Power BI vs Tableau

Woman holding hands out with question marks to symbolize a comparison

Choosing the Right Visual Analytics Tool

Most of us are becoming aware that data analytics is no longer a luxury when making informed business decisions. If you want to stay competitive, you absolutely cannot afford to miss out on data-driven insights. But that is easier said than done, especially with so many data analytics platforms to choose from. In this article, we will compare Microsoft’s Power BI vs Tableau, two of the most popular choices for data visualization and interpretation.

infographic detailing the differences between Power BI vs Tableau

Power BI vs Tableau: How They Are Similar

Data Visualization Capabilities

Both Tableau and Power BI offer plenty of options for visualizing your data. You can choose from a host of charts, graphs, maps, and more to best suit the metrics you are trying to monitor and convey. Both platforms also offer the ability to create interactive dashboards that can be further customized with filters, responsiveness, etc.

Data Connectivity

Your data visualization is only as good as the data you are inputting. This makes access to multiple sources of data highly valuable in a visualization tool. Both Power BI and Tableau connect to plenty of data sources, such as Excel, Salesforce, and Google BigQuery. 

Learning Curve for Power BI vs Tableau

Learning how to use PowerBI is relatively straightforward for building basic visualizations. More complex visualizations require a strong knowledge of data structures and DAX, PowerBI’s scripting language. This can be a barrier for those new to BI tools. PowerBI’s formatting menus also take time to learn and are not consolidated.

Tableau is also easy to earn when building basic visualizations. However, Tableau’s interface makes creating more complex calculations easier without having to go back to the source data. Formatting menus are easy to locate and customizing visualizations happens quicker.

Key Differences in Tableau vs. Power BI

Flexibility & Training

When it comes to flexibility and the number of options available to visualize your data, Tableau is the clear choice. Furthermore, Tableau analytics offer three tiers of certifications designed to help specific industries. Power BI, by contrast, offers only one certification program that covers basic functionality, but it is not nearly as comprehensive as the training provided by Tableau. 

Operating System and Mobile Integration

In our opinion, this is one of the most important considerations when comparing Power BI vs Tableau. Microsoft BI is only available on Microsoft Windows and mobile Android devices. This means it cannot be accessed on America’s preferred smartphone, which is the iPhone. Tableau, on the other hand, can be installed on both Microsoft and Apple devices. Greater accessibility is critical in gaining a competitive edge in a busy market. 

Programming in Power BI vs Tableau

From an analyst’s perspective, Tableau offers greater flexibility when it comes to programming. It has a much more seamless integration with R than Power BI, which requires you to connect to another software (Microsoft revolution analytics) before you can use it. You can also use Python, C,  C++, and Java when implementing the Tableau software development kit. Ease of programming for the analyst means better and faster information for the business owner. 


Power BI is part of the Microsoft ecosystem and works well with other Microsoft tools. However, large datasets tend to slow down PowerBI’s performance.

Tableau is platform agnostic and works well with a variety of data sources. Tableau can handle large datasets without a struggle, but complex data relationships need to be handled upstream of the tool.


Tableau is unparalleled when it comes to support for its product. There is an active online community where analysts can exchange ideas, offer solutions, receive technical support, and get advanced training. This fosters a creative, client-centric approach to problem solving and a sense of adaptability, which is key in a tech-driven world. 

Tableau Considerations 

Of course, there are certain considerations that may make Power BI preferable for some. Most notably, Power BI is easily integrated with other Microsoft products. If you are a big user of Office 360, for example, you may prefer working with another Microsoft platform. 

As Tableau is better able to accommodate large and complex data sets, it can consequently be somewhat more difficult to navigate. In either case, however, you will want to hire an experienced data analyst to get you started and, preferably, maintain your dashboard for you. 

Cost may also be an issue. A Tableau Creator License will cost $75 per month, whereas a MicrosoftBI Pro License is just $10 a month. 

What Industries Use Tableau?

Tableau is well-suited to a variety of industries, thanks to its impressive customizability and plethora of visualization options. Business categories using Tableau to monitor their analytics include:

  • Healthcare
  • Retail
  • Food Service
  • Hospitality
  • Financial Services (banking, insurance, etc.)
  • Media & Communications
  • Education
  • Non-Profits
  • Industrial Services, like manufacturing

Start Using Data Analytics for Your Business

Tableau’s ease of use and ability to consume large amounts of data makes it the preferred tool of Impact by Insight. It has enabled us to move quickly for our clients and provide robust, intuitive dashboards in short periods of time. But this capability does come with a hefty price tag. Even though Tableau is our preferred tool, PowerBI is more than capable of providing the BI needs for most businesses on a budget.

If you are new to the world of data analytics, or you are looking for a way to improve upon your existing dashboard, we are here to help. We are a highly experienced analytics firm with a passion for making your data work for you. We work with business owners in all industries and can help you build a meaningful, customized dashboard to drive sales and inform decision-making. Call or go online today to get started. 

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