Image: SFIO CRACHO/Adobe Stock Alteryx and Tableau are well-known business intelligence tools used by organizations to derive actionable insights. We compare their features and roles to understand where each is Continue Reading

Image: SFIO CRACHO/Adobe Stock

Alteryx and Tableau are well-known business intelligence tools used by organizations to derive actionable insights. We compare their features and roles to understand where each is effective and whether they compete or complement each other.

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What is Alteryx?

Alteryx is an intuitive low-to-no code and end-to-end data analytics platform that empowers users to speedily generate actionable insights using substantial amounts of data. Alteryx Intelligence Suite and Alteryx Designer assist users to solve their most distressing business problems — spanning from helping to unlock insights within text data, images and documents, and automating every analytics step, to optimizing their use of data science and machine learning models.

Drag and drop automation blocks for text mining and analytics

Alteryx enables users to painlessly extract structured and unstructured text data. Users can expedite text mining and analytics through the use of drag-and-drop automation building blocks. Using Google Tesseract’s optical character recognition functionality, users can straightforwardly extract text data from PDF and image files.

Topic modeling also helps users recognize and extract concepts in their data. Additionally, sentiment analysis helps users understand the emotion behind their data. Such sentiment insights can be shared with others by creating word clouds.

Computer vision tool

Alteryx uses computer vision to help its users to unlock insights from images. Alteryx’s computer vision tool group assists to process massive sets of documents in a rapid and automated manner. Users can take advantage of built-in algorithms to balance or enhance images through model building with pre-processed images. As images are being prepared for modeling, OCR can be used to transform images or PDF files into structured data.

Clients can also utilize image recognition capabilities to build models that can classify images by groups, or simply select pre-trained models that suit their business intelligence needs.

Automated machine learning

Automated machine learning presents users with the data science capabilities of Alteryx. Alteryx shows its flexibility by offering three modes to create sophisticated machine learning pipelines: Fully automated, assisted and expert modes. Innovative approaches such as Random Forest, XGBoost and Elastic Net are usable by experts and beginners alike, making Alteryx an effective business intelligence tool.

What is Tableau?

Tableau is one of the leading analytics platforms for business intelligence; it uses visual analytics to transform how people use data to effectively deal with problems.Tableau’s mission is to help people see and understand data. As such, it is a platform that enables people to make data-driven decisions confidently by providing simple solutions to complex problems, quicker feedback to questions and new and impactful insights.

Live visual analytics

Tableau uses live visual analytics to power unlimited data exploration. Its interactive dashboards help users instinctively unearth hidden insights as Tableau utilizes the intrinsic human ability to swiftly identify visual patterns. This expedites the generation of actionable insights from data.

On-premises or cloud connection to data

With Tableau, users can connect to data — whether it’s big data, a relational database, spreadsheet, non-relational database, data warehouse or cloud app — both on-premise and in the cloud. They can access and combine heterogeneous data without having to write code. Users can securely connect to these data sources from Tableau and combine data from disparate sources to create a unified view of data through visualizations.

Powerful analytics

Tableau promises exceptional analytics; you can easily carry out complex calculations from existing data in Tableau. Users can also take advantage of the drag-and-drop functionality to improve their efficiency. They can drag and drop forecasts and reference lines. They can also review statistical summaries, carry out trend analyses and regressions, and seek correlations to accurately understand data. Users can resultantly confidently make data-driven decisions.

Interactive maps

Tableau uses interactive maps to ensure your data stands out. Tableau maps encourage users to make the most of users’ geographical data. With built-in postal codes for more than 50 countries across the world, users can automatically create interactive maps. They can also use custom geocodes for customized regions.

Collaboration and sharing

Tableau encourages collaboration with other users through options to share data in real-time as visualizations and dashboards at the expense of static slides. Users can take a creative approach to sharing and collaboration as Tableau enables them to create compelling narratives to provoke and incite others to generate their own questions.

Head-to-head comparison: Alteryx vs. Tableau

Data preparation

Between the two tools, Alteryx is the stronger choice for data preparation, as Alteryx focuses on self-service analytics. The tool excels at presenting data in a usable format. Users can use Alteryx Designer to create data workflows from data preparation, wrangling and analytics to process automation.

Tableau is not as potent as Alteryx in data preparation, although it provides merging and blending options for datasets.

Data representation

Where Tableau struggles in data preparation it makes up for in data visualization, as Tableau allows users to flexibly use graphical representations to organize and present data visually. Tableau goes beyond the basic types of data visualization to encourage creativity in how users visualize data, thus enriching the data visualization process.

Tableau offers interactive data visualization that Alteryx struggles to provide. The reports generated by Alteryx are often complex for users outside data or business intelligence roles. With Alteryx, users can load data into third-party visualization tools through its Analytic Templates.

Advanced analytics

Compared to Alteryx, Tableau plays catch-up in advanced analytics. Alteryx has built-in predictive analytics tools to carry out time-series, regression and prescriptive analytics tasks. These tools enrich data to boost actionable business insights.

Tableau, specifically Tableau Prep, may not have all these capabilities currently, but it allows integration with Python or R to allow users to utilize similar advanced analytics functionalities as Alteryx in their workflows.


An individual Alteryx user license starts at $2,300/year, whereas Tableau products start at $5/month per user. For team and organizational licenses, contact the vendors for pricing information.

PurposeSimplify the data preparation process.Simplify and enrich the data visualization process.
Data connectorsSalesforce Einstein Analytics Output Tool, Adobe Analytics Tool, SharePoint List Output Tool, MongoDB Output ToolFile-Based Connectors, In-Built Data Connectors, Actian Matrix, Apache Drill, Aster Database, Box, Cloudera Hadoop, Databricks
SchedulingUsers can schedule trigger for an Alteryx application or workflow.Tableau Scheduling allows users to accommodate fresh extracts and run workflows.
Data source integrationIt is possible to integrate 200+ data sources.It is possible to integrate 90+ data sources.
ETL capabilitiesBuilt-in ETL capabilitiesETL features are through Tableau Prep.
Technical expertise requirementBlending and integration necessitate a higher technical requirement than Tableau.Lower compared to Alteryx as data is often already polished.

Selecting the right BI tool

If your focus is mainly on data preparation, then Alteryx might be worth considering; however, if your use case is focused on data visualization, then Tableau may be the tool for you. Even so, these two tools complement each other, so it doesn’t have to be an either-or choice. You may instead choose to add both to your business intelligence portfolio.

Additional BI tool comparisons

For more comparisons of BI solutions, check out these TechRepublic articles: Power BI vs. TableauPower BI vs. Zoho AnalyticsSAP BusinessObjects vs. Oracle BITableau vs. DataboxDomo BI vs. Dundas BIZoho Analytics vs. Qlik SenseLooker vs Tableau and top Power BI alternatives.