What are the differences between Power BI and Datazen?

datazen versus power bi

Ever since Microsoft announced that they acquired Datazen lots of people were not sure how Datazen fits into Microsoft BI and what the differences are between Datazen and Power BI as at first sight they seem to be similar tools.what the differences are between Datazen and Power

We from Agile BI researched and tested both tools. Here are our experiences:

Power BI:

Things that are good about Power BI:

+ Power BI offers a free option and a paid option with advantages such as being able to consume live data sources with full interactivity, access on-premises data using the Data Connectivity Gateways or collaborate with your team using Office 365 groups in Power BI.

+ The Power BI designer has a wide range of data sources to add such as Mailchimp or salesforce and they are about to release many more connectors in the coming months. The latest Data Connectors from July 2015 are appFigures, Quickbooks Online, Zendesk, Github, Twilio and SweetIQ.

+ Publish reports to PowerBI.com, directly from Power BI Desktop.

+ Power BI improved their report authoring with new visualisations such as Area Chart, Waterfall, Donut & Matrix. New visual formatting and customization options (labels, titles, background, legend, colours, etc.), insert Textbox and Picture in your report; Support for hyperlinks in reports and report tables; Undo/Redo actions.

+ PowerBI has a Question and Answer feature that can be very valuable for users who are not interested in diving into data sets, but who are looking for specific analytics, quickly.

+ The mashup data capability with the Power Query inside Excel or the Power BI Designer is a very important tool to search for data online or in your corporate data. Data can be imported to an Excel table. It is also possible to merge data replace values and other data modifications in a step-by-step process and rename columns. Also possible is the import of data to Power Pivot to work even more intense with your data.

+ Power BI Desktop provides you the safety that fields are correctly geocoded by setting the data category on the data fields. In Power BI Desktop, select the desired table, go to the Advanced ribbon and then set the Data Category to Address, City, Continent, Country/Region, Country, Postal Code, State or Province.  These data categories help Bing to correctly encode the date.

+ It is easy to share Dashboards and KPIs with each other. A tool that can be a big advantage regarding sharing things with each other no matter where you are.

+ Power BI offers an app for iOS, Windows and Android. This makes it possible to check your data everywhere, even on the plane to Sydney.

+ Power BI is available in 42 languages, which makes it working with companies overseas much easier and understandable.

+ Power BI developers are not sleeping and release almost daily new helpful features and corporations. Find the latest news here.

+ Power Bi offers a Microsoft support site. You can get help either from the community, blogs, documents or partner companies as we are. There is even a feedback opportunity.


Things that could be better about Power BI

- Power BI has limited visualisation for forecasting and statistical analysis.

- There seem to be some limitations in regards to being able to change credentials on a saved report.

- After our test Power BI was very slow when connecting to tabular SSAS cubes with over 50k rows.  When putting a filter against that dataset, it takes a long time to display.

- Also there is no ability to edit/alias the field names of SSAS tabular cubes like it is possible in Power Pivot.

- There are no horizontal slicers.

- Power BI could be more user friendly.

- We wish that Microsoft Power BI was more easily accessible. As it is now, it requires either Excel 2010 (free download), or an enterprise version of Excel 2013 (for either Professional Plus or 365)- unless you are willing to purchase a standalone version of Excel 2013. Even if there is added cost, Power BI should be made available to non-commercial users within a standard downloadable Office suite or within Office 365.

- An enhanced drag-drop like in Tableau would be an advantage.


Microsoft Datazen:

Things that are good about Datazen:

+ Power BI requires more technical skills to handle it, while Datazen is a tool that focused mainly on visualisations only which can make connecting to your data and creating a dashboard very easy, especially for people that want to have less technical effort.

+ Datazen publisher is for free. It is possible to download it from the Windows store and use local Excel files to create dashboards right away. But for sharing those dashboards or get data from your databases or other sources, access to a Datazen server is required.

+ Datazen is a mobile BI solution for customers who need a solution that is implemented on-premises and optimized for SQL Server. Data is routed through an on premise Datazen Server.

+ Datazen offers Native Apps for All Platforms and gives you offline access to your dashboard for all apps.

+ With Datazen it is easier to see straight away what the dashboard is going to look like. You can make the decision which charts, graphs or KPIs you want to see.

+ Custom shape files are handled easily and have a variety of built in maps.

+ If you own a SQL Server Enterprise license and software assurance Datazen Server is free of charge. Datazen publisher and viewer apps are also for free.

+ Datazen allows you to put your branding on top of your dashboards.

+ It is easy and very quick to create really nice Dashboards, but there are some limitations. See below cons of Datazen.

+ Team Collaboration with Datazen is possible as each Datazen KPI and dashboard includes a dedicated activity stream. Comments are ordered chronologically and contain context information, such as the value of the KPI at the moment when the comment was made.

+ If you want to refresh your data on a schedule there is an option for this.


Things that could be better about Datazen:

- Compared to the Power BI help tools on the internet via community or forum, Datazen offers almost no help online. It is hard to find information when you need help. Although here are some links where you possibly can find help. Datazen Support BlogMicrosoft Blog, Datazen website or Power Pivot Pro website.

- A small range of charts are offered by Datazen. Stacked bar is missing and line charts are limited. The colours of the charts and descriptions are hard to control, sometimes the ability toconfigure is simply missing.

- A scroll bar is missing at the data view, making it hard to use if there is lots of fields.

- Datazen is not a data discovery tool like Qlik or Tableau, it is focused on visualisation so you need to have your data organized in order to get the full effect or rely on what’s already in the data sources.

- The cross platform behavior isn't always great as it didn’t work consistently between Windows, iOS and Android when we tested it.

- A Datazen Server is required to get data from other sources than local Excel files because almost every data source, except for local excel files has to be routed through Datazen Server. Here is some technical effort needed, when you have to produce a custom query for every data set that you want to expose to the users.

- The Datazen Publisher app is available for Windows 7 since the 9th of July 2015, but runs on Windows 7 very unstable and is not recommended. We recommend to run the Publisher app on Windows 8.


Our hints for users: Datazen is the easy to handle tool for less technical users that want to create easily nice dashboards and share them, especially for mobile users. But if you want to build your own data models or use your technical skills to sort data and fill it into the program, Power BI is the right choice. What Datazen definitely is missing is the big online community that Power BI has. This can either be because Microsoft focuses more on Power BI or not enough people are using Datazen yet to build such as community.

Check out how one of our customers, a leading vehicle manufacturer implemented Datazen successfully.

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