Sigma vs. Tableau

Sigma pairs with Tableau to deliver beautiful dashboards plus true self-service analytics at cloud scale.

Use Tableau to:

  • Generate beautiful data visualizations and dashboards.
  • Report on a consistent set of historical performance metrics.
  • Deliver high-level insights based on data subsets and aggregates.

Use Sigma to:

  • Empower anyone to drill into data underneath dashboards with no manual coding required.
  • Explore live data ad hoc in a fully governed, familiar UI: the spreadsheet.
  • Analyze billions of data rows directly against the cloud data platform down to row-level detail.

Why Companies Use Sigma and Tableau Together

True ad hoc, self-service analytics

Seamlessly transition from viewing Tableau dashboards to exploring the data powering them in Sigma in just a few clicks. Anyone can use Sigma’s familiar UI to join, filter, calculate, and visualize data using the same format, functions, and formulas as traditional spreadsheets – no manual SQL or pre-modeling required.

Performance and scalability

Unlike Tableau, Sigma was purpose-built to leverage the virtually unlimited storage and processing power of your cloud data warehouse. Quickly analyze billions of rows of data at lightning-speed down to row-level detail without having to aggregate, summarize, or extract your data.

Unlike Tableau, Sigma was purpose-built to leverage your cloud data warehouse

“With the combined compute speed and analytics capabilities of Sigma and Snowflake, we reduced our time to data insight by 93%.”

Jessica Nielsen Data Analytics Manager, The E.W. Scripps Company, referring to a project that took 48 hours in Tableau and just 3 hours with Sigma

Unified security and governance

Sigma’s ability to pass through security management controls from the cloud data warehouse allows simplified, complete, and consolidated control of who can access data and what they can do with it. Don’t worry about managing security for the same data set in multiple places or being exposed to risks through copied desktop extracts again.

Sigma’s security and governance

Collaborative analytics

Tableau data models and visualizations are bespoke and must be created on a one-off basis. In contrast, Sigma enables business users to share, build on, and repurpose their colleagues’ analyses without worrying about version control issues or ruining their work, increasing productivity and amplifying the value of data insights.

Sigma vs. Tableau Feature Comparison

Sigma Tableau
Visualizations and dashboards  Business users can create visualizations and dashboards without pre-modeling by the data team or desktop extracts. Offers rich visualization options, but often needs data expertise to prepare the data and create dashboards.
Intuitive user interface The Sigma worksheet is a spreadsheet-like user interface between users and the cloud data warehouse. It lets users explore and analyze all their live data to the lowest level of detail to get fast insight. The worksheet does not require SQL, so even non-technical business teams can easily use it. Tableau dashboards are easy for users to navigate, but creating them requires Tableau skills and data preparation expertise.
Modern data governance  Sigma connects directly to your cloud data warehouse for analytics on this single source of truth, with features like pass-through security, permissions, and governance. Tableau can directly connect to some cloud data warehouses, but data is usually extracted for reporting and visualization, which creates risks to security and data consistency.
Purpose-built for the cloud  Sigma is a cloud-native SaaS analytics solution designed to leverage the virtually unlimited storage and processing power of cloud data warehouses. Tableau was launched as a desktop application, then evolved to run on servers and now the cloud. Tableau cannot fully leverage the advantages of the cloud.
Analytics in action  Sigma is designed to enable open-ended exploratory analytics to calculate, filter, and sort through billions of rows of data to find patterns or the single record with the answer. Enable business users to do root cause analyses and build scenario models. Like most traditional BI and analytics solutions, Tableau is best suited to regular reporting on known data sets rather than finding answers to new questions or looking at new sets of data. Tableau is a great solution for creating pixel-perfect dashboards for reporting on slowly changing metrics.

Frequently Asked Questions

Cloud Data Platform
What does it mean to be cloud-native?

Organizations invest in the cloud data warehouse to seamlessly manage massive volumes of data across hundreds of sources in a centralized, secure, fully-governed repository. But since Tableau was originally designed for on-premise data warehouses, it slows down or crashes when working on large datasets without extracting data – especially when trying to get to the lowest level of granularity. Sigma is the perfect front-end UI for the CDW and gives organizations the ability to access, prepare, analyze and take advantage of data at cloud-scale in real-time down to row-level detail – no copies or extracts required.

Sigma Dashboards
Can Sigma do data visualizations?

Tableau is an industry leader among reporting tools because of its aesthetic visualizations and extensive charting library. Sigma has rich and easy-to-use visualization capabilities that are fully cloud-based and can be used as a complementary tool: Sigma doing the data curation and preparation before final visualization in Tableau. Many organizations embed links to Sigma’s worksheets in Tableau dashboards so users can drill down directly into the underlying data supporting them.

How do companies use Sigma with Tableau?

Many companies use Sigma to complement Tableau dashboards and give users the ability to drill into the full data behind the visualizations to answer complex questions. Some Sigma customers insert links to Sigma’s spreadsheet view of the data right from their Tableau dashboards. Sigma provides a business-friendly way for users to explore data ad hoc to do root-cause analysis and answer "what if?" questions.