Whaly's self-service BI platform is an alternative to Power BI. Here's what we've gathered around the pros and cons of both, to help you evaluate the BI tools on the market.
Initially released in 2011, Power BI is a business intelligence platform that was developed by Microsoft, and sits under the Microsoft Power Platform. Power BI is the umbrella name for various software apps and services that work together to help companies create interactive visualizations from multiple data sources, turning them into coherent insights.
Whaly is an integrated, self-service business intelligence platform that enables business teams and data teams to work better together - streamlining the path from data to decisions. Our mission is to grow data adoption and company-wide trust in data by empowering business teams to access and analyze data, whenever and however they need it. Whaly includes data connectors, modeling, and visualization all in one.
Power BI is a solid choice for companies that use the Windows, Office, and Azure ecosystem. While the Microsoft “seal of approval” adds a layer of credibility, there are some downsides to being locked into this tech giant. There’s a requirement that data gets loaded into Azure, and the platform is only available for download on Windows, which can be frustrating and limiting for those who favor Mac. Unsurprisingly with Microsoft, Power BI is an entire suite of interrelated tools, comprising of Gateways, Power BI Report Server, and more - which means you may need to master several tools in order to take full advantage.
Speaking of learning curve, Power BI caters to Microsoft Excel power users, which means these are the people who will benefit the most. Most end business users (data consumers) who haven’t mastered Excel may find it difficult to use, and not as user-friendly. This could pose an adoption issue across the company, with different interpretations to whether it’s truly “self-service” for business teams.
Power BI is relatively affordable compared to Looker or Tableau. It has a free version for those who want to build individual reports and perform analysis independently - which is a plus if you work on your own. The paid option begins when the need for collaboration across an organization arises. The various tiers provide for flexibility, however, beware of hidden costs around implementation, training, maintenance, and adoption. It gets pricey at the enterprise level, which makes Whaly a better option if you’re a fast-scaling company.
Other reported watch-outs for Power BI is load time for larger data sets, and sharing capabilities which are limited even in the paid version.
All in all, Power BI is well-suited to larger enterprises who are already in the Microsoft ecosystem (and if they can foot the Premium bill) - just watch out for the load time of larger data sets. Whaly’s speed, fast implementation, customer support, and higher flexibility makes it a better fit for companies that are earlier in their data journey.
|Availability||Windows only - not available for Mac||Windows and Mac|
|Pricing||- Power BI Free / Desktop: Free (basic, limited features for SMB owners and individual professionals)
- Power BI Pro: Included with Microsoft 365 E5. $13.70 per user/month. Paid viewer licenses.
- Power BI Premium(for Enterprise): per-user or per-capacity options. $27.50 per user/month. $6,900 per capacity/month. Paid viewer licenses.
Beware of hidden costs around implementation maintenance, training, and adoption.
|Mix of usage-based and user-based; viewers are always free. Whaly also has flexible plans that start at $460/month. Implementation is included, along with 1 training session.|
|Learning curve||- Steep at the beginning - approx. 2 months of learning
- Lots of online resources to help due to large user base and community, but not much guidance from Microsoft
- Data Analysis Expressions (DAX) is the programming language that’s required to model in Power BI, which can be hard to grasp
- Its excel-like features and formulas make it easier to learn if you’re an Excel power user or familiar with other Microsoft products.
- May need to learn other interrelated tools on need basis.
|A couple weeks of learning
Easy - all SQL-based with visual builder option. Easily accessible for business users with no technical expertise.
|Average roll-out time||Several months minimum, depending on size of company and scale of project||1 to 3 weeks|
|Data connectors (ETL)||Yes, via ETL tool called Power Query Editor.||Included|
|Integrations||Connects to 116 data sources||Native integration with dbt.
Connects with 150+ sources.
|Speed / Performance||Slow with large amounts of data. Load time could take up to several minutes due to heavy processing power. Publishing reports is also time-consuming.||Fastest speed/performance on the market built on latest technology|
|Interface||Web interface to a service hosted on Azure, and a Power BI Desktop application for the Windows desktop||In-browser; no desktop install or specific requirements.|
|Software updates||Monthly updates that need to be made manually (not automatic), which can be time-consuming and frustrating.||Whaly automatically updates all customer deployments at all times and makes sure nothing is broken and no one is left behind.|
|User permission management||Yes||Yes|
|Self-service||Yes, for consumption. Limited self-service capabilities for configuration, with DAX requirements.||Self-service for modeling (data-savvy), exploration, and consumption. Configuration requires a main builder with SQL knowledge.|
|Modeling layer||Yes, but in a separate app. Power Pivot is the modeling tool for creating data models||SQL-based or visual builder. No proprietary language to learn. Drag & drop is available for non-technical users.|
|Visualization for business teams||Standard visualization capabilities. Customization is limited||Comprehensive capabilities and customization|
|Limitations||2GB of data for free version; 10GB for Pro; 50GB for Premium||Data ingestion is calculated on processing time. First plan starts at 12h / month|
|Export / Share / Embed||No share options in Free version. In Pro, you have the option to share with other users who also have the Pro license. Limited export options to get data into the right format for a recipient. Premium account is required to share information outside the organization.
Custom visuals cannot be exported.
|Whaly’s “push” feature allows reporting to be pushed out to your preferred channels (Slack, Email). Dashboards can be embedded into wherever you already work (HubSpot, etc). With Whaly, it’s free to share data out.|
|Customer support||Varies based on tier. Strong for Premium, but otherwise lacking with long waits in the ticketing system. No real-time support.||Highly reactive with SLAs in place; quick problem-solving team. Partnership-minded team that learns from customers and implements based on real needs.|
In summary, Power BI has various pricing tiers that includes a (limited) free version, but can get expensive and complex as the need to collaborate arises. It also locks into Windows and works best with a full Microsoft ecosystem, favoring Excel power users. Slowness and lack of sharing abilities may also impact speed to business insight and prevent data adoption across the company. Whaly is lighter, faster, and overall cheaper for a fast-scaling company.
To learn more about Whaly, get in touch!