Life is a lot about choices , whether they are personal or professional. And we all want to make the best choice, right? Where to go on vacation, what car to buy, what to have for dinner, what tool for data analysis, or what tool for data visualization is best for me.
This article is about helping you make the right choice when it comes to Business Intelligence. More precisely, we’ll compare Data Studio vs. Power BI. Yeah, you’re probably thinking right now… yet another battle between Google and Microsoft. But stick around, you might be surprised how impartial we are (or not :)).
Read on to find out!
Similar to our previous post, where we compared Google Data Studio vs. Tableau, we will cover:
- Features and data visualization options
- Online app vs. desktop app
- Ease of use
- Sharing options and collaborative work
- Privacy and reliability
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The power of Business Intelligence tools
Business intelligence tools are indispensable assets for companies of any size to stay competitive and maximize revenue. They combine business analytics, data mining, data visualization, data tools, and infrastructure to help organizations make more data-driven decisions.
No more relying on vague impressions or gut instincts! Business Intelligence tools can help you:
- Turn data into usable information
- Analyze customer behavior
- Track performance and see the trends
- Find ways to increase profit
- Optimize operations
- Predict success
- Compare data with competitors
- Discover issues or problems
So it’s highly important to work with the BI tools that satisfy your organizational needs. Google Data Studio or Power BI? Let the battle begin!
Google Data Studio vs. Power BI
If you’re already using Google products in your analytics workflow, then it’s easier to get familiar with Data Studio. Same, if you’re already familiar with Microsoft Office, then Power BI might be more friendly.
Now let’s explore some important aspects and see what the difference is between them.
Ease of use and learning curve
Data Studio has a clean, easy-to-use interface, with several pre-configured templates to organize and present data in a logical fashion. The interface is intuitive and follows a lot of UX best practices. The learning curve is minimal, you can find a lot of documentation online to help troubleshoot if needed. You can start with the Analytics Academy here.
If you’re familiar with Microsoft Office Suite, you should have no problems working with Power BI. Although, be aware that it requires more than just Excel beginner skills to get your grasp on Power BI. Find some learning materials here.
Both Data Studio and Power BI offer a simple drag-and-drop interface that allows business professionals and digital marketers to easily customize reports.
For Data Studio, you should have clean data ready for visualization. Still, you can blend data from different sources using a join key. Just have in mind that data blending in GDS comes with some limitations. We’ve talked more about this in our 2nd part of Data Studio Help guide.
On the other hand, Power BI has the Power Query feature, which is a data connection technology that lets you clean your data. This means that you can manage your data easier, by quickly renaming or formatting columns, adding new columns based on logic, merging or appending datasets.
Also, with Power BI you can use Data Analysis Expressions (DAX) – the basic foundation language to be mastered to quickly build formulas and expressions in your reports.
“How often are they receiving feature updates?” You might ask next.
Well, for Data Studio you can check the release notes about the new features and functionality. As you can see, there are several product updates every single month.
Power BI Desktop is updated and released on a monthly basis too, incorporating customer feedback and new features. They are introducing the products update on a funny note, related to each month: from how they felt their ”new features were better than a heart-shaped box of chocolates”, to “celebration of new features and capabilities worthy of fireworks, sunny picnics, and community barbecues”. You got the point! So check them out, they are “as fun as a bobsled ride down a snow-covered hill”. 😉
Power your Business Intelligence
Data visualization options
As we’ve presented in the “Is data visualization important?” article, Data Studio offers a wide range of standard visuals such as bars, lines, pie charts, and so on.
On this aspect, Power BI is more interactive and it’s superior to GDS. It has lots of data visualization options, plus forecasting with the Analytics pane (you can add dynamic reference lines to visuals, and provide focus for important trends or insights), calendar Power BI visuals, KPI trackers, and the ability to design infographics and create live data dashboards with real-time streaming.
Online app vs. desktop app
GDS is an entirely browser-based application, with no desktop tool. You’ll need a Google account to use it and a good internet connection.
Power BI is adjusted to several needs. It has both desktop and cloud-based versions. You can choose any of the following:
- Power BI Desktop – a Windows desktop application, free and easy to install. You don’t need the internet for the desktop version to work, only for some features, or to publish the reports on the online version.
- Power BI Pro – for self-service analytics.
- Power BI Premium – designed for large enterprise deployments and demanding workloads.
- Power BI Mobile – native mobile BI app for Windows, iOS, and Android – to view live Power BI dashboards and reports on any device.
- Power BI Embedded – to supercharge your application with embedded analytics, meaning that you can add analytics and interactive reporting.
- Power BI Report Server – for on-premises reporting. The Report Server gives your users access to rich, interactive reports, and the enterprise reporting capabilities of SQL Server Reporting Services.
Google Data Studio offers seamless integration and pre-loaded reports for the most common data source connections like Google Ads, Firebase, Google Search Console, Google Analytics, and more.
Plus, there are more than 200 third-party connectors from all sorts of data sources.
Power BI can be used with Azure and Office so you can extract maximum value from your technology and your data. Plus, it has a growing library of more than 120 free connectors, including Salesforce, MailChimp, or Google Analytics.
However, it cannot connect with Google Ads. To do that, you need to use a separate connector such as Supermetrics. You can also connect to databases, CSV files, etc., or scrape data from a webpage. Power BI gives you the ability to import data directly from your computer files, by downloading Power BI Personal Gateway which can automatically upload the data.
For now, Google Data Studio doesn’t have a responsive design. In case you want a mobile-friendly dashboard for your Analytics data, we’ve created one for you.
When it comes to Power BI, you can easily monitor your business right from your phone with the Power BI Mobile app. You can check live dashboards and reports on mobile devices, share and collaborate on the go.
Sharing options and Collaborative work
Data Studio shares the same technology as Google Drive, which means you get to decide who gets access to your reports. With just a few clicks, you can easily share a dashboard with teammates or people outside your company and allow them to make edits. You can get a report link, download it as a PDF, schedule email delivery or embed it in your site or article. There’s more about these in our Google Data Studio guide.
Power BI dashboards can be shared with others only in the paid version. With Power BI Pro, you can distribute and access insights anywhere, collaborate and build reports with colleagues and then publish and share those reports anytime, anywhere, and on any device.
Privacy and Reliability
Both platforms are safe and reliable.
Using your Google Account with Data Studio means that it’s protected by the same authentication as Google Sheets, Gmail, or Drive. So your valuable performance data is secure.
Microsoft too assures end-to-end data protection that takes care of your data across Power BI reports, dashboards, and data sets with protection that keeps working even when shared outside your organization or exported to other formats such as Excel, PowerPoint, and PDF.
As you might already know, Google Data Studio is free of charge, unless you use third-party connectors, for which you will pay individually.
The same for Power BI Desktop. This one is free to use, but if you want more capabilities, you need to upgrade the product. Power BI Pro is available for $9.99 monthly price per user, but they also offer a free trial. If instead of a self-service like Power BI Pro you need advanced analytics, big data support, and on-premises and cloud reporting, there’s the Power BI Premium for $4,995 per month. If interested, check here for features comparison.
Which is right for you - Google Data Studio or Power BI?
Power BI and Google Data Studio are both popular and useful tools.
You know it, we bragged about it before, Google Data Studio is our preferred solution for data analysis and data visualization. We love the simplicity and integrations, plus it’s online and free.
But what about you? Which one is right for you?
We’ve found a nice question on Reddit (from DomoAccountExec) that somehow summarizes this entire Google Data Studio vs. Power BI story. He says <this is kind of like asking “I need to get 100 clients to Vegas. Should we hitchhike or charter a private plane?”>
In other words, Data Studio is used mainly for business dashboards and non-advanced BI, so it might be more suitable for you if you are a startup or a small to medium company, or an organization that relies mostly on Google products like Google Ads or Google Analytics.
Although it comes with a steeper learning curve, Power BI is usually chosen by larger enterprises that have more advanced reporting and data visualization needs, and are using a wider variety of data sources.
However, your choice can also be largely dependent on the ecosystem you are more used to: Google or Microsoft.