What is best for you? Sisense vs Tableau

Del Leung
Data Analyst

Tableau vs Sisense: Comparison

You’re investing in a new dashboard tool and are comparing the best in the business: Sisense and Tableau. Both have their strengths for specific features so it will come down to your individual business needs. Today I go over the key features of Sisense and Tableau and provide the best use cases for each in this technical blog.

Sisense Key Features:

A Full Stack Data Analytics package containing the primary components for an end-to-end reporting solution. The platform includes the following capabilities: data connectors for data loading, data transformation, and data visualizations widgets to create dashboards. All within a single User web-based interface.

  • Sisense uses a proprietary high-performance analytics database called an ElastiCube which boosts native support for many different type of data sources and stores that data.
  • Uses in-chip technology, designed from scratch, to process data with a scalable, memory-optimized columnar database that can comfortably handle terabytes of data and dozens of concurrent queries.
  • Data governance is managed through 5 main user roles: Admin, Data Admin, Designer, Data Designer and Viewer. Admins can control the granularity of the permissions.
  • Known for embedded analytics, integrating dashboards into customer facing apps with a variety of visualization widgets such as Charts, graphs and gauges.
  • 2 product support tiers.
  • Scales across all skill levels and use cases for an integrated analytic experience
  • Scales on demand with cloud, on-premises and hybrid architecture
  • Multi-level security, governance and performance monitoring
  • AI throughout for automated preparation and delivery of insights.

When should you consider using Sisense?

Easy Embedding, Integration, 3rd Party Plugins

If you plan to embed your dashboard into an application, Sisense should be your choice. The options to embed analytics into customer-facing applications is excellent and highly customizable with JavaScript. Multiple embed options and libraries include iFrames, Embed SDK, Sisense JS. If you require both a way to store and clean data as well as have tools to present meaningful insights, Sisense makes sense as it has both tools to do so.

Sisense provides a highly customizable look and feel for your dashboards. Sisense web interface and dashboards support JavaScript which is more suitable for developers to customize their applications.

Functionality flexibility through 1st and 3rd party plugins. Plugins offer additional features that out-of-the-box Sisense does not have, and many are free. There are subscription-based premium plugins that help solve more complex challenges you are facing with your dashboard. Examples:

  • The Blox plugin is a free 1st party plugin that includes a robust library of templates for quick development of visualizations as well as access to many API capabilities using basic CSS and JSON.
  • Export All Tables to CSV is a free 3rd party plugin that allows users to download all the table widgets on the dashboard to a CSV so they can further delve into the data.
  • Single Sign-On (SSO) Router is a Premium 1st party plugin that provides new REST API endpoints to route login and logout JWT SSO requests based on the source request domain or URL parameter.
  • Map with Pie Charts is a Premium 3rd party plugin that adds a world country map visual which you can click on individual countries to bring up a pie chart.
  • Many more plugins are offered on the Sisense plugin marketplace

Cost Effective

Sisense is also very cost effective full data analytics package and reporting solution for small to medium businesses and organizational units with the ability to scale up to handle large data volumes. And if you don’t have the in house capabilities to support a custom or multi vendor solution, Sisense simplifies data analytics architecture for organizations.

The Sisense database is very hands-off from an administration perspective vs. other products on the market, with little or no overhead for administration. It’s great if you need an easy-to-access development environment where you can manage both the data (Elasticubes) and the dashboards without installing to your local computer. Sisense uses an all web-based interface and can be accessed via web browser.

Other Considerations:

  • The variety of data visualization options is lower compared to other dedicated visualization tools out of the box. In Sisense, developers can customize widgets through JavaScript and Json and 3rd Party plugins to create a more tailored feel to dashboards.
  • Premium add-ons can have a yearly subscription cost, so these should be budgeted as part of the overall analytics project if it’s something your organization desires.
  • Easy to Medium Learning curve on the data analytics development. Learning curve on the product deployment and maintenance ranges from easy (SaaS offering) to high for more large scale self hosted environments. Sisense provides great courses for this.

Tableau Key Features

  • Primarily a tool to create dynamic and diverse set of visualizations for interactive dashboards with an easy to use dashboard creation tool.
  • Data Governance: Uses Governance Models – centralized, delegated and self governing which provides flexibility on your companies needs.
  • Tableau uses Hyper, a high-performance in-memory data engine technology that helps customers analyze large or complex data sets faster, by efficiently evaluating analytical queries directly in the transactional database using parallelism techniques to achieve fast performance for extract creation and query execution.
  • Extremely Intuitive End User experience with highly customizable dashboards.
  • Many options to deploy and connect to multiple data sources.

When should you consider using Tableau?

Great Visualizations that Brings Data Together

If you require highly detailed yet simple to understand visuals, still have the ability to have very complex dashboards for storytelling, and want to focus primarily on interpreting and visualizing your existing data, Tableau should be used due to its ability to create a great-looking dashboard with a large assortment of Visualization options that are second to none.

If you have multiple sources of data that need to be combined into a dashboard, Tableau is a great choice as it provides the ability to easily import data from multiple sources and visualize it together. Tableau also provides your users with many options to view and analyze the data for data discovery.

Easy to Learn and Use

Tableau’s UI is intuitive and easy to use with many drag and drop features. The learning curve is relatively small. Extensive training courses are available and are very well done with many specialized paths. Tableau also has a very large community that can provide help and suggestions, Tableau has a fantastic community due to its large user base. External resources can easily be found.

Other considerations:

  • Data requires most ETL to be done prior to importing to the tool. Tableau does have a tool called Prep or Prep Conductor to aid in ETL but requires a separate license. In most cases, having a data analyst to clean the data prior to ingesting into Tableau should suffice.
  • Tableau is aimed towards larger or enterprise level companies and so cost maybe high.
  • While excellent in visualizations, lacks in BI capabilities like the building of large reports and building of data tables.

Conclusion

The goal of this blog is not to do a strict “VS” one is better than the other, as each tool can be used to solve specific problems. Sisense is great if you do not have an ETL process in place and you can leverage its Full Stack analytics package where you can manage and clean the data as well as create the dashboard in a single web-based UI. But it’s true strength is Embedding options into your existing applications. If this is your plan we would recommend Sisense.

If your main goal is to strictly create dynamic, robust, dashboards quickly with a fantastic array of visuals to aid in your storytelling. Tableau would be best. Further more if you have multiple data source you need to pull from and combine to create visualizations, Tableau would also be a great choice.


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Indellient provides custom and embedded analytics solutions to companies of all sizes. Indellient is an IT Professional Services Company that specializes in Data AnalyticsCloud ServicesDevOps Services, and Business Process Management. Learn more about our Sisense Solutions below!

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About The Author

Hi, my name is Del Leung, Senior Data Analyst at Indellient. I have 15 years of BI and Data Analyst experience on both the enterprise and small business level, and am passionate about learning all the tools that go along with the job.