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Qlik vs. Tableau vs. Power BI: Which BI Tool Is Right for You?

Author: Tom Hoblitzell | 5 min read | June 6, 2019

Companies of all sizes and industries are hungry for business insights, and they’re willing to pay big bucks to get them. According to forecasts by market intelligence firm IDC, global revenues for big data and analytics solutions will hit $260 billion by 2022, with a compound annual growth rate of 12 percent.

Not all business intelligence solutions are created equal, however. Ask any BI expert about the leaders in self-service BI, and you’ll hear three names: Tableau, Power BI, and Qlik.

Each of these three options is a dashboard-focused BI product oriented toward medium and large enterprises:

  • Tableau is a platform for data visualization and analytics. The software’s drag-and-drop capabilities and many data source connections make it a popular choice for BI users.
  • Power BI is Microsoft’s solution for business analytics and visualization. The software includes advanced features such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, and also integrates with Microsoft’s digital assistant Cortana.
  • Qlik is a self-service BI solution similar to Tableau. The software empowers individual business users to find answers and share insights with their colleagues.

They might have similar purposes, but Tableau, Power BI, and Qlik are distinct in multiple ways. In this article, we’ll help you choose the BI tool that’s right for your needs based on a set of features and criteria.


The insights analytics provide are important for the evolution of businesses of all sizes. Self-service BI platforms like Tableau, Power BI, and Qlik makes this possible without continuous reliance on support from IT. In terms of pure analytical capability, all three tools are a strong offering, with each one standing out in different ways:

  • Power BI includes features for data preparation, data discovery, and building real-time interactive dashboards. It’s particularly well-suited for working with Excel spreadsheets and other Microsoft applications.
  • Tableau primarily focuses on visual analytics but includes more advanced features such as data federation as well.
  • Qlik uses ETL processes to quickly connect SQL data in multiple files and formats.


Power BI is excellent in terms of integrations with different data sources. There are dozens of potential data sources available for Power BI users, with more being added all the time. Just a few sources on the list are:

  • Microsoft Excel, XML, and JSON files
  • SQL databases
  • Google Analytics, Salesforce, Marketo, Facebook, and MailChimp
  • Hadoop, Spark, R scripts, and Python scripts

The good news is that Tableau and Qlik are also strong players in terms of data integrations. Both include support for many different APIs and connectors, so that you can seamlessly combine the software with other tools and data. Qlik users may sometimes need to run scripts in order to load and manipulate data, making it somewhat less user-friendly.

Visualizations and Dashboarding

Tableau is strong at data visualization concepts and ease of use. Thanks to its drag-and-drop interface, Tableau is both user-friendly and highly powerful, allowing users to easily connect to a variety of data sources without deep technical knowledge.

Like Tableau, Power BI is a user-friendly solution with a drag-and-drop interface and includes access to over 85 applications for data visualization. Thanks to its Microsoft origins, Power BI’s interface and functionality will be familiar to anyone who uses Excel spreadsheets.

Although not quite as capable as Tableau, Qlik also offers robust visualization features. In particular, Qlik has an in-memory engine that delivers significant performance improvements and that can scale to work with many different data sources.


In 2017, Tableau expanded its offerings, prioritizing a new subscription-based model over its old license-based model. The tiers for teams and organizations are as follows:

  • Tableau Viewer: Allows users to view and interact with published visualizations. $12/user/month ($15 for Tableau hosting), with a 100-user minimum.
  • Tableau Explorer: Allows users to interact with and query data sources to answer business questions. $35/user/month ($42 for Tableau hosting), with a 5-user minimum.
  • Tableau Creator: Full capabilities for analytics and visualization. $70/user/month. Every Tableau deployment must have at least one Creator.

Power BI Pro is available at a cost of $9.99/user/month, allowing you to build real-time dashboards, reports, and visualizations. The most powerful tier, Power BI Premium, uses capacity pricing; you can estimate your costs with the Power BI Premium calculator.

Finally, Qlik uses a combination of server-, user-, document- and application-based licensing. As such, Qlik does not release public estimates for the pricing of Qlik Sense Enterprise. Qlik’s website says only to “contact us for licensing options.” If you use Qlik Sense in the cloud, however, you’ll be paying a flat fee of $15/user/month.

Summary: Tableau vs. Power BI vs. Qlik

Based on the criteria above, you should have a better idea of which self-service BI product best fits your business needs and objectives. Because all three choices can produce high-quality visualizations based on a variety of data sources, your decision might come down to a few important details.

Note that as a Microsoft product, Power BI is common among companies that are “Microsoft shops,” with heavy use of complementary software like Excel and SQL Server. In many cases, organizations will use Power BI along with one of either Tableau or Qlik in order to have access to a Microsoft-specific solution.

Tableau, Power BI, and Qlik are the industry leaders in self-service BI, which means it’s impossible to pick a clear winner for all organizations. By selecting the aspects that matter most to you—whether it’s breathtaking visualizations or a low total cost of ownership—you’ll be more likely to make a choice that satisfies IT and business users alike.

If you’re looking for support in making BI software decisions or building custom dashboards and reports, Datavail has got you covered. Contact us to discuss how we can turn your data into insights that can make your business thrive.

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