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 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.
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.