A comparative analysis of data
visualization tool leaders, according to
Gartner: Tableau, Power BI, Qlik
● Research Question
● Main Report
○ Review of Each tool (strengths, weaknesses, and uniqueness)
○ Future of tools
○ Server View
○ Summary of Each tool
○ Tool Recommendation
● Resource and Reading List
Research Question: How do Gartner’s top tools (Tableau, Power BI, QlikSense)
compare in functionality and are the tools’ functionality enough to move an
industry from insight to action?
First, we began with a literature review of each product and a literature review of
successes of taking action from insights (decision support) for different industries.
Next, we created several different visualizations in each product and compare the
functionality of each. In this presentation, we discuss the future of each tool and
the direction each company is taking to make their product relevant. Lastly, we
contrast each product using a rubric and provide conclusion if one product excels
more than the others. Which product do we recommend?
Magic Quadrant for
According to Gartner, Tableau, Microsoft, and
Qlik are leading the pack for 2018
What is Tableau?
According to tableau.com, “Tableau is business intelligence software that helps
people see and understand their data.”
In 2003 Tableau spun out of Stanford University with VizQL™, a technology that
completely changes working with data by allowing simple drag and drop functions
to create sophisticated visualizations. Tableau has been the gold-standard in data
visualization for a long time.
● Remarkable Visualization Capabilities
● Ease of Use
● High Performance
● Multiple Data Source Connections
● High Cost
● Inflexible Pricing
● Poor After-Sales Support
● Security Issues
● IT Assistance
● Poor BI Capabilities
● Poor Versioning
● Embedment Issues
Unique Features of Tableau
● Fast Analytics
● Big Data, Any Data
● Update Automatically
● Smart Dashboards
● Share in Seconds
● On-Premises option
On the Server
● Data Sources
● New Data Preparation Tool - Tableau Prep
● New Data Engine Technology - Hyper
● Tableau Server now on Linux
● Tableau New Pricing Model:
On Premises/Hosted Tableau Creator Tableau Explorer Tableau Viewer
Hosted $70/month $42/month $15/month
On Premises $70/month $35/month $12/month
Tableau Desktop +
Tableau Prep + ability
to publish to server
Interact + Custom
● Two connection types for Tableau
● In-memory data engine
● Available since 10.5 - fairly new
● Hyper uses proprietary dynamic code generation
● Increases speed for .hyper extracts
● No performance increase for Live connection
According to Gartner, Tableau is the most attractive and intuitive
visualization tool. It is the Gold Standard. The introduction of Hyper and Data
Prep may extend the life of the company. Tableau has led the way on
functionality and design, but it has recently started seeing strong competition,
particularly from Power BI. Tableau remains the best product to get a
visualization from development into production. High cost has kept Tableau out of
most companies hands but new licensing structures may help that. But it still
remains a more expensive offering than its competition.
What is Qlik Sense?
According to qlik.com, “Qlik Sense is a platform for data analysis. With Qlik
Sense you can analyze data and make data discoveries on your own. You
can share knowledge and analyze data in groups and across organizations.
Qlik Sense lets you ask and answer your own questions and follow your
own paths to insight. Qlik Sense enables you and your colleagues to reach
Strengths of Qlik Sense
● Very Powerful Because of Qlik Script
● Fast Response
● Can Perform Many-to-Many joins
● The Smart Search Function is Useful
● Built-in Responsive Design
● Qlik DataMarket
● Create Your Own Extensions to Share
● Token Licensing Can Help Reduce Cost
Weaknesses of Qlik Sense
● Token Licensing Model Can Get Confusing and Hard to Scale
● Lack of Colors and Themes
● Need to Add 3rd Party Extensions and Widgets In Order to Fully
● Learning Curve Can Be Steep for the Average Developer
● Two Competing Product Strategies (QlikView and Qlik Sense)
● Complex Joins Require Scripting
● Lacks a Point-and-Click Formula Editor
● Advanced Smart Search is Lacking
● Migration can be difficult
Unique Features of Qlik Sense
● Unique Token Licensing
● QIX Associative Data Indexing Engine
● Touch Enabled HTML5 Responsive Client
● Excels at Producing Interactive Graphics
● Good for Exploration and Discovering Insights
● Everything is Organized as Apps
Future of Qlik Sense
● Recent Executive Leadership Turnover is of Concern
● New Competitors Causing Qlik to Slide
● Customers Moving Away from QlikView but not to
How Token Licensing Works
1 Token = 10 Login Access Passes (Infrequent Users) Per 28 days
1 Token = 1 User Access Pass (Power Users) Per 28 days
User Access Passes = 1:1 / User:Token
Login Access Passes = Tricky
Login Access Passes - Tokens
1 Token is assigned to a group of infrequent users. 10 0
1 User from that group logs into system 9 1
Same user remains active past 1 hour then logs out 8 1
Same user logs in again a few weeks later for under an hour 7 15
Same user logs in a few later again for under an hour 6 28
28 days pass which frees up the 2 login passes from day 1 above 8 29
● Qlik Sense Administrator must be consistently monitoring token allocation
● A frequent Login Access Pass user must be moved to dedicated User Access
Pass in order to effectively utilize token allocation
● An Infrequent User Access Pass user must be moved to Login Access Pass
in order to effectively utilize token allocation
● Since a Login Access Pass is consumed every hour, session management
must be properly configured to end idle sessions
● User usage is heavily estimated
● How many tokens do I buy? You have to overestimate:
○ # People X Estimated Login Access Passes per person X 120% / 10 = # Tokens Needed
The dashboards Qlik Sense produces provide great flexibility with a lot of
options. This product probably has the most to offer in terms of data exploration
and ad-hoc analysis. The end result is a truly interactive experience. The in-
memory data engine allows a user to slice and dice several different ways without
a performance penalty.
The biggest drawback is on the development and licensing. This product
caters to a developer who knows how to script in a programming language like
struggles with this product because they lack that skill. Although it can save a
company some cost, the token licensing model is just too confusing to be viable.
It is difficult to scale and difficult to predict when you are not on fixed revenue.
What is Power BI?
According to powerbi.microsoft.com, “Power BI is a suite of business
analytics tools to analyze data and share insights. Power BI dashboards
provide a 360-degree view for business users with their most important
metrics in one place, updated in real time, and available on all of their
devices. With one click, users can explore the data behind their dashboard
using intuitive tools that make finding answers easy.”
Strengths of Power BI
● Ease of Use
● Customer Support
● Attached to a major brand
● Great for Excel users
● Good report visualization capabilities
● Extensive database connectivity capabilities
● Built in Library of Visuals
● Constant Updates and Innovations
Weaknesses of Power BI
● Best for Microsoft Excel power users
● It doesn’t handle large data sources well
● It’s pretty complex
● It doesn’t allow for granularity
● It doesn’t have a solution for data quality
Unique Features of Power BI
● Tightly Integrated with Microsoft Tools
● Follows the Philosophy, Principles and Architecture of Microsoft Products
● “Pin anything to dashboard” for non-analyst end users
● More powerful data manipulation tools
Unique Features of Power BI cont.
● Q&A Function● Focus Mode
Unique Features of Power BI cont.
● Data Driven Alerts● Custom Visualization Capabilities
On the Server
● Office 365
● Dashboards, Reports, Workbooks, Datasets
Microsoft is investing resources into it
● According to Yurbi.com, “Microsoft has released a ton of new features for
Microsoft Power BI, which shows that Microsoft is investing time and
resources into this product. Though the product doesn’t have all of the
bells and whistles that other BI products on the market have, it doesn’t
mean that more advanced features won’t be available in the future.”
Flexible pricing to fit your budget
Author Share and collaborate Scale large deployments
FREE $9.99/month Capacity per month per node
Power BI Desktop Power BI Pro Power BI Premium
Power BI is a quite impressive business analytics tool as compared to other
competitor formats. This is despite the fact that it is a relatively new product in the
BI market. The product does not have the overall capabilities of other BI tools, but
it would be highly recommended because it is easy to use, cost effective, its
extensive database connectivity capabilities, tightly Integrated with Microsoft
tools, and good visualization capabilities. With Microsoft continually innovating
Power BI’s functions and capabilities, the product will continue to develop and in
time, Power Bi will improve to be a leading business analytics tool in the future.
Conclusion and Summary
Are you constrained by implementation budget? Power BI or Qlik Sense or
Are you wanting an On-Premises solution? Tableau or Qlik Sense
Do you heavily utilize Office 365 and other Microsoft Products? Power BI
Do you want a free desktop tool? Power BI or Qlik Sense
End Users are executives only? Power BI
Gold Standard and Customer Base? Tableau
Big Data? Tableau or Qlik Sense
Quadrant Hold True?
Tableau and Microsoft are neck and neck.
Microsoft is becoming a true visionary.
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Absent Data. (n.d.). Microsoft Power BI Pros and Cons. Retrieved April 29,
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ActiveWizards. (n.d.). A Comparative Analysis of Top 6 BI and Data Visualization Tools in 2018. Retrieved April 7, 2018 from
Better Buys. (2018, Feb 15). Tableau vs Power BI: Comparing Pricing, Functionality and
Support. Retrieved April 7, 2018 from https://www.betterbuys.com/bi/tableau-vs-power-bi/
Joseph, Sunil. (2017, Jan 27). 5 Power BI features that might make Tableau users a little jealous. Retrieved April 7, 2018 from
Microsoft Power BI Community. (2016, Oct. 13). Retrieved April 29,
2018 from https://community.powerbi.com/t5/Desktop/Unique-about-Power-BI/td-p/78145
Molag, Trevor. (2018, Jan 29). Power BI vs Tableau. Retrieved April 7, 2018 from
Power BI. (n.d.). What is Power BI? Retrieved April 29, 2018 from https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/what-is-power-bi/
SNP Technologies. (2017, Jul 16). 10 Advantages of Microsoft Power BI. Retrieved April 29,
2018 from https://www.snp.com/blog/10-advantages-microsoft-power-bi
TrustRadius. (2017, Aug 10). Review: "Strengths and Weaknesses of Microsoft Power BI".
Retrieved April 7, 2018 from https://www.trustradius.com/reviews/microsoft-power-bi-2017-08-09-15-45-55'
Yurbi. (2016, Jan 23). Straight Talk Review: Strengths and Weaknesses of Microsoft Power BI.
Retrieved April 7, 2018 from https://www.yurbi.com/blog/straight-talk-review-strengths-and-weaknesses-of-microsoft-power-bi/
Resource and Reading List
Qlik Sense Token Licensing Retrieved April 29, 2018 from https://www.qlik.com/us/resource-library/qlik-sense-token-licensing
Qlik gives data a voice with Qlik Sense Tour 2017. (2017). PC Quest.
Self-service BI software comparison: Tableau vs. Power BI, Qlik Sense Retrieved April 29, 2018 from
Pricing for data people Retrieved May 5, 2018 https://www.tableau.com/pricing/teams-orgs#online
Goodbye SQL limits.
Hello limitless insights. Retrieved May 1, 2018 https://www.qlik.com/us/products/why-qlik-is-
Why is Qlik Different? Retrieved May 1, 2018 http://www.datatechnology.co.uk/why-is-qlik-different/
Few, S. (2013). Information dashboard design: Displaying data for at-a-glance monitoring. Burlingame, CA: Analytics Press.
Resource and Reading List - continued
Qlik Community Retrieved on April 20, 2018 https://community.qlik.com/welcome
Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms. (2018, February 16). Retrieved from
The QIX Engine - under the hood - Qlik Dev Group. (n.d.). Retrieved from
Hello. Welcome to Group 3’s Presentation titled, A comparative analysis of data visualization tool leaders, according to Gartner: Tableau, Power BI, Qlik. Group 3’s members are Lea AcademiaVibha DesaiMichael Young
Much like SUN Microsystems, Tableau was incubated at Stanford University. The software was call VizQL
Tableau organizes its work by project folders. Permissions are granted to each project folder. Inside the project folder you can also grant specific permissions to the workbooks and/or data sources. Another feature is that a user can create a view of the visualizaton. In other words, a user may just want to filter to his or her department and look only at specific dimensions. A user would drill to these filters then save the “View”. This user could also share that view with other users.
Tableau prep - brand new data preparation product designed to empower people to quickly and confidently combine, shape, and clean their data, further reducing the time from data to insight. Hyper is Tableau’s new in-memory data engine technology No more perpetual licensing nor per core licensing. Subscription based only
There are two different ways to query data in Tableau. One is through live connection which connects stratight to the data source like Oracle for instance. As a user views a visualization, a query is sent to that data source or database and executed on that server, the results are returned to the visualization. This has drawbacks as it can create a performance degradation on that data source or database. The other way is through the use of Tableau Extracts. This acts as a middle layer source for Tableau visualiations. You can schedule an extract on the server from your data sources. When a user queries a visualization attached to an extract, a query is sent to the extract and not the source database. In theory, this should be faster than queriying a database. The problem lies in larger extracts where performance is degraded by the size of the file. Tableau’s answer to the problem was Hyper.
Hyper is Tableau’s new in-memory data engine technology, designed for fast data ingest and analytical query processing on large or complex data sets. Included with Tableau 10.5, Hyper can slice and dice massive volumes of data in seconds, you will see up to 5X faster query speed and up to 3X faster extract creation speed. With enhanced extract and query performance, and support for even larger datasets, you can choose to extract your data based on the needs of your business.
Tableau prep - As mentioned before, Tableau Prep is Tableau’s data preperation tool. It prepared data by using flows. The objects circeld in red are the tabeleau data extracts created from running the flow. You can run the whole flow which genertes both extracts. Or click on the play triangle above each extract to run just that extract’s preperaton flow. The extracts can be saved locally or on the tableau server or tableau onlline.
Tableau Prep let’s you drill to row level data and transform on the fly. The interface is completely visual. No scripting. Which is a little different from other visualization tools. You save your flows as either Tableau Flow files or Tableau packaged flow files. One great needed feature is the ability to schedule these flows on a server. This would make this a viable ETL alternative.
As mentioned before, Tableau is the gold standard. Gartner calls it the most attractive and intuitive visualization. New capabilities like Hyper and Data Prep keep this company relevant and competitive. However, high cost is a concern. Even though Tableau has recently changed it’s licensing structure, it remains a more expensive option than its competition like Power BI or Qlik Sense.
Next we review Qlik Sense which is one of the offerings of Qlik. Qlik actually produces two business intelligence tools. One is Qlik View, which caters toward the traditional dashboard features, and Qlik Sense which is their data discovery and ad-hoc analysis tool. In this presentation, we look at Qlik Sense
Most notable strenghts of Qlik Sense are it’s fast repsone time and it’s scripting language called Qlik Script. Qlik Script is just not used on the dashboard side but it also used in loading data and transforming data. It is the foundation of the product. It also has a built-in responsive design. Also, Token Licening can help reduce cost. However, Token licensing can get confusing as we’ll see later.
As mentioned, Qlik becomes powerful because of it’s scripting capabilitly. However, this also has drawbacks. Most business analysts creating visualizatios won’t have this scripting skill so you may be spending more on training or trying to hire the talent.
In addition, as we said, there are two products for which Qlik produces. QlikView and QlikSense. Customers are moving away from QlikView to other products like Tableau or Power BI but they are not moving to Qlik Sense. This is because the functionality is different.
Qlik organizes its permissions and visualizatons into Streams. Stream can contain several Apps. Apps can contain several sheets.
This can be very tricky to manage
This can be very tricky to manage
In short, Qlik Sense is the better option if you are wanting data exploration and ad-hoc analysis. It’s in memory data engine allows for the slice and dice needed for that functionality.
However, this product caters toward a person with scripting knowledge to the full power from it. The average buinsess analyst may struggle.
The token licesning model can save an organization some money but it is just too confusing to budget.
Next, we look at Power Bi which is Microsoft’s BI offering and the newest of the 3 being reviewd.
Ease of Use Simple to use and has a short learning curve for users
Affordable Free license and tool is available in Microsoft office (included in Office 365) for basic use and $10/user/month for a “Pro” license. It’s a good alternative to expensive tools in the same field.
Customer 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.
Attached to a major brand Because Microsoft Power BI is part of the Microsoft suite of business products, Microsoft’s BI tool has tight integration with its other business tools such as MS Excel, Azure Cloud Service, and SQL Server.
Great for Excel users The tool navigation for Power BI is very similar to Microsoft Excel. So it is a great tool for Excel power user.
Good report visualization capabilities Microsoft Power BI has around 16 different chart types, which is a reasonable amount if you want to represent your data in a variety of formats and visualizations.
Extensive database connectivity capabilities Flexible to connect with multiple data sources and ERP systems. Microsoft Power BI connects to most types of on-premise databases and they have a large and growing list of cloud-based connection options as well.
Built in Library of Visuals The built-in library of visuals is impressive and robust besides there is easy support for custom visuals
Constant Updates and Innovations The Power BI product is updated nearly every month with new features and functions. Plus, and more importantly, Microsoft listens to the user community. It is easy to submit suggestions for improvements.
Best for Microsoft Excel power users Typically, the average business user is not a power user of Microsoft Excel. If the end user of your business intelligence software is a business user, Microsoft Power BI is going to be very challenging to use. Microsoft Power BI doesn’t require users to write SQL code like other BI tools, but the tool is challenging to use if you are not a Microsoft Excel power user.
It doesn’t handle large data sources well If your company has a huge set of data to analyze, Microsoft Power BI probably isn’t the best solution for you. When trying to connect and import large datasets, Microsoft Power BI users will experience a lot of time-outs and slow performance. Their solution will be to migrate that data into SQL Server to start.
It’s pretty complex If Microsoft has one flaw, it’s that they make their product options too complex. Power BI is no exception. It’s very difficult to understand exactly what components of Power BI you may need, and the list is long. There’s Power BI desktop, the Power BI Gateway, Power BI Services, and the list goes on and on. Because there are so many moving parts to this software, you will spend a large chunk of time figuring out what each part does. This also means that there are more parts to the software that have the potential to break, making the product more challenging to troubleshoot. This all adds up to increasing the total cost of ownership.
It doesn’t allow for granularity Microsoft Power BI doesn’t allow you to build scheduled reports, personalized user views, personalized notifications, personalized security views, or customizable reports. Before purchasing Microsoft Power BI, your company should have a firm grasp on what it needs a BI tool to do. If your organization has many different use cases and user profiles that require customization, Microsoft Power BI is not the best solution.
It doesn’t have a solution for data quality Microsoft Power BI assumes that the data you’re pulling has already been properly scrubbed and cleaned up, which means the data quality is high. If you need data cleansing capabilities, you will need to find an alternate solution to cleanse your data.
Tightly Integrated with Microsoft Tools Power BI is tightly integrated with the main Microsoft tools including MS Excel, Azure Cloud Service, and SQL Server.
Follows the Philosophy, Principles and Architecture of Microsoft Products Because Power BI is a Microsoft product, it follows a philosophy, principles, and architecture similar to other major Microsoft products. It also exposes a familiar interface for the Windows users.
Integration Power BI Service and its level of integration with Office 365 is unique as well within the broader spectrum of visualization tools.
“Pin anything to dashboard” for non-analyst end users A difference between Power BI dashboards and those from some other tools is that even people considered as being solely viz consumers can legitimately create their own dashboards. A non-analytical end-user can choose to pin any individual chart from any individual report to a new dashboard and hence create a smorgasbord showing exactly the parts of each report / pre-made dashboard they are actually interested in all on one page.
More powerful data manipulation tools Power BI lets you manipulate the data before you start employing it in your visualizations.
Focus mode Power BI has a “focus” mode that allows the observer to zoom in and interact with that single chart on a dashboard or report on a near-fullscreen basis, without requiring any extra development work on the part of the analyst.
Q & A Function Power BI’s Q&A function feature is a unique functionality. Sometimes the fastest way to get an answer from your data is to ask a question using natural language, and that’s exactly what Q&A allows users to do, making this feature a top cited benefit in achieving self-service business intelligence.
Custom visualization capabilities Power BI presents an API where an advanced user can create their own visualization types. It is easy to import custom visuals.
Data driven alerts Power BI has the capacity to alert the user upon certain KPI events, via its own web-based notification center or, more usefully, email or phone app.
Microsoft continues to execute on its roadmap, adding new features all the time. Microsoft is heavily invested in this product. For instance, Virtual reality and Power BI integration with Holo Lens are currently works in progress.
In terms of cost, Power BI is one of the cheaper options if you are looking at a cloud solution. On premises deployments can get costly since it is per node. The more data you have, the more you are going to pay.
Premium: embed content , on-premises capability, can get very expensive, on-premises just a stop-gap until you get to O365
Power BI Pro used to be free with O365 but not anymore
Microsoft is slowly increasing their cost for O365
Even though Power BI is the newest on the market, it has quickly surfaced as one of the top BI tools. It’s ease of use is the number 1 reason why customers invest in this product. That, and the tight integration with the Microsoft ecosystem. However, if you looking for an on-premises solution, this may not fit your requirment.
Tableau does offer Tableau Reader and Tableau Public as free alternatives, although those tools have limitations
Power BI is the simplest to use
Power BI by a point
Power BI Dashboard using the “Focus Mode” Function
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