Tableau Competitors: Competitive Analysis of Top Alternatives

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Tableau is a cornerstone of the BI tools market with over 86,000 users as of 2019. A self-service analytics platform well-known for its accessible, interactive dashboards, Tableau’s reputation often precedes itself. That being said, it isn’t right for everyone, but luckily, there are plenty of options out there. Our analyst team scoped out the competition and identified the top five Tableau alternatives. Read on to see what the Tableau competition looks like, how Tableau competitors compare and how to choose the best one for you.

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Best Tableau Competitors

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Tableau: Pros and Cons

Founded in 2003, Tableau was created with the intention to make data analysis interactive and comprehensive. Built on a proprietary programming language called VizQL, it helps non-technical users turn their large data sets into beautiful, interactive graphics through a drag-and-drop interface, while allowing more technical users to manipulate their graphics even further. The value that it brings to organizations is widely recognized; Tableau has occupied a spot in Gartner’s magic quadrant for eight years in a row. In 2019, it was acquired by the CRM powerhouse Salesforce for the tidy sum of $15.7 billion.

If Tableau is so successful and prevalent, then why are people looking for Tableau alternatives? If it’s one of the best out there, why doesn’t everyone just use Tableau? Tableau actually has a few downsides and limitations, which for some, may be deal breakers. Before we investigate Tableau’s competition, let’s take a look where Tableau hits the mark and where it falls flat.

Tableau Pros and Cons

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PROS

Data Connectivity

When it comes to business intelligence, in order to make use of your data, your solution of choice has to first be able to connect to it. Tableau excels in integrations with other databases and data sources, with native connectivity to a wide variety of data sources whether in the cloud or on-premises. It also automatically refreshes information from web apps and cloud databases and supports live queries of data, providing real-time up-to-date connections to data sources. Through these integrations, Tableau is able to consolidate huge amounts of information in one place.

Data Visualization Leade

Tableau is considered a leader in the field of data visualization – and with good reason: hundreds of rave reviews praise its customizable, visually appealing graphs, charts and dashboards. The platform connects to any number of data sources, blends the data and converts it into comprehensive results in the form of interactive dashboards. Factoring in its powerful geospatial analysis and mapping functions, it’s no wonder why Tableau is one of the premier dashboard and data visualization tools on the market.

Tableau Interactive Dashboard

Example of an interactive dashboard from Tableau which explains details when users hover their mouse over a metric and changes the charts when users click on them.

Ease of Use

One of Tableau’s selling points is its accessibility to users of all skill levels. Its drag-and-drop user interface makes it easy to build data visualizations and derive insights from them, while its interactivity encourages users to engage in self-service data discovery to get data-driven answers to their burning business questions. With an intuitive, user-friendly interface, even non-dev users can perform data analytics, organize their data into digestible visual assets and make use of the platform’s basic features without in-depth training.

Support and Community

Another one of Tableau’s strengths lies in its attentive support team and active online community. Users with questions or concerns might be able to find the answer themselves through documentation, but talking to a real human, whether a trained support specialist or a fellow user, can often prove to be more effective. Tableau users can choose to seek answers through the platform’s thriving community forums where many visitors and fans are ready to lend a hand to others and share their experiences. Alternatively, they can submit a request for technical support from the Tableau team. Many Tableau users note quick response times from the support team and frequent updates to the platform that consider user requests contribute to their positive opinion of the solution.

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CONS

High Cost & Inflexible Pricing

Although Tableau isn’t the most expensive BI solution, especially compared to other counterparts, it definitely isn’t cheap. While Tableau has a free version, Tableau Public, it lacks in functionality and some users express concern over its data security. Whether users choose the desktop, server or SaaS version of the platform, costs can rack up quickly for per-user license subscriptions, on-premise installation, maintenance fees and add-on features. Pricing can be especially cost-prohibitive for personal or individual use. This pricing guide breaks down pricing information on Tableau as well as other BI industry leaders.

Additionally, because the company is so large, pricing plans tend to be inflexible and lack the personalization users can expect from smaller organizations. This means that even with different pricing tiers, Tableau offers set packages; even if you don’t need all of the features offered, you’ll still get (and pay for) the same licensing packages as someone who would use them all. For example, companies who want certain employees to have access to data but do not need to do any of the prep and analysis work, they can purchase Viewer licenses, but these subscriptions require at least 100 users. This makes it difficult for users looking to purchase a set of required features and scale if necessary.

Tableau’s reputation precedes itself in the business intelligence industry, but with that prestige comes a hefty price tag that not all companies will be willing to pay.

Need for Training

Tableau is often praised for its intuitive user interface and out-of-the-box data visualization functionality. However, many users note that there is a steep learning curve to master its more complex features, particularly in conditional formatting or creating more complicated data visualizations than basic line and bar charts. When it comes to the other aspects of business intelligence, such as reporting or data querying, the platform can be difficult for some users to manipulate to their specific needs, requiring SQL knowledge in some cases. Although Tableau gives business users a lot of self-service BI freedom, Tableau still requires someone with IT expertise to create and manage datasets. While there are free resources available online for training, these resources focus on the solution’s more rudimentary features and its more powerful ones remain inaccessible to many without guided, paid training from Tableau or one of the vendor’s partners — adding yet another potential expense to the bill.

Speed

Another significant disadvantage that often pops up in user reviews for Tableau is its slow speed, with the solution running into performance issues, especially when working with large datasets or complex visualizations. According to our analysis of user sentiment towards Tableau, over 90% of users who review Tableau and mention its speed report that it loads slowly for them, often struggling to process and refresh data.

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Best Tableau Competitors

Is Tableau right for you, or are you looking for something else still? For software buyers looking for a more affordable, faster BI solution that is more user-friendly, here are the top five Tableau competitors for you to consider.

Top Tableau Alternatives

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MicroStrategy

Microstrategy’s platform empowers users at companies of all sizes with a powerful suite of business intelligence tools and services. Microstrategy Analytics links big data, cloud data and the contents of relational databases and then it visualizes that data and delivers a holistic picture of information to users. Its dashboards, which users can create via drag-and-drop, combine the functionality of multiple applications.

Similarities to Tableau:

  • Drag-and-Drop Interface: Users can build data discovery dossiers and data visualizations via drag-and-drop, with grids, graphs, charts and maps ready out-of-the-box.
  • Collaboration: Users can interact directly with each other within the platform’s interface via a comments panel. They can start discussion threads, tag colleagues, share direct links via email or chat, or directly invite others a personalized view to let them literally see things from their perspective.
  • Data Connectivity: MicroStrategy can connect to a wide variety of resources, including databases, enterprise directories, cloud applications and more, with a library of native gateways and drivers.
  • Data Preparation: MicroStategy features built-in data wrangling and parsing that help users transform and modify data. It provides automatic recommendations for data preparation without needing to export data to a spreadsheet.
  • Geospatial Analytics: It offers tools vias geospatial services to empower users to see the bigger picture. By visualizing massive volumes of location data on a map, users can make informed business decisions that incorporate geographical factors too.

Advantages over Tableau:

  • Predictive Modeling: Whereas Tableau doesn’t support Predictive Modeling Markup Language (PMML,) MicroStrategy can automatically convert PMML into algorithms, letting users leverage work done in data mining tools directly within their BI application.
  • Security: MicroStrategy offers security at both the row and column levels, while Tableau only supports row-level security.
  • Mobile App: MicroStrategy’s native mobile app is more robust than Tableau’s, supporting mobile write-back capabilities that Tableau doesn’t support by default, which lets users update records from the field.
  • Zero-Click Insights: On the augmented analytics front, MicroStrategy has some bells and whistles that Tableau does not, one of these being its HyperIntelligence tools which provide zero-click insights when users hover over highlighted words or phrases, providing contextual information.
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Qlik Sense

This BI software, like Tableau, offers some great solutions to everyday problems. Qlik Sense, Qlik’s cloud-based analytics tool recently upgraded from QlikView, helps guide decision-making by compiling and analyzing enterprise data and applying artificial intelligence to it. Its key differentiator is its Associative Engine, a powerful in-memory data engine that offers powerful calculation and aggregation, indexing and highlighting all possible relationships in the data. It allows users to explore their data freely and discover connections, patterns and outliers in data without having to model those relationships in advance.

QlikSense

Qlik Sense dashboard, featuring KPIs and geospatial visualization.

The solution is quite user-friendly but like many BI tools, some prerequisite knowledge is necessary to get the most out of it. It offers multiple customization features as well as dashboards. Unfortunately, Qlik Sense is only available for installation on Windows operating systems, though its native mobile app is compatible with both Android and iOS.

Similarities to Tableau:

  • Interactive, Drag-and-Drop Visualizations: Just like Tableau, Qlik Sense allows users to load data and build analytics with drag-and-drop. Every chart, table and object is interactive and instantly updates with each action.
  • Native Mobile Application: Both platforms offer a mobile application native for both iOS and Android systems, which incorporates responsive design to optimize reports for the screen size of a user’s device. Both platforms’ mobile apps provide access to dashboards even when the device is offline.
  • Recommended Visualizations: Qlik Sense’s Insight Advisor can suggest certain visualization types based on an analysis of a data set and factors such as user feedback and industry knowledge that contribute to hidden insights. Tableau can also recommend data visualizations based on datasets.
  • Conversational Analytics: Qlik Insight Bot is an AI-powered analytics tool that allows users to ask questions and discover insights using natural language within Qlik Sense, similar to how users can perform data discovery through Tableau’s NLP-powered Ask Data and Explain Data functions.

Advantages over Tableau:

  • Associative Engine: Unlike query-based BI tools like Tableau that are limited by predefined queries, Qlik Sense has a proprietary associative engine that investigates every possible relationship among the data to render immediate insights. Qlik Sense users can explore their data in any direction. On the other hand, Tableau’s data querying workflow restricts users to follow specific and predetermined paths within a narrow slide of data over an SQL database.
  • Artificial Intelligence: Qlik Sense’s augmented analytics suggests context-aware insights and new connections as users explore their data. Natural language processing allows users of all skill levels to explore insights on their own terms. In comparison, Tableau’s Ask Data feature can’t access the work inside workbooks; it can only connect to data sources and thus can’t leverage the insights derived by analysts.
  • Security: Through a data load script, Qlik Sense offers column-level security, which Tableau does not.
  • Edge Analytics: Instead of sending raw data back to the data warehouse to be cleaned and analyzed, Qlik Sense allows users to analyze data as it comes in, right where it’s collected, with major applications in IoT, offline mobile and immersive analytics. Tableau on the other hand does not support any edge analytics.
  • Gesture-based UI: Qlik Sense features a gesture-based user interface and interaction model which supports advanced gestures including tap, hold-tap, swipe, pinch, and lasso as well as gestures for objects, tiles, menus and more. The solution is optimized for touch interaction.
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Oracle Analytics Cloud

Oracle Analytics Cloud is a self-service cloud-based analytics tool that can perform data preparation, visualization, enterprise reporting and more, enhanced by a host of augmented analytics capabilities. Its AI-powered platform empowers business users and consumers through enriched data preparation, natural language processing and personalized analytics, among other features, all from the convenience and constant accessibility from the cloud. It puts heavy emphasis on self-sufficiency and organizational data literacy in analytics, by reducing reliance on IT departments and using machine learning algorithms to help users find answers to their questions on their own.

Oracle Analytics Cloud

A dashboard from Oracle Analytics Cloud, featuring data visualizations and filters.

Similarities to Tableau:

  • Dashboards: Oracle Analytics Cloud allows users to create and manage dashboards that centralize content from a variety of data sources and systems. It allows users to apply filters or drag-and-drop visualizations and objects onto the dashboard canvas, similarly to Tableau.
  • Data Preparation: Both systems include rigorous pre-analysis cleaning and preparation of data. OAC takes it a step further and suggests the best way to cleanse, enrich and combine data to eliminate outliers and generate cohesive recommended visualizations.
  • Data Connectors: OAC users can choose from over 45 data connectors to draw data from a huge range of data warehouses, databases and big data sources into a single centralized interface.
  • Collaboration: OAC users can collaborate with each other in real-time through a variety of interfaces and means, including prompts for collaboration opportunities, enabling discussions to be captured along with analysis.
  • Conversational Analytics: Tableau and OAC both support natural language processing, through which users can ask questions of their data conversationally, automatically generating answers in natural language explanations of visualizations and patterns. Both solutions help guide users through data discovery, improving data literacy.

Advantages over Tableau:

  • Predictive Analytics: Users have access to pre-built and custom models for predictive analytics that create forecasts based on historical data. OAC provides support for Predictive Model Markup Language (PMML) and lets users import and export predictive data models, a capability which Tableau does not offer. Oracle Analytics Cloud also offers what-if scenario modeling to help users make accurate predictions and forecasts.
  • More Robust Mobile Apps: Oracle has both an enterprise analytics app called Day by Day that delivers a smart feed and a mobile reporting and data visualization app; both apps work together to help OAC users make better decisions, and augmented analytics features like personalization and geospatial analysis help these apps deliver more useful insights than Tableau’s mobile app does.
  • Voice-Based NLP and NLG: Oracle Analytics Cloud supports natural language queries in both text and voice formats for 28 languages. It can generate natural language answers in voice form as well. On the other hand, Tableau only supports text-based natural language queries and responses.
  • Augmented Data Enrichment: OAC has a built-in data enrichment tool that utilizes intelligent machine learning technology to add context to data sets for deeper insight. Tableau lacks this capability.
  • Write-Backs: Oracle Analytics Cloud features built-in write-back functionality which enables users to update data from analyses and dashboards in real time, whereas Tableau does not offer write-backs by default.
Price: $$$$$
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Company Size Suitability: S M L

Power BI

Microsoft offers one of the best alternatives to Tableau, Power BI. MS Power BI provides interactive dashboard capabilities, customizable reports and powerful data analysis all contained in a simple and intuitive platform that encourages data exploration. Through both desktop and mobile tools, Power BI enables clients to import data from sources like Excel spreadsheets, SQL servers, on-premise files and Hadoop clusters and then transform, clean and visualize it in an orderly way. Power BI and Tableau are often compared because they both appeal to scalable businesses looking for self-service data visualization tools.

Power BI

Microsoft Power BI’s dashboards are colorful, visually appealing and ready for distribution.

Similarities to Tableau:

  • Data Connectors: Power BI and Tableau both include many pre-built connectors to other enterprise software and services such as Dynamics 365, Azure SQL Data Warehouse, Salesforce.com, Excel, and SharePoint; both platforms also offer the ability to build custom data connectors, making sure that users can import all of their data, no matter where it is.
  • Collaboration: Both solutions allow users to collaborate using team commenting and sharing on-the-go, increasing collaboration between members, teams and departments.
  • Drag-And-Drop Canvas: Users of both Tableau and Power BI can create interactive data visualizations with a drag-and-drop canvas and hundreds of pre-built data visuals. Both solutions also allow for custom formatting, theming, layouts and more.
  • Data Preparation: Power BI’s Power Query Editor and Tableau’s Prep tool both help analysts ingest, transform and enrich big data without needing to develop additional specialized skills.
  • Publish to the Web: Power BI and Tableau both allow users to create data stories with interactive visualizations and then publish them to the web for easy accessibility and sharing.
  • Personalized Mobile App: With personalized notifications and visualization panes, Power BI’s mobile app gives users exactly what they need at a glance with real-time updates. Tableau’s native mobile app also provides users with a curated, consistent view of their most important metrics.
  • NLP Queries: Users of both platforms can create data queries by asking conversational questions.

Advantages over Tableau:

  • Microsoft Advantage: Power BI’s ultimate strength is its native integration with the entire Microsoft platform, including Excel, of course, Office, Azure, Dynamics and hundreds of other apps. For the many businesses that already implement Microsoft solutions, Power BI is an easy way to tap into an end-to-end system of connected intelligence.
  • Excel Integration: Data analysts familiar with Excel will be right at home in Power BI; as a former extension for Excel that grew into its own application, it integrates seamlessly with the spreadsheet application and queries, models and reports contained within it. Users can combine Excel workbooks to display and visualize data on a Power BI dashboard.
  • Better NLP: While both solutions support NLP-based queries, Power BI takes it one step further with a strong natural language generation tool called Quill which creates and continuously updates editable, shareable narratives. Power BI also supports text-based and voice-based queries, whereas Tableau only supports text-based ones. Overall, Power BI has a more comprehensive set of NLP and NLG features.
  • Automated Machine Learning: Power BI has more sophisticated, hands-on machine learning than Tableau does, allowing users to create, train, validate and implement their own machine learning models and algorithms.
  • Better Mobile App: Power BI’s mobile app has more features to it than Tableau’s does, with mobile collaboration tools, geospatial analysis and QR code support, as well as integrating NLP and report generation.
  • Reporting: Power BI offers better report generation and more customization options for reports than Tableau does, enabling users to create cloud-ready reports that are pixel-perfect for publishing and distribution.
  • Longer Free Trial: While Tableau offers a free 14-day trial of Tableau Server or Online, Microsoft provides a free 60-day trial of Power BI Pro, letting new users really get a feel for the solution and whether it’s right for them.
Price: $$$$$
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Company Size Suitability: S M L

Sisense

Sisense BI is a powerful business intelligence platform that allows users to import and analyze their data, then create interactive reports and customizable, advanced visualizations and dashboards from it. The solution’s user interface can be tailored to individual preferences. Like Tableau, it uses AI and machine learning to augment data analysis, i.e. by automatically recommending charts or graphs on selecting a relevant set of data. Both Sisense and Tableau offer flexible deployment options and pricing.

Sisense ensures compliance with regulations using a data-driven approach. The solution enables tracking logins, dashboard and widget usage, along with permissions management. Users can also import data along with information on the user and their associated timestamp. In addition, the solution helps monitor threats and support the consulting requirements of the client by providing complex data analysis. The system allows for unlimited users, enabling access to data for all and organization-wide data literacy.

This BI tool facilitates visualization of multiple sets of data sources on a single dashboard that users can update in real-time. The solution allows users to drill down to the most granular raw data across all data sources. It is integrated with statistical language enabling data to be passed between databases and the system to execute predictive statistical functions.

Sisense

Sisense offers unique data visualization options.

Similarities to Tableau:

  • Data Connectors: Sisense offers a variety of built-in data connectors for a range of files, databases and applications, such as Amazon Redshift, MongoDB, SQL Server, BigQuery, Excel, CSV, FTP, JDBC, ODBC, and more. The solution also has built-in integration with cloud applications such as Zendesk and Salesforce, allowing it to draw directly from CRMs or embed the BI interface into the CRM, providing versatility in workflow options.
  • Drag-and-Drop Interface: Sisense features a drag-and-drop interface that’s accessible to users of all skill levels, similarly to Tableau. It provides users with the ability to connect to data sources, explore and query data, create visualizations and share dashboards without a single line of coding necessary.
  • Data Visualization: Like Tableau, Sisense allows users to illustrate their data stories with a variety of charts and a rich library of out-of-the-box visualizations that provide various kinds of insights.
  • Pre-Built Dashboards: Tableau and Sisense both offer libraries of ready-to-use BI dashboards, customized for industries such as customer service, retail, IT, supply chain, etc. that are pre-populated with sample KPIs, data source integrations and visualizations specific to each industry.
  • Data Querying: Tableau and Sisense users can both perform complex data queries in various programming languages against data sources. Both platforms support in-memory analysis and live connections directly against databases so that queries return faster results.
  • Web-based Dashboards: Sisense users can also publish their dashboards to the web for easy access. Users can filter, drill-down and share even on-the-go and from any device. Dashboards can be monitored in real-time with live connections.
  • Personalized KPI Monitoring: Tableau’s mobile app provides a curated, consistent view of KPIs on a single screen through its Metrics feature, and can also provide alerts through push notifications. Sisense also provides a personalized metrics page called the Pulse Command Center.
  • Natural Language Processing: Sisense and Tableau both empower non-technical users to explore data through natural language queries by typing a question and immediately receiving suggestions and personalized recommendations.

Advantages over Tableau:

  • High Performance: While many Tableau users say that the tool struggles with speed-related performance issues, Sisense is optimized to circumvent these kinds of problems by properly utilizing a system’s available memory. Sisense’s proprietary in-chip technology and analytics database, ElastiCube, can handle terabyte-scale data and process queries in-memory.
  • ETL: When it comes to data prep, Sisense includes built-in extract transform load (ETL) tools, while Tableau’s ETL capabilities are not up to the mark and often require third-party ETL tools to transform data into structures.
  • Advanced Analytics: Sisense allows users to create datasets from their database that they can use to train a machine learning model and then test against unknown data. With a “Model as You Go” approach, users can explore both modeled and raw data to answer unpredictable questions without having to rebuild models. Users can utilize extensive libraries of R and Python to incorporate predictive analytics and big data capabilities into the platform.
  • Better KPI Tracking: Whereas Tableau users must set their KPIs to track, Sisense tracks KPIs automatically for its users via machine learning. Sisense Pulse automatically detects variations in data and proactively alerts users of the changes. Sisense also can integrate or automate KPI alerts into third-party applications such as Zendesk, Slack or Zapier to trigger instant data-driven responses there.
  • Embedded Analytics: Sisense provides a more robust embedded BI platform than Tableau does. In contrast to Tableau, Sisense offers a platform for app building that helps developers create and customize their own white-labeled application through a visual template tool or add Sisense analytics to existing apps via iframes, APIs or plugins.
Price: $$$$$
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How to Choose the Right Tableau Alternative for Your Business

All of these Tableau competitors have unique strengths and weaknesses that you should consider while on your software selection journey. Software selection can be difficult – but it doesn’t have to be. It all starts with understanding your organization’s needs and gathering them into a requirements template; we suggest starting with a tool like our free requirements template. With SelectHub, you can prioritize the features that matter most to your company and compare BI vendors with a personalized scorecard to find solutions that match your needs.

Make sure to research BI tools thoroughly to see which one addresses your needs the best, whether those needs may include integrations with existing enterprise software, customizable data visualizations, access to a native mobile application — or more.

If you think you’re ready to shortlist the best Tableau alternatives for your business, check out our pricing guide to get exclusive information and advice.

Do you use any of these Tableau competitors, or do you prefer Tableau above all of them? Did we leave out your BI solution of choice? Let us know in the comments!

Hsing TsengTableau Competitors: Competitive Analysis of Top Alternatives

7 comments

Join the conversation
  • Amber Glaab - June 20, 2017 reply

    It would be nice to see some information about Looker to be able to compare vendors.

    Michael Shearer - June 20, 2017 reply

    Thanks for your comment, Amber. We are actually about to publish a Looker vs. Tableau comparison. It should be done before end of June.

  • Greg Esres - November 29, 2018 reply

    This is just a disguised advertisement for the products listed. The descriptions of each product could swapped around and they would all remain true. There is no real evaluation here.

    Alex Jaumann - November 30, 2018 reply

    Hi Greg, we’re an independent organization, so we have no reason to promote one product over another unless they’ve earned it. The purpose of this article isn’t to evaluate which system is the absolute best — this is different for every business based on their unique requirements. Instead, we’re providing a brief overview of the Tableau alternatives BI buyers can look at during their search. If you’d like to see a more in-depth evaluation, feel free to check out our BI Pricing Guide.

    Donk - May 18, 2019 reply

    So 100, 100, 85, 100 somehow adds up to different values around 98?

  • ramakrishna - January 23, 2020 reply

    Great article. You can also try Helical Insight.

    Bergen Adair - January 24, 2020 reply

    Thanks for reading and recommending, Ramakrishna!

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