But what use is data without understanding? What’s the point of having thousands – even billions – of rows in a database if you can’t make them speak? Today, pulling insights from this data is almost more important than knowing how to collect it. A new career path has even emerged… The famous data scientist!
Not everyone needs an airplane to get to work in the morning. A car, or even a bike, depending on your distance and means, would largely suffice. When you think about it, it would actually be fairly ridiculous to take a plane to go 2 km! The same logic applies to visualization solutions. The market for these products is huge, and has become more and more accessible over the past few years. It encompasses many players, each with their own particularities in terms of functionality, limitations, and of course cost – some tools can cost upwards of several hundred thousand dollars. One of the fastest growing markets right now is unquestionably made up of organizations without the budget, the skill or the time to really benefit from a high-end dashboarding tool.
This doesn’t mean that we should be giving up on precision or using approximations. It’s just a question of finding the right fit. The market is now starting to make visualization solutions accessible to small organizations without the means to pay a team of elite analysts and developers to take care of visualizing their data.
These organizations need simple, accessible solutions at low costs. This was Google’s philosophy behind the launch of Data Studio Standard and Data Studio 360:
On the same level, one of the direct competitors of Data Studio is Microsoft Power BI, a result of the acquisition of Datazen Software by Microsoft in April 2014.
With the launch of Data Studio 360 announced in March 2016, Google has now joined the ranks of data visualization solution suppliers. But can Data Studio really compete with Microsoft Power BI? Currently, a strict comparison would be biased, if not impossible, given the fact that Power BI is an established tool, while Google Data Studio is just coming out of Beta. Still, let’s take a look.
In terms of the number of possible connectors, Power BI has a far wider range than Google Data Studio. However, the fact that most of the connectors with Google products are accessible through Data Studio – including Google Sheets, Google’s equivalent to Excel – is a real strength, especially given the omnipresence of Google Analytics as the measurement tool and Google AdWords as the advertising tool used by a majority of sites.
Another thing that sets Google Data Studio apart is its ease of use and pared down interface, in the spirit, as always, of making data accessible to a maximum number of people. Its capacity for allowing multiple users to work simultaneously on the same dashboard is considerable, and offers the same advantages as the Drive office suite (Sheets/Slides/Docs/Forms).
The major difference between the two tools apart from the DNA of the parent company that appears in every product is that Google Data Studio is clearly positioned as a cloud-based tool. Power BI is available as three distinct tools (Power BI desktop, Power BI mobile, and the cloud-based version, Power BI Embedded), while Data Studio is only available on the cloud. Google has even pushed this philosophy of rejecting classic data reporting to the point that data exports are not available in Data Studio, in order to encourage users to work with dynamic data rather than static data. And finally, Power BI bills users based on the amount of data they consume (the free version of the tool allows for up to 1 GB per user) while Data Studio opted to limit users in the standard (free) version to five dashboards per user account (the paid version goes up to 1000 dashboards per user).
Though it still has a way to go, Data Studio 360 seems like a promising solution. Here, we are witnessing the emergence of a new Google/Microsoft duel. Each tool is strongly influenced by the guiding principles of its parent company – and supported by a horde of loyal fans! While both tools serve a purpose, I’m sure you can guess which one we would shelve. 😉
The free version of Data Studio is now available to the public. Although it’s not quite there yet, new additions will quickly bring this product to maturity. We can’t wait!