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Sisense vs Power BI: Which is Better for Embedded Analytics

June 8, 2023

Mieke Houbrechts

Which business intelligence platform is better for embedded analytics: Sisense or Power BI? Read our Sisense vs Power BI comparison to find out.

As with any SaaS product, people buy your app to work more efficiently and become more productive. Reports and analytics are a vital part of that productivity. Businesses can make decisions up to 5 times faster when using data insights to validate their assumptions. Therefore, smart SaaS businesses invest in a dashboard to help their users get the most out of their products.

SaaS businesses can offer key insights and usage statistics to customers in-app in various ways. You can choose to build analytics in-house, or embed an off-the-shelf BI solution to save time and money. In this article, we’ll compare two established BI tools: Sisense vs Power BI.

Let's explore which one is best for embedding into a SaaS application.

What is Sisense embedded analytics?

Sisense is a powerful end-to-end data analytics platform. Besides connecting data and creating reports, they focus on infusing data everywhere you work. With Sisense embedded analytics, you can embed interactive data visualizations in any application or workflow. Besides their low code tools and APIs for embedding, they also offer AI analytics features, powered by machine learning.

What is Power BI embedded?

Microsoft Power BI is one of the leading tools for business intelligence. It lets you create interactive data visualizations to make your business data more insightful. Part of that analytics suite is Power BI Embedded. A robust tool that allows you to embed Power BI reports, dashboards or tiles in web apps and SaaS platforms.

Sisense vs Power BI - Features

Although they are both business intelligence tools, Power BI and Sisense are more different than you may think. In this review, we'll focus on comparing their capabillities for embedded analytics. Let's look at some of the most and least liked features.

Sisense: pros and cons

Sisense's analytics solution gets praised online for its great visuals. Overall, customers find it easy to build dashboards and widgets. The Sisense dashboard builder is very rich in chart types and configuration options. On top of that, they look good and are easy to white-label.

To embed Sisense in your web app or workflows, they offer a comprehensive Embed SDK. Users like the very detailed permission system, which nicely segments data for different end-users. They have a clear focus on embedded analytics, which is refreshing compared to traditional BI tools like Tableau or Looker.

Example of Sisense embedded analytics
Source

On the flip side, even though the dashboard builder is quite intuitive, the same thing can't be said for embedding. Many users find the initial setup difficult with a steep learning curve. Some users get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of features, and find the app too complex. Although users like the detailed permission system, they found it difficult and cumbersome to set up acesss rights and authorization.

Hosting is also a big pain, because Sisense has different versions for Linux and Windows. Since both versions support features that the other doesn't, this has been a frustrating experience for many.

While Sisense clearly positions embedded analytics as their focus, there are still a few gaps in its user experience.

Power BI: pros and cons

Power BI is one of the pioneers of traditional BI. Born as a tool for internal reporting, it connects with a wide range of data sources: whether it's Excel, JSON, relational databases like MySQL, or web services like Google Analytics. Besides its many data connectors, it also has data preparation and data cleaning built-in.

What's more, Power BI offers a wide range of chart types to visualize data for your customers, with many interactive elements to improve the experience. You can also build and import your own chart type, which your developers will love. Users like the customization options and row-level security, which lets them create rich, personalized dashboards for customers.

Example of Power BI embedded
Source

For those already on the Microsoft stack, embedding Power BI is often a logical choice. Because Power BI is widely adopted for internal reporting, many consider it a safe choice for embedded analytics. And that may cost them dearly... Let's look at the downsides.

First of all, Power BI is initially designed as a desktop tool, rather than a modern cloud-first SaaS. For SaaS businesses operating 100% in the cloud, it's a hassle to switch between Power BI desktop and the cloud version.

This brings us to ease of use in general, which many users complain about. Although Power BI's dashboard builder is straightforward, Power BI Embedded is definitely not built for beginners. Many users complain that adding your own branding to the dashboards is a clunky experience. In addition, securing portal access to viewers takes a lot of time. Your developers also won't like to hear that their APIs are limited, requiring lots of workarounds.

Although Power BI is a very comprehensive tool that can do almost anything, the embedded use case is clearly not their core focus.

Power BI vs Sisense - Pricing

Although their plans for business intelligence are very straightforward, Power BI embedded pricing is nothing like it. Pricing is based on your node type, which is a combination of how much memory and virtual cores you'll need. Depending on your node type, you'll pay anywhere between $735 and $23.5k per month, which is a difference of night and day. For SaaS businesses that scale at an unpredictable pace, it's virtually impossible to estimate upfront how much Power BI will end up costing them.

Besides paying for capacity, anyone who builds and embeds reports in your organization will also need a Power BI Pro license, which costs $10 per user per month. So if you have a big team of designers or customer success reps who make changes to reports frequently, this can quickly add up to the bill.

Although Power BI's pricing model is difficult, we praise them for actually putting their pricing online. Sisense pricing, for example, is less transparent. To get a quote, you need to get in touch with their sales team.

We did a little digging on Reddit to find out what users report. Most people agree that you won't get Sisense for less than $25k per year, and warn to watch out for hidden costs. Reported prices range between $35k and $75k yearly. On AWS Marketplace, we found a price range between $40k and $109k. Although it's unclear what the exact pricing points are, most customers mention that their price depends on a combination of user seats, hosting and usage.

On a monthly basis, that means you're looking at a $2-9k range for Sisense. Although Power BI has lower entry-level pricing, Sisense's highest-tier pricing is less extreme. We'd recommend making the comparison based on your individual use case to find out what's best for you.

The verdict: Sisense or Power BI?

Although both tools are very powerful, Sisense wins the battle because it's overall better suited for the embedded analytics use case. Although Power BI has a cheaper entry point, it can quickly get very expensive as you scale. So paying extra for Sisense in the beginning may be worth it.

However, both tools are difficult to set up, with a steep learning curve. Complex hosting and switching between desktop and web apps are a real hassle. If you're looking for something quick and easy to inject into your SaaS app, there's a third, better option for you.

Luzmo: a Power BI and Sisense alternative for embedded analytics

Adding an analytics dashboard to your SaaS product should be a quick and painless job. You want your developers to focus on your core product, not creating and updating charts. While both Power BI and Sisense are strong and feature-complete tools, they are not the most user-friendly. And that's where Luzmo can make the difference.

An example of Luzmo embedded analytics

Creating dashboards in Luzmo is a simple drag-and-drop affair. Anyone on your team, whether an account manager or support rep, can easily create and update dashboards without hours of training. The same goes for embedding. Any developer can get Luzmo up and running in their app in days - or even hours - instead of weeks.

Although it's easy to use, Luzmo is far from lightweight. With its comprehensive APIs, your dashboards will integrate seamlessly, fully adapt to your platform's branding, and deeply interact with your product's core features. Setting user roles and permissions is a breeze, and so is keeping your data safe at all times.

Sign up for your free trial today, and see for yourself how easy embedded analytics can be!

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