Power BI vs. Tableau: Finding the Fit for Your Data Analytics Solution

August 3, 2020
Business Intelligence, News, Technology
9 min read


How is your business performing? If you are struggling to get an accurate, 360-degree view of your data for faster decision making, chances are you are in the market for business technology that delivers just that. Business intelligence, data visualization, and analytical reporting software can provide a centralized platform to bring all of your data together to perform valuable analysis that drives business performance. From data visualization to data warehousing, there are a lot of reliable software solutions to choose from for BI and analytics, depending on your existing business systems and infrastructure setup.

READ BLOG POST: 10 Steps to Better Analytical Reporting

In your current or future online search for the “best BI software” or “top data visualization tool,” you will most certainly come across two big players in the field: Microsoft Power BI vs. Tableau. As you can see from the Gartner Magic Quadrant below, these are the leaders in the analytics and business intelligence platform game.


As BI solutions that focus more on data visualization than data modeling or management, both Power BI and Tableau have strengths and weaknesses that cater to different business needs and requirements. What works for one business might not work for the next. Where BI and data visualization software represents a significant financial investment with the power to change the way you manage your business information and make decisions, it is essential to do your research before purchasing.

We are giving you a head start by comparing both heavy hitters by cost, functionality, and user adoption. In this comparison, we will share what both Power BI and Tableau have to offer and how to identify the BI solution that best fits your organization and users – before you put any money towards one.



Data Visualization | Data Analysis | Dashboards

Tableau’s mission statement is to “help people see and understand data.” As one of the fastest-growing data visualization tools, Tableau is dedicated to providing highly interactive and intuitive visuals and data exploration to business users for over a decade. Tableau is known for its ease of use and quick access, enabling users to explore data and create dashboards without the need for coding.

Broadly used across many industries, Tableau allows you to connect, visualize, and share data with a seamless experience across a multitude of locations and devices, from the PC to the iPad. With numerous products and flexible deployment options, business users can purchase a subscription license and then install it either in the cloud or an on-premise server. Here are the main Tableau products to choose from:

  • Tableau Desktop
    Provides the ability to create interactive workbooks and dashboards. It is easy to use and can transform vast amounts of data into meaningful visual representations, such as graphs and charts.
  • Tableau Server
    Enables users to publish, share, and administrate Tableau Desktop content as live connections or extracts. It connects to more than 100 data sources and makes it easy to securely distribute interactive workbooks to the right people for better collaboration and decision making.
  • Tableau Online
    Analytics platform fully hosted in the cloud. Create and publish interactive workbooks and dashboards via browser or mobile app, without any hardware or servers to maintain. Connects to cloud databases and provides secure access from anywhere.

Tableau has a strong community of forums and user groups to help you learn the system, answer questions, and connect with other users. Although Tableau has remarkable visualization capabilities and a user-friendly interface for non-technical users, the system is considered to have a learning curve for non-analytical users and the technical team that will support it. Tableau is also well-known for its high cost and inflexible pricing. Due to the cost of the system and training, it is primarily used by large enterprises like PepsiCo and ExxonMobil.

Pros of Tableau:

  • Robust and responsive data visualization
  • Speed and performance
  • User experience and drag-and-drop functionality
  • Ability to handle large amounts of data across multiple sources
  • Flexibility to work with mobile devices
  • Large user community

Cons of Tableau:

  • High cost of software and implementation
  • Required reliance on IT for ongoing usability and management
  • Lack of true BI data management, organization, and governance capability
  • Large learning curve for non-analysts
  • Inability for non-admin users to automate and schedule reports
  • Slow to release new features and updates

Power BI

Data Visualization | Analytical Reporting | Dashboards

Power BI is a business analytics service that allows you to connect to and visualize any data on a unified, scalable platform. It aims to provide interactive visualizations and BI capabilities with an interface simple enough for end-users to create their own dashboards.

As one of the most popular BI products on the market for SMBs, Power BI is known for its inexpensive and quick installation options for collaboration, publishing, and consumption. In terms of deployment, there are three Power BI options to choose from:

  • Power BI Desktop
    Free tool that allows you to prepare, model, and create data visualizations. Power BI Desktop is included in all Office 365 plans, and you can sign up and download the application for free anytime you like. Most companies will eventually have to upgrade to the paid versions for advanced features and the ability to view and share reports.
  • Power BI Pro
    Cloud-based, online service for report editing and collaboration. It provides more full-service BI features compared to the desktop version. With a Pro license, you can create, publish, and share your data visualizations and reports with other users. You can also take advantage of app workspaces, where you can collaborate with your colleagues to create collections of dashboards and reports.
  • Power BI Premium
    Designed for more advanced analytics and enterprise-level reporting, Power BI Premium is not licensed per user, but by dedicated cloud compute and storage resources. You pay for the amount of space and processing capacity you need. Organizations who use Power BI Premium are looking to support larger data volumes, advanced administration, deployment controls, and widespread distribution of content

Explore Interactive Power BI Dashboards


Pros of Microsoft Power BI:

  • Affordability with lower licensing and training costs
  • Leverages familiar Excel environment, easy front-end to use
  • Powerful visualization capabilities
  • Consistent release of new features and updates from Microsoft
  • Ample learning resources available online
  • Easy report/dashboard sharing
  • Mobile device access
  • Integration with the Microsoft Stack

Cons of Microsoft Power BI:

  • Expansive functionality can increase the learning curve
  • Data modeling component can be complex and require technical resources
  • Poor performance on large amounts of data without being connected to a dedicated warehouse
  • Rigid data management and consolidation capabilities without connecting to a full BI platform

The Key to Success

Power BI and Tableau are primarily data visualization tools, and neither can be successful without proper data modeling and management. While they provide the best in data visualization, data analytics, mobile accessibility, and analytical reporting, they are not built to extract, transform, and load data. To get the most out of Power BI and Tableau features, you really need to leverage a data warehouse that connects to either of these tools. This environment supplies the information users in one, centralized, governed place and is optimally organized for the easiest, most accurate data extraction and visualization. The good news is, this isn’t as complex as it might sound. There are modern data warehousing and management platforms that even offer an out-of-the-box, turnkey setup with your ERP, like Microsoft Dynamics, and provide far more efficient, drag-and-drop customization abilities than the BI environments of yesteryear.

Learn more about data warehouse automation and how to build a strong foundation for front-end analytics solutions like Power BI and Tableau.

How to Guarantee a Successful BI Project Implementation

Power BI vs. Tableau

Now that you have a better understanding of both products, here is a full comparison of cost and functionality that you can use in your software selection evaluation.

Power BI Tableau
Cost Power BI Desktop: Free
Power BI Pro: $9.99/user/month
Power BI Premium: $4,999/month
Tableau Desktop Personal Edition: $35/month/user
Tableau Desktop Professional Edition: $70/month/user
Tableau Server On-Premises or Public Cloud* $35/month/user
Tableau Online Fully Hosted* $42/USD/month/user
*Tableau Desktop Professional required to publish workbooks and data sources.

  • Data Visualization
  • Dashboards
  • Collaboration and Sharing
  • Mobile Access
  • Self-Service Reporting
  • Predictive Modeling
  • Data Visualization
  • Dashboards
  • Collaboration and Sharing
  • Mobile Access
Data Integration Hundreds of data source connections available, including any SQL, Azure SQL, or Spark database and Excel or CSV data file. Out-of-the-box integrations with the most common data source types and operational systems, with the ability to create custom data connections.
Deployment Cloud-based service Available on-premise and in the cloud
User Interface Simple, intuitive interface built on familiar Microsoft platform that’s quick to learn and easy to use Modern interface with self-service features but requires more training
Customer Profile Companies of all sizes including SMB and MLB markets Primarily larger companies, MLB market
Product Community Strong user group and partner community  Strong user group and partner community

Capitalize on Your Data with Tigunia

If you are unsure or confused about what each data visualization solution does and which to invest in, Tigunia can help! Our talented team of business intelligence experts live and breathe data management, reporting, and data visuals, so we can help you assess your criteria and select the best fit for your organization.

Truth be told, we’re a Microsoft shop that focuses on small to midsized businesses, and we have seen the most success with Power BI. In our experience, Power BI is the better option if you are looking for an affordable, scalable solution to amp up your data analytics and reporting practices. It provides the tools you need for self-service reporting, data analytics, and decision making. See for yourself with a quick, 30-minute Power BI demo. We can show you just how fast, easy, and powerful Microsoft Power BI can be for your operations, customers, employees, and bottom line.