Microsoft Power BI vs Tableau vs Looker - What's the best BI solution for your needs?

February 9, 2023
February 10, 2023

With the surplus of BI platforms on the market to choose from, it can be a challenge to find out which tool is the best choice for your organization.  Company size, goals, and budget are all factors that need to be considered before making a partnership decision.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the three major analytics software that are used by data analysts and business intelligence professionals to create interactive data visualizations. They are Power BI, Tableau and Looker. What are the differences between these software? Which one is best for your needs? How can you determine which one is best for your company or organization? And what about the pricing and licensing options of each software?

We will be comparing the details of each of these options, to provide you with the information you need to answer these questions. We’ll clarify what data analysts need from a data visualization tool and look at what each of these three major software have to offer to understand how each one can meet your business needs and provide the most support to your team to answer the overarching question; What’s the best BI solution for your needs?

Microsoft Power BI

Power BI is a cloud-based business intelligence solution that allows users to rapidly provision datasets and visualize the results with beautiful dashboards. Power BI integrates tightly with Microsoft Excel, Microsoft SharePoint, and SQL Server Analysis Services, means users can visualize any type of data they have immediately. Coming from a market leaderlike Microsoft means that there is going to be many resources for getting support when needed.

Power BI comes with built-in capabilities for embedding dashboards into corporate portals, as well as embedding analytics into custom applications. With this feature, you can use Power BI as a part of your application to provide real-time analytics such as how effective marketing campaigns are performing in the field.

When it comes to creating interactive dashboards, Microsoft Power BI is very easy-to-use; start from a blank dashboard or build upon one of its many visualizations. Power BI is often the best solution for organizations that use Office 365 and Microsoft cloud solutions.


Tableau is another popular choice among business intelligence professionals because it has excellent integration with advanced technologies such as Hadoop, Google BigQuery, and popular CRM solutions like Salesforce. Tableau software is also used by analysts to create visualizations, dashboards, and reports. Like Microsoft, Tableau has many resources for getting support when needed (Tableau Community and Tableau Customer Support).

Tableau, on the other hand, is a great alternative to Microsoft Power BI because it gives users more freedom over the data that they would like to analyze. Tableau allows you to quickly connect your data warehouse with cloud-based storage solutions such as Amazon S3 and Amazon Redshift. Users who value flexibility and are working with data from lots of different sources and methods, including custom APIs, usually find Tableau their preferred solution.


Looker, a part of Google Cloud, is a cloud-based business intelligence and analytics solution that allows users to create interactive visualizations, dashboards, and reports. Looker’s simple point and click interface makes it easy to get a visualization up and running in just minutes.

It has excellent integration with the Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS). Like Microsoft and Tableau, Looker also has many resources for getting support when needed (Looker Community and Looker Customer Support).

Looker combines the best aspects of both lightweight tools like Tableau Desktop and more powerful solutions like SQL Server Analysis Services by offering a powerful analytics platform with the ability to visualize any type of data, anywhere. Looker also allows you to work with all the data that you would like to analyze as long as that data is stored in the cloud (for instance, data warehouses such as Amazon Redshift).

As part of Google Cloud, organizations tied into Google's environment will usually prefer Looker. It is often preferred for web-based or digital marketing-focused needs.


Microsoft Power BI

Microsoft Power BI offers Power BI Pro and Premium.

Power BI Pro is the most basic license option for Power BI offering only a per user subscription priced at $9.99 a month for up to 3devices. It allows individual users to produce visual data dashboards and reports for their organization, making it ideal for internal communications. Whenever there's an increase or decrease in your data volume you can decide to either increase or decrease the amount of data storage from 50 GB to 1 TB. Additional users are available at the same pricing as one-time initial price plus a daily rate ($2/user/day).

Microsoft Premium is designed for an organization providing big data solutions on an enterprise scale. The premium license offers a per user subscription at $20 a month per user, and for larger organizations or those with a larger need for the platform, a per capacity monthly subscription is available for $4,995. To put the pricing of BI Premium into perspective, the per capacity option is ideal for organization with over 250 users.


Tableau offers a slightly different pricing model, with three available subscriptions, all priced monthly per user.

Tableau Creator is the best fit option for analysts. At$70/month per user, the Creator license allows user to, “Connect your data, build vizzes and publish dashboards.” This license comes with access to Tableau Desktop and Prep Builder.

Tableau Explorer is recommended for Business users, providing only access to edit existing vizzes, for $42/month per user.

The final and most restricted license option for an organization interested in Tableau is Tableau Viewer.  This option is $15/month per user and offers only access to view existing dashboard making it useful for Executives.


Looker has monthly and yearly per user pricing plans. That is an advantage over Tableau, which only offers a subscription-based solution. Looker does not share their pricing model with the public, but according to, Looker offers Standard, Advanced and Elite Platform options. The Standard Platform provides access for 10 standard users for $66,600 a year. The Advanced Platform has all the features of the Standard Platform with an additional 100k  Query API Calls and 2 Looker Servers for $132,000 a year. The highest and priciest platform from Looker is their Elite  Package, coming with all the features of the Advanced plus 100k Admin API Calls and 8 Looker Servers. Looker also offers add-ons for additional viewers for $400/user per year, additional users for $799/user per year and additional Dev/Admin for $1,665/user per year.


Power, BI Tableau, and Looker have all grown tremendously and show us a glimpse of what the future holds for BI software. While it’s a relief to know we have access to a variety of reliable software, it still poses our underlying question; What's the best BI solution for your needs?

Power BI offers tight integrations with other Microsoft solutions, up to date cloud computing, and the widest variety of pricing platforms, and reliable customer service resources, making it the preferred solution for organizations integrated into the Microsoft ecosystem.

When it comes to creating interactive dashboards, Microsoft Power BI is very easy-to-use; start from a blank dashboard or build upon one of its many visualizations. Their wide variety of subscription options and support from a company like Microsoft, make Power BI a great option for organizations with large workloads on the enterprise scale.

Tableau, on the other hand, is a great alternative to Microsoft Power BI because it gives users more freedom over the data that they would like to analyze. Tableau allows you to quickly connect your data warehouse with cloud-based storage solutions such as Amazon S3, Amazon Redshift, Hadoop, and Google BigQuery. For flexibility and custom-built solutions, Tableau is a great solution.

Tableau offers a similar variety of subscription options, but only on a monthly basis, often making it a better choice for organizations who are not ready to commit to an annual plan.

Looker offers a simple point and click interface allowing for easy training and quick turnaround. Looker is known to have a combination of characteristics from similar tools, making it both powerful and accessible and with the support of its parent company, Google, Looker is a great option for any team facing large quantities of data and working in a web or cloud focused ecosystem.

Looker’s flexible pricing model with both annual and monthly subscription options and individual add-ons make it great for growing organizations.

When examining data analytics and BI visualization software, you need to consider the end-to-end capabilities that are offered. There might be a solution that includes all the features you need in a single platform, or it might make more sense to choose individual software for each feature. For instance, Power BI is the most comprehensive cloud-based business intelligence solution because it has many features like data prep and visualization. However, there might be situations where Tableau would be a better fit because of its advanced visualization features. In this situation, Looker would be needed to fill in the gaps.

In the end, each of these solutions offer advanced, easy-to-use platforms that can aid your analytics team in data visualization, but each one has their unique characteristics that fit a variety of needs, so we can never answer, which solution is the best fit, before knowing what your organization’s needs an goals look like.

To explore what solution would be the best fit you’re you organization, Contact Us to chat with one of our experts.

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