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With this article I would like to open a new series within our blog and at the same time introduce the category “Power BI”. Because we data boys all work in a Microsoft consulting firm, we have more and more contact with Power BI in our customer projects. Microsoft has made a significant leap here and developed Power BI, a super functional tool that definitely does not have to hide from other tools from the BI stack. Power Bi is a very powerful tool, so today I would like to start by answering the question that is likely to concern many readers: What is Power BI or what components does it include? In the further course we will also take a closer look at the license models.
Power BI is a collection of services, apps and connectors that together offer the ability to turn disconnected data sources into visually appealing, merged reports. Be it an Excel sheet or a collection of data in data warehouses or third-party software (ERP, PPS, etc.), with Power BI we can merge, connect, visualize and finally make it available on a dashboard for a wide variety of user groups. And the most important thing for many users: Since we are in the Microsoft BI product portfolio with Power BI development, it is very easy to use the tool. We know the intuitive usability from numerous other office products such as Work or Excel. Power BI manages to retrieve data from the entire company and to include it in the analyzes. In this way, users can even create cross-departmental analyzes. The tool also comes with a large number of ready-made connectors that allow a connection to external tools such as Salesforce, SAP, Google Analytics or AWS.
Microsoft creates the tool from three components that work closely together. First, we find a desktop application called Power BI Desktop. This application works closely with a Software-as-a Service (SaaS) online service called Power BI-Online and this in turn with one of the mobile Power BI apps that are available for all common smartphones. Why three components? Quite simply, so that the special requirements of the employees are optimally covered. Create, consume, view reports – everything is super simple and can be stored with the appropriate authorization structures. One department or an employee prefers to consume online, another one prefers to be mobile while traveling to the customer. Power BI makes it possible.
A typical work approach in Power BI begins in Power BI Desktop with the creation of reports and business reports. These are then published and released in Power BI Online so that colleagues can use the information with mobile Power BI apps. The role of the employee in the company is very important for the use of the Power BI components. An employee in Controlling who creates reports and dashboards (Report Factory) mainly works with Power BI Desktop in this constellation. In contrast, the consumer and colleague from sales, on the other hand, tend to use the mobile apps because they only want to monitor their current sales opportunities, potential new customers and status with existing customers. The drilldown options enable a consumer to run reports with Power BI Online and the mobile apps with very granular evaluations. Different roles in various projects naturally also result in situations in which the employees do not use the components of Power BI as usual, but in a different role and then, for example, no longer on the desktop but mobile on the tablet.
The basic version is free. If I want to use Power BI as a desktop version for myself to do a few analyzes, I am not paying anything. Power BI Pro offers all of the useful features of Power BI as well as other features such as increased storage capacity, planned data updates, live data sources and much more.
After we have got a rough overview of Power BI, I would like to bring the license costs for Power BI closer to you in the first step. The following overview is actually completely sufficient and easy to understand. There is even a very clear calculator for the Power BI Premium service, which can be found here. Give Power BI a try and let us know what you think!
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