Which BI tool to choose: GoodData, Power BI, Tableau, or Looker? 📊
We didn't want to do a feature comparison of these tools because, in truth, nowadays they all somehow address or are working on addressing most of the essential BI requirements of companies, such as security, governance, user analytics, semantic layer, and integration with common data warehouses. Instead, let's talk about the context and how we typically decide which tool is the most suitable for each specific client.
We won't delve into the self-hosted versions of these tools today, although all of them do have such options. The same applies to API, embedding, and AI, which we will cover in our next articles.
We love working with GoodData as it aligns with two key use cases. The first is internal analytics for companies seeking a simple cost-effective solution with a semantic layer, enabling quick and straightforward insights into their data. Creating reports in GoodData is very fast compared to other tools, thanks to the promotion of simplicity and its Multidimensional Analytical Query Language (MAQL), which closely resembles SQL and makes it easy to create and read metrics. If you're comfortable with daily or hourly updates for regular data volumes, GoodData offers an appealing price point with a practically unlimited number of users (<10K per workspace).
The second use case, which represents the core strength of GoodData, revolves around distributed/multi-tenant analytics.This is ideal for organizing workspaces in a hierarchical structure, where a master/parent workspace synchronizes its configuration (partially or fully) with other child workspaces. B2B companies often leverage this functionality to create analytical add-ons for their products. With GoodData UI, you can create fully customized, near real-time analytics that seamlessly integrate into your product.
At Bizztreat, we've partnered with a company called Vets to create analytics for veterinarian stations using the GoodData magic.
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GoodData provides a range of products. The pricing for GoodData Cloud, a SaaS solution that is hosted and pre-deployed, without the need to move it from your data warehouse, can be found on their website. The GoodData Platform, the predecessor of GoodData Cloud, is still accessible through their partners.
Microsoft Power BI
For companies that use the Microsoft ecosystem and need a good-looking, customizable internal reporting and self-service capabilities, it is hard for other BI tools to beat Microsoft Power BI. Microsoft Fabric, the newest platform that integrates Power BI with other components such as data lakes and data science into a single solution (including copilot and git integration), will be yet another reason why. Its modeling capabilities are flexible and well-documented. DAX takes some getting used to, but there is a big community with lots of opinions that can help you (or distract you with a completely useless solution - been there 😀). Power BI is the most similar to Excel, so user onboarding is usually a lot easier not only in a corporate environment. On the other hand, from our experience, it is extremely painful to share reports with people outside of the organization. It is possible (as the documentation says), but the problem is that it very often doesn't work the way it is supposed to, throwing errors, etc.
TV Nova is one of the clients that Bizztreat has successfully helped in building internal reporting using Power BI.
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There are three types of licensing available for Power BI. The Pro license is well-suited for small companies and situations where the datasets are not excessively large. The Premium per User license, priced at twice the cost of the Pro license, offers upgraded platform limits that enable working with significantly larger datasets and unlocking premium features of the Power BI platform. This offering, launched in 2021, effectively bridged the gap between the other two options. The Premium Capacity license is relevant for larger companies with numerous users and typically involves custom pricing arrangements.
We have noticed a slight decrease in demand for Tableau among our customers in the last couple of years, mostly due to its per user pricing. Additionally, the creation of simple reports tends to take more time compared to other tools, and self-service can be a bit tricky for power users when navigating through datasets to find the most suitable one for their needs (as the data modeling capabilities are limited).
On the other hand, if a company wants fully customizable reports allowing "hacks" and is not inclined towards Power BI, Tableau is a great option, especially for advanced analysts. Moreover, there is a large community of Tableau enthusiasts who can help you solve most of your problems. Tableau Pulse and Tableau GPT also need to be considered when deciding what tool is the best for a specific customer.
Verti is one of the clients that Bizztreat has successfully helped in building internal reporting using Tableau.
The pricing is based on a per user model, which depends on whether you are a developer, power user, or just a viewer.
If your company is riding the Google Cloud wave, Looker is the go-to BI platform. It's like the Microsoft Power BI of the Google-based world, including the advantage of seamless integration with other Google services, especially BigQuery, but works great with many other data sources too. Its in-database architecture means it always connects to your source system and performs analysis on top of that, there is no “import” or “extract” options, just caching. What we absolutely love about Looker is that you configure your model (business-wide semantic layer) and visualization objects in files which are version controlled (Git integrated IDE) - that is something none of the tools can do well (MS Fabric will launch this soon, though) and where Looker stands out for us. However, your BI team needs to have at least a basic development expertise for that and we have to admit that Looker's pricing can be a buzzkill for some customers.
Don't confuse Looker Studio (formerly known as Google Data Studio) with Looker - they are two distinct tools. Looker Studio, the first of the two, is still free (excluding the cost of BigQuery queries) and can assist with basic reporting, particularly focused on marketing use cases. However, it lacks a flexible semantic layer and imposes several limitations, which usually disqualify it from being a primary BI solution.
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The pricing is custom. While Google does offer some discounts, in most cases, don't expect the pricing to be lower than Tableau.
Chief Solution Architect