Data is the key element for modern industries, and it is getting generated more than ever before. It has a lot to with customer behavior, product values, and the current status of the market. With the help of the right tools and technologies like Microsoft Power BI, businesses can predict market behavior and make profitable decisions.
Power BI is used by various industries from different sectors to improve data visualization and decision-making processes that eventually lead to profitability. So, let’s dive deep into the topic and try to understand ‘What is Microsoft Power BI?’ and how you can kick-start or upgrade your career as a Power BI Analyst.
In this article, we will cover several aspects of Power BI including:
Before going to our main topics, let’s briefly discuss the term ‘Business Intelligence.’
What is Business Intelligence?
The term Business Intelligence refers to the technologies, software, and processes that collect raw business data and convert it into meaningful information. BI allows businesses to integrate different datasets and analyze and present them in the form of visual insights.
Business Intelligence provides actionable insights and helps a business make tactical decisions for improving the customer base and generating more value and profits.
Custom visualizations, easy access to the raw data, and cloud services are some of the many features that Business Intelligence offers to a company. Power BI provides all such features through various tools and services available in the market, and Microsoft Power BI is one of the most preferred among them.
Check out this video to get a step closer to understanding Power BI:
Now, let’s talk about Microsoft Power BI and the reasons why it is so popular.
What is Power BI?
Power BI provides a scalable platform that helps the user to connect, visualize, and share the data with other users or stakeholders to gain deeper insights into the business. It is available in both free and paid versions.
The free version only offers Power BI tools like Power BI Desktop and Power Q&A to reports or dashboards. Whereas, Power BI pro comes with Power BI Service that provides live report sharing, Power View, and Power BI Apps which gives great help while working with your Power BI projects.
The source of the raw data can be Excel spreadsheets, CSV files, or a combination of both on-premises and cloud-based hybrid data warehouses. With Microsoft Power BI, users can analyze the data from different sources and share it with anyone using Power BI Service.
Microsoft Power BI architecture enables non-technical users to get actionable insights into their business data without spending much time and resources to learn about the system. Using charts and graphs, users can understand the current state of the business and the actions needed to improve it.
Power BI Definition: It is a collection of tools, services, and connectors that helps a user integrate, analyze, and visualize raw business data and convert it in the form of dashboards or live reports. These dashboards can then be shared with other users or stakeholders to make better decisions that eventually increase profitability.
Why Power BI is considered to be the best BI tool? Have a look at our blog on the Power BI tool to know more.
Why Power BI?
Power BI gives reporting and analytical power to a business by providing competitive information to planners and decision-makers. With Power BI, the decision-makers can source, alter, and visualize the data using Artificial Intelligence and make better decisions based on the scenarios.
Below are some of the unique features that give Power BI an edge over other Business Intelligence tools:
- Power BI allows direct queries on datasets if they cross a certain size limit. This saves the time required to load the data on the system and then perform the operations.
- The Machine Learning feature of this tool helps users detect valuable trends and make predictions of the competitive market.
- Get regular update notifications and have the latest Power BI version of Power BI Desktop and Power BI Report Server.
- Power BI Service enables the users to benefit from high-end processing power with the latest algorithms and technology.
- Its personalized dashboards allow the users to quickly access important visualizations and information out of many reports.
- Alerts can be set up on key performance indicators (KPIs) to update the users on different metrics and measurements.
- MS Power BI makes it easy to navigate and process complex datasets so that even a non-technical user can use reports and custom dashboards without spending much time on learning the interface.
- The users get business insights for free on Power BI Desktop, and hence, it is the best for small businesses with fewer computation requirements.
- Live reports and dashboards get updated in real-time as the data streams in, which allows the users to quickly resolve the problems and find new opportunities.
- Whenever a dataset is updated, Power BI Service automatically refreshes the reports and the dashboards uploaded in the service cloud.
- Power BI is easy to be integrated with other Microsoft products and services like Cortana. Users can access the graphs and charts directly using voice commands.
Also Read – Power BI vs Tableau & MSBI vs Power BI
Power BI Components
In this section, you will read about the components of Power BI and the important role they play to implement Power BI capabilities.
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What is Power BI Query?
With Power Query, you can collect, transform, and analyze distinct information from multiple data sources. In other words, it is a data transformation and mashup tool that helps you bring in information from different sources on a single platform.
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What is Power BI Pivot?
Power Pivot is a data modeling technique that uses the Data Analysis Expression (DAX) language to create simple and complex data models. With this feature in the BI toolkit, you can do numerical computation and establish relationships between different data sources.
What is Power BI View?
You can add Power View on SQL Server or SpreadShare and create graphs, maps, charts, and other visuals with simple drag-n-drop features. Power View can connect and filter different data sources to make a report on a single device.
What is a Power BI Map?
With Power Map, you can plot more than a million rows of data on Bing Maps in the form of 3D visualizations. Based on the country, longitude, and latitude, Bing Maps shows the exact geospatial visuals of complex business information. This proves to be beneficial when you want to get sales insights from certain locations.
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What is Power BI Q&A?
After building and deploying your model on Power BI, you can explore your data by simply writing or giving voice commands in your own words. Power Q&A uses Natural Language Processing and integrates it with Cortana (Microsoft’s virtual assistant) to get the answers to your query.
What is Power BI Desktop?
Power BI Desktop brings everything on a single platform, including Power Pivot, Power Query, and Power View. It is a free application that you can install on a computer or laptop to create dashboards and reports.
In its free version, Power BI Desktop provides up to 10 GB of data storage and 1 GB uploading limit at a time. It also offers access to all the features of Power BI visualization templates and libraries. You can create and export reports in Excel and publish them on the Internet.
However, you cannot share these reports with your peers and can only refresh them up to 8 times a day. For live reports, you have to go with the Pro or Premium version.
Learn step by step guide on how to export Power Bi data to excel from our blog!
What is Power BI Service?
Hosted on Azure, Power BI Service allows you to publish reports on the cloud and share them with other business members. With this, you can create live reports and connect them with the Power BI dashboards known as Power BI Workspace.
Power BI Service connects Power Pivot, Power View, Power Q&A, Power BI Report Server, and other components with the Power BI Workspace and allows you to connect with the data no matter where you are. Among these, Power BI Report Server allows you to connect and visualize On-premises data on your web browser.
What are Power BI Apps?
Power BI Apps provide secure access to live reports and dashboards. Power BI mobile apps are available for iOS, Windows, and Android devices. It does not matter whether your data is stored on the cloud or on-premises servers, you can access reports, run queries, share reports, and also get personalized notifications.
The Power BI latest version comes with better UI and features to customize pre-existing reports on Mobile Apps and desktops. It saves your time that would otherwise be consumed rebuilding these reports from scratch. Also, you connect Power BI Apps with Power BI Report Server and access SQL Reporting Services.
Now, let’s go through the career opportunities and the certifications you need to clear to become a Power BI Analyst.
Learn more about Power BI from this Power BI Tutorial!
Power BI Architecture
Power BI architecture is a service built on top of Azure. There are multiple data sources that Power BI can connect to. Power BI Desktop allows you to create reports and data visualizations on the dataset. Power BI gateway is connected to on-premise data sources to get continuous data for reporting and analytics. Power BI services refer to the cloud services that are used to publish Power BI reports and data visualizations. Using Power BI mobile apps, you can stay connected to their data from anywhere. Power BI apps are available for Windows, iOS, and Android platforms.
Advantages of Power BI
A major advantage of using Power BI is that it is inexpensive compared to other cloud service providers. The Power BI Desktop version is free of cost, you can download and start making the reports on your computer. However, if you wanna share your reports on the cloud you have to pay 9.99$ per user per month.
In Power BI, you can also save data to Excel. No matter how great the data is presented using Graphs, maps and charts using data visualization tools, people still tend to have the data in their excel sheet. For example, you can get the data of a manufacturing unit for the past six months within a few clicks from Power BI.
Power BI offers a wide range of custom visualizations where developers can take your requirements and convert them to KPI’s, charts, graphs, maps etc.
Data Accessibility and Interactive visualization:
Power BI provides great access to all the data source and the data sets that you create while designing the reports, in a centralized location. You can access the data anytime, anywhere from any device multiple times. Users can interact with the dashboards using filters, highlighting features, etc. by simple clicks.
Newly Developed Features:
One of the other advantages is that Microsoft provides the users with monthly updates. Overall, Power BI is an amazing tool for data analysis and visualization. The pros far outbalance the drawbacks of Power BI.
Learn more about Power BI Integration with Azure!
Disadvantages of Power BI
Rigid formulas and Large data volumes:
The language used in Power BI is mostly DAX. However, there are only so many actions that can be performed using DAX Formula. It may allow you to create a multitude of custom calculations but it is not flexible and the query becomes cumbersome. The outcome of these cannot always be good for the dashboard performance or speed.
Power BI has a limit on the size of data that it can ingest. If you wish to import data larger than 2GB you need to extend your free version to the paid version. And using Power BI can be frustrating at times as it can crash while processing large datasets with complex measures.
Another con is that Power BI can have difficulty in handling data with complex relationships between tables. You need to create data models carefully with unique fields so that Power BI can distinguish the relationship with the appropriate table.
Power BI has a cramped and bulky interface, as it is filled with many icon options that block the view of the reports and dashboards. Moreover the Tooltip in Power BI has a limited application.
Compatibility with IOS:
Power BI does not provide a compatible option in the Desktop version for Mac Users.
Limitation in Excel Integration:
Even though the excel integration is an advantage of Power BI, you can only download data upto 150,000 rows.
Power BI Career Opportunities
As business operations are getting more complex with an increased user base and data generation, companies are now using Business Intelligence tools for real-time data visualization and making better market decisions.
MS Power BI has emerged as the leader in Business Analytics used by many multinational companies and firms. Plus, the technology is fairly new, which means that the demand for skilled BI Analysts is very high. So, if you are thinking to start or switch your career to Business intelligence, now is the right time.
With good knowledge of Power BI and related terminology, you can apply for different job roles as listed below:
What is Power BI Developer?
A Power BI Developer is responsible for designing, developing, and maintaining BI solutions and executing queries as per requirements. The professional also develops and updates technical documentation as per the business requirements.
He/she knows the complete BI system and the in-and-out of the queries requested by users. To fulfill all these roles, he/she should have extensive knowledge of operating systems, databases, networking, cloud architecture, and of course, Business Intelligence.
What is a Power BI Analyst?
A BI Analyst gathers business data through various techniques like data mining, looks for trends, and picturizes the company’s competitiveness with other players in the market. Also, a Power BI Analyst looks for the features added in Power BI’s latest version and finds out the way it can be used for the business.
Based on user requirements, the Business Analyst creates reports so that the decision-makers can make better decisions and increase the profitability of the company.
What is Power BI Consultant?
A Power BI Consultant evaluates the existing systems and installs new ones if necessary. The person is also responsible for balancing customer requirements with technical constraints and developing a high-level roadmap to achieve the goals.
What is Power BI Manager?
BI Managers are professionals with years of experience as a Power BI Analyst or Power BI Developer. They drive the data strategy and manage various operations of the BI team.
A BI Manager helps decision-makers and stakeholders understand the current situation of the business via dashboards and custom reports so that they can make data-informed decisions.
Let’s now talk about the certifications that you can earn to become a successful Power BI Analyst.
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Power BI Certifications
A certification puts a stamp of excellence on your portfolio in a particular technology. It shows that you have invested a substantial amount of time and effort in learning the technology or skill set and made full use of it.
Moreover, certifications help you get a substantial increase in pay as compared to a non-certified candidate. You can expect a 30–70 percent rise in your income if you are certified in a specific technology like Business Intelligence. Below are the certifications that will help you go up in your BI career:
- Exam DA-100: Microsoft conducts the DA-100 Exam for Analyzing Data with Microsoft Power BI certification, but it does not provide any training course to prepare for the examination. To clear the exam, you are expected to have in-depth knowledge of the fundamentals of Power BI, its components, how to connect data from different sources, visualizations, and running queries on different datasets.
- Exam 70-778: Exam 70-778 for and Visualizing Data with Microsoft Power BI equips you for creating custom visualizations using Power BI Desktop, configuring the desktop, and deploying models on the Power BI website and applications using Power BI Service.
However, the 70-778 Exam is retired on January 30, 2021, by Microsoft and will be replaced by a similar examination with some add-on features. You can also try this exam once it is issued.
Power BI Analyst Salary
Business Intelligence is an emerging technology, and Power BI is leading this industry with a huge user base. More than five million customers are using Power BI for their business data analysis and report generation.
Therefore, Power BI Analysts are in huge demand by various startups, mid-level businesses, and even MNCs. Companies offer more than US$75,000 per annum to a mid-level BI Analyst. However, your salary as a Power BI Analyst may vary based on the location, skills, certifications, job title, and experience level.
Below is the annual salary of a Power BI Analyst in the United States and India as per the PayScale report:
|Experience Level||Salary in the USA (per annum)||Salary in India (per annum)|
Check out the Power BI Interview Questions if you are preparing for a job interview.
What versions of Power BI are available?
From free to premium, light to comprehensive, Power BI provides different versions you can choose from based on your budget and how you want to use it. Let’s go through these versions with a quick overview:
- Power BI Desktop: Intended for small businesses, Power BI Desktop is available for free. With Power BI Desktop, you can create reports and export them in different formats.
- Power BI Service: It is an online Software as a Service (SaaS) that allows you to share the reports with other users and connect the data from the cloud. However, you can only use Power BI Service in the paid version.
- Power BI Pro: A pay-per-user license that allows you to access advanced features and share Power BI reports.
- Power BI Premium: Intended for large enterprises and businesses, here, you can scale in and out the license as per the requirements.
- Power BI Mobile Apps: These are applications for mobile phones and tablets for sharing and viewing Power BI dashboards and Power BI reports.
- Power BI Report Server: It is an on-premises version of Power BI, suitable for businesses that need to keep their data on in-house servers.
- Power BI Embedded: Instead of building analytical features from scratch, you can embed this white-label version with Power BI apps and get better results.
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Who uses Power BI Applications?
Power BI is used for Data Analytics by industries from different domains such as IT, healthcare, automobiles, space, e-commerce, finance, and more. They use different Power BI tools to create models and visualize the information with the help of custom dashboards and reports.
Let’s check out who uses Power BI and for what purpose do they fulfill with Power BI applications:
Cognizant – Vehicle 360 in Automobiles
Vehicle 360 provides analytics to various automotive enterprises, consumers, and fleet operators and helps them better understand vehicle performance, reduce operating and maintenance costs, and suggest optimum driving parameters.
Vehicle 360 is a cloud-based solution that provides real-time information about vehicle mileage, driving patterns, emissions, vehicle health, and performance through dashboards and custom visualizations.
Hitachi Solutions in Finance
Hitachi developed a solution using Power BI that connects banks directly to the cloud data sources so that decision-makers can understand business performance, analyze the pipeline, and make better decisions to increase profitability.
The retail banking solution uses intuitive virtualization techniques that allow users to quickly identify the elements that need timely attention.
RADACAD Labour Market Analysis – Government
RADCAD did a quarterly employment survey using the data from the state government and estimated the average hourly earnings of the labor market in New Zealand. The report aimed at providing the employment status of the people working in various industries in New Zealand. The report categorized industries into different groups based on the employment status, like part-time, full-time, and contracts.
Overall, these examples show how the Power BI tool can be used to provide in-depth knowledge about real-world problems and make it easier for decision-makers to find the right solution to them and identify the areas that need more attention.
Also Read – Why Power BI is a Revolutionary Business Intelligence Tool?
Power BI provides many tools and services that make Business Analytics a fairly easy task. Even a non-technical user can perform complex analysis and build interactive dashboards and live reports to visualize any information.
As Microsoft is a global leader in Cloud AI services, Power BI allows users to integrate with other services and Cortana and get real-time analysis with the help of queries.
For more information on Power BI, visit our Business Intelligence Community.