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50 Features & Functions Comparison: Power BI, Tableau & Cognos

October 21, 2020

Analytics Demystified, Cognos Analytics (v11), Dashboards Reporting and Visualizations, Data Integration, Data Preparation, End User Self Service, IBM Cognos, Metadata Modeling, Microsoft Power BI, Report Authoring, System Admin & Security, Tableau

50 Features & Functions Compared in Easy-to-Read Visuals

Senturus cuts through the vendor noise, providing an objective and unbiased comparison of Power BI, Tableau and Cognos. We assess 50 features and functions across these platforms, providing the results of our findings in easy-to-interpret visuals.

We’ve divided our comparison into six categories:

Data Sources and Connectivity. To be successful, your BI platform needs to access your various data sources. Native connectors and functionality offer the fastest implementation path. Knowing about data limitations or custom integrations before you purchase is of the utmost importance to your project’s success and can have big implications for your bottom line. Features we evaluate include

  • OLAP/cube data sources
  • Relational data sources
  • End user data sources
  • Web/API based data sources
  • Incremental extract refresh
  • Pass authentication for RLS
  • Extract features
  • Extract scheduling
  • Custom connectors
  • Pre-built connectors
  • Data blending

Metadata Modeling & Querying. See how the tools compare on transforming, joining, diagramming and aggregating data for visualization. If your organization chooses to prepare and model the data within the tool (instead of, or in addition to, a data warehouse), these features need careful evaluation. Features we evaluate include

  • Modeling tools
  • Hierarchies
  • Composite models
  • Composite joins
  • Certified data sets
  • Data preparation
  • Data lineage
  • Dynamic aggregation tables

Reporting & Dashboarding. Understand how the platforms rate across eight key aspects of reporting and dashboarding, the most visible aspects of any analytics tool. Features we evaluate include

  • Filters/slicers
  • Layout control
  • Output options
  • Paginated reporting
  • Parameter based layout
  • Pixel perfect
  • Portability
  • Tooltip formatting

Integrations & Advanced Features. Get an assessment of leading-edge features from embedding to natural language querying. These capabilities can maximize ROI from your BI tool based on your organization’s needs and ability to leverage them.

Features we evaluate include

  • Natural language querying
  • Embedded dashboards
  • Annotations and comments
  • Excel integration
  • Generate dashboards
  • Notifications
  • Machine learning integrations
  • Embed external content
  • Custom visuals
  • APIs or SDKs

Platform & Ecosystem. A feature-rich BI tool only gets you halfway to an engaged user base. It needs to be easy to use, accessible and with available expertise. Features we evaluate include

  • Self hosted
  • Vendor hosted
  • Desktop (Mac)
  • Desktop (Windows)
  • Mobile app
  • Ease of use
  • Vendor capabilities
  • Expert availability

Administration, Governance & Security.  IT is most concerned with these pieces, but their implications can be broad. Features we evaluate include

  • Row-level security
  • Folder security
  • Column permissions
  • Usage/audits
  • Ease of maintenance
  • Single sign on

The Senturus BI comparison is a helpful first step in narrowing down the selection process between Power BI, Tableau and Cognos. As you study the various platform capabilities, you will want to weigh certain features more heavily than others, looking at what makes most sense for your organization’s unique business needs. Likely, you will ignore some features your team will never use.

The Senturus BI comparison represents only 50 of the more than 100 features and functions we reviewed and compared. For a comprehensive understanding of how well Power BI, Tableau and/or Cognos match up to your specific business and user requirements, contact us. We are happy to share the results of our findings. Working with us to align the platforms against your specific requirements and environment, you will gain the insight and confidence to know you are making the right choice for your business and your users. Learn more.

Other BI comparison resources