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Big Data Analytics Tools – What to choose?

By | 2017-06-11T21:03:13+00:00 Feb 8, 2017|Computer Skills|

Tableau, Qlik Sense or Power BI?

The business environment becomes more complex every day, and one of the main features is working with different type of data, a large amount of data that looks useful meanings for conducting our business to success. Big Data tools respond to our need to extract, analyze, and visualize data in a meaningful manner in order to support key business decisions.

Since every business is unique, it is very important to choose the right BI tool for your needs. There are many vendors on the Big Data market but some of them distinguished themselves. Tableau and Qlik are two of the leading players in the data exploration and visualization domain. And not far behind comes the Microsoft solution, Power BI, a powerful and well-connected tool. Recently self-service tools have come along to offer easy to use solutions for clients with a less technical background. And all major vendors register to the race of winning a bigger market than before.

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Tableau is an enterprise analytics platform that enables your organization to explore trusted data in a secure environment. Tableau Desktop 10 has a user-friendly interface and a drag-and-drop approach to data manipulation.

Qlik Sense is a product from Qlik suite along with QlikView, but they are meant for different target markets. This is a self-service tool creates for less tech-savvy users. With Qlik Sense you can analyze data on your own more easily than with QlikView suite that requires a more technical skill. You can share knowledge in groups and across an organization, and lets you follow your own path of discovering data insights. With drag-and-drop and clicks, you can uncover data predictions, eye-catching visualizations, and key indicators.

Power BI is a Microsoft solution for Business Analytics needs, a tool to analyze data and share reports. Monitoring your business key indicators is made easy with this integrated solution. Power BI works well with other Microsoft software such as Excel, Azure, SQL Server.

Comparison analysis

For a more straightforward comparison, we did a comparative analysis on using Tableau Desktop, Qlik Sense and Power BI and the results are listed below.

Dimensions

logo_smaller2

Tableau Desktop

qlik

Qlik Sense Desktop

Power BI Desktop

Power BI Desktop

Price

Starting 999 $

Free

Free

Platforms

Windows, Linux, MacOS, IOS, Android

Windows, MacOS, IOS, Android

Windows, MacOS, IOS, Android

Social Exposure

4/5

3/5

3.5/5

Self-service BI Tools Analysis (1/100)

Usage

Ease of use

85

70

82

Ease of setup

90

60

65

User Role Access Management

75

90

80

Development

Developers corner

100

100

85

Data connectors

85

80

85

API’s Integration

90

100

80

Dynamic URLs

85

75

85

Visualization

Visualization

95

80

80

(type and diversity)

Quality of visualization

90

83

85

Visual Querying

93

85

85

Design Tools

95

85

85

Visuals Customization

100

90

90

Analytics

Geospatial Integration and Analytics

90

80

85

Data Drilling Capability

95

85

85

Predictive Analytics

87

90

90

Data Modeling (automatic, customize, manual)

95

90

90

Data Discovery

87

85

85

Calculated Fields

88

90

90

Output

Performance

90

83

81

Export Reports

85

95

85

External data update

90

90

85

Overall result

90

85

83

 

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  • They are all self-service BI tools so they are easy-to-use and user-centered. Tableau and Qlik Sense uses HTML5 visuals than display beautifully in a web environment and have a great interactivity level.
  • Regarding the data discovery and data modeling capabilities, all three are powerful tools. However, when working with Tableau you need to prepare your data before loading to give you the best reports, while Qlik Sense and Power BI have a more detailed set of ETL functions, more in-depth calculated fields, and advanced predictive analytics.
  • From a developer’s point of view probably Qlik Sense is the most promising tool. Qlik Sense is created around the idea of Qlik app, individual set of operations designed by you for your particular needs. The users’ community is pretty large to all three tools, but Power BI has some limitations about creating your own features, or your own data connectors. In Tableau and Qlik you can submit your work more easily.
  • All three tools offer a secured management of your data, but regarding the available roles, Qlik gives the option to choose from a larger set of accounts, with a different access level.
  • When we talk about visualization capability, Tableau is the leader of the data visualization industry. With a little bit of imagination, photo editing software and HTML 5 skills, Tableau’s visuals can be outstanding. While Qlik Sense and Power BI have a more pragmatic approach to visuals and focus on more frequently used graphs (ex.: bar, pie, tree map, heat map, gauges etc.)
  • All three software offer geospatial representation and analytics. From this point of view, Tableau has the most detailed drill-down maps and possibly the most beautiful.
  • Qlik and Power BI have a solid developer community with detailed forums, GitHub projects, tutorials. Instead, Tableau has a beautiful online community of public dashboards. You can take a lot to public dashboards gallery and open them on your own desktop for inspiration and reverse engineering. However, Tableau has forums, tutorials, API if you require something more than the built-in features from a developer’s perspective.
The power of Tableau geo-mapping

The power of Tableau geo-mapping

Pro & Cons using Tableau, Qlik Sense or Power BI

Power BI

Power BI has been described by the users as an easy to use solutions that offer great benefits for the cost. On the other hand, Power BI requires greater hardware resources which are a disadvantage in the long run. It is great value for your money and affordable, the personal free version has almost the same features as the pro version; there are only limits of data storage.

If your infrastructure is based on Microsoft technology, Power BI will blend in perfectly. Microsoft still invests in expanding its features and that is good news for Excel and Azure users.

However, Power BI is not the greatest BI tool for handling a large set of data. Slow performance and time-outs are weak points. Moreover, Power BI doesn’t allow as much granularity as you may need sometimes in your projects.

Power BI dashboard example available at Community

Power BI dashboard example available at Community Data Stories Gallery

However, the pace of innovation to Power BI is amazing. Microsoft community participates and the product has excellent feature update and Q&A section. Also, the users of Power BI have a great graphs gallery: Chord, Bubble chart, Network Navigator are just a few examples of interesting charts.

SandDance Visual by Microsoft with US Map data

SandDance Visual by Microsoft

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Tableau

Tableau is the leader of data visualization so naturally, the graphs are great. More importantly, the customized graphs and maps are amazing. Tableau community increased the refinement of graphs to some extent like you can see in Tableau Gallery Viz. Another strength for Tableau is the excellent Geo/Mapping capabilities with great filtering options.

Map Dashboard in Tableau

Map Dashboard in Tableau

Tableau has adaptive sizing based on display resolution, a very useful built-in feature. Meanwhile, Qlik doesn’t work like this; you must develop from the start for a particular size/display.

Another important Tableau feature is easily accessible design tools. Visualization attributes than can be used with drag-and-drop action: Marks, Color, Size, Label, Tooltip, Detail. Also, a big pro Tableau is the automated data modeling when opening a data set. It gives you insights on what type of visuals goes well with your data.

On regards to visualization capabilities, the feature of Storytelling is pretty useful in some contexts. For example, when describing the steps and analytics of an online market store you can create a story with multiple dashboards starting from landing page, login procedure, visitors tenure on site, customer behavior on the premise of the online market store, the exit trends etc.

A downfall in working with Tableau is that requires heavy data preparation before giving the best visuals.

Data Analysis board in Tableau

Data Analysis board in Tableau

Also to achieve the maximum visual capability of Tableau you need extra technical skills such as HTML5 or photo editing skills. But the result is great.

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Qlik Sense

Qlik Sense is an easy to use a self-service tool, and works great with multi data sources and delivers a more sophisticated data analysis. Qlik Sense appeared in the Qlik suite as a response to Tableau offensive on the market to clients that love eye-catching visuals and easy-to-use data discovery. Furthermore, Qlik Sense leans on the QlikView mature approach on the business needs and developers support.

A strength for Qlik Sense is the associative data engine. The software works with various data sources and can suggest unsuspected relationships. Qlik Sense comes in two versions: Desktop and Enterprise which runs on a server and is web-based display. Both versions have similar functionalities, but the server platform offers more options on sharing and has excellent scalability.

On the other hand, Qlik Sense is easily extensible with the possibility of creating your own apps, specific to the company’s needs. A large number of API’s and data connectors are available to make sure you get the visuals you need from any source of data. Developers should be delighted with the degree of freedom that Qlik Sense offers.

Qlik Sense Dashboard example

The result of the comparison

The process of adopting a Big Data tool needs to by centered around some criteria: the total cost of implementation, the number of users and their skill matrix, your business needs, the type of data you need to work with, what is most important for your organization the visuals or the analysis. Each BI tool is best fitted for a particular set of factors.

For example, if your organization is based massively on Microsoft infrastructure than Power BI is the natural choice for you. Firstly, because of its ability to easily integrate with other software and tools from the Microsoft portfolio. Secondly Power BI offers a great value for your money so the budget of your company can be wisely spent.

If your business needs are more complex, you work with multiple data types and the development of your business data is uncertain, I believe Qlik suite and especially Qlik Sense is a good fit for your organization. Qlik Sense responds well to a mature business environment because its flexibility in developing personalized apps and the developer community offers great support. The downfall of Qlik Sense is the rapport cost/user within a large organization that increases according to the number of users.

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If your BI needs evolve around great visualizations than Tableau Software is a natural choice. The customizable visuals, the in-depth data analysis and the granularity permitted in displaying data on a dashboard are solid arguments to choose Tableau as the BI solution for your organization.

Thus each BI solution responds better to specific market needs:

  • Power BI is an excellent choice for students, small medium companies and other users with a budget limitation;
  • Tableau is a better fit for medium to large companies and specific departments such as marketing, sales, purchasing. The level of intense design offered, the data discovery set and the level of interactivity gives the analyst the opportunity to make the most of their data.
  • Customizable dashboards and the story telling feature makes Tableau suitable for excellent marketing campaigns. The online stores can benefit also from Tableau’s features. The possibility of easily embed online the interactive dashboards can be a plus for an online presence and to create engagement.
  • Tableau Desktop is a good fit for all companies that want to build real-time visualizations with little technical skills. Small, medium or big companies can benefit from Tableau’s features on visuals and share online the reports across an organization.
  • Qlik Sense Desktop is also suitable for students, and any user with low technical level, because is more user-friendly. But the mature premises offered by the QlikView experience behind the product gives big companies the features to succeed in BI actions.
  • Power BI and Qlik created useful business dashboards with key indicators for sensible sectors of activity such as finance, sales, marketing. Moreover, both BI tools enable support to management strategic decision with their real-time data, interactive data model and good connectivity to various data sources. Qlik Sense has great features to offer to the finance, sales, and insurance sector.

Easy-to-use of Qlik Sense and Tableau and marginal costs of Power BI should not be underestimated. They are all feasible BI solutions and should be considered to be implemented in your organization according to your specific requirements.

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About the Author:

A data analyst disciple loves books and sharing knowledge. My experience and background in social sciences helped me delimit opportunities to contribute to the world and make it a better place. I began my journey in psychology and human resources and I used the skills acquired to further my journey in the land of analytics. Lately, my professional interests evolve around data analysis, data visualization tools and contributing to the big world of knowledge.

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