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Some Stuff About Microsoft Power BI
What is Power BI?
It is a business intelligence and analytics solution that allows you to connect with hundreds of data sources, consolidate this data into structured and related models according to what you need to analyze, you can create visualizations with that information... then publish them to share with your colleagues or insert them into your application or website.
Power BI has the following components:
Power BI Desktop.- You can download this tool and install it on your computer, it allows you to connect to different data sources (flat files, excel, relational databases, NoSQL databases, API, Cloud Services), transform the information if it is necessary, model your information in tables and relationships between them. Create fantastic visualizations, create analytics, use DAX (Data Analysis Expressions) which is a very powerful query language to perform calculations, create personalized interactive reports, publish in the cloud or on-premises. This tool is free to use.
Power BI Pro.- web application service that allows you to connect directly with your information from on-premise or from the cloud. It allows you to ask questions in natural language about your information and predictive visualizations appear as you write your question. You can import your reports built from Power BI Desktop. It allows you to share your reports and dashboards with your colleagues.
Power BI Premium.- it allows you to collaborate easily in your organization, it accelerates decision making allowing everyone in the company to access the insights generated from the reports shared by their colleagues. Information preparation with self-service connectors in common services such as Dynamics 365, Azure SQL Data Warehouse, Salesforce.com, Excel, and SharePoint. It can be implemented through Power BI Report Server or from the cloud.
Power BI Mobile.- you can monitor your business from the mobile phone with secure access. Either iOS, Android or Windows can view your reports and dashboards from your smartphone or tablets safely. Create annotations in your reports and send it to your team for new ideas.
Power BI Embedded.- it allows to integrate all the visualizations of your reports already built into your applications, its users do not need to pay for a Power BI Pro license. Additional, you control authentication and authorization from your application.
Power BI Report Server.- this is a report server solution for your company that allows you to publish your Power BI reports within your own infrastructure to create a local storage BI environment. It is part of Power BI Premium.
Is it a good tool to use in Business Intelligence?
Undoubtedly, for 12 consecutive years Microsoft has been a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant in analytical and business intelligence platforms. Here's the Quadrant of 2019. (source: microsoft.com)
What benefits do you get when implementing Power BI in your business?
"Knowledge is power". Consider the reports that you have built in Power BI as an important asset for your company ... these reports and dashboards are telling you what happens with your business in order to improve decision making, be more: productive, lucrative and efficient. With the exact knowledge of your business you can generate a better strategic plan based on real information through this business solution.
Is it easy to learn?
The tool is very easy to use and you have a lot of resources for learning. Once you have installed Power BI Desktop, from the help menu you can access: guided learning videos, the Microsoft Power BI YouTube channel, documentation, technical support, forums, examples, the Power BI community... you can even access a list of Partners that provide services in this tool. Also, you can hire our services of consultancy and training, this way you can accelerate your learning and the implementation of the tool in your business.
Licenses and updates?
Well, Power BI Desktop is free while Power BI Pro costs USD 9.99 per month per user, if you have hired Office 365 I think the price falls in half. For more detail about licensing, check here.
How versatile is it?
If you put effort into using and learning this tool, in a short time it will be quite productive, as you use the visualizations you may need some new visuals. I recommend to check Power BI Visuals, also visit Data Stories Gallery.
The things I like most about Power BI
Here, I list the main things that I like about this tool, it's a personal opinion, I do not try to make a comparison with any other software although I could mention that so far I have worked with 5 business intelligence tools (commercial and open source) throughout my career. Here's my list:
- Microsoft publishes monthly updates where they correct bugs, present new features and improvements. Users can request new features to include in the tool and set a vote to check which requirement has better acceptance by the community.
- It has direct integration with Python and R, which allows to include: statistical tools, machine learning algorithms, econometric algorithms. Python integration was added in June 2019.
- You can add new visuals, in fact you can download new visuals or buy them.
- A powerful language such as DAX (Data Analytics Expression) to perform calculations on your information.
- It has a great partner list, support can be found in many countries.
- Documentation, support, blog, forums and videos on many websites to improve your learning.
- Power BI Desktop is free, you can prepare your reports or perform a proof of concept without having to update a trial or pay for expensive licenses.
- Power BI Desktop works data in memory, you can load massive data from millions of records and response times are pretty good.
- Although the interface of the tool is not intuitive like Word or Excel.... this is due the concept of business intelligence tool, but it is easy to use. You can be quite productive with the tool in a few hours of usage.