Tableau V/S Power BI: The data visualization Leaders vie for data analysts’ attention

We are visual creatures. We see colors, patterns, and shapes to make sense of the world that we live in. In an age where data is overflowing from all corners of the world, it helps to simplify it into images that we can easily consume.

This is where data visualization steps in, and it is more than just bar graphs or pie charts. It’s almost an art of putting form to functionality. 

Why is it necessary?

Data visualization allows one to take the data back to a point where convoluted problems can be made easy and interesting to solve. One can arrive at a solution only when complex data is made understandable. There are numerous large databases for one single product, but how does one decide on an actionable point?

In that complex data, there is a story waiting to be discovered and told. To present that story, one requires a knack of presenting it in an interesting way while balancing factual data points and weaving a well put together scenario that enables business. 

What are the challenges?

Despite data visualization being the most effective way of understanding data, it comes with its drawbacks. Here are some of the most pressing ones.

  • Differences in the level of understanding

Even in organizations spread worldwide, data is still represented in the form of bar graphs and is rarely interactive. It may be necessary for more complex visualization to increase data literacy, reduce waste of resources, and benefit business effectively.

  • A dearth of skilled personnel

A shortage of data scientists and skilled resources who can feed the right data to the right people continues to be a big challenge. At present, most data visualization experts are freelancers, and dedicated teams have only just begun to crop up in organizations.

  • Data is collected without a plan or with a bias

Establishments spend an inordinate amount of their time and resources in cleaning and processing data instead of visualizing it. The other concern is that any bias in data becomes a hurdle in making correct visualizations for decent predictions.

What are the tools that help in troubleshooting them?

Although there is various data visualization software available in the market, Tableau and Microsoft Power BI appear on the leaderboard as popular tools preferred by data visualization practitioners. Tableau, established almost a decade before Power BI, remains one of the most used platforms. However, Power BI has successfully played catch up in the last three years and made a place for itself replacing Qlik.

Tableau and Power BI: Which offers better usability?


With Tableau and Power BI being the top tools used for data visualization for a while, let’s take a look at which software offers the most optimum ease of working and suits best to the practitioner’s abilities based on the following parameters.

1. Cost

Power BI, a service made and provided by Microsoft, has a simple pricing model that reflects the same approach employed in Microsoft Office 365. On the other hand, Tableau assumes a deeper usage level at $500 per user/per year with virtually no limit on data. Tableau also goes well beyond a simple per-user subscription model to provide a wide range of licensing options based on the specific roles individuals play within an organization. 


2. Easy to use

Power BI has a slight edge over Tableau in terms of its user interface that has roots in Microsoft Office 365, which most end-users are already familiar with and do not need to make additional payments for as it’s a part of the Microsoft stack offering. That also means, no additional licensing (only for advanced users) is required. 

However, Tableau is an independent platform and enjoys a certain popularity among novice users as it is quite easy to navigate. When it comes to drilling down into data, Tableau provides some notable advantages. It is investing in natural language capabilities specifically designed for BI use cases; it facilitates deep exploration with advanced analytics and provides a community environment where easy accessibility is paramount. Also, the turnaround time for Tableau is rather swift in comparison, Power BI may take almost the same time as the task. 


3. Market share

A total of 25,109 companies are using Microsoft Power BI, which is almost half compared to Tableau, which boasts of 49, 366 customers. Also, last year, Salesforce, a cloud-based software company, expanded by acquiring Tableau for $15.7 billion. Tableau Software Inc. has achieved revenue growth of 14.1 % and improved market share to approximately 12.19 %.

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Correct data visualization and the impact on business

Data visualization is a great way for companies to communicate information, both internally and externally. It’s a tool for businesses to become storytellers. To navigate raw data, it is imperative to find the needle in the haystack. Also, charts and maps can help businesses efficiently evaluate their employees’ sentiments and take appropriate action to create a more enjoyable work experience.

Visualization tools automate the process of organizing information, which helps businesses make faster decisions. For most companies, sales and marketing departments rely on the fast turn around of data visualization tools. A well-defined business case is capable of giving you, as a data visualization practitioner, the necessary insights into what your client’s needs are. 

Here are a few examples of my own work that you can study for reference.

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