What is Power BI used for?
2022-12-14 Blog

What is Power BI used for?

Imagine working with data as a swift and simple experience. An environment where data is highly visual allows you to conclude in the blink of an eye. With Microsoft Power BI, this is possible. Learn more about the capabilities of this tool and how it can improve your daily work.

Why is data analysis important?

In today's corporate world, having a set of tools that enables us to swiftly and integratively analyse data and transform databases into comprehensible information is fundamental. Microsoft Power BI offers a variety of features for data analysis at the same time allowing users to download the standard version for free. Manage your data and work on reports with Power BI, the data visualization tool used by top companies. 

Power BI offers methods for securely combining and analyzing data, creating charts, dashboards, and reports, and sharing the results of your work in Power BI… among any other features, custom-made to provide any possible help or insights. On top of that, Power BI uses artificial intelligence to deepen the analysis and create data models using machine learning features. 

What is Power BI used for?

Power BI, which states for Business Intelligence, provides a suitable environment for dealing with business data. A variety of services offered by Microsoft Power BI and Power BI apps unite to give you the best results when creating data models. 

Business intelligence tools like Power BI allow data to be analysed effectively through interactive reports and visualizations, helping make data-based business decisions. Using Power BI, you can create a data-driven organization like the top companies on the market.

Who uses Power BI?

Power BI is dedicated to everyone who wants their data to be managed professionally. So, let's let the facts speak for themselves and admit that giants like PepsiCo, Apple, Walmart, Costco, and UNICEF use it. 

In fact, 97% of Fortune 500 companies claim to use Power BI to manage data. Power BI is mainly used in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada, and 22% of all companies that use Power BI have a revenue higher than 1000M$. 

Looking at a minor scale, Power BI is simply for every end user, no matter if they are advanced with such services. With the option of automating the creation of dashboards and Power BI reports, everyone in the company can get the desired result without IT help or database administration support. Microsoft states that it is also one of the main reasons Power BI is free in its basic version. It's dedicated to everyday business users who need to manage data and allows them to learn and expand if they need a full Power BI potential.

What are the services of Power BI?

Microsoft Power BI consists of three cooperating elements: Power BI Desktop, Power BI (SaaS) service, and Power BI mobile apps for Windows, iOS, and Android. What's more, it offers services dedicated to creating and sharing reports: Power BI Report Builder and Report server of Power BI.

Power Bi Desktop

Power BI Desktop is an app that allows the user to connect with data, reshape them, create visualizations and publish reports with the help of Power BI service. 

You can access data from various cloud-based services like Dynamics 365, Azure SQL DB, Salesforce, Excel, or SharePoint and constantly work on the actual, current values thanks to the real-time incremental refresh. In addition, Power BI users can not only access the data from a large number of data sources but merge data from different sources to make reports and dashboards.

When you use Power BI Desktop, you can easily create visualizations, such as graphs or charts, that offer a graphic representation of the data models. Then the visualizations can be used to form a report that can be shared using Power BI.

Thanks to artificial intelligence, users can benefit from machine learning bots with automated capabilities. In addition, a feature of Power BI Desktop called AI Insights offers pre-trained artificial intelligence models that decrease the workload required for data preparation.

Power BI

Power BI is SaaS, Software as a Service, a platform teams and companies can use to share and co-work on Power BI reports and data saved in the cloud. Use the Power BI service to create dashboards and reports, build and share applications, analysing and mine data to uncover detailed business information, among many others. 

Usually, the users benefit from both the Power BI platform and Power BI Desktop creating and sharing the reports.

Power BI mobile apps

Power BI mobile allows you to run a business analysis from anywhere in the world. Safely connect to Power BI and your data whether you have a Windows, iOS, or Android phone system. 

Power BI mobile apps provide extra features created only for mobile devices: filter data based on your location and ask natural language questions that will be processed and answered in a blink of an eye. 

Power BI Report Server

Power BI Report Server is a local report server linked to a web portal where reports and KPIs can be displayed and managed. Power BI users have different ways of accessing the reports - they can use a web browser, mobile device, and even email. 

How do I access Power BI services?

Go to the Power BI Desktop page and download the app for free. While getting started, you will be asked to choose from the listed data sources. After you connect to your source and access your data, you can begin shaping the data with Power Query Editor, which you can find on your Power BI Desktop. Power BI users operate on both Power Query and Power Pivot. 

Power Query

With the Power BI feature called Power Query, you can connect with multiple data sources and transform the data into the desired shape. The Power Query editor represents the user interface, where you can add, manage or modify queries. Finally, complete the question and save it in the worksheet or Data Model.

Power Pivot 

When you put your data in an Excel Data Model, you can perform analytics in Power Pivot. This allows you to create relationships between tables, create perspectives, and organize data fields.

Next steps – paid plans for Power BI

If your experience with Power BI Desktop gives you the expected results, try other Power BI services to manage your data and expand the capacities of your Power BI. The next step would be buying a subscription that allows you to share data and reports on the Power BI platform. Access through mobile apps and various data sources to choose from make it an even more helpful data analysis managing tool. 

What is the difference between a Power BI desktop and a service?

Power BI Desktop is a computer program you download free from a dedicated website, whereas Power BI is a cloud-based service that allows you to share and work on reports for teams and organizations. 

Power BI service allows the user to access data, but data modelling is less advanced than the desktop version. Both Microsoft Power BI features are dedicated to reports and visualizations and share precise safety guarantees and various tabs and filters. 

There are limited areas in which Power BI Desktop and Power BI Service overlap. That said, most implementations use Power BI Desktop to shape data into reports and later use Service to distribute those reports to each other.

Is Microsoft Power BI free?

Microsoft Power BI offers a service dedicated to data analysis of small and midsize businesses free of charge. Bigger-size companies can choose between Power BI Pro per user, Power BI Premium per Capacity or Power BI Premium per user, which are offered in the subscription.

For enterprises that need to keep their data and reports in-house, Microsoft created Power BI Report Server. Power BI Desktop for Power BI Report Server is a desktop application specific to a particular version of Power BI that is also available after a payment.

Is Power BI the same as Excel?

Although Power BI and Excel have many similar functionalities connected with data analysis, Power BI offers many more features while being rather not more complex to use. Both programs are Microsoft products but are aimed at different audiences and have other capabilities. 

Excel is a program with a spreadsheet format that enables the user to put data into rows and columns and perform calculations and mathematical formulas. With simple and easy-to-use data visualization tools, these rows and columns can be transformed into graphs or other forms of data visualization. Excel is a valuable data management program, while Power BI is a set of business-oriented tools with a more specific purpose. 

Power BI offers software services and business intelligence applications. It can connect to various data sources, including Excel spreadsheets, and has significant capabilities to transform data into visualizations, dashboards, and reports. With Power BI, the user can also save data directly to Excel. 

Power BI provides a method of handling enormous quantities of data, while Excel struggles with that scale. Although both programs offer data visualizations, Power BI has more advanced options for designing the dashboard. This feature is expanded into Power BI's marketplace, where you can import more options of graphs and charts. 

On top of that, thanks to the cloud-based feature of Power BI, sharing reports and coworking is simple and well-protected. Unfortunately, the formula language differs between those two programs - Power BI uses DAX language, while Excel is based on MDX.

Is Power BI the same as SQL?

SQL, Structured Query Language, is a language used to access and communicate with databases. Widely used in programming, SQL offers a simple way of storing data on SQL servers. Microsoft SQL is a relational database management system used in various software applications that use SQL language. 

Power BI and SQL Server are tools that can operate on and present your data in many ways. Both have been developed to help you gain the most from the data you have collected and put it to work according to your project or business needs.

Microsoft SQL Server is paid, while the first tier of Power BI is free, and you can download it from the web. The implementation complexity is higher in the case of SQL, but some users claim it to be more user-friendly than Power BI because of its rich graphical content. 

Power BI cost of implementation

The total cost of the Microsoft Power BI implementation may vary because it is based on multiple factors like the number of planned Microsoft Power BI users or the number of required training courses. In addition, the significant challenges during the implementation of Power BI come not from the level of complexity of the visualization or the complexity of the reporting but from the low quality of data or the data source itself. Therefore, reach out to the chosen implementation partner for a complex valuation that considers your organization's characteristics.

What’s more, one of the factors varying the Power BI implementation cost is the chosen license price. Power BI Pro costs 9.99$ per user per month. Power BI Premium per user is priced at 20$ a month and provides some additional features. Power BI Premium per capacity is 4.995$ per month. This pricing solution is dedicated to large organizations with high numbers of users. Therefore, it is worth analysing your company's needs and requirements to select the right Power BI service package.

Cons and pros of Microsoft Power BI implementation

As we already established, Power BI offers professional features used by top market companies. So, at last, we will weigh the pros and cons of Power BI as a data managing tool.

One of the biggest pros of Power BI is its interactive content, which not only saves time but also stands out from the competition. Secondly, Power BI offers monthly updates and innovations and can connect to hundreds of data sources. Finally, Power BI users appreciate the ability to save data to Excel format and an unlimited number of visualizations, reports, and dashboards available in the service and for purchase on the market. 

Considering the cons, it's hard not to mention the data limit that comes with the free version of Power BI. When using Power BI for the first time, you will also notice that the user interface is a little complicated, but the drag-and-drop functionality or the ability to ask questions in natural language compensates for these problems. Some users also stated that the language used in Power BI, DAX, is quite advanced. 

Certainly, Microsoft Power BI offers many possibilities, significantly improves data analysis, and gives decision-makers constant access to important information regardless of time and place of work. It is, therefore, worth learning more about its capabilities to gain access to valuable data, be able to make informed business decisions, and stay ahead of the competition. As a Microsoft Gold Partner, EBIS is happy to assist you with Power BI functionality.