What are the differences between Tableau, GoodData, and the other traditional BI tools (BusinessObjects, etc.)?

We can talk about the features and functionalities of them for days, but at a high level, there are four major differences:

  • Speed: How quickly can we get the system up and running, answer queries, create and share dashboards, and then update them? Tableau and GoodData are significantly superior than old-school Business Intelligence solutions like BusinessObjects or Cognos in this area. Traditional systems required months or years to instal and cost millions of dollars. Tableau has a free trial version that can be deployed in minutes, while GoodData is cloud-based, making them both far faster to adopt. They also provide faster results: conventional BI requires IT and developers to make any updates to reports, so business users are usually trapped in a line waiting for anything to happen. Tableau and GoodData provide more of a self-service experience.
  • Analysis: This is where Tableau excels. It has a powerful and flexible drag-and-drop visualization engine based on some technology from Stanford. GoodData and traditional BI tools typically provide some canned reports but changing them requires significant time and money.
  • Data layer: This is where the three options are the most different:
    • GoodData requires us to move our data to its cloud. Traditional BI typically requires us to move our data to its data warehouse. On the other hand, Tableau connects to a variety of existing data sources and also provides a fast in-memory data engine, essentially a local database. Since most enterprises have their data stored all over the place, this provides the most convenient choice and lets companies use the investment they’ve already made.
  • Enterprise readiness: Traditional BI and Tableau do well here, with enterprise-level security and high scalability.