Power BI is a collection of various business intelligence tools and techniques that allow a user to pull out valuable information and discover hidden patterns or relationships in the raw business data. Modern industries use Power BI to process large datasets to discover hidden patterns and relationships between different variables. This helps them to track the business performance and see the areas where they need to improve.
Now, a dashboard is a single page collection of data visualizations known as tiles, which can be used to show the crucial aspects or values of the datasets. Dashboards can be made by adding visuals from reports, which you can share with other users on the Power BI app website. The following topics are going to be covered in this blog:
What is Power BI?
Power BI is a widely popular business intelligence and visualization tool offered by Microsoft. This business and data analytics service enables the processing, analysis, and visualization of large volumes of data.
Power BI helps extract insights, draw conclusions, and share results in the form of reports and dashboards across various departments. It has an easy drag-and-drop feature with a wide selection of interactive data visualizations for dashboards and reports.
Power BI Gateway, Power BI Desktop, Power BI Report Server, Power BI Service, and Power BI Mobile Apps are the primary components of Power BI.
Why Power BI?
The following are the reasons why enterprises around the world prefer Power BI over other business intelligence tools:
- Easy to Connect with Data Sources: Power BI brings the data together by connecting with both on-premises and on-cloud data sources, such as Excel spreadsheets, CSV files, OneDrive, Salesforce, Azure Data Warehouse, Google Analytics, Dropbox, SQL Database, etc. Power BI connectors enable the user to analyze massive datasets within minutes.
- Custom Visualizations: Power BI offers prepacked visualizations such as lines, maps, bars, columns, graphs, funnel charts, scatter plots, tables, and waterfalls. These visuals have customization options that enable the user to enhance the presentation and functionality of their dashboards.
- Native R Integration: Power BI supports R, an open-source programming language used for statistical modeling, machine learning, data manipulation, and visualization. Power BI lets the user integrate R and follow a drill-down approach to represent better relationships, patterns, hierarchies, and key matrices.
- Cortana Integration: Cortana is Microsoft’s digital assistant, which Power BI integrates with and allows the user to run voice commands in a natural language and access the dashboards. Visualizations can be created by writing the column name with the visual the user wants to add it in.
- Power BI Apps: The apps provide a glance at the dashboards and reports shared by other users. The user can embed their Power BI tiles in the applications to get live updates about their data on a mobile phone.
- User Interface: Power BI can be used by anyone with a basic knowledge of Excel. Even a nontechnical user can generate valuable information with the help of a Power BI sample dashboard. You can play with Power BI dashboard templates and add custom visualizations to extract maximum information.
What is Power BI Dashboard?
Power BI dashboard is a collection of data visualizations that tells a story through graphs and charts. Often called the canvas, dashboards are the single-page interface where the user can add custom visualizations, which give
s the highlights of that story.
Power BI allows the user to create interactive dashboards by adding tiles to the interface. Tiles are the visualizations created by using two or more dimensions of the transformed data. A tile makes a dashboard look understandable and organized. It can either be a simple graph
, or a complex and more informative visual such as a Power BI heatmap.
You can share these dashboards on different platforms through Power BI Service, where others can view them and get a quick into the business. Moreover, you can add the dashboards on Power BI apps and websites to get the live feed on your smartphone, tablet, or computer.
Watch the video on how to build a Power BI dashboard:
Check out the Power BI Interview Questions if you’re preparing for a job interview.
What are Reports in Power BI
A Power BI report is a multi-perspective view into a dataset, with visuals that represent different findings and insights from that dataset. A report can have a single visual or pages full of visuals. Depending on your job role, you may be someone who designs reports. You also may be a business user who consumes or uses reports. This article is for business users.
A. This report has four pages (or tabs) and you’re currently viewing the Sentiment page.
B. On this page are five different visuals and a page title.
C. The Filters pane shows us one filter applied to all report pages. To collapse the Filters pane, select the arrow (>).
D. The Power BI banner displays the name of the report and the last updated date. Select the arrow to open a menu that also shows the name of the report owner.
E. The action bar contains actions you can take on this report. For example, you can add a comment, view a bookmark, or export data from the report. Select More options (…) to reveal a list of additional report functionality.
If you’re new to Power BI, you can get a good foundation by reading Basic concepts for the Power BI service business users. Reports are available for viewing, sharing, and annotating on mobile devices. For more info, see Explore reports in the Power BI mobile apps.
How to Create a Power BI Dashboard?
Power BI provides an easy way to build reports or dashboards and publish them on the cloud using Power BI Service. Even a nontechnical user can use Power BI Desktop and connect data from varied sources, transform as per the requirements, create visualizations, and share them with others as reports. If you want, you can check out the sample dashboards available on Power BI’s official website to save a lot of time and effort.
With a simple user interface, you can create some of the best Power BI dashboards that will not only show you the insights of your data but also reveal the relationship between different variables. For this guide on how to create a Power BI dashboard, we will build a dashboard in Power BI Desktop using Contoso manufacturing sales data as our sample dataset. You can download the sample data from Microsoft’s website.
To create a dashboard, you first have to install Power BI Desktop on your PC or laptop, which you can do by checking out our blog on Power BI Desktop. Now, let us create a dashboard in Power BI in four main steps:
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- Step 1: Connect with Data Sources
Power BI can connect with different types of data sources such as worksheets, cloud services, local databases, and CSV files. Power BI provides more than 110 specific connectors, such as GitHub, and can even connect with website URLs to extract tabular data.
Sometimes, the data gathered from various sources is not well structured or contains redundant values. So, to structure it, you have to transform it, meaning that you can rename the rows or columns, delete the rows with null values, change the data type, and create a relationship between the variables.
To connect the data in Power BI, follow these steps:
- Open Power BI Desktop and select Get Data from the ribbon at the Home tab.
- Select Excel as your dataset and locate the sample workbook that you have downloaded.
- A dialog box with all the columns and rows in your data will appear on the screen. Now, you can either transform the data based on the requirements or directly use it by clicking on the load button.
- Step 2: Transforming Data
Data transformation and modeling is an important part of data visualization as it helps you to define a relationship between variables, rename columns, and remove redundancies. You can customize your data using the Power Query editor by following these steps:
- From the Home tab of the editing panel, select the Transform Data option.
- Now, click on the Custom Columns from Add Columns, a dialog box will appear where you can rename a column and create the custom column formula.
- Click on OK to successfully create the custom column.
- Now, click on Close & Apply to save all the changes.
- You can also hide several columns by clicking on the Hide button in the report view.
- Step 3: Visualizing the Data
- Navigate to the Visualizations panel on the left side and click on the key influencers.
- In the Visualizations pane, drag the Profit variable from the Fields pane and drop it to the Analyze By option. You can add more columns by checking the box beside the column names such as Product, Units Sold, Discounts, Segment, etc.
- Now, add a new page from the bottom-left corner and add a custom column chart from the visualization page.
- As you did for the previous visualization, drag Product from Fields to Shared Axis in the Visualizations pane, Profit to Line values, and other columns to the Column values.
- Repeat the above-mentioned instructions to add more visualizations as per your requirement.
- Save your report in the local disk before moving on to the next step.
- Step 4: Build the Dashboard
Till now, you have been working on Power BI Desktop and creating visualizations. To create the dashboards, you need to pin the visuals from the report in the Power BI Service (online). To do so, carefully follow the instructions given below:
- Click on the Publish Report option from the ribbon in the Home tab, the report will open in your web browser.
- Now, go to page 2 of your report and click on the pin icon in the upper-right corner of your column chart visual.
- A dialog box will appear where you can pin the visual to a new dashboard and give it a name.
- You will get the notification of your visual being successfully pinned to the dashboard. From there, you can either create a phone view or go to the dashboard and optimize it.
- Return to the first page of your report and select the options for the key influencers’ visual.
- Click on Pin To Dashboard and add that to an existing dashboard by clicking on the Pin Live button.
Again, a message will appear confirming that your visualization has been pinned. You can view the dashboard by clicking on the Go To Dashboard button.
Your dashboard is now live and the visualization will update automatically after the report gets refreshed. Similarly, you can add more visuals as tiles on your dashboard.
At last, resize the visuals based on both web and phone through the option at the bottom-right corner of each visualization or tile.
Now, you have your first dashboard ready to be shared with other users. To share the dashboard, click on My Workspace from the Navigation pane on the left side.
Type the names or emails with whom you want to share the dashboard, determine the user permissions, and click on the Share button. You can also select pre-built dashboards from the Power BI dashboard gallery and play around with them.
Advantages of Power BI Dashboard
Power BI dashboard is here to simplify your tasks and increase visibility and operability of you operations. Here’s a list of some of the advantages of using Power BI dashboard:
- One of the significant benefits of Power BI is its simplicity. Accessing details, whether for a manager or an analyst, is as simple as a few clicks.
- Each user may tailor the analysis of the results to their specific needs and features related to their role.
- You won’t have to conduct any segmentation on the raw data because Business Intelligence has already done it for them.
- A customized dashboard allows the user to see the data that affects them right away.
- As Power BI is installed, it becomes a collaborative tool that enables teams to work more independently, promoting information exchange between different departments and users thanks to its analytical capabilities.
- Even if they are in separate rooms, teams can work on the same analytical reports at the same time: Power BI is available on all platforms and can be used at any time.
- Employees can thus act more independently because they can easily access data, and information access facilitates collaboration. That acces is, of course, safe and protected to ensure the information’s integrity.
Power BI Components
The following are the Power BI components that play an important role in implementing the Power BI capabilities:
- Power Query: Power Query allows the user to connect with different databases and extract valuable information to make better decisions. It is a data transformation and mashup tool, which can also be included in Excel.
- Power Pivot: Power Pivot is a data modeling tool that utilizes the data analysis expression (DAX) language to create complex data models. It is used to create measures with numerical computations and establish relationships between varied data sources.
- Power View: Power View allows the user to create stunning visualizations with drag-and-drop features. It is available for SQL Servers, Sharepoint, Excel, and Power BI.
- Power Maps: Power Maps are mainly used to create 3D visualizations and represent geospatial data in the form of maps. They get the information about the latitude, longitude, city, state, country, or address and create a detailed map such as bubble, filled, heat, or shape map.
- Power Q&A: After deploying the data model on the Power BI website, Power Q&A can be used to answer the user’s questions about the data. It works with Power View so that the user can ask queries and visualize the data based on various constraints. For example, the number of customers in a particular city or sales in different countries as bubbles.
- Power BI Desktop: Power BI Desktop is a free software that can be used by a single user to connect different data sources, perform data manipulation, and create reports. For a small business, Power BI Desktop is the best way to perform data analysis and use it to make better decisions.
- Power BI Website: The Power BI website hosts your Power BI files and publishes the reports and dashboards on the servers. The user can also connect various data sources and create reports and dashboards online.
- Power BI Service: Power BI Service enables the user to share the reports and dashboards on the cloud, which can be accessed by other members of the enterprise. It connects with other components and allows the user to connect with the data from any location.
- Power BI Apps: Power BI apps provide a live view of the dashboards and reports published on the cloud. They help the user to gain insights by executing queries in a natural language.
Now that you have understood what a Power BI dashboard is and its importance, let us compare it with Power BI Reports and see how different they are from each other.
Learn more about Power BI from this Power BI Tutorial!
Reports in Power BI
A Power BI report gives a multi-perspective view into a dataset. The visuals in the reports represent different findings and insights extracted from the dataset. A report in Power BI can have a single visual or multiple visuals across a number of pages.
Dashboard vs. Report in Power BI
The following are the key points that differentiate between Power BI dashboard and report:
|Pages||Dashboards are only single-page visualizations.||Reports can be of a single page or multiple pages.|
|Data Sources||Tiles can be formed from multiple reports or datasets.||Only a single dataset can be used to create |the reports.
|Filtering||Slicing or filtering is not possible.||Filtering, highlighting, and slicing can be performed.|
|Alerts||Alerts can be set for emails.||There is no option to set alerts for emails.|
|Accessing tables and fields||Dashboards are not allowed to access dataset tables or fields.||Reports allow viewing and accessing dataset tables, fields, and values.|
|Applications||Used by modern businesses to create single-page visualizations for their customers, stakeholders, and managers.||Used everywhere, from small businesses to big enterprises, to analyze sales, resources, or performance of Power BI projects.|
Applications of Power BI Dashboard
Enterprises from different fields use Power BI to extract valuable insights from raw data. They use Power BI dashboards to get real-time access to the data, check the performance of the project team, discover what is important, and make data-driven decisions. Below-mentioned are some examples of Power BI dashboard that help various industries to track information and make better decisions:
- Airport Authority Performance Dashboards
Airport authorities have to continuously monitor various parameters, such as flight changes, delays, cancellations, and emergencies, so that quick decisions can be made to avoid any mishap.
Dashboards provide detailed information about the airport operational activities that help the airport authorities discover bottlenecks, evaluate operational processes, and identify areas of improvement.
- Global Superstore Dashboards
Supermarkets use dashboards to get information about sales, profit, demand, customer satisfaction, product availability, and store performance. Dashboards provide an overall picture of the sales performance that helps the managers to set performance targets, track key performance indicators (KPIs), and take appropriate actions to improve sales.
- Cancer Analytics Dashboard
The cancer analytics dashboard provides a quick summary of cancer patients in different countries. It helps scientists and researchers to understand the mortality rate of cancer patients based on various factors such as area, age group, gender distribution, etc.
- Customer Analysis Dashboard
Businesses around the world use the Power BI sales dashboard to perform sales analysis and find out the total profit made. It also helps them understand customer behaviors and percentage growth.
With some modifications, a business can also use these dashboards on its app and show the customers how good the product is or its sales around the globe. This increases the customers’ confidence and encourages them to buy the product or service.
One of the best Power BI dashboard examples is the HR analytics dashboard. It gives a bird’s eye view of a company’s human resources including the following metrics:
- Employee details
- New joiners
- Employee satisfaction score
- Workflow management
- Recruitment KPIs
- Functional operating expense
- Labor cost
- Profit vs
- Demographic statistics
- Headcount statistics
- Financial statistics
- Annual leave report
With Power BI financial dashboard, companies can track their employees’ performance and improve their productivity.
- Energy usage and cost dashboard
Power corporations use energy usage and cost dashboards to calculate the total energy usage and surge in demands so that they can plan the production accordingly. These dashboards also show the data about the areas consuming more energy, which, in turn, helps to upgrade the equipment and avoid any failure.
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So far, you have learned how different industries use dashboards to highlight various insights and take real-time decisions to improve their functionality. The following section of the blog will discuss how to create a dashboard in Power BI and connect with different data sources.
In this blog, you have learned about Power BI dashboards and how different industries use them to get a glance at critical measures.
Creating a dashboard in Power BI is a fairly easy and straightforward process. Even a nontechnical person can connect with varied data sources and use the dashboards to make data-driven decisions. You can also change the existing Power BI dashboard design by adding visualizations from the published reports and make it more informative.
For more information on Power BI, visit our Business Intelligence Community.