Looker vs Tableau: Which BI Platform is Better in 2024?

Tableau and Looker Studio are regarded as two of the top BI software for a reason. That said, there are pros and cons to each platform which prospective customers will want to consider.

Looker Studio vs Tableau: which is the better Business Intelligence (BI) platform?

Before we explore this question, remember that Tableau and Looker Studio are regarded as two of the top BI software for a reason. They're flexible, user-friendly, cost-effective, and well-supported by dozens of third-party data sources. That said, there are pros and cons to each platform, and those looking to upgrade their BI solution might want to consider other alternatives as well. 

Let's start off with a quick introduction.

What is Looker Studio (Google Data Studio)?

Looker Studio is Google's proprietary data analytics and visualization platform. It's designed to integrate seamlessly with other Google products, but it also supports over 900 third-party data sources. 

Keep in mind that Looker Studio is different from just "Looker," which is for data modeling and governance. For this comparison, we're only looking at Looker Studio for BI and data visualizations.

Looker Studio Highlights

Here are some of the reasons why Looker Studio is highly regarded in the BI landscape:

  • Versatile report sharing. Collaborate on reports by inviting colleagues and stakeholders to your Looker dashboard. You can also embed reports to your website or download a PDF copy for offline sharing.
  • Enhanced usability. Looker Studio takes the complexity out of data visualizations with its intuitive, drag-and-drop interface. It also comes with additional beginner-friendly benefits like templates, free learning resources, and an in-app guided walkthrough.
  • Get started for free. Obtain unrestricted access to Looker Studio's core data management and visualization features as long as you use data from other Google products. This will help you get a feel of the product and evaluate its features before committing to a paid edition.

What is Tableau?

Businesses and agencies consider Tableau as among the strongest BI platforms in the market feature-wise. It lets you consolidate all your data, optimize your datasets, and build digestible data visualizations from a single location. 

In the hierarchy of BI software, Tableau is often considered the second-best alternative to Power BI — just below Polymer. 

Tableau Highlights

Check out the features that make Tableau a top contender in the industry: 

  • Get workbook optimization suggestions. Tableau's "Workbook Optimizer" tool can evaluate your workbook and detect issues like unused data fields, multiple data connections, and structure errors. You then have the option to review, change, or use "autofix" to optimize your workbook. 
  • Smooth onboarding and user experience. New Tableau users are immediately greeted by learning tools to enhance their experience, such as in-app tours and free training videos. You can also use pre-built workbooks called "Accelerators" for the most common Tableau use cases. 
  • Capable mobile app. Although Looker Studio also has a mobile app, Tableau took it to the next level with more useful features. Interact with reports, select your preferred dashboards for mobile, and run data analysis tasks on the go. 

Comparing Tableau vs Looker

The most important rule in choosing a BI tool is to list down important criteria and assess how each tool fares in each. 

That said, here's a detailed comparison of Tableau vs Looker Studio in terms of data integrations, ease of use, reporting features, costs, and customer support:

1. Data Integrations

Consolidating all your data into a single source of truth is a key advantage of building an effective data dashboard

That's why you need a BI platform that natively supports or offers integrations for the data sources you use.

Between Tableau and Looker Studio, the latter features considerably more connectivity. This is mainly due to the size and popularity of the Google ecosystem. 

Just remember that, although having more data integrations is great, a BI platform rarely needs over 100 connectors to be effective. 

In most cases, you can move your data through a Google Sheets dashboard as a workaround. Some BI platforms, including Tableau and Polymer, also develop and release new connectors upon request. 

2. Ease of Use

Looker Studio may look extremely beginner-friendly on the surface. But compared with other BI platforms, it lacks a lot of convenient tools and automated features that can improve your efficiency over time. 

A good example would be the implementation of AI features, which offer a huge advantage to data analysis workflows. 

Similar to Power BI and Polymer, Looker Studio comes with an AI tool for data analysis that can instantly turn raw data into actionable information. Workbook views come with a built-in data guide, which can automatically detect outliers, explain underlying Key Performance Indicator (KPI) values, and explore what makes certain data points unique. 

On a basic level, both Looker Studio and Tableau have similar learning curves. Tableau simply has more Quality of Life features that can simplify data management, analysis, and reporting tasks.  

3. Data Analytics and Reporting

A BI platform's data visualization toolset is a key factor to consider before buying. 

Can the platform create the exact visualizations you need for your analysis? What does the visualization creation process look like?

Looker Studio offers a decent selection of visualizations to help you create data-rich reports. In addition to the built-in visualizations, you can also source community visualizations to present specific data types. 

Unfortunately, these features don't come close to the impact of having a more flexible and in-depth tool like Tableau. 

While Tableau has fewer visualization options, the amount of depth and context you can pack into each chart is a game-changer. Create tooltips, add labels, insert trend lines, and more — all with just a few clicks. 

In short, Looker Studio may take less time to create visualizations from existing data. But Tableau's reporting features are significantly more flexible and powerful.

4. Pricing

Outside of the free version, Looker Studio Pro starts with a base price of $9 per user per month. This, of course, doesn't include the cost of paid partner connections. 

Tableau license types, on the other hand, are less accessible with viewer accounts starting at $15 per user per month. 

If you need self-service analytics tools, you need to get the Tableau Explorer plan, which costs $42 per user per month. For advanced features like pre-built dashboard starters, data exports, and server administration, you have to get the Tableau Creator plan at $75 per user per month. 

Looker Studio wins the pricing category due to the lower price tag and the availability of a free version. Just remember that Tableau's pricing model is more than justified, especially if you look at its advantages over Looker Studio. 

5. Customer Support

Experienced users of BI platforms will know that good customer service shouldn't be underestimated. 

Let's start by comparing the available customer support channels for Tableau vs Looker Studio:

Of course, having more channels isn't the be-all and end-all of customer support. You also need to look at the quality and extra services that help with customer success. 

With Tableau, you can get live-person training, video tutorials, and professional consultants to kickstart your dashboarding experience. All of which are absent in Looker Studio.

Looker vs Tableau: Which One Is Better?

With the exception of data integrations and pricing, Tableau beats Looker Studio as the overall better BI platform.

But that doesn't mean it's the best. 

If you're looking for a BI solution that's powerful, cost-effective, easy to use, and comes with excellent customer support services, there's no beating Polymer — the best BI and dashboard software money can buy. 

Check out some of our platform's highlights:

Polymer Highlights

  • Auto-generate entire dashboards from scratch. Most top-tier BI platforms include AI-generated visualizations and recommended insights. But only Polymer utilizes AI to generate an entire dashboard in seconds
  • AI-driven reporting. Aside from auto-generated boards, Polymer is also equipped with extra AI-powered features to boost your efficiency. PolyAI, for example, is a prompt-based AI assistant that can answer your questions or generate visualizations based on your questions.  
  • Highly customizable data visualizations. With Polymer, it's easy to fine-tune your visualizations and reports to match your specific needs. You can set goal values, automate calculations for custom metrics, manage your datasets, and more — absolutely no coding needed. 
  • Get expert help in setting up. Polymer users can book a 30-minute help session to get all their questions answered. Feel free to ask anything that will help set your dashboarding off to a running start, from connecting a data source to creating global filters. 
  • Streamlined data integrations. Plugging new data sources to Polymer is as easy as providing your login credentials, granting the necessary permissions, and choosing which datasets to integrate. There's no need to pay or configure anything in the data source's side to complete the process.  

As cherry on top, Polymer offers a range of customer support channels apart from live-person help sessions. In addition to regular support channels, Enterprise users get a dedicated account manager while Polymer Teams subscribers can receive support through Slack. 

Try Polymer for Free

Ready to take Polymer out for a spin? 

Take advantage of our 14-day free trial to experience how BI — without BS — works. 

Click here to get started.

Posted on
March 4, 2024
under Blog
March 4, 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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