Business Intelligence


In the humanitarian sector, business intelligence is about providing quality data to support the decision-making processes. Business intelligence is important in all phases of the HPC. The primary task of the IMO is to collect, organize and transform the data so that it can be easily read and analyzed by the operations management.

Typical data collected, analyzed and further utilized in the humanitarian business intelligence process include:

  • Number of people affected by a disaster

  • Needs of the affected population

  • Provision of aid versus the needs

  • Operation funding situation



Power BI & Tableau: Quick comparison

Power BI and Tableau are both powerful dashboard building tools allowing connection to a variety of different data sources and offering an extensive range of data visualization options.

The table below offers a brief summary of the key difference between these two software packages.

Power BI


Power BI



Available as part of the Office 365 package

Licensed full desktop version

Free Tableau Public version (less features & requires public sharing of the dashboards)


Performance tends to be slow, especially when connected to multiple large data sources.

Satisfactory performance even when connected to large-size data.

Visualization interface

All-in-one interface: the visuals are built directly on the report page.

Separate interfaces for the individual visuals and the dashboard report. “Story” tool for multi-tab dashboards.

Built-in data manipulation

Power Query ETL (extract, transform, load) tool using M language & DAX

No built-in ETL tool. Transforming and enriching the data possible with the “Calculated Fields” tool.

Data interrelationship

Each dataset is separate by default. Possible to connect datasets with the “Edit Relationships” tool.

Each dataset must be connected (either directly or indirectly) with the “Relationships” tool before the data visualization process can begin.

Relationship between the visuals

All visuals on one page are connected by default. Possible to modify the connections with the Filter, Slicer and Drilling options.

All visuals are separate by default. Possible to create connections (filters, slicers, actions) with the “Actions” tool.

Sharing and security

Private sharing possible through Sharepoint, other cloud services or email.

Public sharing is available via link and embedding. However, this usually requires a special permit from the organization system administration.

The full desktop version allows private sharing by email and cloud working environments.

Possible to purchase own server space for additional security.

The free Tableau Public requires sharing of each dashboard with the external public.

Learning curve

Fast and easy to learn the basic features required for the standard IM products (such as 3W or snapshot)

Learning the basic functions and accustoming to the interface and terminology normally requires considerably more time and practice than with Power BI.


Essential Reading