Should You Invest in Tableau?
If you’re reading this article you are probably wondering if you should be investing your hard-earned dollars or your company’s dollars on Tableau. So, I’ve broken out the advantages and disadvantages of Tableau. Without, a doubt, Tableau is the leader in the data viz space. However, there are some limitations that may point you towards another tool. There are a lot of alternatives out there if you compare to Power BI or Qlikview. Check out our comparison article on 4 Tableau Alternatives.
Reasons to Invest:
Advantages of Tableau
1. Data visualization
Tableau is a data visualization tool first and foremost. Therefore, it’s technology is there to support complex computations, data blending and dashboarding for the purpose of creating beautiful visualizations that deliver insights that cannot easily be derived from staring at a spreadsheet. It has climbed to the top of the data visualization heap because of it’s dedication to this purpose
2. Quickly Create Interactive visualizations:
Using drag-n-drop functionalities of Tableau, the user can create a very interactive visual within minutes. The interface can handle endless variations while also limiting you from creating charts that are against data visualization best practices. You can check out some of the amazing visuals created at the Tableau Gallery.
3. Ease of Implementation:
There are many different types of visualization options available in Tableau which enhance the user experience. Also, Tableau is very easy to learn compared to Python, Business Objects and Domo, anyone without having knowledge of coding can easily learn Tableau.
4. Tableau can handle large amounts of data:
Tableau can handle millions of rows of data with ease. Different types of visualization can be created with a large amount of data without impacting the performance of the dashboards. Also, there is an option in Tableau where the user can make “live” to connections to different data sources like SQL etc.
5. Use of other scripting languages in Tableau:
To avoid the performance issues and to do complex table calculations in Tableau, users can incorporate Python or R. Using Python script can take the load off the software by performing data cleansing tasks with packages. However, Python is not a native scripting language accepting by Tableau. So you can import some of the visuals or packages. However, you can see how this is down with Python for Power BI.
6. Mobile Support and Responsive Dashboard:
Tableau Dashboard has a great reporting feature that allows you to customize dashboard specifically for a certain device such as a mobile phone or laptop. Tableau automatically understands which device is the user is viewing the report on and make adjustments to ensure that the right report is served to the right device.
7. Tableau Company Strategy:
Tableau has done a great job climb its way to the top of data visualization tools. So, according to Garner Magic Quadrant. Tableau has spent more than six years as a leader. However, with the increasing interest in data science, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, Tableau may be left behind if it doesn’t innovate quickly. You can see from the issues with 2017 financials reporting Forbes concerns with Tableau profitability
Reasons to Not Invest:
Disadvantages to Tableau
So, now that you know all the great aspects of the tool, lets dive into some of the more challenging aspects of it. The section below is going to highlight some of the pain points that many Tableau users express.
1. Scheduling or notification of reports:
Tableau does not provide the feature of automatic refreshing of the reports with the help of scheduling. There is no option of scheduling in Tableau. Therefore, there is always some manual effort required when users need to update the data in the back-end.
2. No Custom Visual Imports
Tableau is not a complete open tool. Unlike other tools like Power BI, developers can create custom visuals that can be easily imported Tableau. So, any new visuals need to be recreated instead of imported.
3. Custom formatting in Tableau:
Tableau’s conditional formatting and limited 16 column table displays are pain points for users. Also, to implement the same formatting to multiple fields there is no way a user can do that for all fields directly. Users need to do that manually for each field which is very time-consuming.
4. Static and single value parameters:
Tableau’s parameters are static and always single value can be selected using a parameter. Whenever the data gets changed, these parameters need to be updated manually every time. There is no way a user can automate the updating of parameters.
5. Screen Resolution on Tableau Dashboards:
The layout of the dashboards gets disturbed if the tableau developer’s screen resolution is different from end user’s screen resolution for example if the dashboards have been created in a screen resolution of 1920X1080 and are being viewed in 2560X1440 then the layout of the dashboards will get distorted a little bit. Also, their dashboards are not responsive. So you will need to create a dashboard for mobile and desktop.
6. Limited Data Preprocessing.
Tableau is strictly a visualization tool. Tableau Desktop allows you do to very basic preprocessing. This includes joining and blending data. Also, you have the ability to change data types. In an ideal world, most data would be exported in perfect tables. However, data cleansing is a necessary step. In most cases, an analyst needs to build a data model with recurring to format the data. This requires a tool such as Altyrex, Power BI, Python or even Excel to preprocess data prior to loading. In 2018, introduced their own data preparation tool called Tableau Prep. You can read the results of Tableau Prep vs Altyrex
7. Scaling and Pricing for Enterprise
This is the biggest issue with Tableau, it’s a very expensive product to scale across a large organization. Compared to cheaper and more well rounded BI tools. Tableau one of the more expensive option. For security and sharing, the only option is Tableau Server which can $175,000 for an 8 core option and $35 dollars per user. Alternatively, you can use Tableau Online which is limited but is $35 per user. This can accumulate if you are trying to have a large number of users access reports.