Tableau vs Excel: Which One Should You Use? | 365 Data Science (2023)

Tableau vs Excel: Which One Should You Use? | 365 Data Science (1)

Tableau vs Excel is a hot discussion topic in the data science community. Indeed, Excel is not a top skill that employers are looking for in your resume. But it has been around for ages and you are probably familiar with tons of useful tricks for data cleaning and analysis. In comparison, Tableau is a newcomer that has many aspiring data scientists wondering what its benefits are.

In this article, we will take a deeper look at the Tableau vs Excel dilemma and whether you should be using one over the other.

You can watch our dedicated video on the topic embedded below or scroll down to keep reading.

Table of Contents

  • What is Tableau?
  • What Is Tableau Useful for Business Intelligence?
  • Tableau vs Excel: What Are the Differences?
  • What Are the Advantages of Tableau over Excel?
  • When to Use Tableau vs Excel?
  • Tableau vs Excel: Next Steps

What Is Tableau?

In a nutshell, Tableau is a BI software that allows non-technical users to visualize their data and work with it almost immediately, lowering know-how barriers dramatically.

While both Tableau and Excel are used for data analysis, it is top-notch tools such as Tableau are what distinguishes successful Business Intelligence (BI) analystsfrom average performers. According to BI Survey, it has grown to become one of the most popular business intelligence tools in the world.

If you are interested in learning more about the data science field and the career opportunities it offers, go ahead and download our free data science career guide.

(Video) Excel vs Tableau - Which Tool To Use? | Tableau & Excel Difference | Tableau vs Excel | Simplilearn

Why Is Tableau Useful for Business Intelligence?

In the past, business analysts needed the help of IT personnel who would assist them in gathering raw data and preprocessing it. Only then could they start working on its visualization.

Essentially democratizing data viz, Tableau allowed BI analysts to be independent. With its easy-to-navigate interface, non-technical people can easily load data into the program and start playing with it, extracting meaningful and intuitive insights in the forms of visualizations. This way, analysts don’t have to spend too much time on numbers which provide limited insights and instead focus on data that matters.

This is why we can confidently say that Tableau is an indispensable tool in the arsenal of most corporate business intelligence analysts, data analysts, and data scientists.

Tableau vs Excel: What Are the Differences?

Many people are uncertain about the difference between Tableau vs Excel, which is specifically designed for spreadsheets. However, it’s important to note here that both tools serve different purposes. Using Tableau doesn’t necessarily mean you can forget about Excel and vice versa.

While Excel is not as powerful or intuitive as Tableau when it comes to , the latter is not optimal as a data creation tool.

Although Tableau has several database management functionalities – such as creating duplicate sheets or extracting totals – the program isn’t the best solution when you would like to perform multiple operations with your data before you start analysing it.

Moreover, this tool isn’t great for multi-layered calculations. It is able to calculate its own custom fields, but it shouldn’t be used as a spreadsheet tool for multi-layered calculations such as the preparation of a budget in Excel.

(Video) Tableau vs Excel: When to use Tableau and when to use Excel

What Are the Advantages of Tableau over Excel?

Data Visualization

Where Tableau surpasses the competition is in data visualizations such as charts. It is a very smart program that allows you to present your work in a more powerful way compared to Excel.

For example, when you work with geographical data, there is no way Excel could interpret the cells in your spreadsheet as a geographical location. On the other hand, Tableau recognizes that and allows you to visualize such data and see how a variable is distributed geographically.

Combination of Several Types of Charts

Moreover, unlike Excel, Tableau allows you to combine several types of charts and build meaningful, interactive dashboards that facilitate additional analysis.

Once you visualize your data, you can easily dig deeper and explore its granularity, finding the reason for unusual spikes or investigating certain trends.


Even novice Tableau users would be able to save a significant amount of time if they transfer their pre-designed existing spreadsheets into the software. Uploading new data and updating visuals is more rapid in Tableau vs Excel.

SQL Integration

If you have an enormous amount of data in SQL, you may have difficulty interpreting it without some help. Integrating SQL and Tableau is one way to overcome that problem. The visual analytics program has the power to quickly deliver sophisticated visual analyses, so the tool is a perfect match for the programming language.

If you’d like to learn how to maximize your data analysis and coding abilities, then our SQL + Tableau course might be the perfect fit.

(Video) Tableau vs Excel | Difference Between Tableau vs Excel | Excel vs Tableau | Intellipaat

When to Use Tableau vs Excel?

A competent analyst needs both Excel and Tableau, given that they serve different purposes. While Tableau is superior when it comes to visuals and dashboards, Excel is a spreadsheet tool we need in order to perform multi-layered calculations. The two software programs complement each other to ensure your analysis is first-class.

In the same way a combat soldier carries a rifle and a pistol at the same time and uses them under different circumstances, a business analyst should know how to work with both Excel and Tableau and apply each of them when needed.

Tableau vs Excel: Next Steps

If you’re an aspiring data scientist or business analyst who is just now getting acquainted with Tableau, it’s a good idea to experiment with the different ways of incorporating other software such as Excel or SQL. Not only will this boost your skillset, but you have the chance to impress your future employers as well.

And if you’re looking for the right place to start learning, you’ve arrived at your destination! The 365 Data Science Program offers you self-paced courses led by renowned industry experts. Starting from the very basics all the way to advanced specialization, you will learn by doing with a myriad of practical exercises and real-world business cases. If you want to see how the training works, start with our free lessons by signing up below.


Why Do Companies Use Tableau?

Companies use Tableau because of its user-friendly interface and ability to create meaningful data visualizations. Essentially, data scientists or business analysts who are looking to drive their company’s decision-making process benefit from this tool as it is easy to load and analyze data efficiently, in addition to presenting it in a clear and concise manner for stakeholders. In this way, companies that utilize Tableau internally save time and resources while optimizing the processes that rely on business insights to produce successful outcomes.

By using Tableau, professionals don’t have to spend hours upon hours pouring over numerical data, which might lead to limited perspectives, and instead can draw their attention on the data that actually matters. Moreover, presenting their findings to the company stakeholders – who probably don’t have much technical knowledge – is simplified by the data visualization tools that the software offers. In other words, the ability to create and combine different types of charts presents valuable insights in a more accessible format for those with a limited understanding of how data works.

Is Tableau Better Than Excel?

In some ways, Tableau is better than Excel, such as data visualization, however, the opposite can also be said: the latter comes out on top in certain aspects – for example, with its database management functionalities.

(Video) PowerBI Vs Tableau| Which One Should You Use

Here, it’s important to understand that the two tools serve different purposes. While Tableau offers ways to create meaningful and intuitive visualizations, Excel is best suited for work on data cleaning and multi-layered calculations. Of course, Excel can also create some visualizations of its own, but it is not as skilled as its competitor. In reverse, you can certainly manage a database in Tableau, yet its functions are quite limited. If you’re tasked with a more complicated analysis or multi-layered calculations, such as preparing a budget, you’d be better off relying on the Microsoft Office tool.

Essentially, you need both Excel and Tableau to deliver truly great results. The two software programs complement each other to ensure your analysis is first-class.

What Are the Advantages of Using Tableau over Excel?

There are several advantages of using Tableau vs Excel, including data visualization, software integration, and efficiency.

In terms of presenting data to stakeholders, Tableau offers better opportunities to showcase your work and insights in a clear, persuasive manner. While Excel can also create different types of charts, with Tableau you have the ability to combine these types in order to maximize your findings’ impact. Another benefit is its ability to present geographical data – something that Excel cannot do. Essentially, the software tool is able to recognize and present cells in your database as geographical locations and present them in a map format.

Software integration is a big pro when considering working with Tableau. The tool allows you to combine several other software packages, including Excel, as well as work in conjunction with programming languages such as SQL and Python. This optimizes your analysis and draws even more valuable insights from the data at hand.

Finally, Tableau saves you time. Because of its easy-to-navigate interface and intuitive approach, analysts don’t spend too much time on unnecessary steps that will otherwise slow them down. Instead, they can directly extract business insights and drive the decision-making process forward.


Why Tableau is better than Excel for data visualization? ›

Tableau can access and display unlimited amounts of data. We have customers that analyze 10's of billions of rows of data. Create pivot tables with unlimited number of rows, columns, members, and cells. Excel has many limitations in all these areas that confound even simple analysis.

Is Tableau a better tool than Excel to store data? ›

While Tableau is superior when it comes to visuals and dashboards, Excel is a spreadsheet tool we need in order to perform multi-layered calculations. The two software programs complement each other to ensure your analysis is first-class.

Why we use Tableau over Excel? ›

While Excel allows users to analyze data and perform calculations, Tableau leverages visual analytics-- bringing with it a new way to interact with and analyze data.

Should I learn Excel before Tableau? ›

One of the core skills that can help you learn Tableau faster is a solid understanding of spreadsheets, such as those in Microsoft Excel.

Which spreadsheet is best for data science? ›

Excel is everywhere. It's the go-to analysis tool and spreadsheet software for many business users. With Tableau, it's even more powerful. With a drag-and-drop approach to visual analysis, Tableau makes exploring Excel data faster and easier.

Should data scientists learn Tableau? ›

Tableau is immensely important when it comes to communication. Data Scientists have to usually break the information down to make it easier to understand for the teams, colleagues, executives, and customers.

Will Tableau replace Excel? ›

Tableau was not designed to replace Excel but instead to augment it. Tableau can perform visualizations very easily, perform exploratory analysis, and share information, but it cannot create data. This is where Excel comes in.

What is the disadvantage of Tableau? ›

Tableau does not provide the feature of automatic refreshing of the reports with the help of scheduling. There is no option of scheduling in Tableau. Therefore, there is always some manual effort required when users need to update the data in the back-end. Tableau is not a complete open tool.

Is Excel best for data analysis? ›

Microsoft Excel is one of the most popular applications for data analysis. Equipped with built-in pivot tables, they are without a doubt the most sought-after analytic tool available. It is an all-in-one data management software that allows you to easily import, explore, clean, analyze, and visualize your data.

Can Tableau do everything Excel can? ›

The second thing to understand about Tableau is that it's not a spreadsheet replacement. Excel can handle a number of tasks that Tableau either can't perform well or can't handle at all. The reverse holds true as well.

When should you not use Tableau? ›

How NOT to use Tableau
  1. Replicate a report or chart designed in another tool. ...
  2. Try to show tons of data on one screen with a dozen (or more) quick filters. ...
  3. Try to connect every table in your database using the multiple tables option. ...
  4. Spend way too much time on formatting. ...
  5. Connecting to already summarised data.
Aug 27, 2013

What is Tableau not good for? ›

However, Tableau still has several limitations: Tableau focuses primarily on visualization and cannot work with uncleaned data. In order to efficiently use Tableau, you need to do proper data cleaning in the underlying database first. Lacks data modeling and data dictionary capabilities for Data Analysts.

Is Excel enough for data science? ›

Using Excel for Data Analysis

The program is not just ideal for basic data computations but also comes in handy in data analysis. Excel offers unmatched convenience in data entry and allows researchers to quickly manipulate rows and columns before statistical analysis.

Is Tableau part of data science? ›

Tableau business science is a new class of AI-powered analytics that brings data science capabilities to business domain experts.

Do you need to know coding to learn Tableau? ›

To learn tableau we need not require any programming languages, coding, technical knowledge, or basics of using any tools. There is no prerequisite.

Which database is best for data science? ›

Now that you have a better knowledge of NoSQL databases, let's look at a list of NoSQL databases that are popular for data science projects.
7 Best NoSQL Databases for Data Science
  1. MongoDB. ...
  2. Cassandra. ...
  3. Elasticsearch. ...
  4. Neo4J. ...
  5. HBase. ...
  6. CouchDB. ...
  7. OrientDB.

Why do data scientists use Excel? ›

MS Excel aids data science by allowing users to name and create ranges, as well as filtering, sorting, merging, cleaning, and trimming data. Pivot tables and charts may be created, and Visual Basic for Applications can be used (VBA).

Which database is required for data science? ›

A Relational Database Model System (RDBMS) is the primary and foremost necessary concept for an aspiring Data Scientist. In order to store structured data, you must know RDBMS in-depth. You can then access, retrieve and manipulate the data through SQL.

Why use Python instead of Tableau? ›

Tableau allows for more interactivity and is easier to make plots with than coding. The most important when deciding which one to use is regarding the workflow. Python is the best when working with a variety of data that requires advanced analytics.

Is Tableau a skill in demand? ›

Not only there is a great demand for Tableau experts, but there are also huge rewards on offer as well.

Do data analysts use Tableau? ›

Tableau Desktop

Tableau Desktop has positioned itself as the predominant tool used by analysts to connect, interact and visualize data.

Is Excel becoming obsolete? ›

Excel isn't going away anytime soon. In fact, it has become more important than ever, as it is now central to the workflow for many and used alongside other data tools such as Power BI and Tableau, and ERP systems such as SAP and Salesforce.

Is Microsoft discontinuing Excel? ›

No, as part of Microsoft 365 you will continue to get access to apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. We will also continue to offer one-time purchases of those apps to consumers and businesses via Office 2021 and Office LTSC plans.

Does Tableau have a future? ›

The Future of Tableau Developers

With so much crucial data to deal with, small and large organizations need resources who can interact and analyze data based to gain vital insights from it. You will be amazed to know that Tableau is considered as the jewel among IT working professionals.

Which tool is better than Tableau? ›

Power BI offers better reporting and customization options than Tableau. Obtain Personalized Updates: View what you need at a glance with custom visualizations, similar to Tableau.

Can Tableau handle millions of data? ›

The short answer is, Tableau can handle 50 million rows. Here's a few things to watch for. Tableau normally performs better with long data as opposed to wide data. Try to limit the number of columns when connecting to data with millions of rows.

Which industry uses Tableau? ›

Information Technology and Services industry

Why Excel is considered one of the best tool for data analysis and science? ›

One of the reasons Excel is so popular is because it is jam-packed with features and functions that can be used to clean, aggregate, pivot, and graph data. In this article, we'll go over the 10 features and functions for using data analysis in Excel I think every analyst needs to know: Pivot tables and pivot charts.

Can you become a Data Analyst with Excel? ›

Excel is an excellent tool for data analysts.

Data scientists may cringe at the idea that Excel is a data analysis tool at all, however Excel is best-in-class at producing clear, polished charts and plots of business data.

Is Excel good for data visualization? ›

Excel is one of the best data visualization tools for businesses and professionals. However, this freemium spreadsheet tool comes with very basic charts and graphs, such as Pareto and Grouped Bar Charts.

What are the pros and cons of Tableau? ›

Advantages and Disadvantages of Tableau:
Mobile-FriendlyNo automatic refreshing of reports
Extensive customer resourcesNeed manual effort
Excellent mobile supportNot a comprehensive solution
Easy to upgradeNo version control
4 more rows
Apr 20, 2022

How long does it take to learn Tableau? ›

Tableau is considered a relatively easy-to-learn data analysis and visualization tool and can be mastered by anyone with enough time and practice. On average, it takes most people between two and six months to learn this software. This process can take even longer if you're looking to master all of Tableau's functions.

Which tool is best for data visualization? ›

Some of the best data visualization tools include Google Charts, Tableau, Grafana, Chartist, FusionCharts, Datawrapper, Infogram, and ChartBlocks etc. These tools support a variety of visual styles, be simple and easy to use, and be capable of handling a large volume of data.

Do I need to know SQL to use Tableau? ›

SQL is not required to learn Tableau and work with Tableau; however, it is essential for securing a job because once you have an offer and begin working on a task, you will need to create the Tableau dashboard by using data.

Who is Tableau good for? ›

Tableau helps people and organizations be more data-driven

As the market-leading choice for modern business intelligence, our analytics platform makes it easier for people to explore and manage data, and faster to discover and share insights that can change businesses and the world.

Should I put Tableau on my resume? ›

So, in most cases, use “Tableau Developer” in your resume header. The only exception would be the jobs that list Tableau as “extra skills”, e.g. Business Analyst or Data Analyst. Header is often a great place to feature a link to your portfolio, personal website or LinkedIn.

Is Tableau an IT skill? ›

Yes, Tableau is a technical and data-related skill that lets you analyze large amounts of data and present it in various formats for better decision-making.

Is Tableau worth learning? ›

Certified Tableau professionals have an edge over others in terms of getting hired by top MNCs for various roles, such as Visual Analyst, Data Scientist, Business Analyst, Certified Tableau Analyst, and more, and getting higher salaries than their peers.

Is Tableau good for big data? ›

Tableau is an end-to-end data analytics platform that allows you to prep, analyze, collaborate, and share your big data insights. Tableau excels in self-service visual analysis, allowing people to ask new questions of governed big data and easily share those insights across the organization.

Why not to use Excel for data science? ›

Spreadsheets create ample opportunities for accidental data loss, which makes it impossible to share crucial data and information. Most importantly, the data sets can't be shared in real-time, which happen to be a severe disadvantage.

Is 3 months enough for data science? ›

In conclusion, I would say that it is hard to become a Data Scientist, especially in three months. This is because: Some Bootcamp is not qualified enough to teach you the necessary data science skills. Not every student are talented enough to catch up with the learning material in a short time.

Do I need to learn Excel as a data scientist? ›

Summary. Although Excel isn't a top resume-building skill for data scientists, you'd be remiss if you didn't learn its ins and outs. Over and above the obvious features, which handle statistical and mathematical formulae pretty well, Excel is a respectable data management and programming tool.

Do data scientists make dashboards? ›

The findings of data science applications are usually organized into charts or other types of data visualizations so business executives and workers can easily understand them. In many cases, data scientists combine multiple visualizations into reports, interactive dashboards or detailed data stories.

Does NASA use Tableau? ›

Our work with Tableau is in the early stages and ongoing – any comments or suggestions are welcome!

Do data engineers use Tableau? ›

Tableau is one of the most popular as well as the oldest Data Engineering tool. Tableau supports a drag-and-drop interface. Using this tool, data engineers can easily create dashboards by gathering data from several different sources. Data engineers can also use Tableau for compiling data reports.

What should I learn before Tableau? ›

10 Tips for Learning Tableau
  • Look at Tableau Graphs and Data Visualizations Online. ...
  • Follow the Tableau community. ...
  • Read up on Tableau offline. ...
  • Identify and Align Skillsets. ...
  • Practice. ...
  • Find free datasets. ...
  • Create a Tableau portfolio. ...
  • Build a Tableau project footprint online.
Feb 22, 2023

Which is easy to learn SQL or Tableau? ›

Tableau is by far the easiest to use for beginners, as it is highly intuitive, and allows you to easily manipulate the data in a user interface, rather than coding SQL statements (although you can do that, too).

Can Tableau be self taught? ›

Self-Paced eLearning

Build your analytics skills from anywhere, anytime. Choose self-paced eLearning for maximum flexibility as you master Tableau.

Why is Tableau good for data visualization? ›

Tableau can handle millions of rows of data with ease. Different types of visualization can be created with a large amount of data without impacting the performance of the dashboards. Also, there is an option in Tableau where the user can make “live” to connections to different data sources like SQL etc.

Why is Tableau better than other visualization tools? ›

Tableau is built on the work of scientific research to make analysis faster, easier, and more intuitive. Analyzing data in a quick, iterative way that provides immediate feedback makes our products engaging, fun, and easy to learn.

Why Tableau is the most popular data visualization tool? ›

This tool allows you connecting different data sources, data warehouses, cloud files, big data, spreadsheet data, non-relational, and several other types of data. Tableau can blend every kind of data to help organizations for producing attractive visualizations.

What are two advantages and two disadvantages of Tableau? ›

Advantages and Disadvantages of Tableau:
High PerformancePoor Versioning
Mobile-FriendlyNo automatic refreshing of reports
Extensive customer resourcesNeed manual effort
Excellent mobile supportNot a comprehensive solution
4 more rows
Apr 20, 2022

What is Tableau most used for? ›

Tableau helps people and organizations be more data-driven

As the market-leading choice for modern business intelligence, our analytics platform makes it easier for people to explore and manage data, and faster to discover and share insights that can change businesses and the world.

Which is better Python or Tableau? ›

Python can produce visualizations, but the process is very time-consuming and complex. Data visualizations through Python can be generated using open libraries such as MatPlotLib, SeaBorn, ggPlot, etc. Tableau is a data visualization interactive product commonly used in Business Intelligence.

Which industry uses Tableau the most? ›

The companies using Tableau are most often found in United States and in the Information Technology and Services industry. Tableau is most often used by companies with 50-200 employees and 1M-10M dollars in revenue.
Who uses Tableau?
CompanyAcrelec SAS
Company Size500-1000
22 more rows

Is Tableau still relevant? ›

In the field of data visualization and business intelligence, Tableau is a widely used software. According to research conducted by Gartner, the Tableau tool was declared the leading tool 7 consecutive times in data visualization and BI.

Why do data analysts use Tableau? ›

Tableau is an end-to-end data analytics platform that allows you to prep, analyze, collaborate, and share your big data insights. Tableau excels in self-service visual analysis, allowing people to ask new questions of governed big data and easily share those insights across the organization.

Is Excel a good data visualization tool? ›

Beyond its primary use as a spreadsheet tool, Excel comes with very good basic data visualization tools and functions. It comes with 20 or more built-in charts, including pie charts, radar charts, histograms, scatter plots and more.

Is it easy to learn Tableau? ›

Tableau is considered a relatively easy-to-learn data analysis and visualization tool and can be mastered by anyone with enough time and practice. On average, it takes most people between two and six months to learn this software.

Does Excel have data visualization tools? ›

Yes. Excel data visualization tool has a sizable number of graphs, charts, and maps you can use to visualize your data. However, it lacks powerful and ready-made charts, such as Pareto.


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