Power BI vs Tableau – Which Business Intelligence Tool To Choose In 2021?

The analytics world is rapidly developing, bringing changes and new products to the modern market. New players enter the market, and well-known brands are overtaking smaller and newer ones. 

Business intelligence allows you to understand the entire data landscape that is becoming more complex and digitized today. Thus, choosing the right analytics tools is critical to getting the data you need and making effective decisions.

Comparing the leaders in this area can be a good start, and in this article, we’ll look at two popular tools, Microsoft Power BI and Tableau, and compare the differences. 

So, let’s start our battle – “Power BI vs Tableau.”

Power BI vs Tableau: What Should You Choose?

Before we start to compare Power BI and Tableau, let’s get to know each “character” first.

Power BI is a business intelligence tool that helps transform data from various data sources into useful business intelligence reports.

Power BI performs a detailed analysis of information, and provides selection by various criteria, integration, and visual presentation of information. 

Such technology also provides a tabular and graphical presentation of data in dedicated dashboards and updates of these dashboards automatically in real-time.

It allows users to create custom content packs for the team or the entire organization, including dashboards, reports, and datasets that offer each user a personalized view of the most important business metrics.

Tableau is an analytics platform that has been around since 2003, also known as the “gold standard” for data visualization. It’s a powerful visualization tool that can help create a simple graph, chart, and visualization.

Tableau offers a useful image sharing tool. Using a particular key combination, the user can share or publish the visualization on the server, and other people will see it. The program supports a large number of data sources. It includes Excel, numerous databases, cloud systems, and more.


What’s the difference between Tableau and Power BI?


Overall, Power BI is cheaper than Tableau. Microsoft has a simple pricing model that reflects the same approach as Microsoft Office 365. 

Users can choose from two pricing methods. Power BI Pro costs $9.99 per month. Power BI Premium, licensed with dedicated cloud computing and storage resources, is $4,995 per month.

To get good results from Tableau, users need to build a data warehouse that further adds value. So it costs over $35 per month ($500/year). 

However, the tool goes far beyond a simple per-user subscription model, offering a wide range of licensing options depending on the specific role individuals play in the organization.

Data visualization

Both tools are great at rendering, and both offer different approaches. But if your main goal is data visualization and scaling, Tableau is exactly what you need as Power BI is more focused on data manipulation and reporting.

Using Tableau, you can create different kinds of visualizations. Plus, with a clear user interface, you don’t need a lot of code to develop complex and interesting visualizations.


Using Power BI, you can have access to real-time data and simplify data loading.  Through various visualizations, the tool also provides access to powerful data analytics visualizations.


Which is better in this case  – Tableau vs Power BI? Both products can be easily integrated with the most popular third-party data sources. 

But it’s important to remember that Tableau still has a particular advantage when it comes to out-of-the-box integrations.

Tableau has invested heavily in integrating and connecting the large tools and connections used. This allows you to view all the links enabled at the account level right in your dashboard!

Power BI, in turn, provides API access and out-of-the-box dashboards for quick analysis, as well as connectivity to popular technologies such as Google Analytics, Salesforce dashboard, email platforms, and various Microsoft products.


Quality and convenience

Another important comparison point is the quality and convenience of preparing data for analysis.

At this stage, Power BI is knocked out in front by the integrated Power Query tools. In this way, the data can be cleaned up, prepared for further analysis right away in Power BI. 

Users can filter, create new columns, delete unnecessary ones, modify data, change formats, etc.


And the most valuable thing is the ability to make templates for processing. In this way, users don’t have to prescribe the same actions every time. 

Power BI will remember what they did with the data, and when they apply the template, it will process the data on its own.

But that doesn’t work in Tableau. This program is designed for already preprocessed data. Of course, users can change the data type, split columns, add filters, but they cannot remove unnecessary columns (only hide them). And when it comes to tens of columns and thousands of rows, memory and power are valuable resources.


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Microsoft Power BI vs Tableau

Let’s compare Power BI and Tableau again in this table.

Tableau users can research their data, find new ideas faster, and answer new questions without seeking IT professionals’ support. 

Power BI users rely on technical staff to write the code to perform the user analysis they need and often need third-party software additions.

Tableau Power BI
Patented VizQL technology – designed to allow users to explore data graphically. Code Focus – Users need to learn two different computer languages ​​(DAX and M) to succeed.
Speed ​​of thought – testing of analytical hypotheses with instant results. Filling in the blanks – many steps are required to obtain the result (determine the visualization, decide which fields to impose on each element, decide on formatting).
Customizable visualizations – Use a simple computational language if you need settings. Experts needed – Simple analysis often requires the support of IT or BI professionals due to the multitude of query languages ​​and their inherent complexities.
Focus on “flow” – a smooth/consistent user experience. Focus on coding – new visual effects require specialized sets of code created by third parties.

Power BI vs Tableau: Make your choice now

So, we’ve covered the basic difference between Tableau and Power BI. And as you may have noticed, there have been significant changes in democratizing Business Intelligence (BI) over the past few years.

Power BI software includes easy access to data for any user, and cleaning and dynamic reporting on a one-time basis in minutes.

Tableau offers a richer set of analytical tools that enable you to make reports and query data, allowing users to perform a richer set of what-if analysis.

But regardless of your choice, the main advantage that both tools provide is that users can visualize data so that they can make their decisions faster.

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About Skelia

Skelia, a Nortal company, is an international leader in building cross-border IT and engineering organizations and affiliate companies in Eastern-Europe. For over a decade, we have provided staff augmentation services to a diverse range of clients—from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. We operate in Luxembourg, the UK, the Netherlands, Ukraine, Poland, and the US.