BI visualization and reporting for desktop, web or mobile4.3/5 (51 reviews)
Microsoft Power BI is a suite of analytics tools for analyzing business data and sharing insights via rich visualizations. Customizable and pre-built dashboards unify important metrics into single views, showing real time updates to every device. The centralized, web-based Power BI service interfaces Power BI gateways to connect to and unify organizational data while Power BI Desktop for Windows provides local data mashup and report authoring features. Live dashboards offer an instant 360-view on business health, leveraging 59 out-of-the-box connections for apps or services such as Salesforce, Google Analytics, Azure, Facebook, Github, QuickBooks Online, Twilio and Zendesk. Power BI brings all that data, wherever it resides, together to form a complete picture of key metrics that can then be queried using natural language.
With Power BI Desktop, users can author reports using intuitive drag-and-drop tools and share amongst colleagues through the online Power BI Service. Integrating with Microsoft’s established Query engine, data modeling and visualization technologies, Power BI Desktop connects, shapes and reports to centralize a typically disjointed process of reporting. Outputting to .pbix format, these report files can then be manually shared like any other or uploaded to the shared service. In addition, this ability to keep all users on the same page at all times extends to a suite of optimized mobile support. Power BI Mobile keeps remote connectivity consistent across native apps for Windows Mobile, iOS and Android devices, adding intuitive gesture-based operation. Live dashboards can be viewed on the fly, alongside full report sharing capabilities and data-driven alerts.
Power BI puts business intelligence creation into the hands of analysts who can extract source data, create a dataset, transform or manipulate the data, visualize the data and publish the resulting reports and dashboards. For progressive or iterative analysis, analysts can evolve the BI with new measures or dimensions without requiring IT involvement.
The Question and Answer (Q&A) function may be the top cited benefit and capability in achieving self-service BI.
The dashboard visualizations are best in class and continually updated from the community. Interactive geo-map visualizations are empowered by Bing Maps.
The underlying Power BI technology is an in-memory analytics engine and columnar database that supports tabular datastore structures used by Power Pivot. This achieves a balance between performance and ease of use (as compared to three dimensional cubes which require more complex assembly and query languages, such as MDX (multidimensional expressions) for SSAS).
The DAX (Data Analysis Expressions) scripting language is a relatively simple construct used to create calculated columns and measures. It's similar to Excel, although while Excel is cell based, DAX is column based.
The pace of innovation is amazing. The product is updated about monthly.
The free version reduces acquisition barriers.
The integration to Dynamics CRM is limited. Power BI can extract CRM data via an OData feed, so getting the CRM data into the data model is easy, but thereafter there's no supported method to view the CRM reports and dashboards within the CRM application. Requiring users to log in to a different application to view dashboards creates a barrier to utilization and adoption.
Power BI reports and dashboards cannot accept or pass user, account or other entity parameters. This makes it impossible to create entity specific dashboards such as a dashboard for an account, opportunity, case, or campaign. Instead, dashboards are limited to aggregate views of entity data.
There are only a few limited data sources that permit (near) real-time connections to your Power BI reports and dashboards. Also, using these real-time connections limits Power BI access to a single data source, voids the Edit View and eliminates key capabilities such as the Q&A and Quick Insights functions. Real-time connections to data sources other than SSAS also eliminates key behaviors such as DAX formulas.
Dashboards and reports can only be shared with users who have the same email domains or email domains listed with your Office 365 tenant.
While a dataset can include multiple data types, Power BI reports and dashboards can only source data from a single dataset. Similarly, Power BI cannot mix imported data with data accessed from real-time connections. It's one or the other.
Power BI will not accept files larger than 250 MB. Power BI files - .pbix – are actually a type of archived zip files so they do compress the data until it's needed by the xVelocity in-memory database engine, but the maximum accepted file size may still limit Power BI to subsets of enterprise data warehouses.
This Microsoft solution is normally used to extend ― not replace ― other reporting tools. In most cases, it will not replace your enterprise data warehouse. For most companies, it is likely that their enterprise data warehouse tools will continue to be used for high volume data processing reports which do not change much, while Power BI may be used for one time, progressive or more frequently changing analysis on smaller data sets.
Likelihood to recommend
In light of the hype around this "Tableau destroyer" in recent months, I want to highlight some fundamental flaws in data connectivity and reports maintenance of Power BI, which the Product Team so far has turned down as "not in scope". In practice, though, this renders Power BI pretty useless for getting dara from any 3rd party products, in the cloud in particular.
This review reflects Power BI as of mid March 2017. I have gathered my knowledge from testing, community interaction and a dozen tickets with Power BI Pro Support. The focus lies on getting data via Web Services, much aligned with Microsoft’s «Cloud First» Strategy.
1) Power BI Online is in the cloud, but does not allow for HTTP calls. Power BI Desktop allows for HTTP calls, but only with static authentication parameters.
First of all, a distinction needs to be made between Power BI Online and Power BI Desktop. While Power BI Online is the "master" that ultimately allows you to share and publish your reports, user experience in design is diminished by HTML limitations (you may know from Word or Excel Online) and more importantly, data connectivity (Get Data) is limited to SQL Servers on Azure and about 20 to 30 plugins from 3rd party solutions at present. Take note that on Power BI Online, you cannot select or manage your Gateways, either.
This brings the attention to the Power BI Desktop client. Updated every one to two months, the Desktop client brings data connectors necessary to connect to a larger number of data sources.
With the Web connector, HTTP calls been configured, although with just static headers and parameters and Basic and Windows authentication only. Importantly, though, Power BI Desktop includes Microsoft Power Query, which you may know from Excel 2016 already. With M Scripts, you can script and customise in many ways and most interestingly, convert it into table form quickly. This is where Power Query shines. However, Power Query does not seem to call on methods for nonces and timestamps required in token based authentication (OAuth for example). (Should this be incorrect, please please let me know. I have been browsing the fora and nagging Support too long already.)
What’s really amusing here is that Microsoft Azure uses OAuth 2.0 themselves. So, you cannot run any reporting on Microsoft’s Azure AD or Resource Manager database for example, a notorious blackbox. Back to Powershell. (Power BI does not accept Powershell feeds.)
In short, while Power BI Online does not allow to get any data out of the web (except for those 20 to 30 plugins, mostly Microsoft Products), Power BI Desktop allows for Web calls, but only with static parameters and thus, basically with your user credentials.
That’s a big limitation in Data Connectivity.
2) With Power BI Online being the master, the HTTP calls cannot be scheduled or refreshed in the cloud.
Now that you have configured your HTTP call (with risky user credentials), you want to publish your report and have it refreshed on a scheduled basis, say every day.
While you can publish your Report to Power BI Online and subsequently a broader audience, it’s a static image of your Desktop data. You cannot schedule a data refresh in Power BI Online (because there is no Web feature anyway) and you cannot even refresh the data manually as this requires republishing the Report anew.
You risk your management looking at outdated data whenever you forgot to republish your report and sneak the new URL into your dashboards and iframes.
3) The On-Premises Data Gateway is pretty useless for Web Services.
Yes, there is the On-Premises Data Gateway. Yes, you can configure Web Services in the gateway, although it’s pretty ironic to route web calls via on-premises infrastructure.
But did you ever try it? That is, you cannot specify any HTTP headers fort he calls at all, lest writing a Power Query script. And thus, we are back at authentication via Basic and Windows only and writing REST scripts in the data source for every single HTTP call because with no Headers and Body, all parameters need to be coded in the URI.
Will you do that?
At the end of the day, Power BI is Microsoft's long overdue acknowledgement that Excel and some Dynamics Reports do not cut it for Reporting purposes. Indeed, for reporting on SQL Server, Dynamics 365 (if you want to afford it), and Excel and Access databases stored in your OneDrive, Microsoft Power BI does a neat job.
However, as soon as you want to integrate with 3rd party systems or via web services in particular, Power BI presents so many limitations in authentication, Header and Body configuration, scripting, and scheduling that you need to configure an entire SQL Server environment (on Azure or On-Premises via feature poor Gateway) and write a SQL CRL interface or buy Azure Data Factory to get that data in.
For some pretty reports, do you really want to buy and customise all that BI infrastructure on Azure?
My advice to Microsoft: Work on Data Connectivity, especially in Power BI Online, rather than more visuals for those limited data sources. Your Microsoft clients will consider Power BI a given for the utter lack of reporting in Office 365, Azure, or Dynamics 365 (yes, pushing it there).
My advice to Users: If the connectors are not listed, look somewhere else. (And make sure it’s your use case that is listed. Power BI announced an Azure AD connector, but rather than reporting on Users, Groups, or Enterprise Apps, you can only see on a nice map where the last logins happened.)
Is it a Tableau destroyer? No. It’s a long overdue acknowledgement for necessary reporting with the potential of being a solid Business Intelligence solution ONCE focus comes to lie more on data.
On-premises Data Gateway
responsible Pro Support
lack of data sources
pretty useless for 3rd Party Web Sources
Likelihood to recommend
Overall good software for beginners and can be explored to get the best efficiency from the software
below are a few pros
• Sharing dashboard in a group
a. Sharing can be done once you have the Pro version of Power BI. Dashboard can be shared with the respective department members or your own team members.
b. Since you have prepared the dashboard you will be the owner and you can decide whether you want to give the other members only viewing rights or editing rights as well.
c. With this feature reports will always be on the cloud server and can be viewed as and when required
d. Reports can be downloaded as and when required.
• Viewing dashboard in Mobile/ tab and preparing phone layout
a. Once a dashboard has been prepared and saved, the same can be accessed on Power BI App with the same login.
b. Since the screen is small compared to laptop, all the dashboard elements can be redesigned to suit the phone screen.
c. The other features remain the same and the dashboard is interactive on the phone as well however it cannot be edited on phone.
• Export dashboard to PowerPoint, PDF
a. This is one of the most important features of Power BI. Reports or dashboards prepared can be exported on PowerPoint or PDF with a click of a button.
b. Hence Management reports and department reports can be automated on Power BI and once you refresh the data, the report will be ready to share.
c. One problem is that few images which are not compatible with PowerPoint don’t show post downloading.
• Narratives for dashboard
a. This is one of the recent features offered by Power BI. With the help of narratives you can get the insight of the dashboard in a story form.
b. Narrative uses its intelligence to study the data and give output in pointers, paragraphs etc which can be customised.
• Importing visuals to suit your need
a. Apart from the general visualizations available in Power BI, there are additional visualizations released by Power BI from time to time. These visualizations enhance the visual appearance as well as the adds to further analytics in different ways.
b. Visualizations which have downloaded and used in the dashboard are Infographic designer, Narratives for Business Intelligence, KPI Column chart, and Timeline.
• Edit interactions in dashboard
a. It is important to understand the interactions and groupings in power BI since with the help of these you can control which graphs you want to automatically change by clicking on the other.
b. With the help of grouping you can define groups and sub group which can be viewed together as a group if required.
• KPI Column Chart
a. This is a recent custom visual developed by Power BI. With the help of this visual you can put the KPI target against the actual on a monthly basis.
b. Forecasted revenue/ cost can also be put in this visual which will be shown in different colour.
c. Individual monthly targets can also be put which can be interchanged by putting variance.
d. Data can also been viewed in a table form along with graphical.
• One of the important features of exporting report in PowerPoint does not allow custom visual to be exported. Hence if there are custom visuals in your report then the same will show error once exported.
• Arranging dashboard is a bit tedious and takes a lot of time
• To share reports, we need to publish to MS Cloud. We cannot share report from Power BI Desktop
• For sharing a report even members to who report needs to be shared have to get Power BI Pro. Since the department to whom report is shared is just to view giving them a Pro license might not be useful.
Likelihood to recommend
All in all, for the price, this is an excellent tool for helping your organization turn mounds of data into useful insights.
Power BI simplifies the process of combining different types of data sources to create a single data model. There are also many built-in Extract, Transform, and Load (ETL) functions that help reduce the time required to prepare data. Creating reports and dashboards is as easy as drag and drop. The Power BI User Groups are strong and plentiful, so you can always read through blogs to get answers to questions that you may have. The Power BI Desktop application is used to perform ETL, create reports and is free. The reports are published to the Power BI cloud service for sharing, which is also free with limited capabilities. For more capabilities, such as security groups and scheduled data refreshing, there is a subscription fee. Microsoft will be releasing an on-premise solution for sharing Power BI content via an update to SQL Server 2016 hopefully within the next few months.
It's not always easy to speak directly with a MS Power BI expert, so that is a bummer. Also, you have to sign up to the Power BI service using an email address in order to share and view Power BI reports and dashboards, but Microsoft doesn't yet support personal (.cox, .gmail, et.) or government (.gov, .mil, etc.) email addresses which is a real bummer.
Likelihood to recommend
Data is the new petroleum, Information is the new combustible; and Power BI will boost this challenging new world of information and analysis.
For the last 30 years I have been using Excel to work with Tables, Filters, Functions, Formulas, Conditional formatting, Graphs, Pivot tables, Segmentation and VBA to register data and analyze information.
That was great. But now, with the huge amount of data, available from many sources and Excel limitations, we needed something more robust and Microsoft launched Power BI.
I have been using it for more than a year. Now I don’t use pivot tables and graphs for analysis anymore, I use Power BI visualizations to represent and summarize the data.
With it’s impressive tools including geolocalization, I have found more effective ways to convert, transform, represent, analyze and make better decisions and planning with Power BI.
It’s ecosystem composed of Power Bi Desktop, Power BI Services (in the cloud) and Power Bi apps, has allowed me to find very innovative and productive ways to monitor the performance of my business and improve communication with my clients
It is in continuous development.
The first week of each month, Microsoft releases a new version of Power Bi, so we have to keep us updated to use the program efficiently.
But the pros outweigh the cons.
Likelihood to recommend
Below are some frequently asked questions for Microsoft Power BI.
Microsoft Power BI offers the following pricing plans:
Starting from: $10/month
Pricing model: Freemium, Subscription
Free Trial: Not Available
Power BI: Free
Power BI Pro: $9.99 per user, per month
Microsoft Power BI offers the following features:
Microsoft Power BI has the following typical customers:
Large Enterprises, Mid Size Business
Microsoft Power BI supports the following languages:
Arabic, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Hebrew, Hungarian, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Taiwanese, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian
Microsoft Power BI has the following pricing plans:
Microsoft Power BI supports the following devices:
Android, iPhone, iPad
Microsoft Power BI integrates with the following applications:
Insightly, JustFoodERP, MailChimp, Microsoft Project, Microsoft Teams, OneSoft Connect, Pro-Sapien, Projectplace, Smartsheet, Tagetik
Microsoft Power BI offers the following support options:
FAQs, Forum, Knowledge Base, Online Support, Video Tutorials