What is Power BI? In today’s data-driven world, data is growing exponentially every day across various sources – Databases, CRMs, Cloud Applications (like Salesforce, MailChimp, etc), local file systems and many more sources like this. Not just the variety of sources, the volume has also grown exponentially from GigaBytes to TeraBytes. The traditional and quick ways to analyzing data with Excel are no more effective and we do need to have more robust and comprehensive solution for accurate, meaningful and timely information for today’s business leaders, which can help you take better business decisions based on facts and numbers rather than manually churned information which often is limited to what you asked for. Real-time access to data helps Business Leaders to monitor their business processes and take better business-related decisions leading to growth in their business.
Power BI Meets these requirements for any Enterprise very effectively. Power BI’s journey started in 2011 and just a couple of years, Power BI surpassed landmarks of the 5 million users. Since then Power BI continues to provide its users relevant and meaningful answers for questions which business leaders have, that too without even asking for anyone. Business Leaders can access the Power BI Dashboard themselves and generate answers of their own for the questions they may have. They can slice and dice the data themselves and arrive at answers for the questions that may come to them on the fly.
Power BI is a strong offering from Microsoft, and it is made available to customers in a variety of licensing options, the most prevalent licensing options are:
- Power BI Desktop
- Power BI Online
- Power BI Embedded
- Power BI Mobile
Moreover, Power BI allows users to kickstart at zero cost with Power BI Desktop. Power BI Desktop is an almost full-fledged offering on the desktop to create BI visualizations.
With Power BI Online, reports can be published to a variety of users who need interactive access only. You can have as many users as you want with specific permissions for each of them. Power BI Online enables you to create reports, edit reports created in Power BI Desktop, create dashboards, schedule time and duration to refresh data pulled from various data sources.
Power BI Embedded allows Power BI Dashboard to embed in your portal without the users to visit the Power BI Online portal. It is specifically useful for large organizations that already have an intranet in place and would like their users to access all reporting from their portal only.
Power BI Mobile gives complete access to users to access reports on their Mobile devices.
Power BI allows you to establish connectivity of almost all types of data sources, you name it and they have it. The powerful ETL operations allow you to pull data and transform it the way you need without making any changes to source data thus maintaining the sanctity of source data. The relationship wizard is fully automatic and detects relationships including Primary Key and Foreign key almost automatically almost all the time. Once the data connection is established, you have all 3 views available in Power BI Desktop which are Visualizations, Tables and Relationships.
You can switch to anyone at any point in time. The Visualization page has almost all possible visualization including line charts, bar charts, stacked area charts, graphs, tables, Gauges, Cards, Matrix, Slicer, Scatter Chart and variety of other visualization options. Each chart or graph has separate control which allows you to ensure appropriate format as per corporate theme and branding needs.
Power BI has features like DAX (Data Analytics Expressions), which helps you in the advanced setup of reports including conditional formatting, conditional displays, thereby helping you to analyze your data more efficiently than just simple charts.
With Power BI ‘Alt text’ feature, you have the facility to display the alternate text in case the visual is unable to display due to some background error in data or calculations on data.
In Power BI dashboards you can easily pin and unpin visuals from one or more reports, cutting the overhead to create charts again and again. In your reports, you can embed ‘about info’ icon, to give information related to the report on hover or click as per its settings. The drill capability in visuals helps you to go through discoverability improvement in your BI reports.
Power BI also allows you to create Paginated Reports in Power BI. You can write comments for Paginated Reports in Power BI. You get Secure Embed support in paginated reports. These paginated reports can be easily embedded in your company’s applications or BI portals using the Secure Embed feature just as you can other Power BI content. Microsoft gives custom branding for the Power BI service.
Microsoft has a strong support team for Power BI and other than the Microsoft Support team, there is strong community support for Power BI where users can search and post their queries.
Power BI is a very powerful and strong Business Intelligence offering from Microsoft which is made available to clients at a very competitive price. It is easy enough for new users to pick up and business leaders to get used to with visualizations. It is backed up industry-leading support allowing users to fix any query or issues which may occur from time to time.