What is Power BI? 

Power BI is one of the 5 core elements of Microsoft’s Power Platform. Power BI is a low-code data visualisation tool that provides access to interactive reports and dashboards that provide deeper insight into business data and empower organisations to make data-driven decisions. Organisations can use Power BI to connect data from multiple sources and summarise it using clear visualisations that can both enhance and accelerate reports. 

Why use Power BI? 

There are many advantages to integrating Power BI. Below we discuss just some of the key benefits of adopting the business intelligence tool. 

Artificial Intelligence Capabilities – Power BI uses powerful machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities to help prepare data and derive insights from unstructured data, helping to unveil hidden trends, streamline data analysis and accelerate reporting. You can even ask questions about your data using natural language prompts and Power BI will use AI to respond. 

Maximise Data Value – Clearly displaying information in a comprehensive visual format can help you better understand business performance data, so businesses can forecast trends more accurately and better prepare for what’s to come. Further, Power BI provides easy access to real-time business data, so managers always have ready access to the important information they need to make effective decisions in a timely manner. 

Integration – Power BI offers seamless integration with the elements of Power Platform, and other Microsoft products. This means that Power BI can bring you valuable insights using data from your organisations ERP system, CRM, document management system, M365 apps and more. 

Security – In conjunction with security features like double encryption and sensitivity labels, regular updates help ensure important business data stays private and protected. These regular updates also ensure the tool is continuously improving, helping you get the most from your solution and leverage the latest innovations.  

User-friendly – As a low-code data visualisation tool, Power BI offers a simple, intuitive interface that helps individuals from any background in the organisaion to generate reports and dashboards quickly and easily. 

Who uses Power BI? 

Power BI is a popular tool among both business and data analysts as it takes the manual work out of data visualisation and allows reports to be generated much quicker and easier. However, the user-friendly interface means you do not have to be a data professional to analyse data and create shareable reports. Power BI can really be used by anyone within an organisation who wants to leverage data to enhance decision making.  

Is Power BI cloud-based? 

The Power BI service is a cloud-based software as a service (SaaS), while Power BI Desktop is an application that can be installed on your computer. The desktop app allows users to connect many different sources of data for analysis and visualisation. Combining multiple data sources allows users to create a data model, which can then be used to design reports. The cloud-based Power BI service, on the other hand, does allow users to connect some data sources to create dashboards and analyse data, but data modeling is limited. The two platforms work together to provide organisations with actionable data insights, with Power BI Desktop used to create reports that are then published to Power BI Service for viewing and editing by other team members. The Venn diagram below illustrates the shared capabilities of Power BI Desktop and Power BI Service, as well as those exclusive to each platform. 

Power BI Desktop vs Power BI Service

What platforms does Microsoft Power BI support? 

As a cloud-based solution, Power BI can be seamlessly integrated with other elements of the Microsoft ecosystem, including Dynamics 365, Microsoft 365, SQL, Excel Project Online and SharePoint. The tool can even be integrated with non-Microsoft products like Salesforce and Google Analytics. 

Does Microsoft 365 include Power BI? 

Power BI is included in the Microsoft 365 E5 license. Otherwise, users can choose from Power BI Free, Power BI Pro or Power BI Premium licenses. A free per-user license enables users to create reports and dashboards for their own use, there are no sharing or collaboration features included. In contrast, the pro license allows users to create content that can be shared with others and facilitates collaboration with other Power BI Pro users. Similar to Power BI Pro, the Power BI Premium allows users to create, share and collaborate on reports and dashboards, while providing additional exclusive features. To learn more about the different types of Power BI licenses, visit the Microsoft website. 

To learn more about Microsoft Power BI, contact one of our experts today.