Business Intelligence (BI) promises a future where every worker in an organization can use data to make smarter business decisions. While the promise appears out of reach, Microsoft has built a business intelligence platform with solutions that allow even non-technical business users to collect, analyze, and share data.
The platform offers a collection of:
- Software services
All to help businesses turn data into coherent, visually immersive, and interactive insights.
Microsoft Power BI at its Core
For many businesses, the biggest barrier to using analytics is limited access and understanding of data for better decision-making. Power BI wants to eliminate the barrier by offering a unified, scalable business intelligence tool that:
- Connects organizations to all their data sources
- Visualizes insights from data
- Allows insight sharing with relevant people
Power BI has several elements that work together to provide interactive visualizations and business intelligence capabilities. The three basic elements include:
- A desktop app
- A SaaS (Software as a Service) product
- Mobile Power BI apps — available for Android, iOS, and Windows devices
Microsoft designs the three components to allow your business to create, share, and consume data insights in the most effective way possible. Power BI is part of the Microsoft Power Platform.
The Components of Power BI
All the versions of Power BI have several apps to help users create and share data reports. The applications include:
Power Query: A data connection app that allows you to connect, combine, transform, and enhance data from different sources
Power View: The tool for data visualization — it generates interactive graphs, charts, maps, and other visuals
Power Pivot: An app for data modeling
Power Q&A: A question-and-answer engine that allows you to ask questions about your data without coding
Power Map: A tool for 3D geospatial data visualization — it creates immersive 3D visuals
Power BI Report Builder: The feature for creating paginated reports to share
Power BI Report Server: An on-premise report server where you can publish your Power BI reports after creating them using the desktop app
Power BI connectors can connect to dozens of data sources. You can connect to files, databases, Azure data connections, and other online services.
Your data source can be:
- Excel files
- PDF files
- SharePoint Folder
- SQL Database
- IBM Database
- Oracle Database
- Amazon Redshift
- Google BigQuery
How to Use Microsoft’s Business Intelligence Tool
Many businesses use Power BI to extract actionable insights from the organization’s data. Analysts and other users in the business can use the platform to create data connections, models, and reports. Your business can use Power BI to connect different data sets, build a data model, and create graphs or charts that visualize data.
Building a report on Microsoft Power BI starts with connecting data sources. Then, users can query the data on the tool to build a dashboard or report depending on their needs. The final part is publishing the report to Power BI Service to allow sharing with colleagues and stakeholders. The people you share with can see and interact with the report.
Power BI offers permission settings that can allow or limit specific people from editing reports or creating dashboards.
- You can use the data models you create in many ways, including:
- Telling stories through data visualizations and charts
- Examining possible scenarios within the data
- Answering business questions in real-time
- Helping in forecasting to ensure departments meet business metrics
- Making decisions with confidence as colleagues can collaborate on reports and share insights
You can also create executive dashboards for managers and administrators to give more insight into how departments perform.
Who Can Use Power BI
While business intelligence products are usually for business analysts and data scientists — several people in your business can use Power BI because of its user-friendly nature. How people use the BI tool in your business depends on their role.
For instance, data analysts and business intelligence professionals in your business can use the tool to create data models and share reports throughout the organization. The professionals can generate custom dashboards depending on relevant data and information people need access to.
Your department’s reps and management can use Microsoft Power BI to create reports and forecasts to help the sales and marketing team, while providing information to management on how employees or departments are progressing.
Power BI also offers an admin portal for administrators to help configure the implementation of Power BI, usage monitoring, and licensing.
The Key Features of Power BI
Power BI has several data analytic features, but we want to focus on the most important ones.
Data science and artificial intelligence are a powerful combination to extract insights from data. Power BI allows you to combine the two to give you access to text analytics and image recognition to let you train models with the Azure cloud that you can integrate with Power BI.
The feature allows users in your business to create subsets of data and automatically apply analytics to the information.
Self-Service Data Rep
The Self-Service Data Rep allows business analysts to collect, model, integrate, and enrich data in the BI SaaS product. From the SaaS platform, you can share the data on different Power BI dashboards, reports, and models.
The Modeling View allows users to do the following:
- Break down complex data models into separate diagrams
- Set common properties between related tables
- Multi-select common properties from columns
The Modeling View feature is critical for providing visual representations of relationships between data.
What’s the Cost of Power BI
Microsoft offers four levels of Power BI for users:
- Power BI Desktop and mobile apps (free) (only personal use)
- Power BI Pro (costs $9.99 per user per month)
- Power BI Premium per user(PPU) (costs $20.00 per user per month)
- Power BI Premium (priced by capacity)
If your business is already using the Office 365 Enterprise E5 plan, you already have access to Power BI Pro. The Premium pricing depends on the number of users and the size of your deployment. The lowest tier, P1, costs $4,995 per month. The premium option is only suitable for organizations with higher analytical needs.
Near Contact Can Answer Any of Your Power BI Questions
At Near Contact, we can offer you expertise, developers, consultants, and tutors to get your project built, code reviewed, and problems solved. Our team of experts can help you ensure that your business implements, maintains, and manages your BI solution properly to get the insights that drive success. Contact us today for personalized Power BI support.