September 10, 2018
Founded in 2003 and based in Seattle, Tableau Software has quickly become one of the most popular contact points on the market for data analysis. Tableau is a very extensive and continuously enriched suite of tools. Tableau Desktop is a tool that wants to be accessible to more people using gestures like drag and drop. Indeed, it is straightforward to use, and it is possible to make quite simple graphs in a few seconds using the Tableau Desktop. Unfortunately, the full mastery of the tool and its most advanced features only come with many years of experience in using the program.
Which business intelligence tool is the best?
There are several BI tools for data analytics and data visualization on the market. Sisense BI, QlikView and Microsoft PowerBI are just a few of the incredible amount of alternatives to Tableau. Choosing and investing in a business intelligence software is complex and requires taking many parameters into account. To begin, it's crucial to understand that there is no fixed answer to the question. There are only questions you could ask yourself to determine which business intelligence tool serves your needs:
What is the technical level of my team?
To start, let's talk about Tableau. There is no doubt that Tableau is a beautiful product. The level of complexity of the analyses Tableau allows is limitless, and it remains remarkably intuitive to start with a data analysis project in it. Tableau's mission is, moreover, to make data analysis accessible to the masses and in a sense, this objective is achieved for simple analyzes. Technically, Tableau integrates with almost all existing data sources. And its recently implemented Hyper-Engine delivers outstanding performance for up to several hundred million rows of data. Finally, its license costs dropped significantly in June 2018 to match the prices of Microsofts Power BI.
Not surprisingly, Tableau was voted Leader in the Gartner Quadrant Business Intelligence and Analytics for the sixth year in a row in 2018. The Gartner Computer Consultant quadrant, published in a series of market research reports, evaluates the most popular BI programs and services based on a variety of characteristics. It's notable that Gartner produces other similar quadrants each year.
Microsoft Power BI has not always been considered a leader in data analysis. However, it is clear that Power BI has more than caught up on Tableau. For example, the tool allows writing simple questions in natural language to retrieve robust analysis within seconds. This is so significant that Gartner ranks Power BI as more visionary than Tableau in 2018.
Power BI is a program that has an interface similar to Excel. The technical quality of the tool is no longer questionable today. Power BI has the advantage of being particularly economical to buy. As Office 365 includes Power BI, a first Business Intelligence project can be realized with very little capital. Power BI is particularly appreciated by IT departments who need to manage the implementation of the platform. It is the IT department that pays the operating costs of a BI platform, and Power BI integrates seamlessly into an existing Microsoft infrastructure. In addition, the cost of Pro licenses is particularly low. Microsoft is just making it profitable, offering consulting and training on Power BI. The expenses that are not borne by the IT are, passed on to the teams of analysts who need in-depth training to begin their job. The tool is not as intuitive as Tableau at first, so it's something to keep in mind. Also, note the lack of compatibility with Mac OS X systems.
A few years ago, Qlik was considered to be Tableau's big competitor. The level of technicality required to use it is more complex, so it is a tool for companies with an advanced technical background. Moreover, unlike Tableau, where visualizations are generated on the server, Qlik integrates its visuals directly into the user's browser, which gives an impression of fluidity and beauty other BI programs are lacking.
However, dashboards created with Qlik are generally inferior to Tableau dashboards. Developers and data analysts often criticize the complex structure of the program's menus, which requires some adaptation time. Implementation in existing databases can be complicated, which is why mid-sized companies often shun Qlik. They typically access Microsoft Power BI because they assume the license costs equal to the running costs. As we wrote these lines in 2018, the BI industry is awaiting a possible buyout for Qlik. Until the future of this company is established, you will take risks to invest in their technology.
Of the top three BI programs, Tableau is considered the most complete tool today. But that does not mean it's always the best choice. For many entrepreneurs running Windows systems, Microsoft Power BI can be a great introduction to data analysis. This is undoubtedly the most accessible platform because Office 365 users can access the basic version at no additional cost. Qlik meanwhile only makes sense for large companies that have enough resources to invest in human capital, software, and integration.
Finally, the greatest strength of Tableau is its greatest weakness. Since the tool makes it much easier to build dashboards for the user, it's sometimes hard to know what Tableau actually does when it's being used. This approach gives the feeling of using an uncontrolled "black box". Understanding where mistakes come from when using the tool becomes complex. And this feeling disappears only after several years of experience and training with the tool.
In the latest 2019 version of Gartner's Magic Quadrant, Microsoft was able to outrank Tableau for the first time. The main reason for that lies in the outstanding value Power BI provides to its customers. With a simple Office 365 membership, everyone can get a simple business intelligence project started. According to Gartner, Microsoft is leading the quadrant thanks to its outstanding potential of innovation. On the other hand, Tableau is still the best bet when it comes to profound business intelligence with a low operating cost. And thanks to Datapony, companies around the globe can benefit from affordable and accessible Tableau consultancy that can adapt to their business environment. Therefore, we believe that Tableau is still the data analysis tool to invest in 2019.
For small businesses, it is just logical that Qlik should be avoided for reasons of cost and complexity. Choosing between Power BI and Tableau should be a matter of your preference. Unfortunately, consulting and training are hidden aspects that often add up to your total operating costs.
Datapony helps you get started with profound Tableau data analysis projects. Simply tell us your needs and our experts will work on your data directly. Within hours we produce high quality Tableau dashboards directly on our platform that will serve your needs. For smaller analyses, we recommend our integrated automatic Tableau dashboard generation that visualizes data instantly.
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