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Looker vs Power BI: A Side-By-Side Comparison (2024)

Looker Studio and Power BI are among the biggest Business Intelligence (BI) platforms in the industry. But does that mean they're the best?

Looker vs Power BI: A Side-By-Side Comparison (2024)

Looker Studio and Power BI are among the biggest Business Intelligence (BI) platforms in the industry. 

But does that mean they're the best? If yes, which one should you go with?

In business, there's no such thing as a one-size-fits-all blueprint for success. You need to make decisions based on facts and hard data to attain progress consistently — ultimately leading to your goals.

This requires a top-tier BI platform for compiling, optimizing, analyzing, and visualizing your data. 

What is Looker Studio (formerly Google Data Studio)?

Looker Studio is a freemium data visualization tool that takes advantage of Google's vast third-party support to connect with over 900 data sources. This includes ecommerce platforms, CRM software, marketing analytics tools, and other data management systems. 

Looker Studio Highlights

Here are some of the highlights of Looker Studio: 

  • Usability features. First things first, Looker Studio includes features designed to make data management and visualization tasks beginner-friendly. It comes with a drag-and-drop interface, report templates, and a community-driven resource guide. 
  • Wide range of data connections. Looker Studio supports 24 Google connectors and around 900 partner connectors for third-party data sources. This includes tools for SEO, email marketing, Facebook ads management, CRM, and more. 
  • Multiple sharing options. With Looker Studio, you can share data reports via direct invitations, report links, and embed codes. You can also download an offline copy of your report as a PDF. 
  • Community visualizations. While still in beta, Looker Studio's "community visualizations" unlock the platform's versatility and extensibility. Some of the available visualizations include sunburst charts, star ratings, chord diagrams, histograms, and flight paths. 
  • Free version. Looker Studio's free version grants access to most of the platform's core data management and visualization features. However, using partner connectors to pull data from third-party sources will cost you.  

What is Power BI?

Power BI is an ecosystem of tools that help organizations reap the full benefits of data analysis. 

It comprises of three tools: the main Power BI service, Power BI Desktop, and the Power BI mobile app.

  • Power BI service — A cloud-based service that allows stakeholders and decision-makers to access, analyze, and interact with data reports. 
  • Power BI Desktop — Helps analysts create data models, create visualizations, and build reports for non-technical users.
  • Power BI mobile app — A free app that lets viewers check reports and interact with visualizations wherever they are. 

Although Power BI is in a different weight class, many consider it to be one of the best alternatives to Looker Studio. After all, it can do everything Looker Studio can do — but with more streamlined workflows and advanced features. 

Power BI Highlights

 The key advantages of Power BI are as follows: 

  • Advanced data security and privacy. With Power BI, you can utilize Microsoft 365 data loss prevention policies and sensitivity labels to protect sensitive information. For Power BI service users, connections are encrypted using Microsoft Entra ID in the Web Front End (WFE) cluster. 
  • Seamless integration with Microsoft products. As part of Microsoft 365, Power BI integrates natively with other products like Mail, OneDrive, and Excel. This is a huge plus for businesses that rely on the Microsoft ecosystem for day-to-day tasks. 
  • Instantly generate insights from raw data. Power BI's quick insights feature automatically generates data visualizations from your dataset with the power of Machine Learning (ML). Power BI service users can leverage this to distill raw data into actionable information — zero technical knowledge required.
  • Extract insights using natural language. Power BI's Q&A feature allows viewers to obtain readable information from reports by asking questions directly. This feature can be easily added by report creators or users with "Edit" permissions.
  • Deep customization and accessibility features. A lot of data visualization platforms put emphasis on in-depth customization tools, but gloss over the importance of accessibility features. With Power BI, accessibility tools like high contrast mode, screen reader, and keyboard navigation make data analysis a breeze for certain users. 

Comparing Power BI vs Looker Studio

Now that you're familiar with Looker Studio and Power BI, let's do a side-by-side comparison of both tools on five important factors: integrations, usability, reporting capabilities, pricing, and customer support. 

1. Data Integrations

In terms of data integrations, Looker Studio wins when looking at the sheer amount of supported integrations. 

Power BI may present you with various data source categories when setting up. But these categories mostly consist of integrations that you can also utilize with Looker Studio.

2. Ease of Use

Both Looker Studio and Power BI put usability near the top of their list of priorities. But in terms of data management and report building, Power BI has the edge for one very important reason.

Power BI offers more Quality of Life features that enable anyone to work with their organization's data — regardless of prior knowledge and experience in BI.

Some of Power BI's beginner-friendly features are:

  • Q&A tool
  • Quick Insights
  • Drag-and-drop data management and visualizations

To sum it up, Looker Studio keeps the Looker dashboard intuitive for end users. But Power BI includes more advanced tools that simplify data analysis workflows. 

3. Data analytics and reporting

Data visualizations are crucial to the data analysis process, and both Power BI and Looker Studio excel in this regard.

Each platform features a "What You See Is What You Get" (WYSIWYG) visualization editor that barely relies on any coding. As long as you already have the data you need, creating pie charts, scorecards, area charts, and pivot tables can be done in a matter of minutes.

However, Power BI is equipped with more advanced analytics tools like predictive analytics and clustering. 

Looker Studio's community visualizations may extend its reporting capabilities in due time. But, as of writing, their community-driven library largely consists of visualizations with very specific use cases. 

4. Pricing

When it comes to cost-effectiveness, the value of Looker Studio and Power BI depends on the data sources and analyses you intend to use. 

If you're working purely with Google products and would like to seamlessly share reports with colleagues, Looker Studio is a nice pickup. But if you plan to use third-party data, the price of each data connector will quickly stack up. 

For Looker Studio's platform edition pricing, you'll need to contact their sales team to get a quote. 

This brings us to Power BI, which also has a free version for personal use. If you need to share and collaborate on reports, you'll need to upgrade to Power BI Pro, which costs $10 per user per month. 

To get advanced features like datamarts, dataflows, and bigger model memory limits, you need to pay $20 per user per month for the Power BI Premium plan. 

5. Customer Support

Here's a quick look at the customer support options available in Power BI and Looker Studio:

Not only does Power BI offer more support options, their customer service also has higher ratings than Looker Studio on websites like TrustRadius. This makes Looker Studio a more attractive choice to users who value great customer service when choosing a BI platform.

Looker vs Power BI: Which Should You Pick?

A golden rule in choosing a BI tool is to never pay more for less. 

Looker Studio for business use is more expensive than Power BI. Despite this, Power BI brings a lot more to the table in terms of advanced data analytics features, ease of deployment, reporting capabilities, data visualizations, and support.

So, when it comes to Power BI vs Looker Studio, Power BI is the better choice for many businesses. 

Does that mean you should go ahead and purchase Power BI?

Sure, but remember, there are also many viable Power BI alternatives in the business intelligence market. Also, every aspect that makes Power BI great (and more) is also available in Polymer

Polymer Highlights

If you look at factors like ease of use, data analytics, reporting, pricing, and customer support, Polymer is objectively the best BI and data dashboard platform on the web. 

Polymer is the only BI solution that absolutely doesn't require any coding knowledge to use. 

Our purely drag-and-drop UI will help you breeze through every step of dashboarding — from data collection to reporting. 

Check out some of Polymer's platform highlights:

  • Assisted data source setup. Plugging in a data source to your Polymer dashboard only takes a few minutes (just log in, grant the required permissions, and choose the data sets).
  • Build interactive data visualizations effortlessly. Drag and drop customizable blocks to create visualizations like scatter plots, bubble charts, line plots, dependency wheels, scorecards, and pivot tables.
  • AI-powered efficiency. Use auto-generated boards, suggested insights, and tailor-made visualizations based on AI prompts.
  • Share, embed, and automate reports. Share Polymer reports with stakeholders via a link, embed code, or automated email. 
  • Support focused on customer success. In addition to our regular support channels, book a 30-minute help session to get all the answers you need from an expert.

Get Started with Polymer Today

Ready to discover the power of BI with Polymer? 

Get a firsthand look at our features by claiming your 14-day free trial. 

Click here to get started

Posted on
February 29, 2024
under Blog
February 29, 2024
Written by
Rand Owens
Founding team member at Motive (Formerly KeepTruckin) and passionate about all things Marketing, RevOps, and Go-To-Market. VP of Marketing @ Polymer Search.

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