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Would you like to visualize the performance of your organization in one single place? That's the power of Microsoft Power BI, a business intelligence (BI) tool that transforms your data into graphical components and helps you create interactive reports that you can share with your team and clients.
What is Power BI?
Power BI Desktop is a desktop application created by Microsoft for analysts as part of Power BI, an intelligent ecosystem of services, connectors, and applications that convert raw data into coherent, organized, and visually appealing reports.
What are the key features of Microsoft Power BI Desktop?
- Different data sources: You can import data from different local and cloud sources, such as Excel, SharePoint, Dynamics 365, Azure SQL DB, and Google Analytics.
- Data transformation: Power BI Desktop integrates the Power Query Editor to organize, modify and combine information from all connected data sources. Power Query handles the extraction, transformation, and loading (ETL) of data.
- Interface: The Power BI Dashboard lets you manage the information easily thanks to the three viewing styles offered by the software, which you can access from the left panel, including Report View (Let you create multi-page reports and data component visuals), Data View (Find your tables, your data models, and all the other information relevant to the transformation of your data), Relationships View (Manages the relationships between the tables of your data model, which you can also extend with DAX formulas).
- Create interactive reports: Generate graphs from the data fields you select, choose visual objects from more than 100 available templates, or create one from scratch, according to the information you want to analyze.
- Share reports: Create tailor-made reports for your audience and publish them through the Power BI web service. Also, mobile reports will allow users to access the information from anywhere.
How to use Power BI?
After downloading the software, follow the instructions in the installation wizard and launch the desktop application. Optionally, you can log in with your work or school account to facilitate collaboration and access to your organization's content. Next, import the data that you want to analyze from the options on the main screen or choose another source by clicking on Obtain data from another source. You can also click Get Data in the Home tab at the top of the screen. With the help of the Power Query Editor, you can remove columns, combine data from multiple sources, and modify the information to shape it and create a model.
After transforming the data, drag the fields you want to include in your chart or visual onto the Report Canvas. Choose a chart type in the Visualizations panel on the right side, or create your own chart. Once you have gathered a collection of visual objects reflecting the information you need, you can generate your Power BI report. For more details on how Power BI works, you can check out the Power BI tutorial section on Microsoft's website.
Microsoft introduces improvements to the software on a continuous basis, so make sure to frequently check if there is a new Power BI update available.
Is Microsoft Power BI free?
So how much does Power BI cost? You can download and use Power BI Desktop at no cost thanks to the Power BI Free membership, which gives you access to your workspace and the content that others have shared with you. If you would like to have access to features such as in-depth data analysis, and the creation of workspaces, dashboards, and reports, you can purchase a Pro Power Bi license. The costs of a Pro license start at $9.99 per user per month.
What's better: Microsoft Power BI or Tableau?
The biggest players in the market for data visualization and analytics tools are Power BI and Tableau. Both solutions share nearly the same functionalities and costs. For more information on Tableau, visit the official website.