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Tableau vs Qlikview

In a previous post I wrote a short article about the pro’s and con’s of Tableau, Xcelsius and SSRS. These products aren’t really comparable as they should be used for different styles of reporting. Someone recently commented to me that these aren’t comparable products so how would Tableau compare to one it’s major competitors, Qlikview. I’ve never used Qlikview but I was curious. I found this site which goes a long way to answering the question: http://www.quora.com/What-data-visualization-software-is-better-Tableau-or-QlikView

Edit: I’ve now spent some time using Qlikview and I do think it’s a nice product. I’m far from experienced with the product but my impression is that the reporting capabilities of it are very strong. The filtering and Excel integration is better than with Tableau, although not as visually appealing. It’s also not as easy to use as Tableau – where it’s possible to load data and produce a visualisation in a few minutes using Tableau with QV more time and planning is required.

Tableau links to multiple data sources, Excel, text files, databases, etc. at the click of a button. If the back end data is structured in a flat file it’s very easy to get started – although this is a big IF as often then data you’re working with isn’t ideally laid out without some tweaking. In fairness this applies to all software – for example to even use a pivot table within Excel the data needs to be laid out correctly – an if the data is laid out correctly for a pivot table it’ll also work nicely with Tableau. Without some basic technical skills and a simple understanding of databases I think Qlikview would be a struggle to begin with as there’s definitely a need for reasonable technical knowledge to use the product. It’s not so simple to load the data into it, this is a semi programmatic step and isn’t super fast, which is one of the major differences to Tableau.

With Tableau it’s easily possible to produce good visualisations without really knowing what you want to see at the beginning of development as it’s so easy to move components, alter the chart type and build filters. With QV I think you need a fairly good idea of what you want to produce before starting to build the report as it takes far longer to build the different components of the report than Tableau.

From an analysis tool perspective Tableau is far more powerful than QV, that’s not really a contest. For reporting it’s close – QV can produce better reports but it takes more skill and time to develop than with Tableau.

The Excel integration is a definite positive for QV as users are generally very comfortable with Excel, regardless of whether that’s a positive or negative thing.

Personally I use Tableau over Qlikview but due to the nature of my work I need to produce dashboards/reports very quickly and never know the data source I’m dealing with until I meet my clients. This would be unworkable with QV as it would take too long to get the data into the software to meet deadlines.

If you’re working in a more structured environment with relatively generous deadlines, supported by a good technical team then QV could be the correct product for you as it’s slightly stronger for reporting.

To summarise as an all round product I would choose Tableau over QV but if you want to have a software for reporting only then QV could be the better choice.

Categories: Tableau Tags: ,
  1. March 29th, 2012 at 21:22 | #1

    Interesting comparison. Tableau is fairly easy to use out of the box; the Public version is a good example of that. It seemed like there was a little more overall functionality with importing data with QV, but a little more complexity overall.

  2. Jon Smith
    May 22nd, 2012 at 15:00 | #2

    This is a misleading article in that it attempts to compare two products that are unique in the data discovery market space. Tableau is excellent for visualizing pre-built data marts or data that is already (for the most part) cleansed and organized. QlikView, on the other hand, has ETL-like capabilities to model data, embed business rules and visualize the data. Really, this article is comparing apples to oranges. Each tool has its own strengths and gaps. Weaknesses in Tableau are its limited expression building, modeling and buiness rules engine. It will not handle the volume of data that QlikView is able to. QlikView, is not as “pretty” and will not suggest which chart to use based on your data types selected. Tableau has out-of-the-box mapping (albeit very limited). There are many other niceties each has – but truly – comparing one tool to another is shallow in this article. Depending on your user community, your needs and frankly – your spending budget will determine which tool is right for you.

    • awatson
      May 22nd, 2012 at 16:46 | #3

      Thanks for the comment Jon. I don’t entirely agree with what you say but it’s good to get different points of view out there. Both products are competing for the same market so are appropriate to compare. Tableau can handle huge volumes data, the Tableau data engine is actually a columnar database which is super fast for many millions, perhaps billions of rows of data. Ultimately, like you say, your choice depends on user needs, your budget and I would like to add the technical skills of your in-house report development team as Tableau is much easier to use for the non techie.

  3. Charles Gu
    July 12th, 2012 at 01:26 | #4

    Very interesting comparison of Tableau and QlikView. One difference I noticed is that Tableau is graph rich while QlikView data rich. I may be wrong as I just started learning Tableau.

  4. Hari
    March 1st, 2013 at 05:37 | #5

    Awatson. I agree to Jon. Tableau is for Novice management. Can i write extensive scripts like qlikview ? Answer is NO. Can i cleanse data ? No. Can i do ETL works. NO.

    Visualization is good. But comparing against very well mature product which is so good in scripting and extensions and 3rd party integration is not possible.

  5. August 29th, 2013 at 08:52 | #6

    We started with trying to learn Qlikview with the help of an expert and were floored by the complexity of learning scripting, building complex coding for timeline functionality etc. With Tableau we starting getting BI done in less than a week without any expert help. Therefore if you are looking at getting results fast with very little outlay on services than it has to be Tableau but if you are looking at spending a ton of money on services and waiting for a long period to see the results which are not substantially better than it has to be Qlikview.

  1. November 26th, 2011 at 11:22 | #1
  2. March 7th, 2012 at 22:12 | #2