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Top 5 Tableau Alternatives: Sisense, Looker, Birst, Domo, and QlikView

Sometimes the most robust business intelligence (BI) solution does not exactly match your workflows and a more basic BI software that fits your specific scenario is better. Other times a robust BI solution is what you really need, but you’re not sure if a better solution is out there. If you like Tableau, one of the fastest growing BI software today,  but want to know how other solutions match against it, this article is for you. We line up five Tableau alternatives, each one with its own strengths and weaknesses and take a detailed look at each of them to help you find the best alternative for your needs.

What is Tableau?

tableau dashboard example

It’s one of the fastest-growing BI solutions in the market today backed by a solid vendor and stellar IPO. Its complex but easy-to-use features and upscale pricing targets large enterprises, even as the software is scalable to medium businesses. It is available in desktop, server and cloud platforms.

Tableau claims to be up to 100x faster than most BI solutions, but this comparison is starkest against the low-end solutions. Tableau features a proprietary technology that can interpret data images into db queries. It’s highly visual, allowing users to clearly see patterns and trends and gain insights fast.

The BI solution is also notable for its script-free, wizard-free functionalities from executive dashboards to ad hoc reports. Users are not expected to have any programming skills.

As you’d expect from top BI solutions, Tableau is great for presenting historical trends, forecasting figures and backing up solutions or problems with compelling data. You can find out more about the software in our detailed Tableau review. If need a detailed list of Tableau alternatives check out our thorough analysis of the available market options below.

What are the top 5 Tableau alternatives?

Popular Tableau Alternatives

We’ve checked how the five most popular Tableau alternatives stack up against each other in terms of functionality, customization and integration, mobile, tech support and pricing. But first, a brief introduction to each of these BI solutions:

1. Sisense

sisense dashboard
Sisense is one of the leading BI solutions today targeting a diverse set of large enterprises including Fortune 500s, such as, Sony, ESPN, eBay, and NASA. The software is noted for two things: visually appealing dashboard and drag-and-drop UI simplicity. There is also a great free demo that allows you to test the software’s capabilities and see how profitable it can be for your company.

This BI solution features an industry-leading TCO and a proprietary In-Chip engine that makes it one of the fastest to process data. No special scripts are needed nor in-system databases to manage. Deployment is also fast via its Single-Stack architecture.

You can see how this software can improve your business analytics by reading our comprehensive Sisense review or find out more about Sisense alternatives later in this article.

2. Looker

looker dashboard
Looker is best known for its language-based approach to creating mini applications within its BI framework. Using the LookML syntax, developers can enhance the data processing capabilities of this software. This makes Looker ideal for businesses with an in-house tech team; otherwise, you’ll undervalue a great part of the software.

Despite the focus on its language scripting, Looker is still user-friendly and intuitive enough for the casual user. It can deliver real-time data and generate reports on the spot and shared via email or URL link. The software is also accessible on different browsers and mobile devices, making this a practical tool for field teams.

Some of the key Looker features are:

  • Live connection to SQL database
  • Modern IDE for agile management
  • Query-based, in-database infrastructure.

Feel free to read our detailed Looker review for more information on the features and integrations of this software. You can also check other Looker alternatives if you lack a resident developer to optimize this application for you.

3. Birst

birst dashboard

Birst is ideal for large enterprises, but it can be also quite useful for medium businesses. It focuses on a 2-Tier approach, its term to define the data processing side and user data visualization or querying side.

The software is notable for its “shared analytical fabric” or an integrated environment that ensures all users are accessing the same data. Centralized data can be mashed up against local data without compromising the integrity of the former.

Other distinct features of Birst include:

  • Predictive apps
  • Unique levels of data functions
  • Offline mobile support

The software is deployed in three formats: platform and per-user fee; by business unit; or by end-customer.

For more details on this solution, you can check our Birst review. You can also find out better Birst alternatives if you find this software lacking in robustness.

4. Domo

domo dashboard

Domo is an open ecosystem with strong focus on mobile BI functionality. In fact, its mobile platform has the same degree of capability as is its desktop version. It is ideal for organizations of any size especially those that deal with remote teams or a global workforce.  

The software also stands out for its collaborative nature. It can integrate with different datasets, including social media, spreadsheets, and most enterprise business systems.

Domo is positioned as a self-service BI tool for varied user types, from the department staff to the tech engineer. As such, it is easy to use and is conveniently accessible via a single dashboard. It is also useful for users that demand real-time insights.  

To get more details on this BI solution, you can read our complete Domo review or search for more Domo alternatives.

5. QlikView

qlikview dashboard
QlikView claims to be a standalone BI solution, fully integrated with key features and tools so that you won’t need another system to compensate for data processing or visualization. It is powered by its proprietary Associative Data Indexing Engine, which can surface data relationships across various sources. QlikView is targeted at small, medium businesses and can be scaled to enterprise capabilities. The BI software has in-memory business analytics that make it one of the fastest data processors in the category.

Other key features include:

  • Easy deployment of analytic apps with no scripting skills needed
  • Collaborative sharing tools; and guided navigation across modules
  • Collaborative analytics for sharing insights

Despite being user-friendly, QlikView can be very useful to developers who want to script extensions or plugins that they can share in the QlikView Workbench.

You can learn more about this BI solution in our comprehensive QlikView review or find out some of the QlikView alternatives that may match your situation better.

Comparison of Tableau Alternatives

Now, let’s match all BI solutions and see the best Tableau alternatives based on six key aspects: functionality, ease of use, customization & integration, mobile, support and pricing.

Features

Tableau is noted for its ability to tap disparate and huge datasets and aggregate them in one location that is easily accessible to users. It is highly visual, which makes data analysis less complex. Its range of data processing tools that adapt to user cases has become an industry benchmark. Furthermore, its Grouping, Filters and Filter Shelf make data sorting a question of just a few clicks. We also like the idea that it continuously releases functional updates, plus it offers a free reader version for your staff.

Perhaps the nearest competitor to Tableau in terms of depth of functionality is Sisense. The latter has the same powerful visualization features that allow you to quickly share insights with internal and external teams. Sisense’s dashboard is well designed and highly customizable with an excellent widgets library, a varied selection of chart types, and different ways to display detailed views of your KPIs and metrics.

Although Tableau and Sisense are neck and neck when it comes to tools and capabilities, an important difference we want to point out is the way each one handles data preparation. While Tableau offers Tableau Prep and Pre Conductor as add-ons to help you clean, shape, and combine your data for analysis, Sisense is an end-to-end BI platform—which means it already includes data preparation capabilities.

Domo, on the other hand, may not have the rich features of both Sisense and Tableau, but it has better social collaboration features, notably its Buzz, a messaging platform. We also think Domo deserves a shout-out for the creative flair it has placed on its dashboard elements like multipart widgets, trend indicators, and sparklines. It can also surface real-time data on the dashboard, though this is a standard feature for top-notch BI solutions like Sisense and Tableau.

Meanwhile, Looker is focused on speed but with a bit of DB modeling prerequisite. Using LookML, its proprietary adaptive language, the BI software lets you create mini-applications to address customized data process cases. Although the syntax is simplified, you need good SQL skills to define measures and dimensions for faster query processes. On the contrary, Sisense and Tableau focus more on making your data accessible to even non-technical users. For example, a marketing specialist can connect their CRM to Sisense and mash up data to get insights about a product. You can think of Looker as a better fit for data analysts who are looking for a way to define metrics and find connections between data generated by your business.

As for Birst, it lacks the rich features of Sisense, Looker, and Tableau. Instead, Birst focuses on organizations with decentralized units. The BI solution uses a “shared analytic fabric” where local data can be mashed up with centralized data without compromising the latter’s integrity. Birst uses what it calls a unified semantic layer, which ensures definitions and key metrics are maintained wherever data is processed or accessed.

Lastly, QlikView has solid ETL infrastructure; you can use it without the need to integrate it into other systems. But this requires more scripting and debugging, which can weigh down general users. If you have a tech team, you can optimize QlikView’s data visualization, real-time collaboration and search capabilities.

Ease of Use

Tableau and Sisense are surprisingly user-friendly considering the depth of their features. Both can churn out data visuals with just a few clicks. Users can also discover insights while avoiding information overload.

Sisense, however, has a shorter learning curve. Many users reported that they were able to start generating their data visuals and prepare high-level reports soon after implementing the software. Tableau presents a more challenging initial learning curve. The vendor seems to anticipate this, however, that’s why it offers in-depth online tutorial videos. While they’re definitely helpful, it takes a degree of commitment to finish the tutorials.

Moreover, we like Sisense’s ability to unify data into drag-and-drop dashboards. You can easily see insights and share them with the rest of your team. These interactive dashboards capture real-time data to help you make data-driven decisions.

On the other hand, Looker’s cleaner UI allows for easier design and data manipulation. It also has drag-and-drop features like Sisense and Tableau while its end-to-end script-less UI allows users to quickly jump on board and start tinkering with the tools.

Birst, Domo, and Looker excel in surfacing data but in a more specific way. Domo excels in dashboarding and uses social media-inspired view cards; it is less complex but also less sophisticated compared to the other BI solutions.

Meantime, Birst is easiest to use as a scalable software. It has some quirks in naming elements, though. For instance, it refers to Dimensions–a standard term in BI–as Hierarchies. It’s a small thing but can suggest a lack of intuitiveness.

The most difficult to understand is QlikView. It requires advanced scripting knowledge to maximize its robust ETL.

Customization and Integration

Sisense and Domo are perhaps the best matches against Tableau in terms of customization and integration. Both provide access to APIs and a rich set of developer tools, so you can have more options and flexibility when connecting or enhancing your use of the software. Additionally, Domo lets developers share their customized apps in the Domo Appstore. For end-users, this means access to plenty of BI plugins that may match their scenario.

Meanwhile, Looker’s speed in connecting to various data storage platforms and surfacing real-time queries is notable. It may also have better integration than Tableau as far as SQL queries are concerned. What is more, Tableau has some issues connecting to Salesforce dataset.

Looker and Birst have standard APIs for third-party integration and customizable charts, graphs, and reports. Like Sisense and Looker, Birst has smooth integration with Salesforce.

Lastly, Qlikview prides itself as a standalone BI solution, which may be its weakness if you’re using a few legacy systems. On the other hand, the BI software’s scripts can be customized in great detail, lending to you plenty of data field options.

Mobile Support

Tableau’s mobile platform is a streamlined version of its desktop functionality. There’s also the inconvenience of logging out to switch from one site to another and its inability to auto-fill recurring logins.

Sisense and Domo, on the other hand, offer a more mobile-friendly environment. They both have  Android and iOS apps designed with native mobile gestures that make it easy to dive deep into your data even while on the go. This is a notable advantage for companies with a sizable remote workforce.

Looker, Birst, and QlikView are likewise accessible on Android and iPhone, but like Tableau, the functions are visibly streamlined. As for QlikView, it doesn’t automatically resize based on-screen display, which makes its mobile platform look a bit archaic.

Customer Support

All BI solutions enjoy high ratings for tech support, but some have a unique service that may fit your specific company priorities.

For example, Sisense has a designated CSM and Engagement Manager for each customer. You’ll also have direct access to technical support, training materials such as video tutorials, and other professional services. Their support team can also offer effective insights on how you can best leverage your data asset.

As for Tableau, it offers a robust support community with active forums. You can engage other users for best practices or reach out to company reps for tips. In some cases, fellow customers who have gone through the same situation as you’re stumped on now can provide a good solution to your problem.

Looker fields excellent tech support who proactively shares insights and feedback to customers on how to leverage data. More so, Looker collates user cases so you can emulate other users’ data optimization strategies.

Birst, meanwhile, boasts a robust self-service portal via forum or knowledge base, while QlikView covers all types of customer support—email, phone, tickets, training, and live chat. Finally, Domo’s customer support can handle general data analysis scenarios but may need more training or exposure to situational data requirements to address specific cases.

Pricing Plans

Only Tableau offers fixed plans and an entry price point of $500 per year. The software is offered in five plans: Desktop Personal Edition, Professional Edition, Server, Online and Public Premium. Having fixed plans to look at means prospects can easily estimate how this software fits their budget.

However, the nature of businesses using BI dynamics varies so greatly, that you want to get the best value for money based on your needs; hence, a price quotation like the Sisense and Looker model is often useful. They both offer flexible annual plans that scale to your needs and fixed rates for specific scenarios. Sisense, however, has a free trial plan that lets you test the software’s capabilities and see how it can add value to your organization.

Pricing for Birst and Domo is also by quote basis only so you have to reach out to them to get a personalized offer.

Meanwhile, QlikView offers four plans: Personal Edition, Enterprise Edition, Extranet Server, and Information Access Server. It also offers the QlikView Publisher, which is licensed on a per-server rate.

Sisense: Top Tableau Alternative

Comparing all the key considerations above, our experts chose Sisense as the top BI software if you’re looking for a Tableau alternative. It doesn’t only match up with key features and ease of use but also offers excellent mobile BI and analytics—something that’s crucial as more and more businesses step out from the confines of a traditional office.

Chris Miller

By Chris Miller

Chris Miller is a senior customer service analyst at FinancesOnline. For more than 5 years now, he has witnessed and written about the tremendous impact of digital technologies that have deeply disrupted the customer service industry. The onset of chatbots and other AI/ML tech, omnichannel platforms, highly personalized service, the emerging blockchain methodologies specially created a deep impact, all of which are reflected in his writing. His reviews of customer service applications serve as invaluable resources for businesses of any size and scale.

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