If you landed here, it’s either because you’re shopping for a BI tool—and ClicData and Tableau are on your shortlist—or it’s because you asked one of our sales reps, “What makes ClicData different from Tableau?” and they pointed you in this direction.
Either way, we understand that you’re looking for an honest and detailed product comparison. So we provide that here, comparing ClicData and Tableau on the following features and functions that are critical to business intelligence:
- Data Connectivity And Storage
- Data Storage
- Data Visualization
- White Labeling
Tableau comes in several sizes and shapes. Simply put, you are given two choices of components to give you data visualization and two choices of components that provide automation and sharing:
Here is a short description of each:
Tableau Desktop is a Windows-only application to visualize data, specializing in transforming tabulated data into eye-candy graphs and representations. It can connect directly to your data sources, but it is mostly used to connect to a database that is serving as the data warehouse. To connect to external data, you’ll need an ODBC driver for the databases. If it’s an API, you need to write custom scripts to extract data or have someone create a Web Data Connector (WDC).
This is a free version of Tableau software that can be used to create visualizations. The downside is that you need to save your workbook and visualizations in the Tableau Server, which can be accessed by anyone. For most companies, this version is not very useful since it does not offer most of the features and connections that Desktop offers.
Tableau Server allows dashboards that have been built with the Desktop tool to be shared with other users. This is a requirement for any serious implementation of business intelligence (BI). Server also allows you to automate certain tasks and centralize data connections.
Tableau Online is a hosted version of Tableau Server. It performs exactly the same as Tableau Server, but it is managed by Tableau in the cloud and in virtualized machines.
For all intents and purposes, a proper Tableau deployment will require a Tableau Server—either on-premises or hosted on Tableau’s servers—plus multiple Tableau Desktop sites, which need to be either Windows-only or virtualized sessions on Windows desktops.
ClicData—100% Cloud-based Tool
ClicData is 100% cloud-based and readily accessible from any device and network. ClicData was built from the ground up to be multi-tenant software having all the necessary BI functionality—connect datasets, add transformations, cleanse data, create temporary data staging areas—along with a built-in API capable of receiving data in real-time.
It features a simple yet powerful dashboard editor with over 70 visualizations; an automated data refresh and dashboard publication scheduling and alert system; a user management facility capable of displaying data on a per-user or per-team basis; and the ability to do everything from Windows or Mac operating systems.
2. Data Connectivity and Storage
Fundamental to any BI project is data connectivity and storage. Indeed, the first step of any BI implementation project is to connect and centralize your company data in a data warehouse.
There are two ways that a BI tool can be integrated with your data sources. Either your BI platform includes a built-in data warehouse with native connectors to a wide variety of data sources, or you have to build a data warehouse yourself, using a set of tools such as Snowflake, Teradata, Panoply, and others, and connect your BI platform to it.
You’re right if you’re thinking that ClicData and Tableau don’t offer the same options.
Tableau: Native Connectors to Databases and Data Warehouses
Just because you purchased some Tableau licenses doesn’t mean that you can easily import all your data from wherever it exists. You will also need to purchase a database, such as Oracle or SQL server, that can store the data as a data warehouse that Tableau can connect to. This approach will require some technical knowledge to:
- Configure and maintain a data warehouse
- Make sure the data is refreshed at the right frequency
You will probably have to incur additional costs to do all that—even more if you don’t have the technical skills in-house.
In addition to the database, Tableau Server and Tableau Desktop will be needed to implement a full BI solution.
ClicData: Native Connectors to Business Applications and Databases
On the other hand, ClicData offers a built-in data warehouse as well as native connectors to business applications—marketing, sales, HR, project management, time tracking, etc.—and to cloud-based or on-premises databases such as SQL Server, MongoDB, PostgreSQL, MySQL, and Amazon Redshift.
ClicData connectors are built in such a way that anybody can plug their data sources into the ClicData platform.
This means that, in addition to relieving your IT staff of the burden of doing all the work, you empower your employees to add or remove data sources according to their reporting needs. ClicData provides your company with a federated, intelligent data warehouse where you can store, manage, and share data with your company employees.
3. Data Cleaning and Management
But bringing data into a federated data warehouse is just the bare minimum requirement for implementing a BI strategy. Data management is the second essential component of a successful BI tool. It encompasses two areas:
- Data governance. This includes data availability, usability, consistency, security, and integrity.
- Data preparation. This refers to the process of transforming raw data and enhancing it in order to build direct metrics and derived metrics. Data preparation includes actions such as data cleansing, normalization, and standardization, merge, fusion, and aggregation. Data management has its own set of challenges, but it’s essentially the step that will allow you to send reliable metrics to your dashboards and turn that data into actionable indicators to support smart decision-making.
Let’s look at how this works in Tableau and ClicData.
Tableau: Catalog and Prep Builder
Tableau’s two data management tools are Tableau Catalog and Tableau Prep Builder.
Tableau Catalog is an index of all the data and metadata across your organization. It gives you information about the source of the data, who owns it, where it’s used, whether it’s the right version of the data or not, and so forth. Tableau Catalog also warns you about the impact of changes on your data.
Now, Tableau Prep Builder is a downloadable package that allows you to do transformations on your data to make it usable for your reports. But first, you need to build your data warehouse, extract the data from all your applications and systems, and then plug it into your Tableau account. Otherwise, you’ll only be able to work with flat files from your cloud storage applications or extract data directly from your databases.
Tableau Prep Builder comes with features such as data merge, combine, and cleansing. It is available for Tableau Desktop, Tableau Server, and Tableau Online; however, the latter doesn’t have all the features. Tableau Prep Builder works as a flow of transformations that you apply to your data. It gives you an instant preview of the changes in your table.
Here’s what Tableau Prep Builder’s interface looks like:
You can build your flow by adding, removing, or inserting transformations as you go. The tool allows you to do many iterations in order to get a clean and usable dataset. However, the list of transformations available might vary depending on the version of the product you’ve installed. This is one of the disadvantages of an on-premises tool.
You can also use Tableau Prep Conductor to publish and run flows in your server environment, although this module doesn’t come with any tier, so you need to purchase it as an add-on.
ClicData: Unified Data View and Drag-and-Drop ETL Tools
ClicData allows you to quickly see important information about your data:
- where your data is coming from
- the type of dataset it is, such as flat files, views, or datasets directly extracted from the source
- who created it and when
- who has access to it
- which version of the data it is
- which schedules are applied to the data
- the history of the data refreshes
Then, you have access to ClicData’s ETL features, regardless of your subscription tier, which includes:
- data normalization and standardization
- data merge
- data aggregation
- text splitter
- data joint
- data fusion
- data combine
- calculated data and columns
- data grouping
The screen above shows ClicData’s data management interface with a data transformation panel, a preview of the original dataset (at the top), the transformation flow, and the preview of the transformed table (bottom). You can easily drag and drop the modules to apply the transformation or activate or deactivate them to see the impact on the new dataset. You can also move them around as you wish.
Even if these features don’t require any particular coding or technical skills, the users do need to understand certain concepts pertaining to each transformation module. We provide all the resources, such as extensive documentation, tutorial videos, and webinars, so that our users can be self-sufficient. For those who don’t have the time or resources in-house to manage the data, our Professional Services can also help you by giving expert tips or even handle the whole process for you.
4. Data Visualization
Data visualization is another important component of a BI tool. It is what helps your end-users consume the data more easily. Data visualization plays a huge role in user adoption and ultimately facilitates the spread of a data culture within your company.
Data visualization encompasses two key components:
- Visualization options such as tables, maps, graphics, scorecards, etc.
- Interactivity such as drill-drown, zooms, filtering, ability to input values, and more. These allow the user to easily explore their data and discover patterns in order to make informed decisions.
Tableau: A Multi-Step Process
Tableau allows you to create great visualizations—maps, tables, charts, scatter plots, heatmaps, etc.—that you can use with multiple datasets in your dashboard. You can add interactions among charts to dig into the data. Building a dashboard with Tableau requires several steps:
- Build your visualizations individually in worksheets
- Assemble visualizations in a dashboard. You can use either the Tile or Float options to arrange your visualizations. The Tile option works with blocks, while the Float option lets you place your charts wherever you want.
With Tableau, you get a lot of options to format and visualize your data in a classical developer view like this:
ClicData: Drag-and-Drop Simplicity
ClicData’s approach to dashboard design is different. Once you’ve set your dashboard’s fully-customizable color palette and chosen your format—e.g., desktop, mobile, tablet, TV, or custom size—you simply drag-and-drop visualization widgets right into the canvas.
ClicData’s widgets are fully interactive, and you can add even more interactions in their settings. If desired, you can customize their shape and size, set conditional visibility, and link charts to each other.
If you want to see how our dashboard designer works, watch a live demo by one of our product specialists here.
Since collaboration and distribution are usually the primary purposes of dashboards, you need to put in place some features to keep your data and your dashboards secure. You’ll also need a portal or a web server that users can access—for example, www.dashboards.mycompany.com—where your users can log in and access your dashboards. Even better, you’d also have a mobile app that alerts users when a new dashboard is available or when data has been refreshed.
Tableau: How to Share Dashboards
As mentioned before, you need either Tableau Server or Tableau Online for securing and sharing dashboards with Tableau.
The best way to collaborate in Tableau is by adding users to your account and give them access to your workbooks or dashboards. You can also embed your visualizations into your company portal, website, or ERP if you purchase the Embedded Analytics add-on.
In the example below, Tableau offers to share the view (dashboard) with a link. However, the link isn’t actually public. It requires the user to log in, in other words, to be a Tableau user and have a paid license to see the dashboard.
Tableau Online offers four different ways to collaborate: subscribing to views to get dashboards by email, sharing data sources, embedding dashboards, and, obviously, sharing dashboards with other Tableau users for which you will have to purchase licenses—but we’ll get to pricing issues later.
ClicData: How to Share Dashboards
ClicData gives you the ability to share dashboards, not only with people within your company but with others who might need to see them. And you don’t need to purchase any extra licenses.
The easiest way to share dashboards in ClicData is through live links. People with access to the link can view and interact with the dashboard. It’s easy, it’s free, and it works on any browser and any device.
For example, you can access the dashboard below through this link: https://marketplace.clicdata.com/v/NUtoaLXrN1cI
To address security concerns, you can set up your live links to be password-protected if you want to share dashboards that contain sensitive data—whether they are internal or external to your company. They will not need a license with ClicData to access them.
You can also distribute dashboards via email to users or teams you choose and set a schedule to send them every day, week, month, or quarter. That can be a tremendously reliable solution to send your financial reports to your board members and investors, for example.
6. Pricing Models
Here’s Tableau’s pricing table for teams and organizations:
So, if you’re looking to use Tableau for a team of, say, 15 people—one or two super-users to have access to all features, two analysts to create data connections and workbooks, and a dozen users to just use the dashboards—you will need one or two Tableau Creator licenses to create the datasets, data flows, data visualizations and manage the account.
But it’s tricky for the rest of the team. Since there is a minimum requirement of five Explorer users and 100 Viewers, the starting price is $1,780 per month for the online version and $1,445 per month for the on-premises version.
There’s also the additional cost of having to buy servers, licenses, and maintenance features, even if your team has fewer than 100 users. In addition, you will need some other options to get the entire thing automated.
All in all, that will cost you a minimum of $17,340 per year for the online version or $21,360 per year for the on-premises version.
The above add-on items are required if you want any type of automation and data preparation capabilities, so the total cost is now upwards of $2,000 per month for any size team, up to 100 users.
But this is just a simple example. Each tier comes with conditions and options that you will need to review carefully. The complexity of Tableau’s pricing model is due to the interdependency between their different tools.
At ClicData, we like to keep things simple and transparent, and that includes our price list. It is based on the volume of data you want to store, the connectors, and the level of services you need.
Using the example used above, our sales team consists of 15 people. They would be perfectly capable of doing whatever they’re trying to achieve with the Premium plan—at $71 per month or $852 per year—for unlimited dashboards, 5GB of data storage, all web application connectors, and ten users, which can be Admins, Editors, or Viewers.
And, you don’t have to purchase extra licenses for the remaining five people since you can easily share dashboards to non-ClicData users via live links for free. The Premium plan even comes with one free hour-long onboarding session with one of our Professional Services experts to get started even faster.
What might you do with that extra $16,488 in your annual budget?
7. White Labeling
The option to white-label BI software is always appreciated by agencies and consultants who want to add an analytics tool to their offering without spending thousands of dollars building and maintaining it.
You’ll usually remove the tool’s name from the interface, domain, emails, and alerts, and you can customize it with your brand so that it is perceived as your own BI platform. Both Tableau and ClicData offer white-labeling options to customize your account and to offer your customers a seamless experience. The option is usually sold as an add-on.
However, Tableau doesn’t offer the ability to white label their mobile app, as one of their customers testifies on the Tableau Community Forum:
“Our clients want to consume their reports on a variety of devices, and we want to provide that to them, but at the moment we can’t offer an own-branded mobile solution, only the Tableau-branded solution. […] At the moment I don’t believe the Tableau server/ mobile offer that consistency, the ability to white label the mobile app would readdress this and align the products.” – Mark Fraser
There is no pricing information for white labeling published on their website; one must contact their sales team to get a quote. That’s yet another hidden cost to your BI project.
At ClicData, the white label option is included in the Team plan and everything above it at no extra cost. It is also available as an add-on on the Premium plan for $59 per month.
Final Words: Test Tableau and ClicData Yourself
Find out which is the best business analytics tool for your organization by testing out both tools and comparing them for yourself. Check out our BI Buyer’s Guide, which comes with a checklist template to make sure you’re not missing anything important in your review process.
Both Tableau and ClicData have their own strengths.
Tableau is a powerful data visualization tool with AI-powered data explanations, which can make it easier for businesses that need to analyze large volumes of data.
On the other hand, ClicData is a fully integrated BI solution with an extensive collection of data connectors to databases, business applications, advanced data management tools, automation features—data refreshes, alerts, and tasks—a drag-and-drop dashboard designer, and several options to securely share your dashboards with internal and external users.
Want someone else’s opinion? Read Insighters for Decision’s CEO’s testimonial, after having spent quite some time test-driving and comparing several BI tools, including Tableau and ClicData.