Tableau vs. Power BI vs. Looker – Which tool is better for your Business?

| Analytics , Looker , Power BI , Tableau ,

With so many key players in the market, one important question that needs to be addressed is – Which Business Intelligence (BI)  tool is better for my business? In this blog, we compare three of the market leaders in BI – Tableau, Power BI and Looker. These reporting platforms have been compared across different features they offer and their approximate costing. Read on.


Tableau is a powerful BI and data visualization tool that helps users analyze their data and create meaningful visualizations in the form of dashboards and worksheets. It has an extremely intuitive interface. It transforms the way businesses understand their data to solve problems.

Power BI

Power BI is a BI tool by Microsoft which provides a simple interface with interactive visualizations and BI capabilities allowing users to create their own reports and dashboards. Power BI offers a lot of powerful reporting features enabling organizations adapt a data driven culture.


Looker is a business intelligence and data visualization tool which helps create real-time reports and dashboards. It is browser-based and it uses a unique modeling language called LookML which differentiates it from the other platforms.

Product Editions:


Tableau products include Tableau Desktop, Tableau Public, Tableau Server, Tableau Online, and Tableau Reader

Tableau Server: This is the server side product from Tableau and it takes care of the data source management, memory management, user management, folder management and other server related components. The public version of this in called Tableau Public Server which is a free server that can be accessed by everyone.

Tableau Desktop: This is the development interface where you can connect to your data and start building visualizations and reports. The free version of this is called Tableau Public which is a visualization tool on the cloud that is available for everyone, but has a lot of limitations.

Tableau Reader: Tableau Reader is a free desktop application that allows users interact with reports built in Tableau Desktop.

Tableau Online: If you wish to skip the hardware setup of Tableau server and go with a cloud-based version instead, you can use Tableau Online. The data is stored on servers hosted in the cloud, which is maintained by the Tableau and there is no storage limit on the data that can be published in Tableau Online.

Power BI:

Power BI products include Power BI Desktop, Power BI Pro, Power BI Premium.

Power BI Desktop:

Power BI Desktop is the free desktop version of Power BI. You can add data sources, create reports, perform analysis and gain insights. If you are just starting off with Power BI, this is a good place to start. However in this version, you don’t have a lot of features like sharing, embedding, app workspaces,email subscriptions etc.

Power BI Pro:

This is the full version of Power BI where you can build dashboards and reports, view them, add them to workspaces, share them with other users and collaborate. Power BI Pro is licensed by individual user.

Power BI Premium:

Power BI Premium differs from the other two versions based on the licensing model. Depending on the size of organization and business needs you can choose your product.


Looker is completely web-based thereby eliminating the need for a desktop client.

Feature Comparison:


Power BI Tableau


Data Source Connectivity Power BI supports a lot of data sources including flat files, SQL based databases, OData, SAP BW,SAP HANA, Azure Cloud Platform, Blank query etc. One of the strengths of Tableau is its ability to connect to wider range of data sources compared to Power BI and Looker Looker can connect to number of data sources but one of the most powerful features is its trusted data model. It has its own proprietary modeling language called LookML, which is defined as a better way to write SQL and define queries.
Data Volume Power BI can handle a maximum of 10 GB of data storage per user. However, for large datasets we can access it directly from the database or cloud. Tableau can handle billions of rows of data as it has a columnar data model Looker queries created via the Explore page will have a maximum limit of 5,000 rows
Implementation On-Prem and Cloud options available On-Prem and Cloud options available Completely browser based
Visualizations Power BI supports about 3500 data points and also has a lot of visualizations to choose from. Tableau offers a wide range of visualizations. The interface is very intuitive to create charts and tables. Looker provides extensive visualization abilities with real-time analysis. Users can also create custom visualizations
Integration Power BI can seamlessly integrate with Microsoft tools, and also has API access to Salesforce, Google Analytics etc. Tableau has also invested a lot on the integration side. You can integrate with a number of third party tools. Looker’s API integrates data with many applications such as Google Docs, Excel and a lot of third-party applications. Looker Blocks feature streamlines integration by offering pre-built code that can be embedded into outside systems with more ease
Querying Power BI has a natural language query tool where you can ask questions like “which are the top 5 products” or “what is the sales trend for the previous year” and get answers to this Tableau doesn’t have a natural language query like Power BI but you can do live querying and extracts. LookML is the language used to describe dimensions, calculations, aggregations etc. This is what makes the tool unique and powerful

Cost Comparison:

One of the major decision making factors for a BI tool is the cost.  Here are the approximate licensing costs.

Individual License Cost

  Tableau Power BI Looker
Creator/Developer ~ $70 USD/User/Month ~ $10 USD/User/Month Custom Pricing
Explorer ~ $35 USD/User/Month ~ $10 USD/User/Month
Viewer ~ $12 USD/User/Month ~ $10 USD/User/Month


Organization License Cost:

If your organization size is 100 employees with the split mentioned below:

No. of Developers – 15

No. of Explorers – 30

No. of Viewers – 55

The approximate cost will be:

Approximate Annual Cost
Tableau (deployed with Tableau Server) ~ $33,120 USD/year
Tableau (deployed with Tableau Online) ~ $37,620 USD/year
Power BI ~ $11,988 USD/year (for 100 users)
Looker Custom Pricing

The Power BI premium license costs $4995 USD/month where there is a dedicated cloud compute and storage resource with annual subscription.

Looker pricing isn’t publicly available and they offer a customized pricing approach that is suited for your business. The approximate subscription pricing ranges from $3,000 – $5,000 per month for 10 users, and $50 per month for each additional user.

In all cases, the cost incurred to deploy Microsoft Power BI and Looker is much less when compared to Tableau. However, there are a lot of factors to take into consideration depending on your organization size, projected growth factor and the hardware and software configurations.


In short, Power BI is more suited for stakeholders who are looking to drag and drop data & build visualizations to gain insights. It has a wide range of features including seamless integration with Office365 ecosystem. User familiarity with Microsoft products is an added advantage for Power BI.

Tableau, on the other hand, is a really powerful platform with an intuitive interface preferred by professional analysts mainly because of richness of the platform. It offers a lot more features compared a lot of BI tools and they have made analytics their priority.

Looker has a lot of dashboard capabilities and data discovery use cases, and it also opens up new capabilities like collaborative data sharing etc. Unlike Power BI or Tableau, Looker uses a complete semantic model for storing all the business logic providing a single source of truth for your enterprise.

If you are looking to decide on which tool is better for your organization, get in touch with our experts at Nineboards and we can help you analyze the specifics of each platform, and guide you to make the right decision.

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