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Microsoft Power BI vs. MicroStrategy Comparison 2020

by Arthur Zuckerman

Business intelligence software is proving to be an indispensable tool for businesses that want to stay relevant in their markets. This is true whether they are using it to dive into emerging popular sentiments, new production technologies, or keeping an eye on what the competition is up to.

There are many ways to keep an eye on the competition. For this reason, vendors take their pet routes to get there. In this article, we will look into two such cases, done via a Microsoft Power BI vs. MicroStrategy comparison.

What is Microsoft Power BI?

Microsoft Power BI has undoubtedly gone a long way since its inception as a mere extension to Microsoft Excel. After its release as a solo business intelligence software in 2015, it has garnered plaudits from both experts and clients for how it has evolved with features to match the needs of various organizations.

One that users particularly like about Microsoft Power BI is how easy it has made report authoring with its extensive library of reporting tools. In turn, these are matched by a large collection of data visualization templates. With a few clicks of the mouse, businesses can bring on-screen visuals reflecting any metric that they wish to analyze. The power of the visuals allows businesses to set their sails on new business targets or change courses as they think fit.

The strengths of Microsoft Power BI as data analysis software come into full force when you import data from other solutions like Salesforce for in-depth analysis and visualization.

Microsoft Power BI

Microsoft Power BI makes it easy to execute report authoring with its extensive library of reporting tools

What is MicroStrategy?

MicroStrategy is a business intelligence software that you can use free on desktop and for a fee in the cloud. With it, you can consolidate your data sources and extract insights from them quickly. You can make these capabilities available to key members of different teams to empower them to make intelligent decisions. Thus, you can accelerate business transformation across the board.

Since the platform came into being in 1989, MicroStrategy has been enabling businesses to mine their data. The solution makes it possible for anyone to understand it too because it creates stunning visualizations. But the capabilities of MicroStrategy are not limited to the desktop and the cloud only.

It also has mobile apps for Android and iOS that have the same set of functionalities as their cloud and desktop counterparts. As such, you can enable unlimited productivity on the field and on the go.

MicroStrategy dashboard

Consolidate your data sources and extract insights from them quickly using Microstrategy.

Comparing Microsoft Power BI and MicroStrategy

In this Microsoft Power BI vs. MicroStrategy comparison, we will tackle four aspects of the platforms: user interface, data sources integration, visualizations, and pricing. We will examine which of the two offers the best in each round and determine the overall winner at the end based on those results.

1. User Interface

In this section, we will look at the arrangement of elements on the interfaces of Microsoft Power BI and MicroStrategy. This means that these business intelligence software will be judged according to the accessibility of tools and the intuitiveness of the platform.

Microsoft Power BI

Since Microsoft created Power BI as an extension of Excel originally, users can expect a familiar interface akin to that of a spreadsheet program. Because of this, it is relatively easy for new users to adjust to the software.

What’s more, Microsoft affords users a high degree of flexibility when it comes to dashboard customization. You are free to place any element anywhere on the screen, and you have the option to restrict them to a grid if you want. The layout can be confusing, though, due to Power Query. It looks like a datasheet, which is similar to that of Power BI’s.

Additionally, the options menus are stacked and can get in the way of seeing your actual work on the screen.

MicroStrategy

MicroStrategy makes it easy for users to access different tools on the screen. While it may make the interface look crowded. But for those in development, this can offer familiarity.

The platform’s icons are prominent and allow you to identify which is which immediately. On top of that, it has a clean layout that lets you organize everything in a grid with drag-and-drop functionality. You can also resize widgets to suit your preferences. Unfortunately, when you resize one, everything else gets resized, too, and this can be incredibly frustrating.

Verdict

Both platforms designed their user interfaces well. They enable users to interact with every element on the screen with ease. While they both have their downsides, MicroStrategy is less problematic. Its main problem is the resize tool for widgets that get in the way of smooth customization.

On the other hand, Power BI’s layout and options menus pose issues to users. So in this round, MicroStrategy has an edge.

2. Data Sources Integration

For the second round of Microsoft Power BI vs. MicroStrategy comparison, we will look at the ease of integrating data sources.

Microsoft Power BI

Inputting information to your BI software manually is not something you would want to do. That is why Microsoft Power BI streamlines the process by letting you integrate with your data sources. This is where Power Query comes in. If you have been using spreadsheets, then this tool may be familiar. It simplifies data input and synchronization. Aside from that, Power BI has a long list of integrations. Thus, you can connect with your data wherever it is.

MicroStrategy

MicroStrategy has an uncomplicated way of connecting with your data.  If your data is on your computer or housed in your local network, you can select all of them at the same time. This saves you time and effort in ensuring you have all the necessary information on the platform before you embark on your visualizations.

Moreover, MicroStrategy has native connectors. With these, you can connect to any data source, including Hadoop.

Verdict

MicroStrategy and Power BI have their unique ways of connecting with data sources. But they do have one thing in common: their integrations are straightforward. That is why, in this round, it is a tie between the two platforms.

3. Visualizations

A critical aspect of a business intelligence software is its choices of visualizations. If there are plenty of options, then you can make a cohesive story out of your data.

Microsoft Power BI

As expected of Microsoft Power BI, its visualizations are sleek and modern. They are responsive to the user’s every data addition. So, you do not have to wait long to see your changes reflected in the charts.

Speaking of charts, there are hundreds to choose from. There are standard Microsoft Power BI charts, and then there are visuals uploaded by organizations and teams to the marketplace. These are all free so you can customize your visuals freely.

MicroStrategy

MicroStrategy has plenty of visualization options that you can find anything from column charts to data maps. Users can also share their visuals to fellow users in the library.

Unlike Power BI, though, MicroStrategy can be slow when it comes to refreshing charts. While it is commendable that it adds new information to charts as you enter it, this makes the visual building process a slow one.

Verdict

Probably because it has more users, Power BI has more options in the library for visuals. Aside from that, its charts are responsive even as you tweak or add information.

4. Pricing

Powerful visualizations do not have to come at a hefty price and MicroStrategy, and Microsoft Power BI alike prove this point.

Microsoft Power BI

Microsoft lets you start free with Power BI but with the desktop version. You can download it directly from the Microsoft website and use it as much as you need. You can even create and save as many interactive reports as you want.

You only need to start shelling out money for advanced features in the cloud, such as collaboration and publishing.

Power BI Desktop

Power BI Pro

Power BI Premium

Free

$9.99/user/month

$4,995/month/dedicated cloud compute

The Power BI Pro plan is considerably cost-effective. It is fully managed by Microsoft so you do not have to worry so much about the backend. The Power BI Premium is indeed premium, but it has sophisticated enterprise BI tools that you can leverage for high-level business growth.

MicroStrategy

MicroStrategy’s desktop version is free as well. It already lets you access a wide array of features to enable you to create visualizations that let you understand data better.

But if you want faster results and global availability of information, you might want to go to MicroStrategy in the cloud.

MicroStrategy Desktop

MicroStrategy Cloud

Free

Request pricing

Verdict

Both BI solutions offer free desktop versions that are very much capable of providing you with the visualizations you need. When it comes to their paid versions, Microsoft is more forward with its pricing plans. From this, you can see that Microsoft Power BI Pro does not break the bank if its capabilities are all you need. However, if you expect to have multiple users, then you might find yourself stretching your organization’s budget.

On the other hand, you can customize your plan with MicroStrategy. Discussing your needs with the vendor allows you to configure the solution precisely to your requirements. This also gives you room to bargain for win-win pricing.

Final Verdict

In this Microsoft Power BI vs. MicroStrategy comparison, we have seen that each product has its unique features. At the end of the day, selecting a platform depends on your requirements. But Power BI has the most visualization options. And if your needs lean on that, then Microsoft’s software is your best bet.

If you want to see more Microsoft Power BI comparisons, how about you head over to this Qlik Sense vs Microsoft Power BI Comparison?

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