau and Power BI: two most popular BI and data visualization tools in the market.
Both the tools are quite popular in the market and also named as leaders in BI and Analytics tools magic quadrant for last couple of years. Tableau certainly used to be a hot tool in the market leading the quadrant chart for quite some time. Although Power BI has now proved to be a leader leading the quadrant for last 2 years.
This definitely raises confusion, which tool should you look to use for your analytics application. Here is my personal experience working on both the tools, and the factors that drove companies to choose one tool over another.
- Cost and Ecosystem: Forget other features, this is one of the major driving factor why organization might want to choose Power BI over Tableau. Power BI pro license ($10 USD/month)is inexpensive when compared to Tableau Creator license($70 USD) for development. Although there is a catch: Some of the advanced features of Power BI are limited to premium license which costs a lot but for starters Power BI Pro serves the purpose. Also if your organization already uses Microsoft services then Power BI would be definitely be a good choice for better integration.
- Features: Both offer a wide range of features which your organization might need to build analytics platform but Microsoft certainly has better edge over here. For the last 2 years Microsoft has really been proactive and added a lot of features to its product through monthly updates, tableau on the other hand has moved at snails pace. And considering the competition I think Microsoft will aggressively lead here.
- Ease of learning and use: Now here some people might argue but if you ask me, learning Power BI desktop is fairly simple than learning Tableau desktop. But learning DAX for calculations is difficult than learning calculations in Tableau unless you already have experience using DAX. And most of the times you might scratch your head creating complex calculations in Power BI than tableau. If you want an edge in the market, always consider learning power query and Azure Analysis services too. So I would consider Tableau easy to learn and deploy your viz.
- Creativity and Quality of Visualizations: Power BI offers a tons of visualizations along with its market place, but still Tableau has a upper hand here where you can creatively use calculations to build tricky visualizations without being dependent on 3rd party support. You can customize the visualizations the way you want, something I still feel restricted while working with Power BI. That will definitely change in future but for now tableau is my choice.
- Community and help support: This also depends on how old the tools and the ecosystem is, based on experience Tableau and its supporting community is doing a better job. Tableau also conducts meetups and has TUG (tableau user groups) in most of the IT based cities in India. Again this might change in near future because I am seeing more and more teams switching to Power BI for building applications.
- Production application maintenance: Troubleshooting performance bottlenecks in tableau is much easier than Power BI with AAS, thanks to the years of experience dealing with big data and using hyper extract file storage support for billions of data. Power BI on the other hand relies most on the times on computing power of resources and QPU units along with tier of resource for handling concurrent requests. Troubleshooting performance bottleneck might require debugging multiple layers.
- Data exploration vs Data modelling support: Power BI does support data modelling using its inbuilt editor, Tableau on the other hand feels a little left out due to less features. For someone doing data exploration this may or may not be a deal breaker, but seems like if data modelling is involved, Power BI is the tool to go. Tableau desktop on the other hand can do basic modelling like joins and unions, for advanced data preparation, you might have to use tableau prep builder.
- Support for advanced Analytics: Both the tools support R and python support for advanced analytics but Power BI also supports Auto ML capabilities in its premium tier. Microsoft’s approach of building a Power platform (Power BI , Power Apps and Flows) certainly gives it upper hand over Tableau.
In the end I would say, give both the tools a shot and see if you have a different opinion. Definitely would love to hear about your experience. If you liked the post, then do cheer with a clap, keeping my promise of daily blogging :)