Companies come into contact with a large amount of data on a daily basis, but how do you determine which data is relevant ? How can data provide better service within a company? How do you create useful insights and trends based on that data ? To this end, Microsoft developed one of the most powerful and most user-friendly Business Intelligence Tools: Microsoft Power BI. In this blog post we discuss the benefits of Power BI and why you too can make use with BI reporting.
Within the domain of Business Intelligence (BI) words such as intuitive, self-service and easy to use are equally present. Because Microsoft Power BI has many similarities with Microsoft Excel , it is for many users the first Business Intelligence Tool that is really easy to use. This is because Excel functions are very similar to DAX ( Data Analysis Expressions ). This is the programming language that Power BI uses to create calculated columns , measures , and custom tables .
In addition, Power BI will recognize a lot of data. For example, do you have the turnover and profit figures of the company? Then you probably want to display these in a graph or table. If you then click on an item in the table, the graph will also change. Do you work with coordinates or place names? Then you might want to display it on a map. Microsoft has built all of this into Power BI with ease.
Finally , Microsoft Power Bi is also very easy to learn yourself . For example, Microsoft has developed a learning path with extensive documentation and videos that allow users to quickly learn the basics. In addition, a Power BI community has been set up to share knowledge and experiences about and with Power BI. So if you are stuck creating a report or writing a measure , you will probably find an answer in the community. If you want training tailored to your company, you can always contact our Business Intelligence Trainers .
- Collecting and visualizing data
Power BI has a lot of standard visualizations ( line charts, pie charts, bar charts, donut charts, cards, maps, KPI cards… ). If you need more complex visualisations, you can always download custom visuals from Microsoft AppSource . You can easily style and design these visualizations yourself so that they fit into the corporate identity of the company.
Even if you are not a data analyst yourself, thanks to Artificial Intelligence (AI) you can quickly gather insights from structured and unstructured data in Power BI. For example, you can use the Q&A function to ask simple questions in the report. Power BI will then search for a chart or table visualization based on keywords to answer your specific question.
- Linking with different data sources
Power BI makes it possible to bring together data from multiple data sources in one dataset . There are connectors to all well-known Microsoft systems such as SharePoint, Azure and Dynamics 365, but also other systems such as MySQL and Oracle databases, GitHub and Google Analytics. If you use many different data sources within the company with both structured and unstructured data, you can always rely on our Business Intelligence Consultants for advice and support.
- Integration with Microsoft products
As mentioned, Power BI is seamlessly compatible with all Microsoft products. Reports can easily be linked as a tab in Microsoft Teams so that the impact of new insights can be easily and quickly shared with team members and other colleagues within the same department (channel). If you want to receive an email when a certain KPI is above or below a certain value, this can easily be done via MS Flow . In addition, the data from Power BI can be analyzed directly in MS Excel via the analyzer function. So you don’t have to export any files anymore.
- Ideal for mobile and desktop
Power BI Desktop is used for collecting the data and creating reports. These are then published in the Power BI Service so that users can use the reports and possibly create dashboards. Once published, the data is always available on a laptop, smartphone or tablet . Power BI even offers the possibility to adapt the design of a report or dashboard for a smartphone so that the data is also well visualized on a small screen.
- Sharing information within the company
Once reports and dashboards are published in the Power BI Service, you can subscribe to reports and share them with other users. If you don’t want to share every report or dashboard individually, you can also use a workspace. This is where the reports and dashboards are placed that the same users are working with. Of course you do not want everyone within the company to be able to change everything. That is why you have different roles that each have more rights: viewer, contributor, member and admin .
If you want to ensure that users only see specific information (for example from their region or department), Row-Level security (RLS ) can be used . This way you ensure that everyone within the right organization can consult the right information.
Power BI reports can also be used outside your own organization. For example on social media, websites and blogs. Anyone on the internet can consult those reports.
- Power Bi is cheap
In addition to the advantages mentioned above, Power BI has another major asset. It is by far the cheapest in its class, especially for small or medium-sized enterprises.
Power BI Desktop is completely free! If you want to collaborate with others on a dashboard or share the available data, you need a Power BI Pro license . It costs €8.40 per user, per month. Any user who wants to view the dashboards or reports will need such a license. If you want to use Paginated Reports and Advanced AI, you need a Power Bi Premium license . The cost for this is €16.90 . An overview of all prices and licenses of Power BI can be found here .