PowerBI v Tableau Twitter Thread

On 2/12/2020 the Gartner Magic Quadrant came out with PowerBI being ahead of Tableau in the Leader quadrant, so I sent out the tweet below. What ensued was a huge outpouring of great opinions, personal experiences, and bits of information about how different organizations are viewing the Tableau v PowerBI decision that many companies are facing. In this blog I am going to recap some of the best of those takes for those curious about the differences between the two tools.


There were so many great topics covered in the responses, so I will try and group the tweets together to help guide the learning from this great thread.

This response from Fred Fery just about summed up the most common reason given for companies migrating to PowerBI from Tableau. As you’ll see in some more of these tweets, the discussion is a lot more nuanced and complicated depending on your organization.

In this exchange Barrett Studdard explains some of the pricing of PBI pro licensing. This is based upon your organization’s level of O365. In this case, if you have O365 Enterprise E5 (or above) then you get free PBI pro licenses, which is similar to a Tableau Creator license.

Jeff Huckaby says here that is everything is on Azure, PowerBI works better. The level of Azure deployment will dictate your O365 level, which will dictate your PBI Pro licensing prices.

This is where things got very interesting for me. Before this exchange of ideas with both Sandeep and Alex, I had generally been viewing the differences between Tableau and PowerBI in terms of how well and/or easily they create great visualizations. What I was not aware of was the extensive power behind PowerQuery, which allows you to easily import and transform data from various sources. This is a huge selling point for the tool. Here is a link to a Getting Started with Power Query YouTube video.

The summation from Alex here is perfect in that maybe we are looking at the Tableau v PowerBI comparisons in a manner that isn’t quite apples to apples. He says in his tweet below, “If I could rewrite the marketing narrative of Power BI it would be “a fantastic data compression and aggregation tool that supports data visualizations” but that doesn’t sound as sexy…”

If you want to really dig into PowerBI I highly recommend following Alex. His knowledge of the platform and his willingness to help other learn is amazing. As you can see, he is very passionate that anything we want to do in PowerBI is possible with the right training.

If you’re a Tableau user wondering if there is a PowerBI equivalent of Tableau Public, there is! It’s a site called the PowerBI Community Galleries. There are a lot of cool dashboards in there that show off the power of PowerBI.

Mim here gives his response on how he thinks that PowerBI desktop as free was the game winner. I do know that having PowerBI Desktop free to download has been huge in me even wanting to invest time in learning the tool, so I can definitely see where he’s coming from.

Another great tweet, this time from Tristan, saying why we shouldn’t necessarily be comparing Tableau and PowerBI directly as visualization tools only. A lot of companies are comparing the tools right now, but there are a ton of variables (as we’ve seen in this blog post) to consider when selecting which tool to go with.

It is definitely important to note that this is not necessary a one or the other decision for a lot of companies. There can be specific use cases that might be better served for one product or the other, and in a lot of big organizations (including most I’ve worked at) both products are being used for different purposes. Great point from Chris!

To add to the conversation, Munazzah added her amazing takes to this conversation in the article below. It is DEFINITELY a must read and highlights a lot of the same questions and concepts that my Twitter thread was attempting to address. Make sure to check it out!

In Conclusion

I was pleasantly surprised with how many folks in the PowerBI community reached out and responded as part of my Twitter thread as I imagine most of my follows are part of the Tableau community. The takes above are not meant to be viewed as law, but rather a part of a broader conversation being had in companies all around the world. Hopefully these responses have given you an insight into different businesses and BI communities on how the future of data visualization/BI tools are being viewed. Thanks to everyone who responded and hopefully this is the first of many similar conversations in the near future!

Thanks so much for reading! If you have any questions or comments, make sure to reach out to me at spencer.baucke@tessellationconsulting.com!


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