Our first impression of Tableau – intuitive, powerful, beautiful

#PowerBI experts, Crush on #Tableau

Power BI and Tableau has been ranked as leaders in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Analytics and BI 2020. It becomes critical for businesses to choose between one of these solutions for their analytics and BI workloads.

Of late, we have been receiving a lot of questions and interests in choosing BI tools. Recent trends show that companies are open to Power BI or Tableau as long as their needs are met within budget.


We are open to choosing and suggesting BI tools to our customers. We decided to give a try to Tableau.

Our first impression of Tableau

Tableau is intuitive. Tableau is quick. Table is powerful. Tableau is beautiful.

Tableau’s power is its data visualization capabilities.

You need a dual axis chart with bars and lines? You got it.

You need a dumbell chart? You got it.

You need advanced analytics? You need greater control over tooltips? You need annotations?

You got it!

Looks like Tableau was built ground up with data visualization in mind. And, it’s correct. Tableau founders were from graphics and visualization background.


How does it compare with Power BI?

After our hands on with Tableau we can say Power BI visualization capabilities though familiar, are limited. You have the same decade and century old charts.

You can be creative with visuals but then you need to learn Typescript and Node.js. You can create new and advanced charts but development and learning curve is high.

How about modelling capabilities?

Power BI excels in data modelling capabilities. DAX and multi-dimensional concepts are inbuilt in Power BI.

Tableau lacks much of these. Minimal multi-dimensional support, no functional language like DAX. Tableau relies on calculation scripts, LOD etc.

How about Dashboards and Reports on canvas?

Tableau has concept of Sheets and Dashboards. Power BI has concept of Reports and Dashboards.

We feel Power BI wins here as you have greater control over the layout and structure of your reports. You can create Business dashboards quite easily in Power BI.

What about Publishing options?

With Tableau you can publish to a Tableau server or Tableau online. Same with Power BI.

However, Power BI service (or Power BI online) though looks cluttered sometimes, is quite powerful and feature rich. Navigation can be confusing. It has a concept of workspaces.

Tableau online is clean and has simple interface. Admin capabilities and options look limited. It has a concept of projects. Great UX.

What about cost?

To a large extent Power BI wins here. Power BI Desktop is free. Power BI Online is free for personal use. This makes Power BI quicker to adopt and penetrate within your org.

Tableau unfortunately is not free. It’s costlier than Power BI. Though Tableau has a free version called Tableau Public, its functionality is limited.

Note: We need to evaluate cost in a larger scheme of things keeping view of number of creators, number frequent and occasional users.

How is the support for developer tools?

Microsoft is known for developing products for extensibility. Power BI wins here with APIs to manage everything you need. Power BI lacks APIs for designer and modifying models.

Tableau has some support for tools but it’s limited.

What do you recommend?

Power BI and Tableau, both are great tools. However, recent job trend shows greater demand for Power BI developers.

To sum up: Power BI is a great end to end BI tool. Tableau is a great visualization tool.

We recommend to check your existing BI investments, and BI and analytics needs. Based on this and your budget, take a call.


Given high demand for both the tools, we are working on creating a comprehensive guide comparing Power BI and Tableau. We will cover in detail their BI capabilities, Data Integrations, Enterprise support, APIs and costs with screenshots from both the tools.

Join our list to be the first one to know when the guide is available.

Do you want us to evaluate which BI tools fit your business needs? Contact us now.

Power BI Premium or Power BI Pro – the answer is here!

Power BI comes with multiple licensing model

  1. Power BI Pro
  2. Power BI Premium
  3. Power BI Embedded
  4. Power BI Free

In this post we will cover Power BI Pro and Power BI Premium licensing model.

Which licensing model to go with is determined by following three factors:

  1. Cost
  2. Number of users (creators, viewers, occasional viewers)
  3. Features required

The first two factors are the most critical in deciding the licensing model.

It’s a choice between multiple Pro licenses or multiple Premium licenses.

A Power BI Pro is a per user license currently costing around $10 per user per month, while Power BI Premium is a capacity license currently costing around $5000 per capacity node per month.

Yes, the cost difference is huge. But, wait, there are lots of things hidden in that $5000.

  1. Power BI Premium is a capacity license. It can support 450 users report viewing needs (see example below)
  2. Power BI Premium is for content consumption rather than content creation
  3. Large number of external readers (out of org users with no Power BI license)
  4. AI, Paginated reports, XMLA read/write and many other features

What does that mean?

If you want to create, author and publish reports, you definitely need Power BI Pro licenses. You cannot go away with that. Whether to go with Power BI Premium or not, it depends.

Say, if you have 500 users in your org and out of 500 users

  1. 50 users will be creating content
  2. 200 users will be frequently accessing the content
  3. 250 users will be occasionally accessing the content

Then, you require

  1. 50 Power BI Pro licenses
  2. 1 Premium capacity node

With the premium capacity node we can serve the “consumption” needs for 450 users.

How did we come up with that conclusion? A simple Power BI Premium calculator is available to help us decide number of licenses (link below).

But, say your org has 100 users with 50 creating content and 50 viewing, it’s recommended to go with 100 Pro licenses (total cost $1000 per month) than a premium capacity node unless you need additional features like AI, external readers etc.


Power BI Premium vs Power BI Pro – Which licensing model should I choose? The answer is here!


If you are still not sure of the licensing model or worst, if you are not sure if Power BI is fit for your organization’s BI needs then you may request a free consultation.

You may fill the form below or directly setup a call

Or, fill up this form and we will get back to you with time slots within 12-24 business hours.

Notes:

Power BI Premium Calculator: https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/calculator/

Power BI premium also comes with additional feature sets including AI, Incremental refresh, Power BI Report Server, Paginated (SSRS types) reports, XMLA read/write and others – or better to say Enterprise features.

If you need a quick comparison between Power BI Pro and Power BI Premium feature sets, please check this table provided by Microsoft. (Click the image to view the entire table)

https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/#powerbi-comparison-table

Power BI Features End to End

Ever imagined if you could get to see all the amazing Power BI Features in one shot? Power BI is not just one product. It’s a suite of products.

  • What data sources are supported in Power BI?
  • What content authoring capabilities it has?
  • What about content delivery and distribution capabilities?
  • What about data governance and administration?

Check this image to view end to end picture of Power BI!

Thanks to Coates Data Strategies for compiling this.

Real time reporting with Power BI

Real time reporting with Power BI

By 2025, close to 30% of the data will be real time – IDC

We have 6 years before we hit that, but I must say real time data or rather ability to report it real time is key for business success even now.

Imagine a scenario where you could view production plant quality metrics real time on a TV?

A grid operator tracks electricity flows in real time. Metrics like Power, Voltage with trends and power lines plotted on a geo map and viewed LIVE!

Sensory data, campaign performance (as they happen), field sales activity, and many more examples of real time data and real time reporting needs.

Some of the above examples are definitely real time but customers also ask for near real time – as soon as my new data is available I need to view it in my reports and dashboards within couple of mins.

How do we achieve real time and near real time reporting scenarios with Power BI Platform?

There are couple of solutions to achieve this:

  1. Power BI Scheduled Refresh (near real time, 8 refreshes per day for Pro, 48 refreshes per day for Premium)
  2. Power BI Direct Query or Live connection
  3. Power BI Push data sets
  4. Streaming data sets in Power BI

Next, we will cover real time and near real time reporting scenarios and discuss possible solutions along with limitations/pros & cons. Each scenario and solution is unique, and you can use any of the proposed solutions based on your needs.

Scenarios:

a) I would like to have my sales dataset refresh every 2 hours or I would like to have my Google Analytics dataset refresh every 1 hour.

When your dataset refresh time gap between two refreshes can be more than 30 mins, you can go ahead with scheduled refreshes. This assumes you have imported the data in a Power BI dataset and you would want to refresh that dataset.

Based on our experiences when you present schedule dataset refresh options to customers they are not taken aback. Scheduled refreshes have limits on the number of refreshes per day but once you schedule them to occur more frequently in business hours, it helps.

With Power BI Pro Licenses you can setup 8 refreshes a day per dataset. So you can setup refresh times to be: 7AM, 8AM, 9AM, 11AM, 2PM, 3PM, 4PM, 5PM

Total 8 refreshes spread out in business hours.

With Power BI Premium Licenses you can setup 48 refreshes a day per dataset. So you could do refreshes every 30 mins! Power BI Premium is definitely costly (read USD 60K/year) but you get more refreshes, more capacity and enterprise level features (AI and more)

Or, you can put the workspace where your dataset resides in an Embedded Capacity (Premium/Non-Premium) and get rid of refresh limits. In this case you will have to use Power BI REST APIs to refresh the dataset. Quite simple to invoke. Read more on this capability here.

You can even use Power Automate and trigger refresh based on events.

More on Power BI Refreshes in this Microsoft post.

b) I would like to have my dataset refresh every 1 min (or LIVE)

Assume you have a data source which can be directly queried from Power BI, you can achieve this scenario.

Sales data stored in a SQL box (Azure or on-prem), you setup direct connection to this data source in Power BI. Your Power BI Report is now directly connected to the data source.

If you are viewing this report on a browser you can hit browser refresh and it would fire query live to the source, fetch latest data and show on your visuals.

You can even automate the browser refresh using a Chrome Plugin. Read more here on how to achieve this.

List of data sources which can be directly queried from Power BI Platform here.

c) I would like to have my production plant quality metrics to be shown live

This assumes the data source where your quality metrics are stored is not direct-queryeable by Power BI.

In this scenario you need to push data from your data source to either a Power BI Push dataset or to a database. This push can be done every 1 min or so. This push can be done by setting up Azure Functions.

Once the quality metrics are pushed to a Push dataset or to a database, you can setup Power BI reports on top of it and view the data live.

Power BI Push datasets have some limitations as mentioned here.

How to setup Push datasets? You can read this external blog post here.

d) I would like to see electricity flows and their Voltage and Power metrics live on my TV

If you need something real and live, something like electricity flows or sensor data, you can setup Streaming datasets in Power BI.

Once you have streaming datasets setup, you can view them through Power BI dashboards. These datasets do not store historical data. They will store limited data in temp cache.

You can open these dashboards in a browser and put them on a TV. No need of browser refresh as the tiles would refresh “live”.

How to setup Streaming datasets? You can watch this YouTube video by Patrick (MSFT) here.

Read more here on Power BI Push and Streaming datasets.


Did we cover all the possible solutions? Ok, let’s check it once more.

Additional Scenario 1: We are a global organization and we would like to view our Google Analytics data every 1 hour. The dataset is shared with our global marketing team spread across every continent.

Solution suggested: In this case instead of going with scheduled refreshes, you can go with pushing GA data to either a Power BI Push datasets or to a database and setting up direct DB connection. Or, if you are an enterprise with Power BI Premium licenses you can set 30 mins refresh intervals.

Additional Scenario 2: I have more than 5 plants where I need to view live data. Should I setup one dashboard with filters?

Solution suggested: You can view data from streaming datasets only in a dashboard. Dashboards do not support filters yet. In your case you can setup 5 dashboards and share these URLs.


Any other solutions you want us to include?

Let us know.

Thanks

Ranbeer Makin

Refresh Power BI report page every min. and show on a TV

This question has been asked multiple times in forums, blogs and in Power BI community.

How can I refresh my Power BI report every min and show it on a TV full-screen?

This is a lovely scenario where you want to show Power BI report with metrics, business performances, team performances etc. on a public display. May be on a TV in a hallway or in Factory Control rooms!

But, how do I do this?

It’s quite simple to setup!

(1) Make sure your data is refresh-able live. Either through direct query to a supported source (SQL etc.) or live connection to Analysis services.

(2) In your report URL in Power BI Service, append ?chromeless=1

This setting will open your report in full screen mode.

(3) Download and install a Google Chrome Add-in – “Super Auto Refresh Plus”

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/super-auto-refresh-plus/globgafddkdlnalejlkcpaefakkhkdoa

(4) Setup the Add-in to refresh your report page every X mins. You want 10 seconds? You are covered!

And you are set to go.

A simpler way to refresh your report page every min and show it on a display!

Questions?

-Ranbeer

(@ranbeerm)