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What is the Best Data Visualization Tool: Power BI or Tableau?

Updated: Apr 2

Business Intelligence (BI) is a vital field of computer science that involves a range of processes and technologies aimed at gathering, storing, analyzing, and providing access to data to enhance business decision-making. However, merely possessing big data tools and capabilities is not enough; it is equally essential to make sense of the data and utilize it to improve your business operations. This is where business intelligence tools come in, enabling the interpretation of data to reveal trends, patterns, and insights that can guide decision-makers to make better decisions.'


Data visualization tools take this further, providing a visual interface for working with data, making it easier to identify hidden trends and insights within raw data sets. Today, Power BI and Tableau are among the most popular data visualization tools available, offering various features and capabilities to create beautiful and insightful visualizations. However, choosing the right tool for your business needs can be challenging.


In this article, I will conduct a side-by-side comparison of Power BI and Tableau to determine which tool is the best in terms of features, ease of use, pricing, and other critical aspects.


Table of Contents

  1. Tableau vs Power BI: What are They?

  2. Deployment & Integration

  3. User Interface

  4. Data Visualization

  5. Data Sources

  6. Customer Support

  7. Security

  8. Pricing

  9. Products within the Power Bi Suit

  10. Products Within Tableau Product Suit

  11. Conclusion

What is the Best Data Visualization Tool: Power BI or Tableau?

Tableau vs Power BI: What are They?


Power BI and Tableau are powerful data visualization tools designed to help users make sense of data by creating visualizations, also known as "dashboards." These tools are particularly beneficial for business users seeking to create dashboards that present data in an easy-to-understand format, making it simple to uncover key insights.


Whether you're a business analyst or a marketing manager, these tools can be used by anyone looking to explore their company's data and discover new insights about how it operates. By visualizing complex data sets in intuitive, easy-to-read dashboards, users can easily identify trends and patterns that would otherwise be difficult to detect. Ultimately, Power BI and Tableau are both fantastic tools that can help businesses unlock the value of their data and make more informed decisions.


What is Microsoft Power BI?


Microsoft Power BI is a cloud-based business intelligence (BI) and data analytics platform that enables users to visualize and interact with data to gain invaluable insights into their business. This unified, scalable platform effortlessly connects to any data source, allowing users to extract deeper insights and create personalized reports with their key performance indicators (KPIs). Moreover, Power BI integrates seamlessly with various Microsoft products, such as SharePoint, Excel, Dynamics 365, and Azure SQL Database, to provide a comprehensive solution for data analysis.


Microsoft Power BI includes an AI-powered engine that can help answer your business questions, accurate reports and insights that facilitate quick data-driven decision-making, end-to-end data protection, along with an ever-growing library of 500+ free data connectors. The platform also offers secure data analytics, an economic option, improved publishing efficiency and accuracy, unparalleled Excel interoperation, and access to real-time analytics. Whether you're a business analyst, marketer, or sales manager, Power BI offers a powerful suite of features that can help you unlock the full potential of your data and make informed decisions.


Key Features:

  • Easily connects to any data source

  • Creates reports personalized with your KPIs and brand

  • AI-powered answers to your business questions

  • Accurate reports and insights to make quick data-driven decisions

  • End-to-end data protection

  • Integrates easily with the Microsoft technology you already use

  • A growing library of 500+ free data connectors

  • Secured data analytics

  • Economic option

  • Improved publishing efficiency and accuracy

  • Unparalleled Excel interoperation

  • Access to real-time analytics

What is the Best Data Visualization Tool: Power BI or Tableau?
Image Credit: https://powerbi.microsoft.com/

What is Tableau?


Tableau is a powerful visual analytics platform that empowers users to transform complex data into easily understandable insights through visualization. As a top-tier business intelligence and data visualization tool, Tableau offers a variety of features that allow users to connect to multiple data sources, such as database software, spreadsheets, and text files, to extract and visualize information in the form of charts, graphs, and maps.


With Tableau, users can explore data in a more intuitive and interactive way, quickly spotting trends and patterns that may be hidden in raw data sets. Additionally, Tableau provides advanced analytics capabilities that enable users to create complex calculations, predictive models, and forecasts, all in a user-friendly interface.


Whether you're a business analyst, data scientist, or IT professional, Tableau offers an extensive suite of tools that can help you gain invaluable insights into your data and make informed decisions. With its user-friendly interface and powerful visualization capabilities, Tableau has become a popular choice for organizations of all sizes and industries.


Key Features:

  • Fully integrated AI/ML capabilities, governance, data management, visual storytelling, and collaboration features.

  • Limitless data exploration with intuitive products.

  • Artificial intelligence-driven analytics and predictions.

  • Satisfies the needs of all users, from data scientists to business users.

  • A variety of options for deploying analytics and connecting to data sources.

  • Enterprise-grade security and governance models to ensure data is handled appropriately.

  • Large member network with over a million members

What is the Best Data Visualization Tool: Power BI or Tableau?
Image Credit: https://www.tableau.com/

Deployment & Integration


Power BI and Tableau are both cloud-based software, allowing users to access them from any device with an internet connection. Rather than installing and running the software on a local computer, users can simply register for an account and sign in to the application to begin using it.


Once you’ve created an account, both platforms offer a range of features that can be accessed immediately. In the following sections, we will take a closer look at each platform and examine the unique features and capabilities of each.


Power Bi


As a cloud-based software, Microsoft Power BI comes in several versions that cater to different user needs, including an on-premise version and cloud services. Some of the available versions include Desktop, Pro, Premium, and Mobile. The software also offers a limited cloud option known as the Azure edition, which can be accessed through the Office 365 Admin interface. Setting up the cloud-based business intelligence suite is a breeze, and it provides a secure environment for data analysis. With Power BI, users can easily integrate existing spreadsheets, data sources, and apps through built-in connections and APIs. Additionally, the software incorporates visualizations written in Python or R, making it simple to use even for those without extensive programming experience.

Tableau


Tableau is a software that offers deployment flexibility to its users. It comes with constantly updated connections, a variety of data integration tools, and different deployment options.


This tool provides three deployment options that include on-premise, on the public cloud on Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), or Google Cloud Platform (GCP).


Tableau Online is another option for users who want to deploy their data visualizations on a fully-managed cloud platform provided by Tableau.


Moreover, Tableau offers over 75 native connections that range from databases and files to cloud applications. This includes live connections for real-time insights and data extraction powered by Hyper, which provides a faster experience for data analysis.


Key Differences

Power Bi

Tableau

Supports many data sources:

Microsoft Excel CSV/Text, MS SQL Server, Access DB, MySQL database, Oracle Database, IBM DB2, PostgreSQL database, etc.

Supports many data sources:

Excel, Google Analytics, Dropbox, Text File, JSON, PDF, statistical file, Amazon Redshift, Google Sheets, Cloudera Hadoop, Google Drive, and more.

​Connects with Google Analytics, Azure, Salesforce

​Connects with Google Analytics, Azure, Salesforce + Hadoop Databases

User Interface


Power Bi


Microsoft Power BI is a great option for individuals who want to create visually stunning dashboards quickly, especially for those who are new to data visualization or statistics.


With Power BI, you can view your data in various ways without any prior experience.


It offers a visual interface that allows you to build custom reports and dashboards effortlessly without needing to write any code.


Moreover, Power BI integrates seamlessly with other Microsoft products, providing users with real-time data access and the convenience of drag-and-drop features.


The ability to access real-time data enables users to respond quickly to any changes in the business environment.


Tableau


Tableau’s UI may take some time to become familiar with, but it’s well worth the investment.


With Tableau, you have complete control over how your data is presented, allowing you to create highly customized dashboards that tell the full story behind your data.


The Tableau UI includes menus, a toolbar, the Data pane, cards and shelves, and one or more sheets.


The sheets can be either worksheets, dashboards, or stories, each with its own unique set of features and capabilities to help you get the most out of your data.


Data Visualization


Data visualization is an indispensable part of any business intelligence tool as it enables users to extract insights and patterns from vast amounts of data to make informed decisions. With Power BI and Tableau, you can create charts and dashboards that bring together multiple charts into one view, making it easy to compare different metrics simultaneously. Let's take a closer look at how these two powerful tools compare in terms of their data visualization capabilities.


Power Bi


Power BI is a powerful business intelligence tool designed to create visually appealing interactive dashboards with charts and graphs. With its dynamic visualizations, it brings your data to life, making it easier to understand complex information at a glance. Its drag-and-drop capabilities allow you to generate custom reports and graphics with ease. Additionally, Power BI offers hundreds of Microsoft certified visuals that work seamlessly with the platform to deliver helpful information.


Tableau


Tableau is an analytics platform designed to visualize data from a wide range of sources, including Excel spreadsheets, text files, and database tables. It enables you to discover insights in real-time, transform queries into visualizations, and encourage you to ask questions, recognize possibilities and trends. What's more, you don't need prior experience to use Tableau because of its integrated table computations, which makes it easy to create reports and dashboards.


Key Differences


Power BI offers a user-friendly interface that allows users to quickly create visuals using drag-and-drop functionality. On the other hand, Tableau provides advanced customization options that enable users to design dashboards that can be optimized for various devices and screen sizes.

What is the Best Data Visualization Tool: Power BI or Tableau?

Data Sources


Power Bi


Power BI offers support for several data sources, including Microsoft Excel, CSV/Text, MS SQL Server, Access DB, MySQL database, Oracle Database, IBM DB2, PostgreSQL database, and more. However, it may have limited access to some databases and servers when compared to Tableau.


Tableau


Tableau offers broad connectivity options, enabling users to access data from a wide range of sources such as relational and non-relational databases, data warehouses, on-premises and cloud data, big data, and more.


Tableau supports numerous data sources, including Excel, Text File, statistical file, Amazon Redshift, Cloudera Hadoop, Google Analytics, PDF, JSON, and many others.


Customer Support


Power Bi


The Power BI community offers a wealth of resources to help users with data visualization. Its resources section features video tutorials covering a broad range of topics related to data visualization, providing solutions to most of your queries.

In addition, Power BI offers an online forum where users can interact with other members of the community and ask questions. Furthermore, the community blog is a great place to find tips and articles on topics such as data visualization.

If you encounter any issues, you can easily get in touch with Power BI's support executives at no additional charge if you are a Power BI Pro customer.


Tableau


Tableau offers a wealth of resources to its users through its Knowledge Base, which provides helpful articles and tutorials for a variety of topics. For more complex issues, you can contact their support team through the contact support section.


Key Differences

Power Bi

Tableau

Relatively small community and support compared to Tableau.

Tableau has been market longer than Power BI.

​Limited support in the free version.

It has a larger community to help you get to your answers.

You get faster and better support with the paid plans.

​Knowledge base and strong customer support when needed

Security


As data security is a crucial factor in choosing any BI tool, both Power BI and Tableau offer strong security features, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.


Power Bi


With Power BI, Microsoft 365, and Azure, users can access robust security features beyond just row and column level. This allows for greater peace of mind when handling sensitive data. Additionally, Azure offers features like Azure Private Link, service tags, and Azure Virtual Network to further enhance data protection by preventing exposure to the public internet.


Tableau


Tableau offers multiple authorization options for users to access data, providing flexibility and control. One such option is to prompt users for database credentials when they click a published view for different data sources that connect to live databases.

Tableau offers the following three authorization options:

  1. Database login account: You can choose to use either Windows NT or the database's built-in security mechanism to authenticate to the database while building a data source that connects to a live database.

  2. Authentication mode: You can select an authentication mode when publishing a data source or a worksheet with a live database connection. Your selection will determine the available modes.

  3. User filters: You can apply filters in a workbook or data source based on the Tableau Server login account to manage the data users see in a published view. These filters help you control and restrict access to sensitive data.

Pricing


Power Bi

Power Bi Pro - Individual

Power Bi Premium - Individual

Power Bi Premium - Organization

$13.70 per user / month

$27.50 per user / month

$6858.10 per capacity / month

Provides modern, self-service analytics licenses for individual users to visualize data with live dashboards and reports, and share insights throughout the company.

Offers licenses to individual users to leverage advanced AI to speed up insights, enable self-service data prep for big data, and simplify data management and access at a corporate scale.

Gives access to AI-based insights, self-service data prep for big data, simplified data management, and more.

Tableau

Tableau Viewer

Tableau Explorer

Tableau Creator

$15 per user / month

$42 per user / month

$70 per user / month

The Tableau Viewer plan provides features that enable users to view and interact with dashboards and visualizations.

Self-service analytics allows you to quickly explore trusted data and find answers to your own queries.

You can uncover new insights by leveraging a suite of technologies that support your complete analytics workflow.

Products within the Power Bi Suit


Power Bi Desktop


Power BI Desktop is a powerful desktop application designed to help you explore data, create visually appealing visualizations, generate detailed reports, and publish them to the web with ease. It provides a wide range of features and capabilities to help you bring your data to life and make informed decisions.


One of the standout features of Power BI Desktop is its ability to connect to and access data from several hundred supported on-premises and cloud-based sources. This includes popular sources like Salesforce, Excel, Dynamics 365, Azure SQL DB, and SharePoint, among many others. With such a vast array of supported sources, you can easily access and integrate data from various systems and create a comprehensive view of your organization's data.

What is the Best Data Visualization Tool: Power BI or Tableau?
Image Credit: https://powerbi.microsoft.com/

Power Bi Pro


As businesses today rely heavily on data for making informed decisions, it's crucial to have the right tools to support a data-driven culture. Power BI Pro is one such tool that offers self-service analytics, allowing users to explore and analyze data to gain valuable insights. With Power BI Pro, you can create interactive data visualizations, which can be easily shared and collaborated on with colleagues. By promoting a data-driven culture, businesses can make better decisions faster and stay ahead of the competition.


Power Bi Premium


Power BI Premium offers a range of robust self-service data preparation capabilities that enable users to quickly access and collaborate on insights. With these features, users can streamline the process of preparing data, making it faster and easier to discover valuable insights. This can help businesses to make data-driven decisions with confidence, saving valuable time and resources.


Power Bi Mobile


Power BI Mobile apps enable you to view dashboards and create new reports on your phone or tablet, using data from cloud services or on-premises databases. Along with the convenience of keeping track of your business on the go, the app provides a 360-degree view of your data and access to KPIs and reports. Additionally, Microsoft Intune’s mobile device and application control features help keep your company’s data safe.


Power Bi Embedded


Empowering users to explore data at the point of decision-making is made possible with the free service of Power BI Embedded, which enables you to embed interactive dashboards into web pages or mobile apps.


By embedding Power BI reports and dashboards, you can enhance the functionality of your applications and stand out from competitors without investing valuable time and resources in generating and managing your analytics.


Power Bi Report Server


Power BI Report Server is an advanced enterprise grade server application designed to securely publish and distribute reports through the Power BI service. With the ability to schedule report refresh intervals, users can access interactive reports and enterprise-level reporting features available in SQL Server Reporting Services.


By utilizing Power BI Report Server, businesses can make data-driven decisions quickly, identify trends, and gain insights that drive success. Additionally, the application allows for the creation of pixel-perfect paginated reports, providing businesses with the capability to produce professional-grade reports simultaneously.

What is the Best Data Visualization Tool: Power BI or Tableau?
Image Credit: https://powerbi.microsoft.com/

Products Within Tableau Product Suit


Tableau Desktop


Tableau Desktop is a robust desktop application designed for visualizing large datasets. It equips you with all the necessary tools to access, analyze and visualize data, making it easier for you to uncover hidden insights and make faster business decisions. The intuitive drag-and-drop interface lets you work seamlessly even when you're offline, providing a user-friendly experience.


Moreover, the Tableau Desktop can also function as a publishing tool, allowing you to create impactful visualizations that can be shared with your colleagues, clients, or team members. With Tableau Desktop, you can create compelling and interactive visualizations that bring your data to life, enabling you to discover meaningful insights and make informed decisions.

What is the Best Data Visualization Tool: Power BI or Tableau?
Image Credit: https://www.tableau.com/

Tableau Cloud


Tableau Cloud provides an effortless way to access and utilize all of Tableau's features without having to install any software or hardware on your computer or server. Here's what you can do with Tableau Cloud:

  • Consolidate all your data sources and dashboards in a single location for ease of access and analysis.

  • Collaborate with your team members and clients by sharing workbooks, allowing them to discover insights on their own.

  • Empower decision-making from anywhere with a self-service ecosystem that streamlines data and enables seamless analysis.

Tableau Prep


As a data preparation tool, Tableau Prep offers a streamlined and customizable approach to help you create the ideal view of your data. With Tableau Prep, you can quickly manipulate, clean, and load your data, freeing up more time to analyze information and gain insights.


This innovative tool simplifies the process of combining, shaping, and cleaning data for analysis in Tableau. By providing a transparent approach to preparing your data, you can obtain high-quality data in just a few clicks, reducing the time and effort required for data preparation.


CRM Analytics


CRM Analytics, previously known as Tableau CRM, offers Salesforce CRM users actionable insights and AI-driven analytics to enhance their workflow.


Tableau Public


Tableau Public is a vast repository of interactive data visualizations created by over a million contributors worldwide. It is a go-to resource for exploring the art of data visualization and discovering insights on any topic. With millions of data visualizations on various topics, Tableau Public offers an opportunity to learn new techniques and approaches to data visualization.


Tableau Data Management


Tableau Data Management is a comprehensive solution that streamlines data automation and operationalization for the entire data and analytics lifecycle. By leveraging this solution, organizations can achieve trusted, self-service analytics at scale.


With Tableau Data Management, you can:

  • Manage and prepare your data for analysis by automating data integration and cleaning.

  • Improve data accuracy, consistency, and completeness with data quality rules and monitoring.

  • Easily create and manage metadata for better data governance and cataloging.

  • Collaborate with others by sharing data sources and definitions across teams.

  • Secure and govern your data with flexible access controls, audit logging, and encryption.

By implementing Tableau Data Management, organizations can reduce the time and effort required to manage data while improving the accuracy and reliability of their analytics.


Tableau Server Management


Tableau Server Administration is a powerful tool that streamlines management procedures by combining scalability, availability, manageability, and security capabilities.


It enables accurate self-service analytics at scale and allows you to meet your specific deployment and configuration requirements while using existing technology investments and skills.


With Tableau Server Administration, you can optimize your environment and ensure that your users have access to the data they need to make informed decisions. It provides a secure and centralized platform for sharing and collaborating on data, which allows your team to work more efficiently and effectively.


Tableau Embedded Analytics


Tableau's Embedded Analytics solution provides a seamless integration of dashboards, visualizations, and reports into your products, applications, and web portals, enabling you to enhance customer experience, reduce costs, and boost revenue growth.


By embedding Tableau's powerful analytics capabilities directly into your existing systems, you can provide your customers with easy access to critical insights and information, without the need for them to switch between multiple tools and platforms. This creates a more cohesive and streamlined experience for your users, leading to improved engagement and satisfaction.


Furthermore, with Tableau's Embedded Analytics, you can also reduce the expenses associated with developing and maintaining your own analytics tools, as well as accelerate your time to market by leveraging Tableau's pre-built dashboards and visualizations.

What is the Best Data Visualization Tool: Power BI or Tableau?
Image Credit: https://www.tableau.com/

Conclusion


As you explore the differences between Tableau and Power BI, it's essential to consider the unique needs of your business and the intended audience for your data analysis.


While both tools offer powerful visualization capabilities and similar approaches to data modeling and analysis, the key distinction lies in their target users.


Power BI is an excellent choice for small businesses, startups, and those who want to easily visualize data to make informed decisions. On the other hand, Tableau is better suited for data analysts and scientists who require more sophisticated calculations and data manipulation.


Ultimately, the best choice for your organization depends on your specific goals and data requirements. By carefully evaluating your needs, you can select the tool that will provide the most value and insights for your business.


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