ThoughtSpot vs. Power BI - The 2024 Comparison

Embedded Analytics
Apr 4, 2024
ThoughtSpot vs. Power BI - The 2024 Comparison

Business intelligence tools are one of the most important assets for data-driven companies in 2024. Whether you want to build dashboards internally or create different visualization types for your business users, having them in your tool stack can bring a positive ROI for your business.

But how do you choose the right tool for the job? ThoughtSpot and Microsoft’s Power BI are two great choices. One is a new-ish AI-powered app with self-service features (ThoughtSpot) while the other is more geared towards internal reporting (PBI).

Let’s see which one of the two comes out on top.

Power BI vs ThoughtSpot: the ease of use

When talking about the ease of use for any analytics platform, we have to consider two sides of the story: how easy it is to use for your internal team and your end-users accessing your dashboards and reports.

ThoughSpot is built with connectivity in mind, allowing your internal team to use natural language processing and machine learning to ask questions about your data. In theory, it works like a Google of sorts. You have a database and you ask it questions in plain English, without requiring the knowledge of SQL, Python, or similar languages.

In practice, it’s more complex than that, and for this feature to work, you have to lay significant groundwork ahead, for someone to be able to do these searches and e.g. do data forecasting based on historical data. If you already have a team of data analysts on board, ThoughtSpot does not have a bad learning curve.

On the other hand, working with Power BI is like using Excel on steroids. And if like the author of this blog, your Excel skills are pretty poor, this means plenty of learning. Companies already deep in the Microsoft network of products are going to have an easier time creating dashboards and reports in Power BI.

However, enterprise teams commonly have a number of Power BI specialists who work just in this tool - which is what we recommend having if you’re implementing the tool across your organization. You’re going to need the knowledge of a language called DAX (data analytics expressions) and there are developers specializing in just this.

Neither tool is phenomenal in terms of ease of use for business users who view and edit dashboards while they are embedded. ThoughtSpot does not have many features for data exploration, and when trying to do this, dashboards are often glitchy and unresponsive.

For Power BI, the end user can expect issues with data performance. The bigger your databases, the slower the dashboards will load. Setting permissions for different user groups can also be pretty complicated.

PS. for more details on ease of use and features, check out our full ThoughtSpot review.

The visualizations

After cleaning and data modeling, your data should be turned into engaging visuals for all the relevant stakeholders to understand. So, instead of tables and rows of data, you get beautiful graphs and charts that show changes in data and can be shared easily.

thoughtspot review on reddit

In this battle, ThoughtSpot is the obvious loser. According to a number of user reviews, the choice of visualizations is rather limited. Also, they don’t look the best compared to industry leaders like Power BI, Tableau, Qlik, Looker and other ThoughtSpot competitors.

thoughtspot dashboard
ThoughtSpot dashboard built on top of Google Sheets data. Source.

Power BI reigns supreme in the visualization department. You get a wide choice of graphs, charts, heatmaps, pivot tables, and more. Users can interact with these to view the data they need, both internally and in embedded dashboards.

Data sources

Whether you need internal reporting or embedded dashboards, having access to a wide variety of data sources is important. Your developers can have an easier time connecting datasets to dashboards and typically, you can go to market with less work and less time spent on building complex integrations.

ThoughtSpot is rich in integrations: Snowflake, Azure Synapse Analytics, Google BigQuery, Amazon Redshift, Databricks, Oracle, MySQL, as well as a range of ETL and ELT tools.

thoughtspot integrations

Power BI comes with connections to proprietary Microsoft tools: Excel, CSV, JSON, data folders, PDFs and Sharepoint folders. There are plenty of connectors available, to platforms like Azure, Salesforce, Databricks, and others.

If connectors are a concern for your business mode, ThoughtSpot might be the better choice because of the huge variety. Meanwhile, Power BI is better for those who rely on Microsoft apps in their business operations and need them as data sources.

ThoughtSpot vs. Microsoft Power BI - embedding

If you want to create dashboards and embed them in your app, this functionality works pretty well in ThoughtSpot. Embedding is a matter of copying and pasting a few lines of code and you get data analytics features in your SaaS app.

As for the end-users, the experience is not that great. The data visualization options are rather limited and the user experience for self-service analytics is pretty poor. There is not much exploration that can be done in real-time and it’s better for situations where the end-user just views the dashboard.

With Power BI, creating dashboards is a complication in itself. Embedding them is as easy as copying and pasting some HTML code in the appropriate place on your website or app.

But if you want to customize your dashboard or add different types of personalizations, custom levels of access, authentication or data security… You’re going to need an experienced Power BI developer. 

For small businesses, ThoughtSpot is the better choice for embedding because it’s more user-friendly for your dev team. However, neither of the two BI solutions is great for the end-user.

ThoughtSpot vs Power BI - pricing

Out of the two tools, ThoughtSpot wins right off the bat on one account - transparency and pure logic. Figuring out ThoughtSpot pricing is a matter of visiting the right page on their website and picking a plan.

For internal and on-premise data analytics, the pricing plans start at $95 per month for up to 5 users and 5 million rows of that. The next plan for data analysis is $1,250 per month, giving you up to 25 million rows of data. Both plans come with ThoughtSpot’s natural language search.

The pricing for embedded is a bit more complex, according to user reviews. You get charged according to how much data your end-users query, which can be wildly unpredictable as ThoughtSpot randomly queries data sometimes. So, if scalability is your main concern, ThoughtSpot Everywhere might not be the best fit.

On the other hand, figuring out the pricing for Power BI requires some mental gymnastics. Their pricing page says that it starts at $10 per user per month, but that does not include the various licenses and SKUs (stock-keeping units).

Basically, if you want to give everyone in your team edit access, you’re forced to grab Power BI Premium with Microsoft Fabric, which comes in at about $5,000 per month. So, you need to determine your use cases and see who needs to view and edit the data.

And when it comes to Power BI for embedded analytics, you’ll need to know how many people will be accessing your dashboards and how much virtual memory and RAM you’ll be using. 

The verdict

Which of the two analytics tools is better? It comes down to your unique needs.

ThoughtSpot is the better choice if you prefer ease of use, natural language processing and machine learning features. It has transparent pricing for internal reporting and it’s pretty easy to determine how much you’re going to pay every month.

Power BI is better if you’re already deep in the Microsoft ecosystem and if you have access to developers and data experts who worked with PBI before. It has a range of advanced analytics features for ad hoc reporting, the data visualization choices are excellent and with the right amount of invested time, it has great usability.

For embedded analytics, neither is the ideal choice because they can be difficult to embed and set permissions for, and customization options are limited. Most importantly, pricing is incredibly difficult to predict for both BI tools.

Create functional embedded dashboards with Luzmo

For internal reporting, Luzmo probably isn’t your first choice. And it shouldn’t be, because it’s not what we do best.

luzmo dashboard

At Luzmo, we help you build and share amazing embedded dashboards. Connect to your favorite data sources (data warehouse, data lakehouse, CRM, and other apps) with our capable APIs and share your cloud data in a dashboard.

We’re built for SaaS companies like yours. Embed your dashboard in just a few clicks, customize it so it fits into your product, set permissions and authentication rules, and give your business users access to their key metrics in real-time. And the best part is - pricing is not only affordable but also easy to scale and predict on a monthly basis.

Grab your free trial and start creating functional, beautiful embedded dashboards today!

Mile Zivkovic

Mile Zivkovic

Senior Content Writer

Mile Zivkovic is a content marketer specializing in SaaS. Since 2016, he’s worked on content strategy, creation and promotion for software vendors in verticals such as BI, project management, time tracking, HR and many others.

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