Outstanding data preparation – The cutting edge of Business Intelligence 2023

Business intelligence and business intelligence tools have increasingly gained significance in recent years. At the core of this concept is the processing of lots of data in a way that provides valuable insight into a company’s situation to forecast the future development of the business. As only those who are aware of where a business stands today can steer it in the desired direction in the future. To do this challenge justice, many providers have developed solutions that offer the same core functionalities, with key differences being found at a closer look. In this article, we’ll introduce three currently leading tools for business intelligence according to the Gartner Magic Quadrant 2023.


The fundamental principle of every BI tool is essentially the same: processing a vast amount of data in a compact and user-friendly manner. However, each tool has its own “sweet spot”. One tool may excel at quickly and efficiently preparing data, while another may produce visually stunning visualizations, yet another may be incredibly easy to learn and to use. Naturally, there are overlaps between these strengths and “all-in-one” solutions that cover several areas, but B2B decision-makers should know this fact when evaluating and choosing a tool.

The 3 leading BI solutions on the market

Get your data analysis to the next level with the number one solution – Microsoft’s Power BI

The leading solution currently and for the past few years by a large margin is Microsoft’s Power BI It is an end-to-end solution for data preparation, visualization, and analysis. It is available as a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) option in the Azure Cloud or as an on-premises solution on the Power BI Report Server.

The key advantage is the comparatively affordable entry license and the multitude of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) available for data retrieval. This allows for a quick start with the solution, further reinforced by its intuitive usability. Visualizations are placed and moved onto a canvas through drag-and-drop, which can then be filled with data as desired. This allows for creating customized dashboards that can be visually tailored to match the corporate identity (CI).

Furthermore, custom visuals can also be used, expanding the selection beyond the provided formats. Seamless integration with other Microsoft products is possible for those already operating within the Microsoft ecosystem. This includes data imports from Microsoft-owned sources to integration with the Microsoft Power Platform. The built models can also be automated, updated, exported, and enriched with AI for various requirements. Power BI is also getting more powerful with time, with Microsoft providing regular updates. Lastly, the active community offers assistance and support through various forums.

However, Power BI also comes with some challenges. Especially the integration with Microsoft products is a double-edged sword as connectedness comes with a certain level of dependency. This means that an integrated solution may cause issues if a potential switch to a different BI tool exists. Furthermore, while the tool’s usability is intuitive up to a certain point, a deeper understanding of the underlying programming languages is essential for fully harnessing its capabilities. These languages are often required for precise data representation and meeting individual requirements. Additionally, the license structure can be somewhat complex, leading to a moderate initial cost but a significant increase in expenses as the project progresses.

Power BI is recommended for various companies, especially those already using Microsoft business applications such as Excel or ERP and CRM systems from the Dynamics 365 suite. It is also suitable for companies with existing enterprise agreements, as the base license is usually included, and for companies with clearly defined use cases where substantial new requirements are not expected over time.

Tableau – Impressive dashboards and reports without programming skills

Another well-known solution is Tableau,whose eponymous development company was acquired by Salesforce in 2019. Tableau’s focus lies in highly appealing data visualization. It also offers self-service authoring capabilities. Tableau is available on various devices, including desktop, server/on-premise, and cloud versions, as well as a mobile app for tablets and smartphones. According to the Gartner Magic Quadrant for 2023, Tableau currently holds the number 2 position in the market.

The solution convinces through its clean working environment and the wide range of available data sources. Unlike Power BI, Tableau does not require programming skills, as its visualizations can be created without underlying programming languages. As mentioned earlier, visualization is the tool’s absolute strength. “Thanks to the versatile visualization and formatting options, very appealing dashboards and reports/stories with logos and other extras can be created,” writes Heyde, an IT consultancy specializing in system integration in data analytics and forecasting. Tooltips for each area of the tool provide support to users. The tool is further enhanced by a strong brand presence with Tableau Public and an active community similar to Power BI’s.

However, like any tool, some weaknesses should be considered in the decision-making process. One very obvious point is the relatively high license costs, making the tool less suitable as an entry-level solution. Each role requires a license, from creator to viewer, with pricing variations. Additionally, despite past improvements, the security concept of the tool is still inferior, specifically regarding role management. Furthermore, the tool tends to consume relatively high resources, which can result in high server costs or slow response times. It also has some weaknesses in data modeling and processing.

Tableau is recommended for companies that already utilize an Extract, Transform, Load (ETL) tool or perform data warehousing and are interested in particularly appealing, visually stunning reports. Therefore, Tableau is less recommended for beginners, as it is not an entry-level solution, especially from a financial perspective. Of course, the company’s specific requirements must also be considered when deciding for or against the tool.

Qlik – The intuitive, all-in-one solution for data analysis and visualization

Ranked number 3 among the current top solutions is Qlik, which is less well-known than the previously discussed tools. The company was founded in Sweden in 1993 and has since relocated its headquarters to the United States, serving 50,000 customers worldwide.

The company’s two core products in the field of BI are QlikView and Qlik Sense: QlikView is the older product, while Qlik Sense is the more recent version. The manufacturer is actively encouraging QlikView users to migrate to Qlik Sense, which will be the main focus of future sales. However, it is still possible to use QlikView. Qlik Sense is not intended to replace QlikView; rather, the two products can be seen as different user interfaces of the same software. One important difference lies in the usability of the products: QlikView requires developing skills, whereas Qlik Sense does not require such expertise. In short, Qlik Sense can be described as an integrated end-to-end platform for self-service BI that can handle large data volumes and complex data transformation projects.

The advantages of Qlik Sense include its user-friendly interface and user experience. It does not use any programming language, such as SQL, for manipulating data but rather an interactive interface, allowing users to connect data elements by dragging and dropping. Additionally, the tool creates appealing visualizations that adapt to specific data areas with a click, making it intuitive to explore and interpret data. All created dashboards are responsive and adapt to the device being used. The specialized engine of Qlik Sense enables fast response times even with large data volumes. Furthermore, the tool stands out for its extensive connectivity, supported by numerous APIs for adding extra features or embedding it into other business applications. The tool’s benefits are complemented by an active user community and comprehensive training offerings by the manufacturer.

Difficulties may arise during the initial setup, as technical knowledge is required for this step. Similar to Tableau, while Qlik is more affordable, it is still comparatively expensive for small and medium-sized enterprises, as are the training costs associated with the tool. Although QlikView can still be used, QlikView customers are encouraged to migrate to Qlik Sense, and this step might be unavoidable in the future.

The tool is recommended for SMEs and large companies seeking a scalable and comprehensive all-in-one solution. Qlik Sense has a modern architecture, well-implemented data privacy features, and analytics components that can be easily integrated into existing systems.

Individual needs rather than insider tips

The conclusion: There is no one-size-fits-all guide for choosing a BI tool. The ideal choice depends on your individual goals and requirements – both in terms of the system and the costs. However, the standout features of each tool can be summarized as follows:


assistant finance & controlling


Gartner: Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms.

Heyde: BI-Tools im Vergleich. Was können moderne BI-Tools – und was sollte *IHR* Tool können?

Datapine: Business Intelligence Software. Ein aktueller Vergleich von BI Tools, Lösungen & Plattformen

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