Microsoft Power BI, or Business Intelligence, is a business analytics offering from Microsoft that provides a quick, easy, powerful way to analyze and display your data without breaking the bank and without spending hours coming up to speed on a complex new analytics tool.
In this article, we are going to explore 6 key benefits of Microsoft Power BI that you absolutely must know, as using Power BI will provide business intelligence like you have never experienced before.
Benefit #1: Easy To Use
The first major benefit of Power BI is that it is very easy to use. Too many analytics products get bogged down in tricky interfaces. Menu options can get overwhelming fast, and if you need something that isn’t “common,” it’s easy to end up five or six levels deep in menus in order to find what you are looking for. Power BI uses the familiar Ribbon Menu from Microsoft’s Office lineup of products to put a lot of options front and center. Coupled with customizable and intuitive toolbars, the Power BI interface puts a lot of power right at your fingertips. If you’re comfortable getting around in Word or Excel, Power BI will seem familiar to you on first use.
Benefit #2: Power for All
Let’s be honest. We all know that one person in our organization who is an Excel wizard, clicking shortcut keys at Superman speeds and magically creating graphs, charts, and pivot tables out of your data with seemingly little effort. The result may not be perfect, but it can give you terrific insights into your data when you need it.
The problem, however, is if that one person who can perform the Excel magic you need is either too busy or can’t quite produce the analytics desired, then you are stuck. The main benefit of Microsoft Power BI is that it gives people who haven’t spent hours digging into Excel features and shortcuts the ability to generate similar data visualizations but in a self-serve manner. And the best part is that you don’t have to cram your data into Excel to do it.
Benefit #3: Integration
The third key benefit of Microsoft Power BI is its integration capability. A great, nice looking analytics tool isn’t going to be very beneficial if it can’t seamlessly pull in the data you need. Sure, you can import a CSV file into Excel or a database easily, but what if your data resides in a different format or system?
Power BI integrates with all of Microsoft’s standard Office products such as Excel and Access. It also has the usual basic import ability for text files, comma separated files (CSVs), and XML files. Power BI integrates with all the major database platforms including SQL, Oracle, Db2, Informix, etc. In addition, it also provides integration with many big data sources via DirectQuery.
Benefit #4: Multiple Versions
Depending upon your needs, your infrastructure, and how big your organization is, there may be a specific setup of Power BI that is most beneficial for you. Fortunately, one key benefit of Power BI is that there are multiple options to deliver just what you need. For a small company or for just a single user, the free Power BI option will handle most needs. There are some limitations, particularly the lack of collaboration, but as a single user you won’t likely bump into any of those constraints.
For organizations that need data kept on-site for regulatory, legal, or infrastructure purposes, Microsoft offers Power BI Report Server as part of Power BI Premium. This on-site installation means you can completely control all data and ensure it never leaves your network. And, if there ever comes a time where your organization would be better suited for the cloud, moving from the on-prem to the cloud version is easy.
If you have the need, the cloud-based Power BI Premium options ensure that your data is accessible securely from anywhere around the world. The Premium version includes the ability to both collaborate in real-time and automatically refresh data as is changes, offering the power to analyze quickly and efficiently with teams who aren’t even in the same country.
Benefit #5: Export Beautiful Reports to the Web (or Anywhere)
Using Power BI internally is great, but there are times when you want that beautiful report you created in Power BI to be seen out in the world, even by people who don’t have the Power BI software. With the “Publish to Web” function, you can offer your report to selected external users. Just embed it into a webpage, and you can show customers, suppliers, investors, or anyone else you choose the Power BI report that you created.
Benefit #6: Low Cost
Another huge benefit of Microsoft Power BI is the cost. The Power BI Desktop version is free and has many of the same features as the pay versions. It may include all the features one needs for business analytics. The main limitation is that the free version offers no collaboration options, so it’s best for standalone users or for people who can get together and work in the same room.
For cases where multiple users need to be able to collaborate on analytics and reports, the Power BI Pro version is just $9.99 per user per month. The Pro version adds the ability to collaborate in real time and to automatically refresh data. With Pro, you can sit back and watch as those sales numbers change while the month comes to an end.
For large-scale deployments, there is Power BI Premium. Power BI Premium has node-based pricing and includes the ability to use the Power BI Report Server that we mentioned earlier in this article.
Ready to Get Started with Power BI?
If you have data (which we know you do!) and want to get new and powerful insights from your data to make quick, decisive business decisions, then Microsoft Power BI is a great tool to have in your arsenal.
If you’re ready to take advantage of all the benefits of Microsoft Power BI, but you’re not sure where to start — don’t worry. With over 20 years of experience with Microsoft data and analytics, Imaginet’s Business Intelligence experts are here to help you successfully experience business intelligence like never before with Microsoft Power BI. Contact us today to get started.
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