Business intelligence (BI) and data analytics (DA) are two sides of the same coin, and they’re both indispensable for modern companies. Analytics make it possible for businesses to measure every aspect of their operations, but the data in its raw form is pretty useless. You need programs that can interpret the data and draw conclusions from it to guide your course of action. Fortunately, there are software programs available that can do this for you, but they aren’t all created equal.
In Feb Gartner published its 2020 Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence report to help the market understand what the agencies, digital service providers, and their associated technology partners do. Tableau, Microsoft’s Power BI and Qlik are all listed in the quadrant as market leaders, so we ran a comparison between these and IBM’s Cognos Analytics (CA) software to see which program is the best choice for your BI needs.
Cognos Analytics Vs. Tableau Vs. Microsoft Power BI: Which Software is Right for Me?
Heavyweight Class – Cognos Analytics
Cognos is a premier business intelligence (BI) software program that helps non-technical users to pull and analyze corporate data and provide reports. It offers native capabilities, forecasting, and new opportunities to use data science, built on a strong base of enterprise governance and reporting.
CA gives users clean, trusted data to use in business decision-making, which is a benefit most other analytics software vendors don’t offer. Cognos was built as an enterprise analytics program, and it’s priced lower than some of the other applications, which increases its competitive edge.
Middleweight Class - Microsoft Power BI
Power BI is very dominant in the market right now, with Microsoft giving it away for free. It compares well with Cognos in terms of the portal, dashboards, governance and administrative factors, with the exception of stories. It does have a few pain points, however, most notably:
- It might be free, but you need paid licenses for full functionality
- It’s embedded in the MS stack, but that doesn’t mean it works as well as other applications, and you’ll still need SQL pros to produce advanced reports.
- Community visualizations depend on the user and can be complex to set up the way you want them.
- It’s easy to create a dashboard in BI, but for it to be attractive and intuitive takes some technical skill.
- Users need to all be standardized on the same libraries for the cross-functionality to work.
Power BI also relies on local python environments for coding and shaping data, which causes a range of problems including inserting malicious scripts at the OS level.
Lightweight Class - Tableau
Initially a hot product for several years, Tableau was bought out by Salesforce in August 2019. A visualization tool that delivers pictorial and graphic representations of data, Tableau allows users to perform queries using natural language and get automated insights. It can ingest and blend data from a wide range of sources and generate visualizations using best practices.
The software hangs its gloves on being easy to use and enabling self-service, but in fact neither is true. The dashboards are built on disconnected data sources, which makes the infrastructure unmanageable, and SQL coders are necessary to fix this. Self-service is a myth, since the architecture centers around a power user whose perspective is used to build the dashboards. That’s not self-service, it’s a builder/consumer model!
Tableau offers subscription pricing, but since its acquisition by Salesforce we’re uncertain what the future holds. Preliminary chatter indicates clients will have to pay extra for the new server management feature and data management add-ons, which will push up the price.
Featherweight Class – Qlik
An end-to-end data integration and analytics solution, Qlik enables the collection and processing of data to create analytical reports delivered to users via Access point. On the upside, it’s easy to use and allows simple mobile deployment. It’s limited, however, by its dependence on scripting and a limited semantic layer. Qlik relies on a 3rd for predictive analytics and has weak enterprise governance.
Cognos remains our first choice, with its robust enterprise governance and enterprise reporting tools. Those are its main strengths, which give it the unique capability to make decisions based on clean, governed data. All the other tools are trying to build tools to do the same thing, and they’re charging more to do it.