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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 Expertise

Any 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.

Key Features

  • 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.


Limitations

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

License/Subscription Cost
  • Based on the number of users for Power BI Pro and capacity-based pricing for Power BI Premium
Maintenance Cost
  • Included in the subscription cost
Installation/Implementation Cost
  • Included in the subscription cost. Additional charges may apply for data migration during implementation, maintaining on-premise data sources and building dashboards and reports
Customization Cost
  • Dependent on functional requirements and specific needs of the organization
Data Migration Cost/Change Management/Upfront Switching Cost
  • Dependent on your current software, amount of data to be migrated, availability of migration tools, complexity of data and gaps between the existing system and the new system.
Recurring/Renewal Costs
  • Renewal cost is included in the fees paid monthly or annually

Power BI Reviews

Average customer reviews & user sentiment summary:

2210 reviews

86%

of users would recommend this product

Synopsis of User Ratings and Reviews

Based on an aggregate of reviews taken from the sources above, the following pros & cons have been curated by a SelectHub Market Analyst.

Pros

  • Seamless Integration with Microsoft: Of the users who mention Power BI’s seamless integration with Microsoft systems, 96% cite it as a huge advantage over competitors, as data analyzed in Power BI automatically updates in other software in the Microsoft suite, including Teams, Sharepoint, Excel, Office 365 and more.
  • Data Connectivity: About 86% of users who mention the platform’s data connectors say that not only is its automatic Excel integration a plus, but also that it complements many ERP systems and connects to live warehouses with ease.
  • Data Visualization: More than 98% of users who review Power BI’s data visualization capabilities praise the platform for its drag-and-drop WYSIWYG builder, customization and formatting options and prebuilt templates tailored to different needs in creating appealing graphics that make data more understandable and actionable for business users.
  • Filters and Drill Down: All of the users who mention interactive functions like custom filters, drill-downs or slice and dice say that they appreciate being able to dig deeper for self-service BI.
  • Functionality: Over 97% of users who reflect on Power BI’s features say that it is a robust system that grants both depth and breadth of insights with advanced analytics capabilities, making insights accessible to all users within companies big and small alike.

Cons

  • Learning Curve: With great power comes great amounts of training; about 85% of Power BI reviewers say that the difficulty of implementation paired with the many complexities of the system contribute to its steeper-than-average learning curve. It is not a plug-and-play system, and many of the more advanced features, especially data querying, require a knowledge of database management and query languages that may be unavailable to the average user.
  • Pricing and Licensing: About 56% of reviews mentioning the solution’s cost say that it’s a good value for the price, but 44% of reviews disagree with that point. While there is a free version of Power BI, it’s very limited in functionality and licenses are required even to view reports created by subscribers. In addition, some administrators note that it’s difficult to manage all the licenses and users within an organization.
  • Speed: Over 96% of recent reviews that refer to the platform’s speed say that it is resource hungry, especially struggling with crunching large datasets, and often experience glitches, lags and bugs. In addition, some users say that deployment and implementation are time-consuming processes.

Researcher's Summary:

Microsoft Power BI is no doubt a powerful business intelligence platform, from one of the leaders in the technology field, with some users even saying that its potential seems to be limitless due to its extensibility and scalability. It has resounding success with its intuitive interface, robust data visualization capabilities and interactive features that make analytics accessible to all users. Power users say that its support for DAX, R, Python and other query languages give them access to even more complex calculations, data querying, data preparation and data modeling, making it a strong solution for technical and non-technical users alike. However, many customers say that while it may have a user-friendly GUI, it’s not necessarily a user-friendly system, with many users saying that they required heavy training or preexisting knowledge to really understand how to work with the system. While many users cite its seamless Microsoft and Windows integration as a pro, especially for those companies that have already invested in Microsoft-based solutions, others say that it’s incompatibility with non-Windows systems and weaker integrations with non-Microsoft solutions are a point of frustration for them. The cloud-based platform offers responsive mobile and web access to dashboards, but several users note that browser functionality is limited. Reviews seemed to be mixed as to the platform’s sharing capabilities, with about 65% of users satisfied that it helps them in making presentations and catering to different audiences, with the other approximately 35% expressing dissatisfaction with its limited display and export options, as well as restrictions on non-subscribers not being able to view dashboards. Another pain point for the platform seems to be its operating speed, particularly when working with large datasets. In summary, Microsoft Power BI is a strong contender in the business intelligence field, earning mostly positive reviews for its boost to productivity and efficiency, and an especially good choice for customers already using Microsoft technologies like Excel, but may be difficult for new users to adopt.

User Sentiment i

Based on 2210 reviews:

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