Business intelligence has come a long way since Richard Miller Devens coined the term in 1865. We’ve gone from pens to punchcards, from on-premise servers to the cloud. And today modern tools like Power BI and Qlik Sense are making business intelligence more available than ever before. These two BI leaders are superficially quite similar — so how can you choose between Power BI or Qlik Sense?

Let’s start with some biography.

The Qlik Sense product’s first release was in 2014, while Power BI hit the market in 2011.

A quick look at Google Trends shows that Power BI gets more search traffic than Qlik.

In 2017, Qlik reported over 45,000 customers globally, while Power BI had around 5 million users in 2016.

However much these figures may have changed since then, one thing’s for sure: they’re both popular BI tools. Customers report high satisfaction with both, and both tools serve a wide range of industries.

So far, so similar. To get to the bottom of whether you should choose Power BI or Qlik Sense, we need to dig deeper.

Side note: declaration of (dis)interest

When reading a comparison article, it’s reasonable to ask whether the two products are being presented fairly. That’s why we want to declare our interest up front: Influential is a Microsoft Gold Partner and Power BI specialist.

However, we’re also an independently owned BI consultancy.

Microsoft competencies badge for Power BI use cases

Beside Microsoft, we also partner with SAP, IBM, Boomi, and more. The reason we attract hundreds of clients is because we put them first — not Microsoft, or any other tech company.

So while we have “skin in the game” with Power BI, you can trust us to present an impartial comparison with Qlik as well. And if you’d like help selecting or supporting a BI tool, please get in touch.

1. Pricing Power BI vs Qlik Sense

If you have a limited budget, then price can be a crucial factor in choosing BI software. A lower-cost option will also appeal to businesses that just want to dip their toes into BI. So which has the lower price tag: Power BI or Qlik Sense?

Power BI
Power BI Pro is the lowest price point for the Microsoft product, at £7.50 per user per month.

The more advanced product, Power BI Premium, costs £15.10 per user per month or from £3,766.70 per capacity per month. The per capacity option allows for reports on-premises, unlimited distribution, and multi-geo support.

Qlik Sense
The Qlik Sense Business product (for groups and teams) costs $30 (£21.29) per user per month, billed annually.

Meanwhile, the Qlik Sense Enterprise product has two user packages: Professional and Analyzer. Professional users, with access to all features, are priced at $70 (£49.68) per month. Analyzer users (able to consume sheets and apps, create bookmarks and stories, and export to Excel) are priced at $40 (£28.39) per month. To determine the full pricing you’ll have to factor in capacity, which Qlik’s sales team will negotiate with you.

2. Integrations and connectors

Power BI
Microsoft listed 166 connectors for Power BI as of May 2021. Among these are popular applications like Salesforce, Oracle, Google Analytics, QuickBooks, SAP, and Microsoft applications. Beyond the standard connectors, an experienced Power BI integration team can help you connect virtually any data.

Qlik Sense
Qlik’s data sources include databases, cloud services, enterprise applications, and files. The Qlik data sources page lists 121 connections, such as Amazon, Azure, Google, IBM, MailChimp, SAP, and social media.

Power BI vs Qlik Sense visualisations

Example Power BI and Qlik Sense dashboards

3. Data visualisation and analysis

Power BI
Power BI has dozens of built-in visualisations such as area charts, bar charts, clustered columns, scatter charts, doughnuts, and more. With the help of an expert Power BI development team, you can create highly customised visualisations as well.

For analysis, the Microsoft tool is well-known for its natural language query feature. This allows you to discover insights through Google-like queries. For example, you can type “What is our most expensive department to run?” and Power BI will find answers in your data.

Qlik Sense
There are 16 visualisation types listed by Qlik Sense, including histogram, gauge, container, box plot, scatter plot, and tree map.

Qlik’s Smart Search Capability is useful for speeding up the process of searching through data sets. The tool’s integrated AI, Insight Advisor, also helps accelerate analysis. One unique Qlik feature is its Associative Engine. This differs from regular data queries by returning all data, not just your selection, with the unselected data greyed out.

4. Ease of use and training requirements

Power BI
If your team is already familiar with Microsoft tools, then there’s little learning curve in Power BI. The interface and tools will be straightforward for Excel users.

At the more advanced level, Power BI users will benefit from learning a language called Data Analysis Expressions (DAX). Sending users on an accredited Power BI course is a proven way to boost their productivity with this software.

Qlik Sense
User reviews tend to point out that Qlik Sense has a slightly steeper learning curve than Power BI. There is Qlik training for users, analysts, architects, administrators, and developers.

Qlik’s advanced features rely on scripts and visualisation expressions. You’ll need to master these skills to load and transform data into apps within Qlik Sense.

5. Sharing and collaboration

Power BI
With Power BI, you can share reports with people both inside and outside your business. You’ll need a Power BI Pro or Premium Per User licence to do this. Recipients will also need one of those licences unless the shared content is in a Premium capacity.

To protect your data, you can add row-level security that prevents users accessing the underlying dataset. They’ll be able to view and interact with your reports, but not edit them.

Qlik Sense
Sharing and collaboration takes place in Qlik Sense’s cloud hub. Here, multiple users can create content and control who accesses dashboards and reports. You can also open up sheets, bookmarks, and stories to specified users.

The entry-level Qlik Sense Business product only allows up to five users in shared spaces. To increase this, you’ll have to opt for Qlik Sense Enterprise.

Summing up: Power BI vs Qlik Sense

Overall, the difference between Qlik Sense and Power BI boils down to:

  • Power BI has a lower starting price
  • Qlik Sense has a slightly steeper learning curve
  • Power BI is great for Excel users
  • Power BI has a few more built-in data connectors
  • Qlik Sense has a unique Associative Engine

Ultimately it’s up to your business to decide which of these pros and cons matters to you. And if you need any guidance, we have a team of impartial BI consultants ready to help.

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As BI consultants with 30 years of experience, we want to help you get the best return on BI software. Whether you need a proof of concept or a fully managed project, we’ll exceed your expectations.

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