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Tableau vs. Power BI: Difference Between Tableau and Power BI

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29th May, 2020
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Tableau vs. Power BI: Difference Between Tableau and Power BI

Today, we’re discussing a topic of heated debates – Power BI vs Tableau.

Both of these tools have a large following due to their versatility and utility. While both of them are useful for data analysts and other data science professionals, they have their differences as well. And in this article, we’ll identify this difference between Tableau and Power BI. 

Let’s get started. 

What is Tableau?

Tableau is a data analytics and business intelligence tool that we use to produce data visualizations and reports. It enables you to convert raw and complex data in easy to understand formats. Tableau can perform data analysis rapidly, and it can produce worksheets and dashboards for data visualization. Its simple products allow everyone to interpret any findings irrespective of whether they are a data analyst or not. 

Tableau is excellent for creating beautiful data visualizations. It has a public version (free version) available, but that has very few functionalities. Tableau also has versions for academic purposes and non-profit uses. 

Tableau’s Features

Tableau is a host of many features. Some of its best features are the following:

  • It doesn’t require any technical expertise to use. This means anyone can use it without worrying about a learning curve or any complicated problem. 
  • You can share the dashboards you created in Tableau with others. 
  • Tableau reader facilitates easy data viewing.
  • Tableau has data blending available. 
  • You can embed dashboards for better accessibility.
  • You can make data queries that contain no code.
  • You can collaborate with others on Tableau for enhanced productivity and coordination. 

Tableau offers many advantages to its users. Tableau training doesn’t cost much, and it can build visualizations quickly and easily. Its customer support is also excellent and beats the customer support of its competitors. It uses scripting languages such as Python or R., And you can create stories, dashboards, and reports by using Tableau. 

The list of advantages doesn’t end here. Tableau also has data cleaning options to enhance your data analytics. It is capable of handling vast amounts of data, which makes it suitable for large organizations. 

Tableau is expensive, and it doesn’t have any versioning. Only those organizations that can pay its licensing cost can use Tableau, that’s why it’s suitable for large organizations. You’d find it challenging to import custom visualizations in Tableau. 

Read: Tableau Interview Questions & Answers

What is Power BI?

Power BI is a data analytics tool businesses use to derive insights and perform analysis. Power BI takes data from multiple sources and converts them into BI reports as well as dashboards. You also get numerous software services and connectors. It provides you various features such as Ad Hoc reports that can help you in analyzing data. 

Power BI uses Excel, Azure, and other Microsoft systems to create data visualizations. As a result, people who already use these Microsoft products would find it easier to work with this tool. 

Power BI’s Features

Now that we’ve discussed a little about Power BI, let’s take a look at its most prominent features:

  • You can author interactive reports in Power BI. Interactive reports are easier to understand and better to explain your findings.
  • It has a wide range of data visualization and reporting tools. 
  • You can build customizable dashboards with Power BI. 
  • It has trend indicators included that simplify multiple tasks of data visualization.
  • Power BI has an OLAP (Online Analytical Processing).
  • It has an easy to use navigation pane along with help buttons and FAQ boxes so you can get rid of your doubts. 
  • You can share your created dashboards with your team members by using the content packs of Power BI.

Power BI provides its users with pre-built reports and dashboards for SaaS products. You also get a highly secure environment that you can deploy quickly. The most significant advantage is the real-time dashboard that empowers fast and effective problem-solving. It enables data exploration through natural language queries.

It employs machine learning and artificial intelligence, and you can use Python (or R) to use its visualizations. Power BI’s list of advantages and features is long as well. Its developers regularly add new features and functionalities.

However, Power BI isn’t capable of handling vast amounts of data. It doesn’t accept any file that’s larger than 1 GB in size. You can share the dashboards and reports with only those users who have the same email domain as you. 

Read: 29 Most Commonly Power BI Interview Questions & Answers

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Difference Between Tableau and Power BI

In this section of our Power BI vs Tableau discussion, we’ll now focus on the main areas where these two tools differ:

Setup and Interface


You can perform the initial setup of Tableau with their free trial. You’ll be able to use all features of this tool during the free trial phase. In your dashboard, you can find the list of all possible connections, from where you can start connecting with the data sources. After you’ve done that step, you can build a worksheet where you’ll create your visualizations. You can create your data visualizations in Tableau Desktop and share them with the team through Tableau Online or Tableau Server. 

Power BI:

The basic setup of Power BI includes Azure tenant, which you connect to Power BI. To join the former with the latter, you’ll have to use the Office365 Admin interface. You can do this setup during the free trial, and you’ll have the option to keep the Azure tenant even after your trial is complete. The interface of Power BI is straightforward to use, and you can connect it to data sources and spreadsheets through APIs and built-in connections. Power BI has three forms available, service, mobile, and desktop. You can choose among these three (or use all of them) according to your role and requirements. 

Read: Tableau Developer Salary in India

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The cost of Tableau’s products is unique, but it’s higher than that of Power BI. They used to rely on a bulk purchase model but now they have shifted to a subscription model. Tableau’s pricing is divided into tiers according to your requirement of using it with third-party applications.

For example, if you have your data stored on spreadsheets and want to export it from a third party tool before Tableau, the pricing is understandable. On the other hand, if you connect Tableau directly with such third party apps (Hadoop, Marketo, etc.), then the cost increases substantially more, and you’ll need to upgrade your subscription.

Power BI:

Power BI costs less than Tableau. They have three options for users, a free version, a subscription-based version, and a costlier premium version that you can scale. Power BI has the advantage of being a Microsoft product. You wouldn’t have to pay directly to let Office365 get access to Power BI’s admin section, and you can just get a simple subscription for the same. Microsoft has kept Power BI quite affordable for those organizations that have been using Microsoft software before. 

Also learn about: How to pick the right Tableau Product

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Tableau is excellent for connections and integrations. They have put in a lot of investment to allow smooth integrations with multiple prominent tools and software solutions. You can view the links available with your account when you log in. You’ll have to select what data you want to put into the tool when you make any connection. Due to this reason, it’d be better if you understood the data and the intention to pull it into your tool before making a connection. 

Power BI:

Power BI comes with built-in dashboards that give you quick insights on many popular solutions, including the likes of Google Analytics and Salesforce. You also have the option to connect to the available services in your organization. Similarly, you can download files from those services as well and use them to create visualizations. You’ll have to use the ‘Get Data’ button to connect Power BI with any service. You’ll undergo an authorization check, and after that, you’ll get connected. 



Tableau’s dashboard is filled with features, but some of them aren’t easily accessible as they hide behind the multiple menus. It gives you live query capability, which can help you considerably in performing data analysis. In most cases, data analysts have to stop all the work they were doing just to complete the query process. 

Tableau’s interface contains a drag and drop function to ask questions. You can put the data types in the X and Y axes, and Tableau builds your visualization according to this input. The interface could seem a little confusing because it is neither based purely on query processes nor on drag and drop visualizations. Tableau is simple, but the confusing UX requires one to invest some time in getting accustomed to it. 

Power BI:

Like we mentioned earlier, Power BI provides you with access to real-time data. This feature enables you to work in real-time and solve problems with high efficiency. The real-time access allows teams to react quickly to any changes that might happen to sales, project management, or CRM. As the industry is gearing more towards real-time SaaS products, Power BI easily gets ahead in this regard. 

The dashboard of Power BI has many drag and drop functions that help you in speeding up the process. You don’t need to be a seasoned data expert to use the numerous data analytics operations available in Power BI. Its dashboard ensures that you can perform your tasks fast and smoothly.

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Additional Differences


  • Learning Tableau requires some effort, as it’s a little tricky. 
  • Tableau works best for large or medium-sized organizations.
  • Tableau has terrific customer support. It also has a thriving community forum filled with other Tableau users.
  • It deploys MDX for dimensions and measures.
  • Tableau works perfectly when you have vast quantities of data.
  • Tableau is primarily popular among analysts and experienced professionals. 
  • In Tableau, embedding reports is a little challenging. 

Power BI:

  • Power BI’s interface is easy and doesn’t take much effort to learn.
  • It is excellent for the small, medium as well as large-sized organizations.
  • Those who use the free version of Power BI get limited customer support. On the other hand, users of the paid version get fast and better customer support.
  • Power BI employs DAX to measure and calculate columns. 
  • Power BI isn’t handy when you have vast quantities of data. 
  • Both new and experienced professionals use Power BI.
  • In Power BI, embedding reports is an easy feat.

Power BI vs Tableau – The Verdict

Both of these tools have their pros and cons. The choice depends on your (and your organization’s) requirements. Tableau is suitable for large organizations, whereas Power BI is suitable for others. There are many other points of difference between these two.

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Blog Author
Meet Sriram, an SEO executive and blog content marketing whiz. He has a knack for crafting compelling content that not only engages readers but also boosts website traffic and conversions. When he's not busy optimizing websites or brainstorming blog ideas, you can find him lost in fictional books that transport him to magical worlds full of dragons, wizards, and aliens.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1Is coding necessary for Tableau?

Currently, Tableau is an industry-leading data visualization and business intelligence tool being used in a majority of organizations around the world. The reason behind its extensive use is its beautiful visualizations on the dashboards and quick & interactive interface.

The best thing about Tableau is that you don't require any coding skills for using it. Even a completely non-technical person can use Tableau for creating dashboards and create actionable insights from the available piles of data. The easy-to-use interface and no requirement of coding make it pretty easy and accessible for everyone out there.

If you are thinking about entering the field of business intelligence or data visualization, you don't need to worry about coding skills because Tableau allows you to make everything possible even without any knowledge of coding.

2Is Tableau a good career option?

Career opportunities for Tableau are on a huge rise with everything moving towards automation. It is necessary to focus on data analysis for proper automation, and Tableau does this work for you. There is a huge demand for data scientists and professionals who are skilled with the use of Tableau in different sectors.

Tableau is considered a perfect career option if you are good with team skills, time management, possess decent managerial skills, and be good with problem-solving. The main job role of a Tableau developer is to analyze the data and create data visualizations on the dashboard.

The demand for Tableau developers is consistently increasing because there is a huge increment seen in the companies' amount of data being generated and collected. So, if you are thinking about building a career as a Tableau developer, then this is the right time.

3Which is better – Power BI or Tableau?

Both Power BI and Tableau work on different ideologies and are used for different purposes. It is pretty much challenging to decide one from them because it will completely depend upon the requirements. By comparing both Power BI and Tableau based on the below parameters and comparing them with your requirements, you will find it easy to choose one.

2. Product support
3. Integration
4. Functionality
5. Deployment
6. Data visualization
7. User interface

If you take account of these parameters, you will be able to find the right tool to use for your business requirements.

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