Sisense vs. Tableau: Compare Core BI Capabilities and More

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

What is the difference between Sisense and Tableau?

  • ​Sisense doesn’t publicly release its pricing information, while prospects can see pricing via Tableau’s site.
  • Both vendors promote its solutions to similar use cases. But it appears Sisense doesn’t have a solution for government agencies or sales teams, while Tableau does.
  • Both BI tools are intended for all end users. However, Sisense’s features don’t require coding knowledge, while Tableau’s robustness may have a slight learning curve.

Product Overviews

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

Sisense

Sisense is designed to handle all sorts of data, from small data sets to big data. It is 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.

Tableau

Tableau provides all types of users with intuitive business intelligence (BI) tools to enhance data discovery and understanding. With simple drag-and-drop features, a user is able to easily access and analyze key data, create innovative reports and visualizations, and share critical insights across the company.

Tableau has three main products for robust data discovery:

  1. Tableau Desktop – Tableau Desktop is used to connect and analyze disparate data, and create highly innovative reports in just a few clicks.
  2. Tableau Server – Tableau Server allows users to securely collaborate and share critical insights and information through comprehensive dashboards created in Tableau Desktop or directly in Tableau Server.
  3. Tableau Online – Tableau Online is a cloud-hosted version of Tableau Server. It not only saves time and money by skipping hardware setup, Tableau Server also supports mobile access.

Tableau serves a variety of industries, including major corporations and banks, educational institutions and healthcare providers.

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.

Tableau

The Tableau Data Prep software allows users to prepare data for analysis, and it’s broken down into two modules: Tableau Prep Builder and Tableau Prep Conductor. With Tableau Prep Builder, users can connect their data from any source, and they can perform data-cleaning functions (e.g., changing the data value) via a visual interface. Tableau Prep also has smart features that automate typical data prep changes, such as grouping data.

The Tableau Prep Conductor module allows users to schedule and monitor their data flows in their Tableau Server environment. Once they set up a schedule, the software continuously monitors the data flow and sends alerts if it spots any discrepancies. Note that Tableau Prep Builder is part of the Tableau Creator subscription, while Tableau Prep Conductor is part of the Tableau Data Management add-on product.

Bottom Line

While both software have intuitive data prep features, those features are mainly intended for analysts that have SQL or advanced business intelligence knowledge.

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.

Tableau

Users can create a dashboard in a few clicks, including combining data sources and adding filters, and they can also share their dashboard with their colleagues.

Tableau has advanced dashboarding features, such as the Story Points (users arrange their data in a narrative style) and the Device Designer (dashboards are optimized for phones or tablets). In addition, Tableau Online’s Dashboard Starters feature allows users to develop dashboards by pulling in data from specific software (e.g., Salesforce, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Oracle Eloqua, Marketo and ServiceNow) directly within Tableau. After a dashboard is created, users can set up thresholds in the data that trigger alerts, and they can specify who the alerts are sent to, as well as the type of notification (e.g., email notification).

Bottom Line

Both solutions have robust dashboard and data visualization tools. Sisense provides clients with ready made industry- or role-oriented dashboards, while Tableau offers advanced features, such as the Story Points and Device Designer.

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.

Tableau

Tableau’s Ask Data feature lets users type in a question and get answers in visualization form. Users can ask follow-up questions in Ask Data or even add synonyms to the data. If they’re not sure what questions to ask, Ask Data provides smart recommendations based on the data source. It can also understand ambiguous statements and provide recommendations.

Ask Data uses Tableau’s Show Me capabilities to choose the best visualization to represent the most relevant answer to a question. By default, Tableau visualizes the answer in chart view, but users can change the type to suit their preferences.

Bottom Line

While both vendors offer natural language queries, Sisense can provide an answer via any visualization, while Tableau defaults to a chart view – unless the user prefers to change it.

Predictive Analytics 

Sisense

With the Sisense Forecast feature, users can run forecasting models with a point-and-click interface. They can choose from two forecast model types (e.g., Univariate analysis, Multivariate analysis). Users can compare forecast data with current or historical data, change the forecast period and see an explanation of statistical outputs of each forecast model.

To build predictive models, users can take advantage of the integrated Python and R libraries. Additional Sisense Forecast features include the ability to set upper or lower boundaries within the forecast and the ability to ask questions within the forecast models.

Tableau

With Tableau, users can simply create a forecast by adding a date and the measure of the data they want to forecast (e.g., sales performance), and they can also configure the forecasting model, such as the length and prediction intervals.

Data scientists can create predictive modeling based on two calculations, Percentile and Quantile, that generate predictions, and they can also create those predictive models with R or Python languages.

Bottom Line

While both vendors have strong predictive analytics functionality, Sisense offers an intuitive experience for end users, while Tableau requires data science expertise.

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.

Tableau

Users can embed Tableau within any application (e.g., Salesforce, SharePoint) or even in their company’s website using Javascript API. It comes with row-level security and user filtering, so users can build a dashboard once and then include data based on the user’s permissions. They can build dashboards within hours, including adding two-way communication.

Tableau also offers resources to help developers, such as open-source documentation and a community forum.

Bottom Line

Both software offers robust embedded analytics functionality. The difference comes down to the benefits they promote. Sisense says companies can experience improved customer satisfaction, while Tableau claims its embedded analytics help organizations improve their revenue.

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.

Tableau

Instead of basing the prices on its products, Tableau’s subscription strategy focuses on individual users and their data needs. Each subscription includes maintenance, product upgrades and support at one cost, so there are no surprise fees. Note that the pricing is based on annual billing.

  • Tableau Creator – Tableau Creator is designed for individual analysts and power users, and costs $70 per user, per month. It includes access to Tableau Desktop and Tableau Prep, and companies can purchase a single Creator license for either Tableau Server or Tableau Online. Note that Tableau offers the same price for Tableau Creator whether the software is deployed in the cloud or on premise.
  • Tableau Explorer – Tableau Explorer is designed for users that prefer governed self-service analytics instead of relying on data from others. It costs $35 per user, per month for on-premise deployment, and it includes one license for Tableau Server. If deployed in the cloud, this plan costs $42 per user, per month, and it includes one license for Tableau Online.
  • Tableau Viewer – Tableau Viewer is designed for users that just want to access dashboards and visualizations. When deployed on-premise, it costs $12 per user, per month, and it includes one Viewer license of Tableau Server. When deployed in the cloud, it costs $15 per user, per month, and it includes one Viewer license of Tableau Online. Note that Tableau requires a minimum of 100 Viewers for this plan.

Companies can also purchase add-on features, such as Tableau Data Management ($5.50 per user, per month) and Einstein Discovery ($25 per user, per month). Tableau has a 14-day free trial.

Bottom Line

It appears Sisense has an annual all-inclusive subscription model, and Tableau offers three tiers geared toward users’ data needs. Sisense requires a custom pricing quote, while Tableau 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

Tableau

Tableau offers complimentary online access to all users that includes:

  • A knowledge base
  • On-demand training videos
  • Live online training
  • Product documentation
  • Tableau Community forums

In addition, it has a Technical Support Program with three tiers:

Standard – Standard support is included in the subscription purchase or in the first year of the perpetual license. Coverage is during Tableau’s regular business hours (6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PST Mondays to Fridays). In addition to online access, the Standard tier has:

  • Priority 1 (Critical) issue response time within eight hours
  • Priority 2 (High) issue response time within 24 hours
  • Three named contacts

Extended – The Extended Support tier includes all of the features of the Standard tier, plus:

  • 24/7 coverage for Priority 1 (Critical) issues
  • Priority 1 (Critical) issue response time within two hours
  • Priority 2 (High) issue response time within eight hours
  • Five named contacts

Premium – The Premium Support tier includes all of the features of the Extended tier, plus:

  • Phone support
  • 24/7 coverage for Priority 1 (Critical) and Priority 2 (High) issues
  • Priority 1 (Critical) issue response time within 30 minutes
  • Priority 2 (High) issue response time within two hours
  • A technical account manager
  • Service level agreement for Tableau Online users only
  • Deployment reviews for Tableau Server users only
  • Recurring status calls and service reports
  • Online update guidance
  • Upgrade assistance for Tableau Server users only
  • Strategic planning
  • Access to the Senior Support team
  • Case escalation and oversight
  • Product roadmap participation
  • Prioritized feature request reviews
  • Root cause analysis
  • Sandbox site for Tableau Online users only

Bottom Line

Both vendors offer robust support. But Sisense doesn’t offer technical phone support, and Tableau’s phone support is only available in its Premium Support tier.

Also, Sisense offers a CSM contact for all of its clients, but Tableau’s technical account management team is only offered in the Premium Support tier.

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