In the digital age, every snippet of information is collected and readily available at our fingertips. The problem is, data volumes are growing so rapidly that many businesses struggle to make sense of it all. Fortunately, there is a long list of affordable, cutting-edge business intelligence and data visualisation solutions to help you gain valuable insights, uncover trends, and make informed decisions. Two of the most popular are Microsoft Power BI and Google Data Studio.
Google Data Studio (GDS) was released in 2016 as part of the Google Analytics 360 suite. It’s a fully web-based solution that allows you to create customisable charts and reports in seconds. It’s also designed primarily for consumers and small businesses.
Power BI was unveiled in 2013 and released to the general public just a year before GDS. It provides interactive charts with powerful business intelligence capabilities, and is backed by the full weight of Office 365 services. Power BI has desktop and cloud-based versions, and it targets medium-sized businesses and large enterprises.
Ease of use
Power BI is the clear winner when it comes to ease of use. That’s because it shares UI elements with familiar Microsoft services like Excel and Word, and the functions you need are always where you expect them to be. What’s more, it has drag-and-drop functionality, which lets you add visuals and fields of data onto a report with just a few mouse clicks.
GDS isn’t too far behind in user-friendliness. Much like Power BI, you can drag and drop visuals and data to create instant reports, but users who have never worked with the Google Analytics suite may find it difficult to navigate the menus and tweak visuals and charts.
Complexity and integrations
While GDS has native support for Google Analytics, Sheets, and AdWords, Power BI can collect information from more business apps, including Microsoft Dynamics, Salesforce, Excel, GitHub, and also Google Analytics.
As for visualisation options, GDS has standard bar, line, and pie charts, but if you want more options, Power BI has everything, from KPI trackers and forecasting to calendar visuals and infographic designers.
Power BI even has a long list of functions that let you blend data from multiple sources, add new metrics, and more. GDS functions are extremely limited and you’ll need to find manual workaround just to do half of the things Power BI is capable of.
Even though GDS just came out of beta testing, it does lead in this category by a small margin. When comparing Microsoft and Google support forums, more Power BI users had occasional issues with refreshing data and the visual customisation options. That’s not to say that GDS doesn’t have unique problems of its own, but since it has fewer features and less moving parts than Power BI, it’s code is naturally more stable.
GDS can be acquired for free complete with all its visual reporting features. Meanwhile, Power BI offers two enterprise pricing plans: a free version and a paid ‘Pro’ version that costs $9.99 per user per month. The former comes with basic reporting features and a 1GB data limit per user, while the latter gives you all Power BI features — including real-time dashboard updates, more customisation options for visuals, and access management controls for security.
If your budget is limited, GDS makes more sense, but if you need a full suite of reporting features, Power BI Pro is the clear choice.
Overall, Power BI is a more established solution than GDS, offering a robust set of functions for a small monthly fee. GDS is good choice for those who want a free service with basic features, but it may hold you back in terms of gaining valuable insights and making informed business decisions.
As a long-time Microsoft partner, Empower IT Solutions helps Australian businesses with the implementation and adoption of Power BI. We’ll even show you how to build interactive reports and support you with any issues you may have about the software. So, if you want a cutting-edge data visualisation solution today, call us now!