Tableau vs Power BI: Comparing Pricing, Functionality and Support

Tableau and Microsoft Power BI are the two front-runners in the business intelligence (BI) and data visualization software industry. They both include intuitive data evaluation tools and are easy for business managers to work with. Although alternatives exist and offer a similar set of features, one of these is probably the best choice for getting started.

But which business intelligence (BI) tool is right for your business?

We’ve compared Tableau and Power BI to highlight main differences and the factors to consider in a purchase decision.

Compare Tableau vs Power BI: Download our BI Vendor Comparison Guide with side-by-side comparisons of more than 50 popular BI tools – Download Here

Product Overviews

Here are excerpts from our detailed Tableau and Power BI reviews:

Tableau: Tableau offers robust BI tools to enhance data visualization and discovery for all types of organizations and business users. With simple drag-and-drop features, users are able to easily analyze key data, share critical insights across the enterprise, and create innovative visualizations and reports. In addition, Tableau offers the option to embed dashboards into existing business applications, such as SharePoint, for quick analytics.

Power BI: Microsoft Power BI is a cloud-based analytics and business intelligence platform that offers a full overview of an organization’s most critical data. It simplifies data sharing and evaluation for users by connecting to all of their data sources and offers scalable dashboards that make it easy for users to choose various visualizations as blueprints, then drag and drop the data from a navigation into the visualization.

How They Stack Up

Visualizations

Tableau: Tableau lets users create 24 different types of baseline visualizations, including heat maps, line charts and scatter plots. It boasts an interface that doesn’t require coding knowledge to develop sophisticated and complex visualizations. In addition, users have the ability to ask “what if” questions of the data, as well as the freedom to use any number of datapoints in their analysis.

Power BI: The tool makes uploading data sets a breeze. Users can choose numerous visualizations as blueprints, then insert data from a sidebar into the visualization. In addition, Power BI lets users create visualizations by asking queries with natural language. This is done through the Cortana personal digital assistant with Power BI Online. However, Power BI places a 3,500 datapoint limit when it comes to drilling down into datasets to conduct analysis.

Bottom Line: Both Tableau and Power BI allow business managers to set up sophisticated visualizations that help spot patterns, reduce costs, speed up processes and generate consensus. However, Tableau allows users to leverage any number of datapoints for conducting analysis – something Power BI doesn’t offer.

Data Sources

Tableau: Tableau offers support for hundreds of data connectors including online analytical processing (OLAP) and big data options (such as NoSQL, Hadoop) as well as cloud options. When users add data from multiple sources the relationships are determined by Tableau automatically. In addition, Tableau gives users the ability to modify data links or create them manually based on their company’s preferences.

Power BI: Power BI is also very capable of connecting to users’ external sources including SAP HANA, JSON, MySQL, and more. When users add data from multiple sources the relationships are determined by Power BI automatically. In addition, it enables users to connect to Microsoft Azure databases, third-party databases, files and online services like Salesforce and Google Analytics.

Bottom Line: Both Tableau and Power BI allow users to connect to various data sources. However, Tableau offers better support for connecting to a distinct data warehouse, whereas Power BI is heavily integrated with Microsoft’s portfolio, including its Azure cloud platform.

Customer Support

Tableau: Direct support is available by phone and email as well as logging into the customer portal to submit a support ticket.

Tableau also offers a comprehensive knowledge base, which is categorized by its three subscription categories: Desktop, Server and Online. Users can access support resources tailored to their version of the software, including getting started, best practices and how to optimally use the platform’s top features.

Users can also access the Tableau community forum and attend training and other events.

Power BI: Customer support functionality is limited for users with a free Power BI account. All users can submit a support ticket, however, users with a paid account receive faster support.

Power BI also offers robust support resources and documentation, including guided learning, a user community forum and samples of how partners use the platform.

Bottom Line: While both platforms offer extensive digital resources for customers to self-serve, Tableau offers more comprehensive customer support options in terms of direct contact. Power BI users with a free account have limited support, while users with Pro and Premium accounts receive faster support.

Pricing

Tableau: Tableau recently debuted its new subscription offerings that tailor to user needs. They are: Creator, Explorer and Viewer. Prices are listed per user, per month, billed annually. The Creator plan includes full functionality of Tableau, and costs $70/user/month, regardless if whether the platform is deployed on-premise on in the cloud. The Explorer plan targets users that want self-service analytics without the data prepping and cleaning. It costs $35/user/month for on-premise deployment, and $42/user/month if deployed in the cloud.

Finally, there’s Tableau Viewer for users that want to access already-created visualizations. Companies can deploy it on-premise for $12/user/month or have Tableau host it for $15/user/month. Note that Tableau Viewer requires at least 100 viewers in order to purchase the plan.

The platform offers a 14-day free trial for users who wish to test it before making a purchase. 

Power BI: Power BI offers three subscription tiers: Desktop, Pro and Premium. Desktop is free for individual users. Pro starts at $9.99 per user per month and offers additional features like data governance and content packaging and distribution. Pro offers a 60-day free trial.

Premium is built on a capacity pricing, charging per node per month. Power BI offers a premium version cost calculator for custom quote ranges based on the number of pro, frequent and occasional users who will be active on an account’s premium version of the software.

Bottom Line: When it comes to cost, Power BI is generally a more affordable option. For users who prioritize free trial capabilities, Power BI offers a robust 60-day Pro trial, while Tableau’s free trial is 14 days. Additionally, Power BI starts at $9.99 per user per month, while Tableau Explorer starts at $35.

Key Takeaways

Tableau and Power BI have varying strengths and weaknesses that are common when comparing BI tools. Tableau allows users to integrate an infinite amount of datapoints in their analysis and offers comprehensive support options. Power BI, on the other hand, may be better for smaller companies who are looking for a more affordable business intelligence solution.

However, choosing one over the other depends on the user’s business size and needs.

If you’re new to business intelligence tools, take a look at BI Definitive Guide. It offers an unbiased overview of market trends, must-have functionality and common challenges to avoid.

If you’re looking for platform alternatives, our comprehensive reviews is a good place to start.

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Comments

  1. Tableau does support data integration with newer releases. this allows for querying across different datasources (a federated solution) like query across sql server and mysql.

  2. Christopher Barnes says:

    The newer version of Power BI do allow you to more easily share reports and even allows users to subscribe to a specific report to be notified when data is updated.

  3. Visualizations are constantly improving in POWER BI. Tableau still has better visuals and more customization, but you can also import pretty good visuals if you need to. You can connect with R, and write your own complex queries, measures are calculated columns. Have not had a problem with sharing reports. You can even publish a report to the web in BI. One thing they should change is there refresh schedule, as it is only limited to 8 times per day. Not sure about the limitations for Tableau.

  4. Bill Grafton says:

    Both come up short when looking to find a true enterprise platform. They’re great tools for visualizing, but if you want consistency across an entire organization you’ll have to look to other platforms.

    • Kain Chow says:

      Can you share more? What’s the root cause? The limitation of the integration/customization capabilities of both?
      If this is the fact, what are the options for a true enterprise platform?

  5. Power Bi is cheaper than Tableau. But still companies are going with tableau because it is very friendly in use. I am sure that power bi also working on their tool to more improvement.But by the time power bi reach to that level tableau will add more features. Because they work based on customer feedback.

  6. Venkatesan says:

    I work with Power BI and Tableau.. I feel ,Tableau is user-friendly than Power BI. Creating insightful dashboards in Tableau very easy. Quickly build powerful calculations from existing data, drag and drop reference lines and forecasts, and review statistical summaries.

  7. While I use both Power BI and Tableau I find Tableau much more user friendly. Training videos are much more helpful in Tableau, along with the forums, it does not take much time at all to become accustom to the software. Power BI does have its advantages in that its free and the learning curve may not be as steep if you have an excel background.
    Overall, Tableau is the better software.

  8. The cost differences are huge when you have a medium/large org over 10 times more expensive with Tableau and from my research 99% of users have functionality/features in both (all users come from excel backgrounds) . The biggest (neg) issue for my org was BI premium in Azure but now there is an On Prem version. We are exploring this now.

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