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Tableau vs. Power BI... and the Math Behind the Zombie Apocalypse

Tableau vs. Power BI: The Battle is Heating Up

For quite a few years, Tableau has been viewed as the gold standard is visualization tools. Being a long-time user of Tableau, I still rate it at the top in terms of capabilities, but Microsoft's Power BI is gaining ground quickly. Each one is becoming well-suited to serve a different set of customers.

Tableau previously offered two different desktop versions. They have now dropped the lower offering and combined desktop Pro with Tableau Prep and an Online or Server license. Tableau Prep is a fairly new offering designed to assist in preparing data. They have called the combined offering Tableau Creator. While they publish a monthly price, since you can only be billed annually, it's really an annual subscription like it was before.

So, who benefits from Tableau Creator? Since Creator includes a license to either Tableau Online or Tableau Server, this product lends itself well to larger enterprises who can afford to install Tableau Server and benefit from the vast array of organizational tools inside Tableau Server. Users also benefit from individualization features like marking your favourite dashboards, setting alerts and automatic notifications of updated dashboards. Visually, it's easier to understand the organization of dashboards inside Tableau Server than inside Power BI.

So, why is Power BI sitting right beside Tableau on the most recent evaluation of visualization tools? While Tableau wins the battle for more sophisticated features and better organization inside their Server product, a large number of companies or departments don't need these features. For simpler creation of dashboards and sharing reports with colleagues, Power BI offers a great experience. It's also (intentionally) positioned to be cheaper than Tableau. Given that Power BI is owned by Microsoft, the integration with other Microsoft products is getting better with every release.

So, which should you use these days? That decision truly comes down to multiple considerations:

  • Do I need to share the dashboards that I create?

  • Do I need multiple levels of "filing" my dashboards online?

  • Do I have budget limitations?

  • Do I need sophisticated visualization features?

  • Can I benefit from integrating these products with other products?

  • Do I need to embed my dashboards into a branded online portal?

Keep in mind that analytical tools change quickly, so it will be very interesting to follow the battle between the two products.


Mathematical Modelling of Zombies

As I entered a bookstore in Toronto a few weeks ago, I was drawn into the math section. In the spirit of Hallowe'en next week and for your general mathematical amusement, I am sharing a link to a book that caught my eye. Yes, it's a real book. It uses mathematics to study surviving the zombie apocalypse.

Happy Hallowe'en from Numerical Insights!

Click here to see the book on Amazon.


You’re outnumbered, in fear for your life, surrounded by flesh-eating zombies. What can save you now? Mathematics, of course.

Mathematical Modelling of Zombies engages the imagination to illustrate the power of mathematical modelling. Using zombies as a “hook,” you’ll learn how mathematics can predict the unpredictable. In order to be prepared for the apocalypse, you’ll need mathematical models, differential equations, statistical estimations, discrete time models, and adaptive strategies for zombie attacks―as well as baseball bats and Dire Straits records (latter two items not included).

Analysis ToolsTracey Smith