Self-service business analytics solutions are the new top focus when it comes to enterprise-grade data analytics solutions and BI platforms - and two of the undisputed leaders in the growing space are Qlikview and Power BI.
Xello’s lead business intelligence consultant Hunter Shen has extensive hands-on experience with both Qlikview and Power BI. In this article, he shares the pro’s and con’s of each business analytics solution from both a technical and high-level perspective as a user, to help you decide which suits your use case and which can drive your desired outcome best.
Be sure to bookmark this page for the latest news and updates to each service - and keep up-to-date with the latest differences using our embedded dynamic dashboard comparison.
Qlikview vs Power BI: Top BI & Analytics Solutions Leaders 2019
First thing's first: Why so much attention on Qlikview and Power BI over other enterprise BI platforms?
For starters, the 2019 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms list both Qlikview (as part of the wider Qlik platform) and Microsoft Power BI as two of the four market leaders out today.
The world’s leading research firm classifies the ideal BI solution as one that’s easy-to-use and can support the entire analytic workflow - that’s data preparation, ingestion, visualisation and insight generation - and both Qlikview and Power BI fulfil this end-to-end.
Forrester has also placed Microsoft Power BI as a leader in The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise BI Platforms (Vendor-Managed), Q3 2019, tied for the highest score in strategy and market presence.
Both popular business intelligence platforms have earned many other well-deserved accolades and industry recognition for bringing analytics to a level regular business users can understand and leverage.
So, what about their differences?
Qlikview vs Power BI: Key differences
An example dashboard generated in Power BI.
Make no mistake - both Qlikview and Power BI are two of the best self-service business analytics tool sets currently available for enterprises, each with their own special advantages.
Maturity: Qlikview launched in 1993 and has had over two decades to evolve its capabilities and build a loyal following. Power BI is the newer kid on the block, having launched in 2013 initially as an Excel Power Pivot V.2 add-on. However, Microsoft has released a considerable number of updates and feature upgrades that has seen the service easily rival its older competition. Both Qlikview and Power BI use similar back-end analytics engines to power their services. Power BI uses the same backend engine as Tabular SQL Server Analysis Service, which has been around since the early 2000s. Therefore, the core of Power BI is very mature already.
Data Workflow: For advanced and regular users, Power BI holds the advantage when it comes to big data integration, using its a wide range of native connectors to Microsoft Azure services (real-time streaming, analysis services, Hadoop, Spark) and third-party apps. However, Qlik are still far ahead in the data visualisation space, with richer options to bring our data to life and make reports interactive. They are also expanding into big data & AI.
Accessibility and UI: Qlikview is more suited for data scientists or developers, owing to its deeper learning curve and features. It provides highly configurable and flexible UI configurations that make it easy for analysts to personalise their setup to how they best operate. Meanwhile, Power BI is an easier tool to use in general with a lot of UI-based, visual functionalities. However, Power BI is catching up with Qlik via its continuous weekly and monthly updates.
End-to-end data analysis: Qlikview has its own in-built ecosystem for end-to-end BI development, from ETL > Data modelling > Data visualisations. In comparison, it is usually recommended to use Power BI with other ETL & data modelling tools and services such as Azure Data Factory, SSIS and SSAS when it comes to enterprise level BI solutions. It’s not a deal breaker by any means, as the many tools of Azure Data Services are well integrated with Power BI and useful, but if you’re conscious about how many services used, Qlik wins here.
Licensing and cost: Qlikview is a more premium, mature BI product that can charge up to roughly $1,000 or more per annual user for the whole BI stack, whereas Power BI Pro is roughly $150 per annual user. Qlikview provides more flexibility in reporting administration such as data refresh frequencies and loading options. A Power BI Pro license has limitations which might require business to upgrade to the premium version, meaning more expenses and investment. More importantly, Qlikview allows enterprise BI customers to do end-to-end BI, whereas Power BI would need to work with other layers of other data tools that will require additional charges.
Qlikview vs Power BI: Data Source Connection
Both Qlikview and Power BI can work within a great range of data sources, from structured to semi-structured data.
However, Microsoft has done an excellent job of integrating Power BI with other technology platforms, so much so that it gives Power BI slightly more advantage over the more mature Qlikview platform when it comes to big data integration.
Power BI ODBC connectors allow users to connect most of the popular NoSQL (Non-relational) databases, whereas Qlikview has slightly less in this regard. Qlik makes up for this lack of connectors with its compatibility with all Google services and also provides a wide range of external data sources in the Qlik Data Market.
Streaming data is probably the only space I cannot find a solid solution in Qlikview, whereas Power BI works with powerful streaming services like Azure Stream analytics - mostly owing to the advantage Power BI has being part of the broader Microsoft Azure cloud platform and its multitude of Azure Data Services, something Qlik cannot match.
Winner: Power BI
Qlikview vs Power BI: ETL & Data Preparation
When it comes to data preparation, Qlikview has a very solid in-built tool for ETL handling using the in-memory fast scripting engine. The Qlikview ETL process is very much similar to a data warehousing solution; recommended best practice is to extract source data in as is into QVDs files, which is a compressed in-memory data storage unique to Qlik technologies.
You then transform the extracted QVDs files and generate transformed QVDs files. Those transformed QVDs will then be able to be consumed by the UI Qlikview file. Complex ETL incremental loading/slowing changing dimension techniques can be applied within Qlikview script to track changes in historical dataset.
Qlikview scripting has very similar functionalities to SQL scripting when it comes to data transformation, and you can also run SQL script on SQL tables within Qlkview ETL scripting.
Being able to handle complex ETL logics enables advanced business analytics without too much IT support in setting up ETL and data warehouses. Whilst Qlikview is very powerful when it comes to ETL, it is worth noting that Qlikview doesn’t provide a visual ETL work flowchart for orchestration purposes like SSIS or Azure Data Factory. That is because Qlikview uses scripting language to implement its ETL process and debugging is script based.
Power BI has focused its main attention on being the best self service BI tool for regular business analysts that aren’t necessarily coding geniuses or data scientists, but it is also great for advanced users as well. It provides non-coding based ETL tools within Power BI Desktop and service. Its Power Query is a non-coding based ETL tool within the desktop that allows users to do useful data transformation such as different types of SQL joins, SQL unions, conditional calculated columns and so on.
Data Flow within Power BI is very similar to Power Query’s non-coding ETL tools; the key difference is that it lives within the Power BI service. That means that the same ETL model that one user built for some of the common source datasets can be shared among another report analysts - a very useful benefit. Having said that, GUI can only get you to a certain point, when it comes to complex (slowly changing dimensions as an example) and large volume ETL tasks; one would need to use specific ETL tools such as SSIS or Azure Data Factory to do the job.
Qlikview vs Power BI: Data Visualisation
Qlikview is still very much ahead in the data visualisation space compared to Power BI.
Qlikview has a highly-configurable and flexible interface which allows developers to build a highly-sophisticated, dynamic and user-friendly custom reporting interface with variables, formulas, actions and buttons. That is because you can program anything within Qlikview UI such as changing colours dynamically to the top 5 vendors in the table based on user filter selection. Obviously it means deeper learning curve, but if your business has advanced analytics users on-hand, Qlikview is a very powerful platform for richly visualised reporting.
On the other hand, Power BI natively supports more of a drag and drop based UI configuration, making it better suited for regular business analysts and those without a programming background. It is incredibly intuitive for advanced users as well; anything that requires more than a pivot table and aggregation would require you to do lots of work-arounds, and the time saved thanks to its streamlined UI is valuable and cannot be understated.
For example, a menu navigation is really convoluted to build. In Power BI, all it takes is “Ctrl+click” rather than just a click to get to the menu page On top of the out-of-the-box visualisations, both tools work with custom visuals. Power BI wins in this regard with its easier integration with open source visuals and R visuals.
Nevertheless, custom visuals are only a small part of the UI design, and in my opinion Qlikview is still more ahead in delivering more advanced and user-friendly dashboards - for now.
Qlikview vs Power BI: Deployment & Development Best Practices
From an architectural viewpoint, Qlikview can handle deployment end-to-end in the BI spectrum, and it can also work with existing data warehouse solutions. Quite a lot of organisations use Qlikview as data marts to generate reports instead of having a data warehousing layer.
On the flip-side, Power BI should be used as a good visualisation and distribution tool in the BI architect space, as recommended practice from Microsoft direct.
Both tools fit specific use cases, but in terms of support for the entire analytics workflow being within one tool, Qlikview edges out Power BI.
Qlikview vs Power BI: Mobility & Sharing
Qlikview requires a large screen to consume reports, and places its main focus on the desktop experience. Qlikview doesn’t facilitate/support for report consumers to build their own visuals.
Power BI was designed with a strong focus for mobile and tablets devices powered by cloud services. Power BI has its own mobile app (Power BI Mobile) and when you design a Power BI report, you can choose to design from the mobile view as well. Power BI makes it very easy to create and share visuals based on underlying datasets for collaboration purposes.
Winner: Power BI
Qlikview vs Power BI: Authentication & Security
Both Power BI & Qlikview are highly secure business analytics platforms.
Both services will integrate with an organisation’s Active Directory and can use integrated security to authenticate users. For example, if you author reports to you external customers and want to restrict what users can see based on their organisations.
In Power BI, one can create Row Level Security, while Qlikview features Section Access Control based on user login and email.
After extensive experience with both programs, I’m inclined to say they both satisfy on the security front.
Qlikview vs Power BI: Which BI tool should I pick?
Better reporting capabilities, visual-based data exploration and more actionable insights - if your business wants to derive this sort of value from your data, you must first start with a proper assessment of your current environment to build a analytics strategy tailored around your goals.
There are a number of factors that need to be addressed before your enterprise can successfully adopt either Qlikview or Power BI - this is where specialist data analytics partners like Xello can help, fitting the best tool to your current maturity, key drivers. and objectives.
To help in your journey towards adopting self-service BI, grab our free-to-download whitepaper to learn the 4 best practices you must follow for successful business intelligence.