Technology
July 24, 2020

What can you do with Power BI

Czarek Jakubowski
QA Engineer

Data is king and possessing it gives you power. But there’s no way that you can use it to rule your industry if you don’t turn this data into actionable insights. In order to make sense of the immense amount of digital information that your business generates these days, you need powerful business intelligence software. And one of the best options available, no matter what kind of data you’re dealing with, is Power BI. So let’s take a closer look at what this option has in store for you. 

What is Power BI? 

Power BI is a Microsoft flagship business intelligence product – it is a versatile platform with a number of tools for processing massive amounts of data, so you’re not only able to collect and aggregate all of your data, but you can also visualize it graphically, analyze the outcomes and share your insights with others. The platform consists of both local and cloud-based apps and services, and connects to a wide variety of Microsoft and non-Microsoft based data sources and business tools. 

And because Power BI has such an intuitive interface and easy-to-use features that ensure a pretty low barrier to entry, even non-technical business users can use it. Now, let’s keep going and see how you can benefit from this solution. 

7 main benefits of Power BI

  1. It can improve the decision-making process and make it more precise by providing detailed insights. When all the data is available in one place, the risk that something will be overlooked is significantly lower. 
  2. It allows users to extract “the truth” which can be hidden behind seemingly chaotic or huge data sets. Power BI sorts all of this out in order to provide you with a clear overview of the information that you’ve gathered. 
  3. It has an interface that is simple enough for end users to navigate and create their own visual reports and dashboards – so they can better make sense of the data. 
  4. It has built-in machine learning features for spotting trends and making predictions. This way, you can always be a few steps ahead of the competition. 
  5. It can be highly personalized, so users can quickly find what they are looking for. 
  6. It is extremely secure. Power BI allows you to grant certain levels of access to internal and external users, so your data can be properly protected. And regular updates make sure this software complies with all the recent regulations regarding cyber attacks and data leaks. 
  7. It integrates with many popular business tools, e.g., Salesforce, SAP, Google Analytics, MailChimp and, of course, Microsoft-based products like Excel, so crucial information from different sources are no longer dispersed.  

Plus, Power BI is pretty cost-effective, with two different pricing plans to choose from – Pro and Premium. You can even try the first one for free and then upgrade if you feel like you need the more advanced edition. 

How Power BI can be utilized

There are a number of ways that businesses can leverage Power BI, no matter the size of the company. For example, it can be used to: 

  • create pixel-perfect data models and reports which can be shared throughout the organization or published for all to review, regardless of what kind of data you want to present (e.g., team performance, financial KPIs, marketing statistics and sales targets, etc.);
  • collect, prepare and analyze large volumes of data and get insights quickly so that you can take the next operational steps; 
  • build machine learning models to get insights from text and images – yet another source of information, great for detecting patterns and trends;
  • turns insights into actionable intelligence, so that the team can deliver what the company or its customers really need;
  • automate workflows by detecting and removing bottlenecks to help make all the processes run more efficiently;
  • stream analytics in real time so you can make precise and timely decisions. 

Of course, since Power BI can be integrated with many different services and apps, and has a great variety of internal features, the sky’s the limit in terms of its applications. And speaking of features… there are at least 10 of them that deserve special attention. 

Top 10 features of Power BI

  1. Quick start – You can sign up and start working with your data in no time. There’s no need to be a data mining expert or a trained analyst – the simplicity of the platform will allow you to just jump in and get started. But of course, the further you go, the more complicated things become, so learning some additional skills is highly recommended in order to create powerful visualizations. But from the content recipient’s point of view – it will still be easy-to-read, no matter how complex the dashboard may appear to be. 
  1. One platform to rule them allRegardless of the source – you can combine all the data that you gather within one digital platform and get easy-to-read insights. 
  1. Interactive Q&A
    Thanks to natural language queries, you can just ask a question about your data and receive an adequate visualization as a response. 
  2. Print dashboards
    Do you need to have your dashboard on paper too, in order to present your results during a meeting? No problem. It can easily be printed and it will still look just as stunning. 
  3. Custom visuals
    You can also make a custom visual from scratch with visuals SDK, get it certified by Microsoft and publish it on AppSource. However, you will need a software developer for this. 
  4. Real-time streaming
    Whenever something changes – you are instantly informed. Real-time dashboards allow you to react quickly and solve issues on the go. 
  5. Organizational content packs – if you want to share some Power BI assets (like dashboards or reports) within your organization – you can do this through organizational content packs. 
  1. Data Analysis Expressions (DAX) – DAX includes libraries that allow deep data manipulation in order to prepare really powerful data models to bring out some hidden, yet valuable information. 
  1. Mobile features
    You can access your Power BI account whenever and wherever you need to from the mobile app, which is available on Android, iOS, and Windows. 
  2. Integration with your app/service – Thanks to the open-source Power BI REST API, you can also integrate your own app or service with the platform. 

All of these features – and many more options that are available within the platform – help you create useful and actionable visualizations. These dashboards can be used for different purposes while allowing you to maintain full control over your organization, department, or project. The examples listed below speak for themselves. 

5 powerful examples of Power BI applications

  1. COVID-19 Monitor This is a highly interactive overview of how the corona situation has been changing since March, with data divided into regions and specific countries. You can easily switch between dashboards or diagrams and table views, check the data for a certain point in time or select a range of dates to analyze the trends. 
  1. Social Media Monitoring & Analytics Report This analytics report based on social media monitoring was created for Cheetos, so they could find out who, when, and what was being said about their brand. This allowed them to react very quickly to both positive and negative feedback about their brand.  
  1. KPI Breakdown Scorecard This is a fantastic tool for C-level executives, providing them with extremely important information about the organization’s global performance. The dashboard is clear and holistic, summarizing 12 essential KPIs in various regions and countries. 
  1. HR Analytics The HR Analytics Dashboard provides detailed information about the company’s human resources as a whole, as well as individual employees. It takes important factors such as employee retention and attrition rates into account. Moreover, the dashboard presents a view of HR-related financial statistics. 
  1. Team Performance vs. Targets This dashboard allows users to follow team performance in terms of targets reached. It uses a number of features (like bookmarks and Drillthrough) to help keep things clear and allow you to switch smoothly between different views. 

Wrap-up

Power BI is extremely versatile and can be used in a wide variety of situations. And while it can have a steep learning curve (after a pretty easy start) – it also allows you to create reports or dashboards that are elegant, clear, and easy to understand from the perspective of a decision-maker. And this is absolutely priceless since the ability to make adequate and timely decisions based on undeniable facts can quickly turn into real profits for a company and its customers or the society, depending on the kind of data you analyze and for whom. 


Cover image by Stephen Dawson

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Written by
Czarek Jakubowski
QA Engineer

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