A 2019 Deep Dive: TARGIT vs Power BI

Μαρτίου 13, 2019

When you look at the full BI landscape, all the software vendors out there seem to offer approximately the same service. Spend enough time trying to determine the major and minor differences and you may end up with the technical solution version of snow blindness.

Most are decision-supporting visualization tools that (among other things) allow you to:
  • Share and distribute information and insights throughout the organization through dashboards and reports (ad-hoc and by schedule)
  • Set up transparent governance that ensures that the right information goes to the right people (and sensitive information isn’t exposed to the wrong audience)
  • Run comparisons (benchmarks) for all aspects of the business
  • Alert customers automatically when critical limits are reached, thereby helping them initiate the right processes at the right time, from strategic to operational level

On paper, many of these BI platforms look the same, but there is major differences ounce you truly get a chance look under the hood.

The BI and analytics vendors typically fall into two distinct categories: 
  1. Data Discovery vendors (with some enterprise BI capabilities)
  2. Enterprise BI vendors (with some Data Discovery capabilities)

When Power BI first entered the scene, it was noted for Data Discovery capabilities, and still falls squarely in the first category. TARGIT, on the other hand, was taking gold for Enterprise BI, putting us in the second category. 

What are the fundamental differences between TARGIT and Power BI?

Power BI’s origin still shines through. Originally it was a “one-man-army” tool used to create quick dashboards based on ad-hoc data sources and share those with individuals. That supported a very agile way of working with BI, but also potentially invited chaos when implemented in a large organization.

Not exactly a tool fit for enterprise rollout of BI.

TARGIT’s origin is completely different. Our software was always meant for reaching the far corners of the organization as a pervasive solution with a central administrative function. Years ago, our customers primarily based their BI solution on well-organized, validated data warehouse solutions. That was definitely the sweet spot for our TARGIT Decision Suite software.

That, on the other hand, is not the ideal tool for those looking for the previously mentioned “one-man-army” tool that prototypes with maximum speed.

That was then; this is now. Both vendors have made strides since then.

TARGIT’s transition was not that hard. We already had a mature, feature-rich tool that needed to add the capability to bring in ad-hoc data sources and mash those up as a supplement to the valid, well-organized data warehouse that still is the foundation of almost any successful BI implementation. We opened for more agility and freedom without compromising the security framework that was already in place. 

Power BI had to shift in the opposite direction. They added enterprise-like features of sharing and governance to the original one-man tool. This happened at rapid speed.  Different concepts of sharing – groups, content packs, apps and other concepts – quickly replaced each other in this process.

Power BI introduced governance options for those customers who experienced chaos when trying to implement Power BI at a larger scale. Some of these governance options were offered to the report writer, others left to a tenant administrator, and they often required coding.

As you can see, TARGIT and Power BI were both aiming at covering enterprise BI and data discovery in one tool. So who came out on top?

In this blog post, I am going to examine if Power BI and TARGIT have succeeded in their transformation. Can TARGIT truly consider itself a full-blown Data Discovery tool? Does Power BI achieve true data governance and generally qualify as an Enterprise BI tool?

We did once ask the pros at enVista, a leading global supply chain consulting/IT services firm and valued strategic partner, how they felt about the major differences between the two platforms. As you can deduct from their testimony, they do not quite see Power BI filling the needs for enterprise BI.

Let’s get back to the four main BI requirements mentioned in the beginning of this post and review them in the lens of Power BI versus TARGIT.

Scheduling and distribution

TARGIT has always been incredibly strong for having a low learning curve. You only need one skill set to create dashboards, analysis, and reports. This March, we are releasing a new version of TARGIT that includes a completely new reporting engine and a totally revamped approach to building dashboards. In TARGIT Decision Suite 2019, it is the exact same process and design tool to create and schedule reports, dashboards, and PDF reports.

Users save dashboards and reports in folders, and access is restricted by role-based security. I’ll dig deeper into this in the below section about data governance.

TARGIT scheduling is a very mature and rich feature. Users can schedule PDFs, sets of PDFs, dashboard snapshots, and full dashboards to Excel. Batch scheduling with dynamic naming capabilities delivers everything in role-based folders or by email. For example, one report can be sent out to all sales people, automatically filtered by user.

You can even assign the role of scheduled jobs administrator in a TARGIT implementation to one or more users and let them have the full overview of every scheduled job running in the organization.

Power BI

Power BI now offers renderings of PDF reports in the Power BI service. However, users still need to create those with Report Builder or Visual Studio, which require different skills for each tool. Report Builder is a tool for those with pretty savvy IT skills. And Visual Studio even more so.

Whereas TARGIT reports are based on the same data sources as dashboards (and therefore applied to the same governance rules), Report Builder works on separate data connections and lacks the all-encompassing governance capabilities. 

There is no scheduled jobs administrator in Power BI, and scheduling in general is pretty new and still very basic. If you consider scheduling and general distribution features to be a part of an enterprise BI platform, I do not think Power BI is quite there yet, but let’s look at other aspects.

User Governance

TARGIT Management offers UI for role-based control of assigned licenses and detailed user rights. Up to 50 individual rights can be enabled or disabled (see illustration below).

TARGIT also offers a Scheduled Jobs Admin and a Data Discovery Admin. 

The Scheduled Jobs Admin right gives users an overview of all scheduled jobs in the implementation and the ability to edit, delete, and create new jobs. 

The Data Discovery Admin gives users the right to oversee all ad-hoc data sources and data models. Users that have not been granted either of these admin rights can only view their own scheduled jobs, data sources, and data models.

TARGIT vs Power BI - Graphics - TARGIT Decision Suite Screendump

Power BI

The full tenant or subset of users can be restricted through the Power BI Admin Portal. From there, admins can restrict export to Excel, publish to web, re-share, or print reports. 

That very basic level of control of user rights up against TARGIT’s 50 detailed role-based rights is another piece of evidence that points in the same direction as the conclusion on the subject of scheduling and distribution. Is Power BI an Enterprise BI Tool? Not really.

Data Governance

In general, TARGIT offers fully centralized control that is user-centric. You assign a role to a user or group of users. These roles determine every bit of access to data available in a TARGIT implementation. In addition to access to data sources, roles also determine, access to all published reports, forced filters (row-level filters) access, landing page access, and more.

You can read more in-depth about TARGIT data and user governance in this blog series.

Power BI
Power BI offers atomized control. Roles exist in this model. They can be assigned to specific data sets containing row-level security.

Users can utilize row-level filters that are a part of a tabular model, which TARGIT also supports. You could argue that the Power BI method is more data-centric than user-centric.

Finally, when users publish an app (the latest version of sharing dashboards with a group of people in Power BI), it is possible to set up rules for the access to certain parts of that particular app.

Let’s stop for a second and compare.

TARGIT: One place to go. Everything is role-based and can be overviewed with TARGIT Management.
Power BI: Atomized. A report writer may add some security, some may derive from the data source, and some may be contained in a published app.

That is why the overview of who is allowed to access what throughout the company is often a pain in a Power BI implementation. You would have to do some detective work if you were not involved in the creation of any data sources, report, or apps. Could this point back to the origin of a one-man-army tool?

Time Intelligence and Comparisons

TARGIT offers our version of time intelligence, referred to as “dynamic time.”

After implementation, a pre-selected list of relative filters are available. Users can define any dynamic range required that is not in the predefined list for total flexibility.

Benchmarking is also simple with TARGIT comparisons. Group with filters on each group that can be a row or column. Through the UI, set a row/column filter that compares data to other row/column filters.
In combination with dynamic time, this is a simple and completely flexible way of doing comparisons such as “year-to-date versus last-year-to-date,” and any other comparisons that you can think of.

TARGIT vs Power BI - Graphics - TARGIT Decision Suite Screendump
Power BI
Power BI’s Time Slicer offers relative filtering such as “last,” “next,”. “YTD,” and other predefined versions of a certain measure can be created through “quick measures,”. If you need to go beyond what the time slicer can do, and what “quick measures” cover, you will have to learn how to write DAX code. 

This is not a very flexible set up. Users are either limited to the built-in “quick measures” or need people who can code DAX. If you consider dynamic time and benchmarking flexibility a must, this puts considerable distance between TARGIT and Power BI.

Notification Agents

TARGIT agents automatically check for static limits, increases or decreases since last scheduled run, compare current data with goal measures, and check all members. These can be based on any visualization and do not even need to be based on a data object. If any measure falls outside of the pre-set parameters, the necessary users are automatically notified. You can also create notification agents on behalf of others so, for example, your boss does not have to learn TARGIT, he will get all the information he needs right in his inbox.

There is so much you can do with TARGIT notification agents that we dedicated a four-part blog series to the topic. You can read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

Power BI
Power BI agents cannot do any of that. You can only set alerts on tiles, cards, and KPIs. They can only check for static limits (e.g. above 50). And you can only create agents for yourself.

When it comes to TARGIT versus Power BI in this category, I will go as far as saying: no contest.

In conclusion

Power BI has definitely expanded its set of features since the original one-man-army tool. However, it is still more of a Data Discovery tool than a full-blown enterprise BI tool. I believe that is evident when you go through this blogpost.

I will admit that Power BI—with the full stack of Power Query and Power Pivot—is still is ahead of TARGIT in terms of Data Discovery. Even though TARGIT’s Data Discovery capabilities have come a long way in recent years, none of us can completely escape our history – that is a universal truth that also applies to BI vendors. 

The enterprise BI power you need from the name you’ve trusted for decades

Power BI and TARGIT have matured greatly in recent years, and both have their strengths and shortcomings. With the right information at hand, you will know which one is right for your organization.

Have a look at all of the new and improved features in TARGIT Decision Suite 2019 or download the free trial to see how it works with your own data.

Niels Thomsen

Solution Architect
I’m eager to study the trends of the BI market and compare them to the actual implementations that take place worldwide. My position of Solution Architect at TARGIT has me covering all aspects of turning data into insight, from technical setup to end-user training. I create data warehouses and user friendly analyses and reports that enable our custom..
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