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Power BI, Qlik or Tableau? Increasingly fewer differences

​Business intelligence (BI) software is becoming more important to companies. The mountain of internal and external, structured and unstructured data continues to grow and the information this data provides, helps organisations make the best business decisions. The importance of analysing and visualising data in dashboards is growing, especially now we are all working more remotely, since it is more difficult to discuss developments face-to-face.

Until recently, Excel was by far the largest BI tool. It is still used by almostevery CFO. Despite being a very powerful programme, organisations have a growing need to analyse and visualise their data in detail, making a BI tool the only option. There are three dominant players in the field of modern BI applications: Tableau, Qlik and Microsoft Power BI. (Source: Gartner.)

Microsoft – a latecomer

Microsoft is a relative newcomer to the market. Why has its Power BI become so popular recently? One factor that undoubtedly plays a role is that many offices are already familiar with Office 365: a suite that Power BI connects to seamlessly, it is in fact an extension to Excel. Anyone who is used to making tables and charts with the spreadsheet programme, will soon be familiar with the look and feel of its ‘big brother’.

But a BI tool has to meet more requirements. Data discovery and data visualisation both have to be optimal, and Microsoft has covered a lot of ground when it comes to these and other extensive functions. Finally, Power BI often works out to be more economical than the other two options, depending on the number of users you want to share dashboards with, and the Office licence an organisation may already have.

The right ‘click’

That’s not to say you’d be making a bad choice with Tableau or Qlik. Many companies had already made their choice before Microsoft appeared on the scene. And, let’s be fair, the two competitors did seem to be more attractive and simply worked better than Power BI. Even now, organisations often choose for one of the two because they feel they have more of a ‘click’ with it. It’s partly a question of taste, just like the choice between a Windows pc or Apple computer. Meanwhile the three different tools are becoming increasingly similar, and their manufacturers are keeping a close watch on each other.

The need for specific expertise

It is good to realise that when your’e looking for a BI tool, it is difficult to shop between different solutions. It takes a lot of time, and costs a lot of money, and delivers little added value for the organisation. What you also need to realise when choosing for one of these solutions, is that you need specific expertise to use a tool like this to its full potential. While many company employees taught themselves to work with Excel, they will need more technical knowledge to use a BI tool, in order to process complex, and larger, amounts of data.