Business intelligence tools, Business Intelligence: Power BI vs Tableau.


Throughout my time in the profession, I've seen and used a multitude of visualisation tools. In many interviews I was asked not only what tools I had used, but also what differences there were between them. With these questions I wanted to check not only my skills, but also that I understood the differences between them. Mainly in my work I have used two visualisation tools PowerBI y Tableau.

Differences between PowerBI and Tableau

Tableau is a visualisation tool created by Tableau Software. It is a tool that perfectly fulfils the role it has been designed for. It is aimed at any type of user, as it is not complex. Its learning curve is very fast due to its simplicity and graphs can be made in a matter of minutes. It can be connected to all types of source data and its interface is very user-friendly.

PowerBI is a visualisation tool created by Microsoft. It is a tool with little experience in the market, but with which you can make graphs in a matter of minutes. Its interface is a bit clumsy until you get used to it, but it is not difficult to use. It is also aimed at all types of users, but in my opinion it is more useful for users with knowledge of visualisation and the DAX language. You can even perform small ETLs to capture and transform data from files. A great advantage is that any visualisation created can be published online and be seen by anyone without the need to have PowerBI installed. This is very useful for prototyping visualisations and getting feedback from users.

Both tools are paid, although a trial version is available to see the possibilities they offer. The price of Tableau varies between 35 and 70 dollars per month per user and PowerBI between 8.4 euros per month per person.

I have attended talks and courses on both tools, where different professionals have given their views on both tools. Some professionals use Tableau to make small mockups of visualisations, and then use specialised tools such as D3 to program graphics to the client's liking. Others use it to post custom reports for others to consult. PowerBI is similar, sometimes used for mockups and sometimes for interactive visual reports with complex analysis and filtering for people who don't know PowerBI. I have seen both tools used in different companies, depending on their requirements and usefulness.

In conclusion, Tableau is aimed at all types of users without knowledge of data processing and visualisation. And PowerBI is aimed at users with knowledge of DAX, visualisation and ETLs. Both undoubtedly comply with the creation of dashboards and graphs in minutes.

Author: David Ortega Cruz

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