Microsoft Power BI is a business analytics service from Microsoft and is one of the most popular and commonly used business intelligence (BI) tools. Allowing users to turn data into comprehensive, easy-to-understand visuals, many companies use Power BI to turn the mountains of data most businesses accumulate into actionable intelligence.
Top Reasons Businesses Are Looking To Replace Power BI
While there are certainly a number of advantages to Power BI, the truth is that many users turn to it simply because it is Microsoft.
It feels like a natural fit with their existing Microsoft infrastructure, and it seems Power BI would be a natural progression for Excel users. Power BI is often likened to “Microsoft Excel on steroids,” but it also involves learning a programming language called DAX (data analysis expressions). This alone may make it too much for the average user, and users have told us they found themselves spending more time learning to use the BI tool than they did getting the results and applying them toward their businesses.
Another disadvantage for many users is the cloud-based architecture. Power BI requires syncing with Microsoft Azure cloud, and the on-premise option requires dealing with a number of moving parts, including Power BI Gateway installs, and desktop and mobile apps. Unless your IT team is extremely well-versed in Microsoft technologies it can be overwhelming and costly to IT departments that are often already overworked.
The cost of Power BI can also be prohibitive. At $9.99 a month it seems reasonable, but at a per-user cost, users may find they are paying $2,000 a month for a team of 200. The per-user cost might be reasonable for small teams, but larger groups may find themselves jumping through hoops deciding who will use the free desktop tool versus the paid version. As with many types of software, a single-price option may be more appealing and cost-effective than a per-user, subscription model.
One factor that is both an advantage and a disadvantage is simple: It’s Microsoft. Microsoft is a respected, well-known name with a large number of users, which means a simple Google search can uncover countless resources, tech articles and self-help forums for assistance. However, it can be difficult to interact with actual Microsoft technical support unless you have a paid (expensive) support contract. This means that if you really need help achieving goals using dashboards and reports, it can be almost impossible to do without hiring an expensive Microsoft consulting firm — cost-prohibitive for many smaller and midsized businesses.
These downsides to Microsoft products may have many companies seeking a Power BI alternative and asking, is it possible to replace Power BI? Who are some of the Power BI competitors? Here we look at a few.
Top 5 + 1 Alternatives to Microsoft Power BI
Recently purchased by Google for $2.6 billion, Looker is now under the Google Cloud umbrella. Offering its own modeling language, LookML, Looker can be more challenging to learn than some other tools in the space, and with a number of advanced integration options, it can be a bit clunky and difficult to use for someone with no experience. With the Google acquisition so recently closed, it remains to be seen what pricing will look like and how it may develop. Google has stated, though, it will continue to allow Looker customers to choose any cloud data management system and not be restricted to Google Cloud.
2. Zoho Analytics
Previously known as Zoho Reports, Zoho Analytics is a self-service BI software that allows users to gather data from a wide range of sources and create reports and dashboards with a drag-and-drop interface. It is a full-featured software that runs on numerous platforms, and it includes a number of built-in reports that can be embedded across a number of platforms. It offers a subscription-based pricing structure that can get fairly expensive at its Enterprise level.
3. Pyramid Analytics
Pyramid Analytics is an enterprise-grade program that weaves machine learning into the platform, rather than relying on standalone software for advanced analytics. It is platform-agnostic, self-service, and easily scalable. In-place analytics allows for more flexible processing, and it can be deployed locally, on a server or in the cloud. Like most others on this list, it is available via a subscription-based pricing model, with different levels of users as well as different support plans.
Dundas is an enterprise-level business intelligence and data analytics platform that touts its customization as a major differentiator, allowing administrators to scale the process to the needs of their organizations. Its open platform allows it to be embedded into existing systems, making it extremely flexible. Dundas can be deployed on-premise or in the cloud, and its license pricing model is also scalable, with different options including a concurrent license that can be shared between users and a named license, assigned to a single user. Dundas does not list pricing upfront, requiring users to contact the company for a quote.
Chartio specializes in focusing on the data that really matters for your business rather than forcing you to sift through reports of irrelevant data. Chartio connects seamlessly with a number of databases like Google Analytics, Amazon Redshift, and Oracle. Chartio’s system Visual SQL allows you to drag and drop data to design dashboards without having any knowledge. You can layer your data and take snapshots at any point to make comparisons and projections. Like Dundas, it has an unusual pricing structure, and it requires potential users to request a quote.
Here are a few reasons we think DashboardFox is perfect for Power BI environments:
Simple Architecture. Once you get beyond the Power BI Desktop tool, anything that requires Power BI Server is going to hook into Microsoft Azure Cloud. If your data is already in the cloud, and you don’t mind the cost, you probably don’t mind syncing things up with Azure. But if your data is on-premise, in databases on your private network, now you have to install and configure Power BI Gateway and you’re getting into a lot of money parts and things that add up to operations and maintenance cost.
DashboardFox is simple and powerful.
It’s self-hosted, you install on your own server (either on-premise or in your private cloud), and unless you need scalability features, everything runs on 1 server with 1 application service to monitor. And upgrades to the latest version take about 15 seconds. DashboardFox keeps things simple not just for the end-users, but also for the admin team.
Affordable on Scale. The cost of Power BI is not great until you get in 2 specific environments. Those with a lot of users or those looking to white label and embed Power BI in their customer-facing applications.
DashboardFox is a one-time cost, not an annual subscription like many of the Power BI alternatives we mentioned above. Plus DashboardFox offers a concurrent user license, you are able to serve a lot of people for an affordable price. And if you are looking for white label, embedded dashboards and reports, our sister brand, Yurbi, is extremely cost-effective compared to Power BI embedded.
Personal Touch Support. With Microsoft you’re like a piece of sand in the ocean. Have a wish list of features, don’t expect them to be implemented anytime soon. Need support, depending on the level you pay for you’ll start at Tier 1 before a painful rise up to someone who can solve your issue. What if the issue isn’t product-related, call the consulting squad and pay expensive services fees.
DashboardFox is a small, bootstrapped company, and regardless of how big or small you are, you’re a big fish in our pond.
Our support team is like having a virtual member of your team and you’re most likely working directly with one of our developers who can solve an issue instantly. Need a feature? You drive our roadmap and we tend to put what you need at the top of our list and deliver it in 2-3 months’ timeframe.
Why Wouldn’t DashboardFox Be A Good Power BI Alternative?
We told you we were transparent, we told you the good above, here’s the bad and why in some cases we are not a fit as a replacement of Power BI.
Cloud/API Driven Reporting. DashboardFox is amazing when you connect it to a relational database. If your data is stored in Microsoft SQL, Oracle, Postgres, MySQL, or any other relational database, we shine. You can easily import data in Excel or CSV files as well. But if you are primarily reporting against cloud APIs from social media sites, Google Analytics, Salesforce, Quickbooks, etc, then Power BI is probably a good choice.
We could twist your arm and discuss how you’re better off pulling all that data into a local database for reporting, but if you’re happy with the way Power BI is doing it, we’re probably not going to improve things.
Power BI Is Free For You. Hard to beat free. Normally we see this for large companies that have a huge investment already made in Microsoft and as part of the enterprise agreement in place, they toss Power BI at no cost (but nothing is ever really free).
I’m not sure how you got this far in the article, but if this describes you, it probably means you have an entire IT shop built around Microsoft software and support and you have a training department that teaches Microsoft tools. Unless you just got really mad with Microsoft and are looking to dump it all, I don’t think DashboardFox is going to make sense in your environment.
Contact Us To Talk About Microsoft Power BI Replacement