What is Power BI?
Businesses often have a variety of data sources and formats, and it may be difficult to bring those sources and formats together to learn from them. That’s where a tool like Microsoft Power BI comes in, allowing you to connect data sources, clean up that data so it’s in its most useful form, explore, ask questions and share with your team. Around the Onebridge office, we have a lot of love for tools like Power BI because they allow businesses to use their data as an asset, and that’s what we’re all about. Stick around for a moment and let us give you a short introduction into the power of this tool.
The 3 components of Power BI.
Whether your data is in an Excel spreadsheet or exists as a conversation on Facebook, Power BI can pull it in and make it accessible through its 3 main components:
- a desktop app (Power BI Desktop)
- a software service online (Power BI Service)
- a mobile app for Windows devices, iOS and Android (Power BI Mobile)
You may only need to use the desktop app to import data and create business reports, use the web app to create visualizations and dashboards to share with your team or use the mobile app to see the latest metrics on the go—or a combination of all three. Power BI is intended to work for a variety of business user needs.
You can download Power BI Desktop directly from the web or install it as an app from the Windows Store. If you already use the Power BI Service, you can get to Desktop from there, too. And of course, you can find the mobile apps on the Windows Store, App Store and Google Play.
The core elements of Power BI.
All aspects of Power BI are arranged around the same basic elements:
- Collections of data, called datasets, are used to create visualizations of the data. Datasets can pull data from many different formats and sources, and it’s as easy as clicking a few buttons. This data is filterable so you can focus in on specific portions, letting you zoom in and out to see a combination of the big picture and the details.
- Once you’ve created visualizations of the dataset you’re interested in, you can pull the visuals together into a report that tells the story of the insights you’ve discovered.
- You can share a single page from a report or a collection of visualizations to offer quick insight in the form of a dashboard. Dashboards are generally expected to fit on a single page for quick readability. You can arrange visualizations on the Power BI canvas as tiles that fit into place adjacent to one another. You can make tiles larger or smaller to indicate importance. It’s best to focus on presenting the visuals in a way that best tells the story, rather than focusing on offering a pleasing visual.
Convenient perks of using Power BI.
Power BI offers apps designed to connect to specific software/cloud services. Once you’ve entered your credentials and Power BI connects to the software service, it auto-generates a collection of visualizations prearranged on dashboards and reports. This way you can start with the standard visual layout and then tweak your dashboard as needed. You can also set Power BI to automatically update the datasets being used on a schedule of your choosing—or on demand.
Most important benefits of Power BI.
The best thing about Power BI is that you don’t need any specialized training in data or analytics to use it. Because it’s a cloud service, it’s always up-to-date and free of the issues caused by legacy software. It’s extremely easy to implement. In fact, you can try Power BI immediately with no upfront cost thanks to the availability of a trial version, and it integrates so smoothly with existing technologies that the trial period is plenty long enough to offer real insight into whether Power BI can pull the value out of your data.
Its visualization and dashboard capabilities are top-notch, allowing even novice business users to create meaningful representations of insights. Its ease of use offers more business users the opportunity to evaluate the data from their own unique point of view to discover unexpected insights. And the ability to share and access dashboards and reports on-the-go via mobile app boosts collaboration among teams as well as speed to market. It’s fast, and it can even integrate with Cortana or Bot to respond to natural language verbal data queries.
Stay tuned for our next Power BI blog, where we’ll go more in-depth into pulling your data into the system, cleaning it and publishing it into a report. As always, if you have questions about Power BI or any other data-related topic, don’t hesitate to contact us!