Business Intelligence Comparison Chart: Power BI, Tableau & Cognos

Power BI vs. Tableau vs. Cognos

When comparing business intelligence (BI) tools, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. Senturus provides an objective and unbiased assessment of Power BI, Tableau and Cognos. We review 50 features and functions across these platforms, providing the results of our findings in a BI comparison matrix.

50 features and functions of the best BI tools

We’ve divided our comparison into six categories:

  • Data sources and connectivity
  • Metadata modeling and querying
  • Reporting and dashboarding
  • Integrations and advanced features
  • Platform and ecosystem
  • Administration, governance and security

BI tools comparison of Microsoft Power BI, Tableau and IBM Cognos Analytics

How to compare BI tools

The Senturus BI comparison matrix is a helpful first step in narrowing down the selection process between Power BI, Tableau and Cognos. As you review 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 chart reviews the top 50 most popular features of BI applications. Our team of BI experts analyzed more than 100 features and functions to create this summary. For a comprehensive understanding of how well Power BI, Tableau and Cognos match up to your specific business and user requirements, contact us. We are happy to share the results of our findings. You will gain insight and confidence to make the right choice for your business and your users. Learn more.

Features we reviewed

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 BI 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

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