Tableau vs Microstrategy Verdict – Tableau has made data visualisation and analytics available to a large audience, but the product is not an enterprise BI solution and can run out of steam for sophisticated needs. It is best seen as a complement to a more complete BI solution, and will satisfy the needs of business users who need to get to information quickly. Microstrategy on the other hand is an enterprise BI solution that includes powerful desktop visualisation tools and the infrastructure for enterprise wide BI – reporting, analysis, visualisation, data discovery, dashboards and so on. Best of all the desktop version of Microstrategy is free to download!
Tableau is easy-to-use and produces very attractive dashboards. It appeals to users with little or no IT skill, who can easily create dashboards and charts, and explore data via the easy-to-use visual interface. A native iPAD app is available and visualisations can also be viewed through a browser. The product is good for story telling and ad-hoc analysis, but is limited in functionality and cannot easily be extended. It comes as a desktop, server and online edition – this latter proving to be very popular. Tableau is best seen as an add-on to a broader BI capability, where the existing platforms do not support easy data visualisation.
Microstrategy is a true enterprise BI platform that has been around for a long time. It supports reporting, analytics (predictive analytics if needed), data visualisation and exploration, and is generally considered to offer the best mobile BI solution in the industry. Analysis includes ROLAP for production analytics, and Microstrategy interfaces to almost every data source known to man. Microstrategy Analytics Desktop is free to download and use – forever. This is not a cut down version, and supports the creation of dashboards and other more sophisticated forms of analytics if needed. Microstrategy has a steeper learning curve than Tableau, but is much more powerful – the usual trade-off. It can also be expensive – but as the saying goes, you get what you pay for (sometimes anyway).