Sisense vs. Microsoft Power BI: Compare Core BI Capabilities and More

Sisense and Microsoft Power BI are two software solutions with robust business intelligence features. In this post, we’ll compare them on several factors.

What are the Key Differences Between Sisense and Power BI?

  • ​While both tools are intended for all end users, Sisense has intuitive self-service features, whereas Power BI may be best for users that have experience with Microsoft Excel.
  • Sisense doesn’t publicly release its pricing information. But prospects can see pricing on the Power BI site.
  • Even though both vendors offer similar customer support (e.g., a knowledge base, a community forum), Sisense has optional premium support, while Microsoft doesn’t have this at all.

Product Overviews

The following excerpts from our Sisense and Power BI reviews summarize each software solution:

Sisense

Sisense is designed to handle all sorts of data, from small data sets to big data. It’s also scalable because it allows companies to accumulate more data as they go without the worries of crashing servers or slow computer memory. Its in-chip technology utilizes parallel processing and an in-memory columnar database so that it can crunch up terabytes of data on a single server and still serve multiple users. Therefore, companies will not need to spend resources on additional hardware or servers.

Sisense’s BI solution can be deployed either as on-premise or in the cloud. Its customers include small businesses to large enterprises across many industries.

Power BI

Microsoft Power BI is a cloud-based business intelligence and analytics service that provides a full overview of your most critical data. Connecting to all of your data sources, Power BI simplifies data evaluation and sharing with scalable dashboards, interactive reports, embedded visuals and more.

There are several versions. Power BI Desktop is an on-premise solution that connects to a cloud-based service to easily upload and share data and information across the company. Power BI has two additional versions with advanced features: Power BI Pro and Power BI Premium. Power BI Pro allows users to share insights with collaborators. They can analyze data by using conversational language (the Q&A feature) and get insights from pre-built visualization and reporting templates. Users can share data in other Microsoft platforms like Teams or Dynamics 365. Power BI Premium allows an organization’s internal or external users (e.g., clients) to view Power BI reports without a license.

Features Comparisons

Data Preparation

Sisense

Sisense can connect to many cloud and on-premise data sources via its data connector library. The In-Warehouse Data Prep module lets users pull large sets of data from their cloud data warehouse without relying on IT support.

Sisense can identify and correct inaccurate data or discrepancies without any impact to the original data source. It also has multiple transformation functions (e.g., date, address) that can automatically convert data into the appropriate field.

Power BI

Power BI connects with over 100 cloud-based and on-premise data sources (e.g., Excel, Salesforce, Azure SQL database). It includes automated daily refreshes, so data stays up to date. Note that the amount of daily refreshes depends on the tier. Power BI Pro performs up to eight refreshes per day, while Power BI Premium refreshes data up to 48 times daily. Users can prepare their data with the Power Query tool. Power Query has prebuilt transformation functions (e.g., removing columns, filtering rows) that users simply select from within the interface. If a user needs to add a new transformation function, Power Query automatically adds in an M code, so the user doesn’t need to write any new code.

Bottom Line

Both solutions have robust data prep functions that can handle complex datasets and have automated features to streamline this process.

Data Visualizations and Dashboards

Sisense

Sisense has a library of prebuilt dashboards targeted to industry or job roles (e.g., Manufacturing, Finance, Sales). In addition, users can create their own dashboards by running an ad-hoc analysis, moving built-in chart widgets and placing them within a dashboard. They can opt to have charts, graphs or maps within a dashboard. The dashboards are updated in real time, so users won’t need to rebuild them, and users can share those dashboards with internal or external colleagues. Those users can also access dashboards and filter or drill down into the dashboard, as long as appropriate permissions are set.

Once a dashboard is created, the Sisense Pulse Alert feature lets users set up custom alerts for specific key performance indicators (KPIs). If abnormalities are detected in the data, alerts can be sent to a user’s desktop or a mobile device as push notifications.

Power BI

Users can create visualizations using the drag-and-drop tool by choosing from many templates from Microsoft and third-party providers or by creating their own. They can create mobile-optimized reports by selecting the Phone Layout button and then adjusting the chart or graph. The Power BI Pro tier lets users share the reports with their external or internal colleagues. Those colleagues can add comments to the visualization as well as subscribe for updates or alerts.

Bottom Line

Each solution allows users to easily create and share their dashboards and reports. The main difference comes down to the availability of the dashboard templates. Sisense has ready-made industry- and job-oriented templates included in the software, whereas Power BI’s industry-specific templates are in its AppSource store.

Natural Language Query (NLQ)

Sisense

Sisense AI Throughout is a technology that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to automate data prep tasks and guide users in finding insights in their data.

Its Natural Language Query (NLQ) feature lets users ask a question about their data with the “Simply Ask” button where the user can type in a question, get automatic and personalized suggestions to complete the question, and then get an answer in the form of a visualization. Sisense NLQ can provide suggestions for synonyms for the value or formula in a data model, spelling mistakes or any ambiguity in the measure or value.

Power BI

Power BI has a Q&A question box that allows users to explore data by asking a question in natural language. The technology uses rephrasings, autofill and suggestions to help users find the answers they need.

Bottom Line

Sisense and Power BI have similar NLQ features. However, it appears that for Power BI, the Q&A function isn’t available in the Power BI Desktop version.

Embedded Analytics

Sisense

The Sisense Fusion Embed solution allows companies to offer embedded analytics to their internal or external customers. Its white-labeled application lets users customize the software based on their brand, and they can extend the analytics functionality with JavaScript application program interfaces (APIs).

Sisense can be embedded within the company’s existing software, so end users can perform analyses without having to use a separate business intelligence software. Companies can scale Sisense as their customer needs grow since the software can be deployed in the cloud or on premise in a single or multi-tenant architecture.

Power BI

With Power BI Embedded on Azure, developers and software vendors can insert Power BI into their software application using JavaScript SDK and monitor performance and automations with REST APIs. Some of its features include custom-built visuals, the ability for end users to create and edit dashboards, and single- and multi-tenant deployment with row-level security.

Bottom Line

While Sisense Fusion Embed is intended for any company that wants to embed the software into their existing solution, Power BI Embedded is targeted only at independent software vendors (ISVs).

Download Comparison Guide

Pricing

Sisense

Sisense has a free trial, so users can test its software. The vendor bases its pricing on an annual subscription model that includes features and support.

Because Sisense prefers to provide custom quotes based on a client’s specific needs, prices aren’t publicly available.

Power BI

Power BI Desktop is free to individual users. Here is the pricing for Power BI Pro and Power BI Premium:

  • Pro – The Pro version costs $9.99 per user, per month and includes a mobile app, the ability to publish and share reports, a 1 GB model size limit, eight data refreshes daily, the ability to connect to over 100 data sources, embedded APIs and controls, AI visuals, data security and encryption, metrics for content creation and publishing and up to 10 GB per user maximum storage. Pro is available for free for companies that have the Microsoft 365 E5 solution.
  • Premium (per user) – The Premium per user plan costs $20 per user, per month. It includes all of the features of the Pro plan, plus paginated reports, a 100 GB model size limit, 48 data refreshes daily, advanced AI features, XMLA endpoint read/write connectivity, data flows, the ability to analyze data stored in Azure Data Lake Storage, application lifecycle management and up to 100 TB of maximum storage.
  • Premium (per capacity) – This version starts at $4,995 per month, per dedicated cloud compute and storage resource. It includes all of the features of the Premium per user plan, plus on-premise reporting, a 400 GB model limit, multi-location deployment management, Bring Your Own Key (BYOK) and autoscale add-on.

Bottom Line

Sisense requires a custom pricing quote, while Microsoft offers transparent pricing.

Customer Support

Sisense

Sisense has a variety of features in its support portal:

  • Ticketing system
  • Product releases
  • Documentation (e.g., FAQs, how-to articles, guides)
  • Video tutorials
  • User community forums
  • Developer forums
  • Sisense Academy virtual training courses

In addition, each client is assigned a dedicated Customer Success Manager (CSM) who serves as the main point of contact. Additional complimentary support features include:

  • Response to Priority 1 issues within four service hours
  • Response to Priority 2 issues within eight service hours
  • Response to Priority 3 issues within 12 service hours
  • Remote onboarding sessions
  • Designated BI consultant during onboarding

Sisense has an Enterprise Elite Service tier at an additional cost. It includes all of the complimentary support offerings, plus:

  • Response to Priority 1 issues within two service hours
  • Response to Priority 2 issues within four service hours
  • Response to Priority 3 issues within eight service hours
  • 24/7 proactive environment monitoring
  • Proactive technical support and preventive advice
  • Designated technical support consultant
  • On-site and remote onboarding sessions
  • Designated BI consultant post-implementation
  • On-site (twice per year) growth planning and deployment reviews
  • Tailored growth and adoption toolkit
  • On-site training and workshops

Power BI

Microsoft offers several resources:

  • FAQs
  • In-depth documentation on tools and features
  • Guided learning courses
  • A community forum
  • Samples of Power BI reports and dashboards

In addition, Power BI Pro users can submit a support ticket.

Bottom Line

While both vendors provide users with a knowledge base, a community forum, a ticketing system and training courses, Sisense offers a complimentary Customer Success Manager and optional premium support for all of its clients, while Microsoft doesn’t.

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