SAP Lumira and Tableau compared

by Arwold Koelewijn on August 3, 2017

SAP Lumira and Tableau are both data visualization tools that can be used to explore data. Recently I did small projects in both tools, so I am finally able to make a comparison.

Tableau
Based on my experience of working with Tableau (version 10.3) I found that the tool is amazingly rich. There is great functionality for building graphs, especially when it comes to visualizing distributions of data. You can build nice tooltips that give additional information. Within the dashboard view it is easy to create a responsive layout, so you can use your dashboard on different devices. When I needed to figure things out, I could go online for help. For most topics I found the answer. I worked with the free online option, and that is a very generous tool already. What I also liked, is the concept that the tool just does things without prompting ‘are you sure’. That makes the feeling of the tool very quick. Of course you need to press the undo button quite often, when it turns out that you didn’t really want to do it, but you get used to that.
What I found difficult to work with was dealing with the horizontal and verticals grids. It felt that things happened at random there when I tried to place the worksheets or other components in the grids. The swearing jar got filled very quickly. Also I tried to build a story, but I didn’t find it a very useful option, since I couldn’t do a lot of customizing. Another thing, all this great stuff is sometimes hidden very well, so you need to do a lot of trial and error.

SAP Lumira
The data visualization tool SAP Lumira (version 1.31) has a nice focus on the process (data preparation – visualize – build a story). Compared with Tableau it lacks a lot of additional functionality. The basic graphs are covered, but special graphs as for example box-plot are very limited. Working with the tool does not feel quick, since there is a lot of prompting. Also when building a restricted or calculated measure this is more complicated, and less functionality is available. When it comes to online help, the SAP Community has been nearly murdered by implementing a new platform last October, since then a lot of contributors have been lost. Of course, the big advantage of SAP Lumira is in working within an SAP environment, you can benefit from better integration.

So I must confess that I have become a big fan of Tableau. SAP will deliver a new Lumira release in the coming months, it will be interesting to see if they have been able to bridge the gap.

To conclude: SAP Lumira is a nice tool to do the basics in data visualization, but Tableau is the tool to use when you need rich functionality.

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