Excel vs Tableau: The Comparison You Should Know

The comparison between excel vs Tableau is an overwhelming process for the statistics students. But it is not as overwhelming as it supposed to the students.

Let’s start with the primary comparison between Excel vs Tableau. Excel is a spreadsheet application powered by the Microsoft office. It is used for various types of calculations in math.

Apart from that, it is also used for many statistical operations and analysis of data. Excel offers multiple handy tools to data analysts.

On the other hand, Tableau is one of the most powerful business intelligence tools. It is used for Querying and reporting. Apart from that, it is quite helpful in online analytical processing and analytics. It is the best among the best visualization tools. 

Excel vs Tableau

Did you know that? Both of these software offers the same functionalities to perform some tasks. But the enhancement in the functionalities is a lot different between the Excel and Tableau.

Most of the users would like to prefer excel over Tableau, by comparison, some standard features of these tools. And excel is also having an advantage over Tableau because it has in existence from a long time.

On the other hand, Tableau is also getting popular because it has the most powerful business intelligence capabilities and also building the dashboards. The data analytics industry is not able to stick with specific tools to perform data analytics operations.

The data analytics industry is not able to stick with specific tools to perform data analytics operations. The industry usually sticks from excel to Tableau as per their requirements and needs. Let’s have a look at the in-depth comparison between Excel vs Tableau:-

Comparison between Excel vs Tableau

1) Definition

Excel is spreadsheet software. The spreadsheet software is electronic worksheets that display the data in a tabular format. In excel, the data is stored in “cells.” And the data can be manipulated by manually set formulas.

The best part of excel is, it is an excellent tool for data visualization. You can use graphs, charts, or presentations to highlight a particular insight or dataset in excel.

On the other hand, Tableau is a data visualization tool. Tableau format data in a pictorial or graphical view. It is helpful to quickly spot patterns, trends, or correlations between data points.

The best feature of Tableau is it is connected to third-party tools to pull data. Apart from that, it has user-friendly functionality, like drag-and-drop features or drop-down menus. It allows users to explore data freely and more effectively.

2) Data Discovery

Data discovery is quite helpful for businesses to remain competitive in the markets. It helps the enterprises to Find critical insights in data. But the ability of data discovery entirely differs in Excel and Tableau. 

Excel may not be an excellent option for data discovery. While working in Excel, you must have an idea that the data should help you to find the critical insights. But excel is having an advantage that it saves the data in tabular format.

It helps you to map out your path to insight. It does that with the help of building formulas, visualizations, and information analyzing. But the worst part of excel is this entire process causes that problem of drilling down into the data less flexible. Thus it is making it harder to explore information on a granular level. 

On the other hand, Tableau is the best software for data discovery. It allows you to explore data freely. You need not know the answer you want ahead of time.

It has built in drill-down and data blending features. With the help of these features, you’re able to spot correlations and trends. In the end, you can dig down to understand the causes of whatever happens with the data.

3) Automation Functionality

Automatic functionality helps the business in getting up-to-date data to make critical decisions. Both Excel and Tableau have great features to work with static and live data from multiple sources. 

Excel allows you to refresh an Excel worksheet automatically. It involves some manually programming processes i.e., creating macros. It helps you to automatically update the worksheet’s data whenever you open the file. You can create simple macros using Excel’s Power Pivot and macro recorder tools.

But if you want to create the advanced macros or manipulating existing ones. Then you need to have some VBA (Visual Basic Application) knowledge.

When you create the macro for the very first time, then it may be time-consuming for you. But once it creates, it will reduce the time it takes to complete repetitive tasks in the long run.

On the other hand, Tableau is a little more intuitive with creating processes and calculations. Let’s understand it with an example when we create calculations in a tabular format.

Then we need to type the formula once. After that, it will be stored as a field and applied to all rows referencing that source.

In this way, Tableau allows you to create an application for the recurring process. Other than this one, you can also create the custom formulas in Tableau. You will not find the custom formula feature in Excel’s Power Pivot table.

4) Visualizations

Visualization is the primary point between the comparison in Excel vs Tableau. Visualization is a process to highlight the most critical data in a given data set. 

Excel allows you to manipulate the data on the cell level. And then manually create visualizations like graphs, charts, PowerPoint presentations of your data. To simplify your visualization creation in Excel, you need to have a deep understanding of how Excel’s features work.

On the other hand, Tableau is one of the most popular data visualization tools in the world. That’s why it visualizes data from the start. Thus it is allowing you to see the significance right away.

Apart from that, the Tableau also differentiates correlations with the help of color, size, labels, and shapes. Thus it is giving you context as you drill down the data.

5) Usage

The significant uses of Excel are to store the data and manipulate the data using various operations. Excel stores the data into the spreadsheet using cells. But you can organize the data into the cell in our preferences.

Apart from that, you excel also use to represent the data into an eye-catchy manner. You can use tables and graphs to serve the data in excel. It also provides various kinds of charts to represent your data.

On the other hand, the primary use of Tableau is data visualization. As we know, it is the best data visualization software. It also offers the best user-friendly interface that allows users to perform data visualization tasks efficiently.

The best part of Tableau is, you can integrate it with other software and tools to get the raw data. And then visualize this raw data with ease.

6) Business purpose

Businesses usually use the excel to produce Quick on-off reports. Because it is quite easy to generate the report in excel. It offers the spreadsheet where the business analyst can put the data and then manipulate the data using some function. And finally, create the report in the shortest time without having the coding knowledge.

On the other hand, Tableau is a great tool to get insights from the data. It offers the self-service function that would pull the insights of the data. The data analyst uses Tableau to get insight from the raw data. Most of the time, Tableau automatically imports the data from various sources. 

7) Ease of use

Excel is easy to use the software as it offers the spreadsheet functionality, which is quite easy for the beginners to put the data and perform some basic mathematics operations.

But if you want to use the excel to the extreme level, then you need to have the knowledge of scripting (VB). You should also have the knowledge of macros to use it full-fledged.

On the other hand, Tableau is offering the best graphical user interface. It is offering drag and drops functionality. It means you need not have the coding skills required to use Tableau. 

8) Applications

Excel is widely used by data analysts, Developers, and ETL. It provides the functionality to data analytics in performing their daily tasks. 

On the other hand, Tableau is also popular among data analysts to get insights from the data. Apart from that, it is also used by the data scientists to perform some insight operation on data.

9) Stands out

Excel is best for data manipulations and descriptive statistics. It is used by the data analyst on a daily basis to perform data manipulation and descriptive statistics. 

On the other hand, Tableau is best to visualize any size of data without any hassle. Apart from that, it is also helpful to store a large volume of data. In excel, there is a limitation to store the data. 

10) Solution

Excel is not the most powerful software for a large corporation. Thus it is best applicable and suited for the small-scale corporation. Besides, it is also used for structured data. You can’t use it for unstructured data. Because it will become overwhelming for you to process the unstructured data in Excel.

On the other hand, Tableau is a great tool to get insight from the big data problems that are being represented. Besides, it also uses in large enterprises, and you can also use unstructured data in Tableau. It has the ability to process unstructured data with ease. 

11) Era

The world is changing at a rapid pace. Therefore the businesses are looking for more enriching visualization tools to view the insights from the data that can impact the business.

That’s why they prefer Tableau over excel. The reason is Excel has some essential features for data visualization. But it is as a traditional structured tool. And it was also found it the late 90s.

On the other hand, Tableau was founded in 2003. It also offers modern features to visualize the data. Now it is a product of Salesforce, which has provided more power to this tool. Both of this software get the updates on regular intervals, but still, excel is a bit an ancient than Tableau.

12) Integration

Excel offers integration functionality to users. You can connect Excel to different external sources with the help of some plugins. On the other hand, Tableau has many sources to connect.

Apart from that, it is also having the capability of a cloud. But if you want to integrate any sources to excel, then you need to have some system requirements. But if we talk about the Tableau. It is much easy to make live connections to external sources. It provides faster speed and access to connect with external sources.

13) Versions

Excel is a Microsoft licensed software. It comes with the Microsoft office. Thus it gets its version with every new version of Microsoft office i.e., office 2019.

On the other hand, the versions of Tableau. Tableau has multiple versions of desktop, server, and cloud-based. You can pick either one as per your requirements. 

14. Statistics vs Dynamic

Excel is a static tool because, in Excel, we load the data first and then get the representation of the data. Excel also allows us to import the Data from External sources by using some plugins. But to use the excel on its full potential, then you need to have the advance knowledge of the features and the functions.

On the other hand, a Tableau is a dynamic tool in nature. It can pull the data from external sources in real time. You can also use that data on the spot to get the insight from that data. Data analytics use Tableau for various purposes.

For this, the Tableau need not require any complex script. The users can have easy access to its function because of its user-friendly interface. Data analysts use Tableau for many purposes. It does not require any complex scripting — ease access and user-friendly.

15) Cost

Excel is not a single product launched by Microsoft. If you want to purchase MS Excel, then you need to purchase the entire MS office. There are two ways to purchase the MS office; the first one is the offline version, where you need to pay a one-time fee i.e., $439.99.

You can also get the yearly subscription of office 365. Its charges are office 365 home for $99.99/ year, personal for $69.99, and office home. You can check the latest pricing of MS office at MS office Pricing.

On the other hand, Tableau offers three different types of subscriptions to users. All these subscriptions are as follows the creator, explorer, and the viewer. All these packages are charged on a monthly basis. You need to pay $70 for the creator plan.

While on the other hand, you need to pay $35 for the desktop version and $42 for the cloud deployment. You can check the latest pricing of Tableau at Tableau Pricing.


Now you have get the in depth comparison between Excel vs Tableau. From this comparison you may be quite to choose the best one among them. At last I would like to say that Excel is quite useful for the small scale businesses. On the other hand, Tableau is quite useful for the large scale businesses.

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