What is Power BI?
Industry Specialties: Serves all industries.
Microsoft Power BI is an analytics tool that assists in reporting, data mining and data visualization to provide business insights. Through its simple interface, users can connect to a variety of data sources and create their own dashboards and reports.
Originally born from Excel as an add-on, it has since grown to stand on its own. At a relatively low cost, it fulfills the needs of users ranging from small business owners to enterprise operators.
There are three versions: Desktop, which is available for free to any single user, an upgraded Pro plan offered on a monthly price-per-user SaaS subscription and a capacity-based Premium plan which provides enterprise-level insights with on-premise deployment and a dedicated cloud infrastructure.
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Benefits and Insights
Why use Power BI?
Key differentiators & advantages of Power BI
- Live 360-Degree View of Data: Dashboards update in real time from all data sources, so users will never be out of the loop about crucial business insights..
- Visualize Data Trends: Once the system has parsed, structured and analyzed the specified data, it lets users create intuitive visualizations to present that data. This can be in the form of graphs, charts, maps or other graphic depictions that make it quicker, easier and more impactful to interpret data.
- Make Data-Driven Decisions: Once users have these data visualizations, the next step is to put them to work. By analyzing not only what happened, but also why, how and where, users can adjust business plans, make forecasts and generally improve their business processes and customer interactions.
- Ease of Use: Power BI has built-in features like drag-and-drop design, resizing and copy-and-paste that serve to simplify self-service BI. Those familiar with Excel and other Microsoft technologies will feel right at home in Power BI. As a user-friendly platform, it also helps encourage user adoption towards a data-driven culture.
- Collaborate Across Organization: The sharing functions allow users to share reports and collaborate on decisions quickly without jumping from one platform to another. Along with seamless integration with many commonly used business tools, Power BI saves time and money wasted on inefficient meetings and promotes teamwork throughout departments.
- Access on-the-Go: Users can get their visual analytics wherever they need to go. With mobile-optimized reports and a mobile app, users can stay connected to and share their insights from any device.
- Secure Insights: As one of the largest, most well-known names in the software industry, Microsoft backs up their reputation with security and protection for their users’ sensitive information. Users can visit the Trust Center to learn more about exactly how all of Microsoft’s solutions — including Power BI — meet industry security standards and ensure regulatory compliance. This security is assured from the original data source all the way up through the report sharing and collaboration features, so users can rest easy knowing their information is secure.
- Free Version: In contrast to many BI tool companies that offer a free trial at most, Microsoft allows users to use Power BI Desktop for free on an individual basis to create reports and data visualizations in their own workspace.
- Scalability and Affordability: With versions varying in capabilities and pricing, users can choose the right option for their needs, giving them a platform that can scale from the individual to the enterprise level as a whole. Users only pay for what they need when they’re ready to scale.
Industry ExpertiseAny organization that wants to analyze their data to make more informed decisions can benefit from a business intelligence solution. Some of Power BI’s industry specialties include telecommunications, government, automotive, financial services, manufacturing, health, media and entertainment, education, retail and more.
- Data Source Connectivity: Users can draw data from hundreds of supported sources both on-premises and cloud-based, including web APIs, Salesforce, Dynamics 365, Excel, Google Analytics, JSON and text/CSV files, Oracle, SQL and more.
- Data Preparation: Power BI saves users time with a self-service Power Query process that ingests, transforms, integrates and enriches data while preparing it for analysis. With intuitive filters and data manipulation features, users can prepare data to highlight trends, organize unstructured data into interpretable data sets, and filter it in a variety of ways to approach analysis from different angles.
- Data Visualization: Power BI takes data and creates a range of visualizations that conceptualize trends and patterns. These can be a range of different graphics including bar graphs, line graphs, pie charts, scattergrams, maps, etc. It transforms abstract concepts and hard numbers into easy-to-interpret charts.
- Pre-Built or Custom Dashboards/Reports: For most industries, users can choose from a range of pre-built templates to generate visualizations of KPIs in seconds. If the out-of-the-box reports don’t cut it, users can tell their own data story with a drag-and-drop canvas and hundreds of interactive visualization options.
- Natural Language Processing: With the built-in Q&A tool, users can explore their data with conversational language, finding meaningful answers to their data questions.
- Secure Data Governance: Users can prevent data loss with role-specific data protection and row-level security. Power BI safeguards data so that it meets industry-level compliance standards and certifications. With a unified BI tool, Power BI allows administrators to centralize data governance, security and management across all users.
- Collaboration: Users can publish and share permissions-adjustable reports and dashboards with other employees in every role across their organization or with users outside the organization. With features like team commenting, alerts and content subscriptions, Power BI fosters collaboration through a data-driven culture of business intelligence.
- Mobile Compatibility: From the Desktop and SaaS versions of Power BI, users can create mobile-optimized reports that can be either published to the cloud or on-premises or embedded into existing apps or websites. Through Power BI Mobile, users can receive personal data alerts, quickly view and share insights and stay in the know from any mobile device on Android or iOS or any PC or tablet or phone with access to the Windows Store.
- Embedded Analytics: Users can develop and test their own Power BI modules to add its analytics capabilities to their applications.With white label capabilities and a plethora of visualization options, Power BI helps developers brand and customize their analytics offerings for end-users.
- Seamless Integration: It seamlessly integrates with everything in the Microsoft Suite, as well as a range of other software and analytic solutions. This includes third-party data sources like Spark, Google Analytics etc.
- On-Premises or Cloud Server: As part of the Power BI Premium plan, Power BI Report Server provides a hybrid, comprehensive solution by building a BI environment on-premises, keeping it safe behind the intranet firewall. Users retain the flexibility to move the server to the cloud on their own terms, protecting their investment and data for the future.
Some of the product limitations include:
- No direct integration available for services like Vend POS or Shopify
- Graphical visualization is fairly limited as compared to other BI tools
- Doesn’t support SQL queries
- Comparatively difficult to work with huge data sets on Power BI
- Doesn’t let users build scheduled reports, personalized user views, personalized notifications, personalized security views or customizable reports
Microsoft Power BI Suite Support
The support portal and ticket system is only available to Power BI Pro subscribers. Other users may incur a fee for submitting support tickets. To get support, users should navigate to the support page and view the free support options including demos, documentation, samples, community forums, blogs, webinars and feedback. If the problem isn’t answered through these resources, users can submit a support ticket through the user portal.
mail_outlineEmail: Users can’t email support directly.
phonePhone: Users can’t call support directly. To receive support, users should first check the resource center for possible resolutions to their issue. If they can’t find one, users can submit a support ticket through their support portal and request a response to their ticket by phone call.
schoolTraining: There are a range of training options available. Self-guided learning and Power BI documentation are available free of cost through the knowledge center. Local user groups may host boot camps and training on Power BI. eDX offers an online data science course on Power BI that is free, with an optional professional certificate available for $99. Microsoft’s consulting service partners offer Power BI workshops that range in cost from free to upwards for $25,000.
local_offerTickets: To submit a ticket, users must login to their Microsoft account. Ticketed support is only free to Power BI Pro subscribers. These users can submit support tickets through the user portal to get help with any issues that they couldn’t solve through the knowledge base.
Cost of Ownership for Microsoft Power BI
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