Top Tableau Competitors:
The Best Alternatives for Your Business
Tableau is leading a new generation of business intelligence (BI) applications. Dubbed “self-service” BI or data discovery tools, these applications allow business users to perform sophisticated analyses and create interactive visualizations with little to no support from IT staff.
Despite Tableau’s role as a self-service BI innovator and its increasing share of the market, the vendor now faces stiff competition from a number of competitors.
We’ve examined the competitive landscape to find some of the best alternatives to Tableau currently on the market. Here are the vendors we’ll cover:
(Click on a link below to jump to that section.)
Most Asked-About Tableau Competitors
Top User-Rated Tableau Competitors
A quick note on Tableau’s product line: Most companies will primarily use Tableau Desktop, an end-user application for both Windows and Mac OS. The company also offers Tableau Server, which enables standardized data models, shared interactive dashboards and organization-wide metadata management.
The full product line is more complex than this, so we’ve created a guide for those who need it.
Geospatial analysis of sales data in Tableau Desktop
We’ll take a look first at the Tableau competitors that get Googled the most often.
Note: you can learn more about our Alternatives methodology here.
Whereas Tableau only offers a 14-day trial version of Tableau Desktop, Qlik Sense Desktop is free for a single user. Qlik Sense Desktop only works on Windows, while Tableau Desktop also works on Mac OS.
One important difference between Tableau and Qlik Sense is that Tableau Desktop must be installed on a computer or mobile device, whereas Qlik also offers a cloud-based version of their desktop client that can be accessed with a standard web browser.
Like Tableau Desktop, Qlik Sense Desktop focuses on data discovery via interactive visualizations. The interface for Qlik Sense Desktop is similar to Tableau’s—both products allow users to combine dimensions and measures into complex visualizations through drag-and-drop manipulation.
Multiple visualizations can then be combined into integrated dashboards. For example, when a user interacts with one visualization, the other visualizations in the dashboard update automatically.
Users can share the visualizations they create with other users in their organization via Qlik Sense Cloud. This allows their colleagues to manipulate the underlying data via the visualization. For instance, an executive can “drill down” to sales data for individual cities to visualize sales data geographically.
Revenue Data by State in Qlik Sense
Microsoft operates at many levels of the BI market, with Microsoft SQL Server and SQL Server Analysis Services serving as the foundational database management and data warehousing technologies supporting many enterprise analytics platforms. We’ll focus here on Power BI, Microsoft’s self-service offering.
Like Tableau Desktop and Qlik Sense Desktop, Power BI Desktop (only available for Windows) offers a straightforward interface for creating visualizations and integrating them into dashboards. Power BI Desktop is available for free.
Additionally, Microsoft offers the cloud-based Power BI Service, which is equivalent to Tableau Server/Tableau Online and Qlik Sense Cloud. Businesses will need to pay for Power BI service and/or Power BI Pro. These options enable users to store data, share datasets, schedule data refreshes and publish visualizations to the cloud so that other users can access them.
The Power BI Service offers many “content packs” for accessing, formatting and visualizing data from popular Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications.
Content packs include pre-built dashboards to get users started with analysis. Microsoft offers content packs for a number of popular services and platforms, including Github, Google Analytics, Mailchimp, Salesforce and more.
Tibco Spotfire is another powerful solution for self-service visualizations. Like Tableau Desktop, Spotfire recommends visualization templates for a given dataset (e.g., geographic maps, treemaps, bar charts etc.), which is helpful for less experienced users.
Spotfire is available as a desktop application for Windows or as a cloud-based offering. Businesses need to pay to license Spotfire Desktop applications for end users, unlike Power BI or Qlik Sense.
Let’s take a look now at some of the vendors that surfaced as leading Tableau alternatives in an analysis of our reviews data. For reference, Tableau currently has an average rating of 4.0 out of 5 stars across 20 reviews on our site.
Sisense leads the pack of Tableau alternatives in user ratings, with an average rating of 4.7 stars across 12 reviews on our site. It’s an end-to-end BI platform with a very strong emphasis on self-service capabilities for end users.
One particular area of focus for Sisense is data preparation (ETL) and the ability to “mashup” different data sources. Sisense sports a visual interface for creating data models by indicating the relationships between data sources. Mashing up data sources can be accomplished via simple drag-and-drop manipulation.
Our reviewers do note that the price tag for Sisense is somewhat high, but the platform is capable of handling some of the more sophisticated data ingestion steps that are usually the province of traditional BI solutions.
BOARD is the most traditional end-to-end BI platform in our list of alternatives. Most of the solutions we’ve looked at are primarily designed for self-service analytics. BOARD also works in production reporting contexts (e.g., generating scheduled reports from operational systems such as ERP systems, or writing data back to an ERP system).
Additionally, BOARD has extensive functionality for budgeting, financial planning, revenue forecasting, managing business strategy, simulating business outcomes etc. These capabilities typically belong to a software category known as Corporate Performance Management (CPM) software, and aren’t included in most data visualization tools.
That said, BOARD provides many of the same interactive visualization capabilities as the other products we’ve looked at. Business users without any programming skills can create visualizations and share dashboards with BOARD.
The product supplements these self-service capabilities with features for managing business rules regarding data entry and specific calculations (e.g., revenue attribution), which help to normalize data models across the organization.
BOARD’s users definitely like the solution, as the product’s 4.5 out of 5 rating shows. It’s a good choice for organizations looking for a compromise between a modern and a traditional BI platform.
The software can be used in production reporting contexts, unlike more stripped-down tools for data discovery. BOARD also features numerous CPM capabilities for organizations that need top-down planning tools to manage financial performance and corporate strategy.
BI platforms are highly sophisticated. You need a deep understanding of your users’ needs, your technical environment, the vendor landscape and the components of an end-to-end analytics solution to make an informed purchase.
If you don’t feel that you’re quite there yet, you can call (855) 998-8505 for a free consultation with one of our software advisors. They can recommend solutions that include the capabilities you need and that fit your organization’s budget.
Finally, if you’re having trouble understanding how self-service analytics can benefit your organization, here’s a detailed explanation.