Business intelligence drives decisions that enable companies to thrive, and Microsoft’s Power BI is a popular tool for the job – but it’s worth considering the alternatives. See what the BI space has to offer.
As enterprises continue to mature in data literacy, CIOs are looking to capitalize on data-informed decision making like never before. Businesses are hungry for actionable intelligence, and as a result, in 2022 we see a growing adoption of self-service business intelligence (BI) tools. Self-service BI tools aim to empower nontechnical business users to find their own actionable solutions (with guidance from their more traditional data and technical counterparts). Particularly in the enterprise, Microsoft Power BI is a frequent contender as the platform of choice, and for a number of good reasons.
First and foremost, Power BI is currently available as part of certain enterprise versions of Microsoft Office 365. Love it or hate it, there is no denying that over a million businesses use Office 365. But Power BI owes its favored status to more than just the market penetration of its parent company. It’s a powerful tool in its own right. Power BI is easy to get started with, it has a large and active support community online and integrates easily with other Microsoft tools, like Excel, that users tend to have some experience with.
But regardless of merit, there are times when Power BI isn’t right for you or your team. Whether your concerns are around licensing, performance or something else entirely, there is no shortage of BI platform options. Below are a few of the main Power BI competitors, with some highlighted strengths to aid you in your decision.
SEE: Cheat sheet: Microsoft Power BI (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
Top Power BI alternatives
Tableau is no slouch in the BI space. A frequent competitor to Power BI in the enterprise, Tableau offers similar features and ease of use, with a slightly different take on the syntax and makeup of the underlying calculation model (MDX vs DAX). As a result, Tableau generally outperforms Power BI on large data sets, often in exchange for a higher price tag.
Qlik is a mature player in the BI space. The current product, Qlik Sense, is the successor of its original analytics tool, QlikView. According to Wikipedia, Qlik has been pioneering this field since 1993, so it’s no surprise Qlik products are well known in the BI world. The current generation of Qlik BI tools focus on data exploration, which means they shine when it comes to things like querying the data and attaching to live data sources.
With a focus on drag and drop, eazyBI has carved out a niche for itself by integrating directly into the popular software management tool Jira. You can utilize eazyBI as a stand-alone tool on premises or in the cloud, but it becomes especially attractive if you are looking to build more advanced dashboards inside your existing Atlassian DevOps workflow.
While less citizen developer friendly than some of the other Power BI alternatives mentioned here, AWS QuickSight deserves a mention because it is both cloud native and entirely serverless. That means it has instant scale and no hardware or software for you to manage. It also naturally integrates well with other Amazon web services if you are already on board the AWS train.
Google Data Studio
When it comes to data, no one would argue that Google sees its fair share of it, so it should come as no surprise that it too has a tool for visualization and data storytelling. Google Data Studio, with its visual approach to creating reports and dashboards, is particularly strong when it comes to connecting to its analytic suite, Google Analytics. Being entirely browser based, there is no installation or setup, and the user interface is straightforward so long as you don’t need to do a lot of data transformation or sanitation.
Cost considerations about these BI solutions
Any time you are evaluating software, cost is something to consider. Because the pricing models between the individual products vary quite a bit, doing a one-to-one comparison is tricky. However, the table below should give you some idea where Power BI and its top competitors land on the cost spectrum.
|Power BI||$9.99 USD monthly per user for the pro version.||Besides the pro edition, Microsoft offers premium editions with a couple of different pricing models.|
|Tableau||$70.00 USD monthly per user for individuals.||Tableau has three editions targeted at teams, as well as some options for individuals.|
|Qlik||$30.00 USD monthly per user.||Besides the business edition Qlik offers enterprise and self-hosted options.|
|eazyBI (for Jira)||$10.00 USD monthly per user.||This product charges differently based on where you host the tool, so there are cloud, server and data center options.|
|AWS QuickSight||$9.00 USD monthly per user.||Both standard and enterprise editions are available. As with most AWS products, AWS QuickSight also requires an additional per GB fee for anything over the base grant of storage (in this case 10GB).|
|Google Data Studio||Free||No, it’s not a typo, Google Data Studio is free if you can get away with using one of the 20 or so included Google Connectors. The additional 500+ connectors each has their own pricing and license.|
Final thoughts about these Power BI competitors
Ultimately, choosing which BI tool is right for your organization will come down to specific use cases and personal preference. The surest way to make sure you have selected the best BI tool for your needs is to get a little hands-on time with each. Fortunately, all the tools listed above have some kind of trial or demo license available. So why not narrow it down to a couple and then take them for a test drive?