Dashboard Software

Reviews of Top Dashboard Tools in 2021

Dashboard Software Guide

In this guide, we’ll compare Power BI vs Tableau vs Qlik on the key features of dashboard software to help you choose the best fit for your organization.

What is Dashboard Software?

Let’s start with the basics. Dashboard software creates visual representations of data and KPIs—such as charts, maps and graphs—helping users better recognize patterns and make faster, data-driven decisions. Beyond visualizations, the best dashboard software makes it easy for users to combine large amounts of data from all parts of the organization and explore and analyze this data directly from within the dashboard. In this way, they empower users of every skill level to gain insights which they can turn into action.

Modern, interactive dashboards require a tool with multiple features and capabilities.

Dashboard software should go beyond data visualization to allow interactive data exploration and advanced analytics at scale.

Learn about these key features of top dashboard tools in the in-depth reviews section below.

Dashboard Software Comparison Matrix

There are many dashboard tools available and it can be difficult to choose the right one. The chart below can help. See how leading business intelligence dashboard tools Power BI vs Tableau vs Qlik compare on key capabilities of dashboard software.

Get a full comparison of Qlik vs. Power BI and Qlik vs. Tableau. Or, see how all three compare side-by-side with the in-depth reviews below.

Key Features: In-Depth Reviews

In this section, we describe the most important capabilities to consider when evaluating dashboard software and we provide in-depth reviews that compare Power BI vs Tableau vs Qlik.

Data visualization is table-stakes.

Most of the popular dashboard tools can produce charts and graphs of all shapes and sizes. Best-in-class business intelligence dashboard software does more than turn data into pretty pictures. Modern dashboard tools help all users explore their data from every angle in a scalable and governed way. Find out which leading BI dashboard software comes out ahead for each feature.

Here are the top-10 features to compare the best dashboard tools in 2021:

1. Easy Data Integration

Get the most from your dashboard software investment by making it easier for people to find what they need, even if they don’t have advanced data analytics skills. The most effective dashboard software combines data from all parts of the organization into an easily searchable data catalog.

  • Qlik Sense

    With Qlik, you can pull together data in a variety of ways, accessing it all through an in-depth web-based platform.

  • Tableau

    Tableau offers two options for integrating data: Tableau Desktop and Tableau Prep. Each addresses different issues, and it’s difficult to know which tool to use for which problem.

  • Power BI

    Power BI has several disconnected data integration offerings. That means you’ll have to invest more for additional products to get the answers you need.

2. Insights at Scale

Your dashboard software should be able to process growing volumes of data without higher costs or negative impact on performance. That means being able to pull data from multiple sources so you can get more complete insights in near real time, no matter how much data you take in.

  • Qlik Sense

    Qlik ingests large amounts of data quickly and gathers from multiple sources, giving you complete and immediate answers. You can also keep your data updated in smaller builds by editing, adding or removing records.

  • Tableau

    Large amounts of disconnected data are hard for Tableau to process, and complex analytics degrades performance even more. The software also doesn’t allow you to increment data to keep it updated in small builds.

  • Power BI

    Power BI data limits are extremely low, at 1GB per data set, making it expensive to use at scale. Instead you’ll have to use live query, slowing you down, or upgrade to Premium, which gives you only 9 GBs more.

3. Multiple Deployment Options

No matter which cloud architecture or platform you use, your dashboard software should be able to adapt, without requiring you to change your cloud analytics strategy, build new infrastructure or lock in your data.

  • Qlik Sense

    Qlik is an independent company, which helps you keep control of your data. Qlik also gives you the option to deploy on premise, in private or public cloud, or in any combination you choose.

  • Tableau

    Tableau is now part of Salesforce, which could leave you wondering where your data might end up, or worrying about data lock-in.

  • Power BI

    Power BI only runs on one cloud solution: Microsoft Azure. What’s more, cloud and on-premise experiences aren’t consistent.

4. Governance and Self-Service

Give users the freedom to investigate their data using self-serve BI, with the security of rules-based governance. With this balance, the best dashboard reporting software empowers users to create their own insights without the help of an analyst or IT.

  • Qlik Sense

    With a central, unified data source, Qlik helps users trust their data by providing a single source of truth. Qlik users can work with their data on the server, while still giving IT the control to keep it secure.

  • Tableau

    Tableau users are open to data pollution, version control issues, or working with stale data because they work on their hard drives rather than on a server.

  • Power BI

    With Power BI, data is decentralized, spreading it across both the cloud and user desktops. This makes data management and validation difficult.

5. Flexible Data Exploration

Rather than restrict users to query-based data analysis, today’s dashboard software empowers workers to explore data from across the organization, any way they choose. This way, teams can easily uncover insights they may not have noticed using query-based tools where they need help from the IT team to answer every question.

  • Qlik Sense

    Qlik’s “associative” data engine gives users the ability to freely analyze all their data. Qlik also helps you know where to explore next with the help of its cognitive engine, which uses machine learning to refine results over time.

  • Tableau

    Tableau uses a SQL database, which means users can only follow predefined paths within a small slice of data. As a result, only part of your data is analyzed, leaving many insights undiscovered.

  • Power BI

    Power BI users are also restricted to a linear, predetermined path, as its BI dashboard software uses a SQL database.

6. One Interface for Every Use Case

No matter what kind of insights users are looking for, or which device they choose, they should be able to explore data using a consistent interface. The strongest dashboard tools allow users to perform BI reporting, self-service discovery and visualization while also using augmented analytics and dashboards for more complete insights.

  • Qlik Sense

    Qlik users can complete any type of analysis—whether creating interactive dashboards or conducting dashboard reporting—all from a single interface, and using their device of choice.

  • Tableau

    Tableau limits users to the data visualization use case. And even then, you need to call on business authors with the SQL and database skills to create them.

  • Power BI

    Power BI gives users the ability to work with a variety of use cases. However, you’re required to bounce between software products depending on the insights you need.

7. AI-Guided Discovery

Boost productivity and make better decisions with the help of AI and machine learning. Best-in-class dashboard software does more than just help you visualize your data. Using augmented analytics, a dashboard reporting tool helps you dig deeper into your data, and discover insights from unique angles.

  • Qlik Sense

    Use natural language to ask a question in Qlik and get answers to guide your exploration. Qlik gives suggestions along the way, giving you new and different ways to analyze your data.

  • Tableau

    To get value from insights, you need to connect to business logic built into workbooks. Tableau users can’t do this, as its Ask Data feature can only connect to data sources.

  • Power BI

    Quick Insights and Q&A are two features in Power BI that use AI. With Q&A, you can analyze with natural language. Quick Insights lets you explore using shortcuts.

8. Embedded Dashboards

The best dashboard software gives employees, customers, partners and suppliers the ability to work with visual data in applications they use regularly. Embedded analytics, also called white label analytics or OEM, gives users access to portals and processes, speeding up decisions. Analytics dashboard software should allow you to embed analytics across the business with a flexible platform and open APIs.

  • Qlik Sense

    With Qlik, you can use APIs to integrate technologies like edge devices, workflows, products and portals. This allows you to embed a fully functional dashboard into your mobile app, including individual values.

  • Tableau

    Tableau’s API offerings are quite limited. For instance, rather than embedding individual values, you can only embed a full dashboard.

  • Power BI

    While you can embed dashboards and objects in PowerBI, it doesn’t provide strong API functionality, and their SDKs provide limited capabilities.

9. Full Mobile Functionality

It’s important that users have access to BI dashboard software no matter which device they use. Empower them to explore and analyze with a mobile app that provides full functionality, allowing users to get the insights they need, anywhere they are.

  • Qlik Sense

    Like Qlik’s desktop and laptop experience, the mobile app provides all the functionality users need, thanks to responsive design and touch, which are native to the platform.

  • Tableau

    Tableau limits mobile users to simple features like downloading one workbook sheet. It also limits what users can do. Rather than filtering, users have to highlight a value and manually find it in the displayed charts.

  • Power BI

    Power BI users can only get the most from their data using a desktop and multiple software programs. You can use the cloud to upload reports, but with limited capabilities to perform edits.

10. Data Literacy Support

Data literacy means understanding how to explore and communicate visual data stories. The best dashboard software gives people what they need to discover their own insights, promoting data literacy across the business.

  • Qlik Sense

    Qlik’s self-service tool gives users the confidence they need to easily discover insights, including the ability to drag-and-drop to create their own reports. Qlik also provides data literacy as a service, which brings together training, technology and processes.

  • Tableau

    Tableau only supports data literacy for authors. That means if you’re any other type of user, you’ll be left behind.

  • Power BI

    Only authors can access Power BI’s self-service option, with limited options for other users to shape their data. If business users want something more, they’ll have to ask the author for help.

Dashboard & BI Tools Comparison Kit

Essential resources for selecting the best BI tool.

  • Evaluation Checklist: How to Choose a Modern Analytics Platform
  • TCO Comparison Guide: Qlik vs. Tableau vs. Power BI
  • BARC’s The BI & Analytics Survey 21: Qlik Highlights
  • How 10 Leading Organizations Use Analytics to Spark Change
  • The 6-Step Framework for Developing a Data Literate Workforce

Know Your Real Cost of Ownership

Best-in-class dashboard reporting software helps you clearly see your total cost of ownership.

There’s more to total cost of ownership (TCO) than your software investment. That’s why it’s important that your dashboard software vendor is up front about what’s required to work with their platform, including the total financial and time commitment. Be sure to consider costs over the next three to five years, which include infrastructure, systems setup and development, as well as systems admin and support.

  • Qlik Sense

    Qlik provides total transparency and lower TCO than Power BI or Tableau, with no additional compute or data costs.

  • Tableau

    With Tableau, you’ll need to create multiple reports to get the same results from one Qlik app. Not only is this wasteful, but you could end up paying more to refresh that content. Learn more.

  • Power BI

    Power BI requires that organizations pay upgrade and add-on fees if they want the features and capabilities of the enterprise level. Learn more.

Analyst Perspectives on Dashboard Software

Compare the best dashboard tools with the latest analyst reports.

BARC: The BI & Analytics Survey 2021

See how top dashboard and analytics tools stack up in the world’s largest independent survey of BI users.

  • Image displaying the comparative matrix of BI vendors from the BARC BI & Analytics Survey 2021.
    Qlik Sense earned 11 number one category rankings including Dashboards and Customer Experience and 44 leadership positions.
  • Image displaying the comparative ranking of BI vendors for dashboards from the BARC BI & Analytics Survey 2021.
    93% of surveyed users rate Qlik Sense’s functionality for creating dashboards as excellent or good.

Want more dashboard examples?

Qlik Sense® Self-Service BI Dashboards

kpi dashboard examples

Now that you’ve compared Qlik Sense® to other dashboard tools, you can see why Qlik takes dashboards to a whole new level.

  • Easily combine, load, visualize, and explore your data, no matter how large (or small).
  • Smart visualizations reveal the shape of your data and pinpoint outliers.
  • Every chart, table, and object is interactive and instantly updates to the current context with each action.
  • Get insights faster with assistance from Insight Advisor for chart creation, association recommendations, and data preparation.

Ready to transform your entire business with data?