IDEA vs PowerBI, Python, or R

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Joined: 05/14/2019 - 18:30
IDEA vs PowerBI, Python, or R

My audit team is debating whether to use IDEA or the company-adopted Power BI as our primary analytics tool.  What does IDEA do that Power BI (or even open source tools like Python & R) doesn't?  
We actually have had IDEA for a few years without heavily utilizing it, so we do not believe we can provide an informed answer to this ourselves.  We considered asking an IDEA sales rep - would they share with us the unique features?
Thanks for your help!

Brian Element's picture
Brian Element
Joined: 07/11/2012 - 19:57

Hi eb,

That is an interesting question as there are some overlap among the various program.  Wikipedia defines Power BI as:

Power BI is a business analytics service by Microsoft. It aims to provide interactive visualizations and business intelligence capabilities with an interface simple enough for end users to create their own reports and dashboards.

Where as IDEA is defined as the following:

IDEA® is a powerful data analysis tool designed to help auditors, accountants and other finance professionals perform data analysis quickly to help improve audits and identify control breakdowns.


Unfortunately I don't know what business you are in so I can't make suggestions on how the different software can relate to your industry.  I have been using IDEA for 30 years, I have used it in Audit, Internal Audit and I am currently using it within the finance department of one of the larger departments within the Canadian government.  I also use Power BI where I work as the software is complementary.  I perform the analysis using IDEA and then there are tools that allow you to connect Power BI directly to IDEA to generate the visualizations.  Power BI is a visualization tool that can do analysis, IDEA was created and focuses on performing financial analytics.  

Python and R are programming languages so there is a need to learn the language to perform anything.  As of version 10.3 of IDEA it can not run scripts created in Python.  So in short IDEA can be combined with both Python and Power BI to enhance your backend (python through the creation of specialized scripts) and the visualizations through Power BI.

Let me know what industry you are in and hopefully we can have a discussion on this.