Power BI vs QlikView

What are the key difference between Power BI and QlikView?

In the world of business intelligence, putting the right tools in the hands of the right people is critical to success. Two of the most popular tools in the industry today are Microsoft Power BI and QlikView. Both provide modeling capabilities and allow you to generate visualizations and dashboards, but there are key differences between the two products. Our BI experts at Optimus have conducted a side-by-side comparison.

Power BI Benefits

As tends to be the case with the majority of Microsoft products, the greatest strength of Power BI is its level of integration with other Microsoft products. If you’re already using Office 365 and SQL Server, you have a good chunk of the most common data sources for using Power BI already in place. It’s a fairly quick jump from entering data into an Excel spreadsheet to producing a visualization in Power BI.

Microsoft’s current commitment to cloud-based computing extends a lot of the advantages of Power BI further. For example, the Power BI mobile app can be fully connected to the rest of the software stack. If you want a sales person in the field to have access to real-time information that’s being updated on your SQL Server installation, the dashboards you create in the mobile app can stream that information live to a phone or tablet.

QlikView Benefits

QlikView is widely regarded as the more mature and robust of the two BI solutions. It’s built especially well for analytic purposes, and anyone who comes from a programming or data science background is likely to find it less limiting. QlikView allows you to get into the guts of its scripting system and tinker around with any models you create, and that can be very beneficial if you need low-level access. You can also produce a wider range of visualizations and presentations using QlikView.

One area where QlikView really excels is in raw speed. By keeping its analytics capabilities in-memory, it allows anyone with sufficient processing resources to crunch a ton of data and develop insights fast. The ability to use QlikView on locally based computers is also important to managed organizations that have strict requirements regarding the availability and storage of sensitive information.

Power BI Disadvantages

Data science people will find Power BI’s interface limiting. The cube system makes it very hard to get into low-level elements of models to make minor tweaks. This can be a net benefit for users who don’t want to tear through the weeds, but it renders Power BI the more disadvantaged of the two when it comes to raw processing power and the ability to generate unique insights.

Power BI, like almost the entire modern Microsoft software stack, is very dependent upon cloud-computing resources. While this increases availability, it also imposes regulatory and legal limitations on its use. If you work in an industry that has strict requirements for data storage, using Power BI may simply not be an acceptable choice. Many companies also just prefer to house their storage and processing capabilities on-site.

QlikView Disadvantages

The features that make QlikView powerful also make it difficult. QlikView comes with a very steep learning curve. The situation can be worse for people who don’t have a data science background. For some users, QlikView is simply too complex and difficult to acquire.

QlikView also struggles with a lack of specific purpose. This is another case where it’s somewhat freeform approach to being an analytics platform is a double-edged sword. Its functionality can be a bit of a sprawl, and some companies simply don’t have the time or people required to make the most of all that power.

The Right Tools for You

The choice between Power BI and QlikView doesn’t lead to a decision where one is clearly better than the other. You need to be serious about evaluating your people and your organization before you adopt either one. If your company is already married to the Microsoft stack and doesn’t require advanced analytics and modeling capabilities, the Power BI is the choice for you. If you find the available capabilities in programs like Excel to be too limiting, you should take a long look at QlikView. Power BI excels in ease-of-use and deployment, while QlikView benefits immensely from allowing data-centric people to get into the weeds. The critical thing is to balance the pros and cons of each package against the demands of running your operation on a daily basis.

If you’re looking to switch BI stacks or add to your current roster, speak with our BI experts. We can help you determine the best tools for your needs and your organization.


Power BI for Office 365

How can you integrate Power BI for Office 365?

If you’re like many folks in today’s business world, there’s a good chance you’re already using Microsoft’s Office 365 software suite. You may even already feel like you have a fairly data-centric approach to using Office, especially if your company is a heavy Excel user. Putting all that information to use, however, requires powerful data visualization and publishing tools, and that’s where Power BI comes in.

What is Power BI?

Power BI is a business intelligence package designed by Microsoft. BI systems are a way to allow companies to quickly convert their data into usable analysis, presentations and dashboards. For example, if you want to present real-time inventory tracking information to internal stakeholders, you can use Power BI to create a dashboard that allows those individuals to have access to visuals that explain everything in detail. Power BI also empowers you to keep that information up-to-date and even makes it easier to connect with your on-the-go stakeholders by presenting your dashboards within mobile apps.

Power BI actually refers to four components of the same service. As an end user, the most obvious component to you is likely to be the Power BI desktop. This is where you create visualizations and move data around. On the backend, however, are the Power BI gateways, where all the processing and magic happen. On the access side of things are presentations and apps. Tying all three of those elements together is the main Power BI service.


Microsoft actually makes a basic version of Power BI freely available. For many smaller businesses, this may be all they need. As is the case with the Office 365 ecosystem, Microsoft encourages companies to opt-in to a subscription-based system that grants them access to more usage and raw processing capabilities with Power BI.

The pro version costs $9.99 per month per user. It allows each user 10 Gb of data capacity versus 1 Gb for free users. Free users can stream 10,000 rows of data an hour to their dashboards, while pro users can stream 1 million rows per hour. Pro users also have much better access to collaborative tools.

Integration with Office 365

Power BI is available as part of the enterprise version of Office 365, making installation and integration easy. Any information you have access to in programs like Excel can easily be brought into Power BI. It’s also thoroughly integrated with products like SQL Server, so you can quickly pull information from your databases. Likewise, anything you produce in Power BI can be published as a presentation or an accessible dashboard within an app or programs like Excel, PowerPoint or Word.


It’s easy to get lost in the publishing side of Power BI and forget that it comes with a slew of powerful functions. Power BI allows you to run powerful analytics on your data. If you’re looking to produce a sales forecast, you can quickly pull live information from your SQL Server installation into Power BI.

Power BI allows you to develop a workflow that suits your existing approach. If you’d prefer most of your output to fit within existing Excel templates, Power BI is designed to allow you to readily drop calculated items into your spreadsheets. It also allows you to develop data models. If you want to check performance indicators, you can quickly establish criteria and ask Power BI to tell you how close to your targets you currently are. It can even help you project well into the future.

Visualizations are nice, but where Power BI exceeds expectations in by providing a high level of interactivity. Once you’ve created a dashboard, users have access to tools that let them sort through the information. You can even configure real-time updates, so users can check in regularly and see the current state of your business.

Power BI comes preconfigured with tools designed for a wide array of industries. If you need to collect human resources data and make it available to others, you’ll find an out-of-the-box solution for that with Power BI. Same goes for other common business functions, including marketing, finances and operations.

You can also use Power BI to quickly search all of your company’s available data. By using the unifying power of cloud-based solutions, Power BI can interpret your queries and sift through any data source your business has access to. This includes many non-Microsoft products, including applications like Google Analytics, QuickBooks and SalesForce.


Making your information more accessible, both physically and mentally, to stakeholders is one of the biggest challenges any company faces. Power BI allows you to quickly develop insights from your available data and produce dashboards and presentations that are compelling. Where a normal Office 365 user might produce a couple charts, a Power BI user can provide detailed, interactive graphics that drive decisions. Power BI makes your information more accessible in the most basic and human ways imaginable.


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(Note: This blog has been updated with new information.)