Those who work with big data have many products to choose from for their data analytics and visualization needs. Dozens of options are available, each of which has its own unique features and distinct price breakdown. Two of the most popular data visualization products currently on the market are Microsoft Power BI and Tableau. But which one is the best for your workplace?

What is Microsoft Power BI?

Microsoft Power BI is a collection of data visualization and business intelligence tools used to transform data into interactive reports, dashboards, and visualizations. After data is processed in Power BI, insights can be gleaned, and visualizations of this information can be created to convey a visual snapshot of what’s happening at a business.

Those who wish to upload visualizations or reports can easily share them with others using the Power BI service, which has the added perk of refreshing their data each time there’s an update to the underlying dataset. Because Power BI was constructed using Microsoft Excel as a foundation, those who are familiar with Excel can easily transition to using Power BI.

Power BI Products

There are currently three versions of Microsoft Power BI: Power BI Desktop, Power BI Pro, and Power BI Premium:

  • Power BI Desktop: A free service that can be installed onto a computer or local system and then used to access the basic Power BI features. It can connect to over 70 data sources, perform data analysis, publish results online, and export information to Excel.
  • Power BI Pro: The full version of Power BI. It’s able to create and share data, reports, and dashboards with others who have a Power BI Pro license.
  • Power BI Premium: Organizations that purchase a Premium BI are for various users, which can host datasets up to 50GB, in addition to a 100 TB in the cloud. Three Premium capacity sizes are available, each with a different capacity.

Benefits & Drawbacks of Using Power BI

There are many benefits to using Microsoft Power BI. This powerful tool offers:

  • Built-in machine learning features
  • Real-time dashboard updates
  • Hybrid configuration
  • Natural language query
  • Powerful visualization templates
  • The ability to share reports with others who use Power BI

There are also several drawbacks to be aware of as well, such as:

  • Limited data sharing options
  • Congested user interface
  • Difficult to understand, even harder to master
  • Inability to print from Power BI Desktop

What is Tableau?

Tableau is the leading analytics platform for business intelligence on the market. It allows users to simplify raw data into a format that’s easy to access and understand by those working at any level of an organization. Even non-technical Tableau users can create customized dashboards and worksheets with the help of this versatile tool. Some of Tableau’s most remarkable features include its capacity for data blending, real-time analysis, and data collaboration. It can be installed directly onto one’s hardware from a web download and be operational in just twenty minutes.

Different Tableau Products

There are currently eight kinds of Tableau available with different features, capabilities, and price points:

  • Tableau Server: A paid application designed for Windows or Linux servers. It’s commonly used in the world of enterprise.
  • Tableau Online: A paid application hosted by the Tableau software that allows users to access dashboards from anywhere. It offers most of the features of the Tableau server but isn’t on the internet.
  • Tableau Public Server: A free server for posting ideas and visualizations.
  • Tableau Desktop: A paid desktop application that enables developers to make dashboards, charts, and formulas.
  • Tableau Public Desktop: A free desktop application that provides only a cloud-save option rather than a live or database connection.
  • Tableau Reader: A free desktop application that can open dashboards and facilitate interaction with them, but can’t be used to edit formulas or charts.
  • Tableau Mobile: A mobile app for Android and iOS users that connects to Tableau Online and Tableau Server.
  • Tableau Prep Builder: One of Tableau’s newest products. It’s used to clean, blend, and wrangle raw data.

Benefits & Drawbacks of Using Tableau

There are many benefits to working with Tableau. This software:

  • Performs well on mobile devices
  • Can handle large amounts of data
  • Is able to connect to multiple data sources
  • Works with multiple scripting languages
  • Reduces network traffic

In addition to the perks of using Tableau, some users cite drawbacks to this particular suite of software, including:

  • Cost/inflexible pricing
  • Security issues
  • Lack of post-sale support
  • Limited BI capabilities

Cost Comparison of Power BI and Tableau

In terms of overall price points, Power BI comes out as a less expensive option overall when compared with Tableau. Customers can choose from a free version, a monthly subscription, and a higher-priced scalable premium version. Since Power BI is situated within the Microsoft ecosystem, this means it’s generally an affordable option, particularly for organizations already using Microsoft for other business tasks.

Tableau, on the other hand, is a bit harder to peg to a specific price point because it has recently transitioned from a bulk purchase into a subscription model. Tableau’s products are priced using a tiered system, with different pricing for third-party apps and connections to files. For users who have a large set of data on a spreadsheet and take the time to export data from third-party tools prior to uploading it to Tableau, the cost is reasonable but comes out higher than Power BI. Those looking to connect directly with third-party apps must purchase the Professional edition, which costs even more.

Side-by-Side Comparison of Power BI and Tableau

Looking at the various features of Tableau and Power BI side by side provides an idea of which platform is most suited for your workplace:

  • Customer support: Tableau is well-known for having excellent customer support, as well as a vibrant community forum. Power BI’s customer support depends on the type of account: Those who use the free Power BI version have access to limited customer support, whereas those who have the paid versions have access to better support options.
  • Ease of use: Tableau’s interface is thought to be less intuitive and therefore more challenging to learn than Power BI.
  • Connectivity: Tableau is able to connect to multiple data sources, whereas Power BI only connects to limited data sources (though the number of data source connectors increases via monthly updates).
  • Audience: Tableau is considered best suited for medium to large workplaces, and Power BI performs best for small to medium-sized organizations. In addition, Tableau is used most commonly by Data Analysts, and Power BI is tailored more toward a general audience looking to use business intelligence to help with analytics needs.

Overall, the question of which of these two platforms works best depends on your organization’s size, professional focus, and budget. Power BI comes out ahead for its ease of use, but Tableau’s many capabilities, support network, and ability to handle large datasets make it a great option for larger businesses that focus on data analytics.

A great way to decide which platform is right for your company is to learn more about Tableau and Power BI by enrolling in one of Noble Desktop’s data analytics courses.

If you’re looking to learn how to create dynamic data visualizations for business reports, Noble Desktop’s Power BI Bootcamp is for you. This six-hour class is offered in-person in NYC, as well as in the live online format. Participants learn skills like how to use a single relational model when connecting to multiple data sources, how to create comprehensive time intelligence reports, and how to work with Power Query.

In addition, Tableau classes are also available through Noble Desktop. These classes are geared toward those who want to learn how to create stunning and engaging data visualizations, maps, charts, and graphs.

Hands-on Power BI & Tableau Classes

There are many exciting learning options available for those who want to study Microsoft Power BI or Tableau.

A variety of live online Tableau courses are available from top training providers. These interactive classes are taught in real-time and provide all learners with access to an instructor who is live and ready to provide feedback and answer questions. Courses range from seven hours to five days in duration and cost $299- $2,199. Many come with the option of a free retake of course material to help students revisit course material.

Are you interested in studying Power BI? If so, look no further. There are eight live online Power BI classes listed for those who are new to Power BI, as well as intermediate and advanced students. These interactive classes are taught in real-time and provide all participants with access to an instructor who is live and ready to provide feedback and answer questions. The cost of study ranges from $299 to $1,695.

Noble Desktop’s Classes Near Me tool helps interested learners locate Power BI classes in your area. This handy tool provides an easy way to locate and browse the Power BI classes currently offered in the in-person and live online formats. These small group courses teach students skills like how to spot the most optimal datasets to connect to, as well as how to analyze, filter, structure, and visually represent data.

There’s also a Classes Near Me tool that’s designed to help locate Tableau classes in your area. This makes it simple to locate and read about more than three dozen of the best Tableau classes currently offered in the in-person and live online formats so that interested learners can find the course that works best for them.