Tableau and Power BI are both data visualization and business intelligence tools. You can extract data with both tools, visualize the data, analyze it, and turn it into a piece of actionable information.

In this article, you will learn what both Power BI and Tableau are in detail. I will also create a factual comparison between the two so you can identify which of them you should use for your project.

NB: This article is not a black-and-white comparison of Power BI and Tableau. There are a lot of grey areas between the two and that’s what we are going to look at the most.

What is Tableau?

Tableau became popular in the early 2000s. It is the leading data visualization and business intelligence tool for companies that want to be data-driven.

Tableau can integrate with and get data from a wide variety of sources like Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Access, and Google Analytics. It can even integrate with files like JSON, text, statistical and spatial files.

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Tableau has great features such as:

  • no code data query
  • drag and drop
  • real-time analysis
  • data filtering
  • mobile view
  • data connectors
  • text editor
  • dashboards
  • team members collaboration, and tons more.

What is Power BI?

Power BI is a suite of data analysis and visualization tools and services that helps you convert data into visually interactive reports. It was made available to the public in 2011.

Power BI integrates with various data sources such as Excel workbook, SQL server, PostgreSQL, and Microsoft Access. You can then turn this data into any kind of visualization that pleases you. You can also enter your data manually.

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That chart could be a pie chart, bar chart, funnel, R and Python Visual, or even a Q & A. Power Bi is a powerful data visualization tool.

The cool features you have access to with Power BI include:

  • smooth integration with Microsoft products
  • data refreshes
  • mobile app
  • map creation
  • a wide variety of charts
  • custom charts with R and Python
  • integration with Azure machine learning

Why Use Power BI or Tableau Instead of Excel?

Tableau and Power BI are made for one important thing Excel is not primarily made for – data visualization. I know you can still make charts with Excel, but that functionality is limited in comparison to both Power BI and Tableau.

In addition, Tableau and Power BI are more powerful than Excel when it comes to visuals and dashboards. They also have faster processing times than Excel.

In short, companies and startups that what to be more data-driven should choose Power Bi or Tableau instead of Excel.

Differences between Tableau and Power BI

Basis Tableau Power BI
User interface Getting started with the Tableau UI can be intimidating at first. The Power BI UI is relatively easier to get started with when compared to Tableau.
Pricing Tableau is more expensive. Tableau Creator costs $70 per user/month, billed annually Power BI Pro costs $13.7 per month, and Power BI Premium costs $27.50 per month
Data Handling Capacity Tableau can handle a large amount of data. It performs better when the data is very large Power BI performs better when the data volume is limited
Platform Tableau is platform-agnostic. It runs on both Mac and Windows. Power BI does not run on Mac
Enterprise Tableau is suitable for large-scale enterprises that want to be more data-driven. Power BI is suitable for startups and small-scale enterprises.
Data Sources Tableau has access to a wide range of data sources - including files Power BI has fewer data sources than Tableau
Machine Learning Support Tableau has built-in support for Machine Learning with Python Power BI integrates with Azure Machine Learning.
Community Tableau has a supportive community with over a million users. There's also a forum where users can get help. Power BI is younger than Tableau in the market, so it doesn't have as many community members as Tableau

Final Thoughts

Both Power BI and Tableau perform well in business intelligence, so it is hard to say one is better than the other.

The only conclusion that is relatively easy to draw is that Tableau is more robust than Power BI. This is because Tableau can handle more data and has access to several common and uncommon data sources.

But if you really need to choose one, below are some metrics to consider:

  • If you are on a budget, Power Bi might be a better option
  • If you have a group of highly skilled data professionals, Tableau is more robust than Power BI, so Tableau is the better option
  • If your company is still a startup, you can consider Power BI, but if the company has moved above a small scale and continues to grow, you should choose Tableau.
  • If you have a large amount of data to process and you think the data would continue to increase, you should choose Tableau. But if it’s relatively small data to process and you don’t think it will increase so much, Power Bi is a good option.

Thank you for reading.