What is Power BI? A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding and Harnessing its Analytical Power

Power BI is Microsoft's business intelligence platform. The Power BI suite is a part of Microsoft's Power Platform technology suite and comes with Power BI Desktop, the Power BI online service, and the Power BI paginated report builder, formerly known as SSRS (SQL Server Reporting Services).

What is Power BI?

If you've heard of Power BI before, you are probably well aware of the power it posses for businesses to gain insights. 

However if you've never heard of Power BI before, here's a simple definition. 

Power BI is a powerful business intelligence tool that helps organizations analyze and visualize their data.

However, Power BI is not just another "tool", no, with Power BI you now have ability to transform raw data into beautiful visualizations, interactive dashboards, and actionable insights.

Here's an example of an HGS Power BI dashboard:

Census Data Power BI dashboard

At this point you might be wondering so how does Power BI work? And what can it do to help my business?

Well let's take a look.

How Power BI Works & What Can You Do With it

In this example, your business has important data spread throughout Excel spreadsheets or within cloud-based databases but you and your team have no way to clean the data or create appealing visuals, Power BI can fix this.

Here's some of the more general things you can do with Power BI:

  1. Connect to multiple data sources, including Excel, databases, and web services.
  2. Cleanse, shape, and transform data using Power Query.
  3. Create visually stunning and interactive reports and dashboards.
  4. Utilize a wide range of visual elements such as charts, graphs, maps, and tables.
  5. Slice and dice data to explore and analyze it from different perspectives.

One of the many benefits of adopting Power BI is its ability to filter and organize data rather quickly. Through using tools such as Power Query, you can easily cleanse, or shape, your data with ease.

From removing duplicates and filtering records to combining data from multiple sources. Power Query simplifies the process of filtering your data so its clean and ready for analysis.

Now that you have an idea of Power Query is capable of, let's go over how Power BI works.

By the way if you've made it this far and are still confused, or just want someone to build your business an insightful dashboard with Power BI, we can help.

Click here to solve your Power BI needs! 

Or speak with one of our representatives (703) 386-7255 and dial 1. 

How Power BI works

At first Power BI asks that you connect to a data source either on-premises or in the cloud. The reason for this is because Power BI needs to access the information you want to analyze and visualize.

Think of it like plugging in a cable to your TV to watch your favorite shows. By connecting Power BI to your data source, whether it's a database or an online service, it can retrieve the data and use it to create helpful reports and visuals that make it easier for you to understand and make decisions based on your data.

When we talk about on-premises data sources, this refers to databases, files, or applications that are hosted within an organization's local infrastructure. 

On the other hand, connecting to data sources in the cloud means that Power BI can retrieve data from cloud-based platforms, such as cloud databases, online services, or web applications.

Here's an example of our team connecting to a data source from Power BI:

Power BI Available Data Sources Main Menu

Once your data is connected, Power BI uses a smart system to organize and optimize your data, making it easier to understand and work with.

With Power BI's user-friendly interface, you and your team can easily create interactive visualizations, reports, and dashboards without having an extensive technical knowledge or experience.


More Advanced Ways to Use Power BI 

Power BI has advanced features that help businesses understand their data better and make informed decisions. One powerful capability is the integration of machine learning, which allows you to use pre-built or custom models to predict future trends and patterns.

Another great feature of Power BI is its ability to create real-time dashboards and reports. By connecting to live data sources, like streaming services or IoT devices, you can get up-to-the-minute insights to monitor and respond quickly to changes.

Power BI also offers an easy way to explore your data using natural language. You can simply ask questions in everyday language, and Power BI will generate visualizations and insights for you, making it accessible and intuitive for non-technical users.

When it comes to security, Power BI has robust features that give you control over who can access your data and how it is used, ensuring the privacy and protection of sensitive information. It also promotes collaboration among teams by providing secure ways to share and work together on reports and dashboards.

In summary, Power BI's advanced capabilities, including machine learning, real-time insights, and natural language querying, empower businesses to uncover valuable insights, predict future outcomes, and make agile decisions. With Power BI, you can extract maximum value from your data and stay ahead in today's data-driven business landscape.

Here is a list here of advanced features in Power BI:

  • Integration of machine learning algorithms for predictive analysis and data-driven forecasts
  • Real-time dashboards and reports for up-to-the-minute insights and proactive decision-making
  • Tracking key performance indicators in real-time to identify emerging issues and take immediate action
  • Natural language querying and data exploration for intuitive and accessible insights
  • Unlocking deeper insights, predicting future outcomes, and monitoring real-time data for agile decision-making
  • Empowering businesses to extract maximum value from their data and stay ahead in the data-driven business landscape


Limitations Within Power BI

Just like any technology, Power BI has its limitations as well. While Power BI allows you to work with large datasets, there are limits when it comes to file sizes and dataset sizes. This often requires additional steps or tools in order to process and visualize very large datasets effectively.

Secondly, data refresh frequency is another limitation, especially for users with the free version. Although Power BI Pro allows scheduled refreshes up to eight times per day, real-time data streaming and more frequent refresh options require additional configurations.

Additionally, while Power BI offers extensive customization options, achieving advanced customization may require advanced programming skills or external tools. 

After going through this article you have seen the power behind Power BI. Here at Homegrown Solutions we have helped businesses of all sizes create dashboards within Power BI and would love to work with you to create insights that propel your business forward. 

Whether you need help with a project or are looking for continuous support with your Power BI needs click here and our team will get started on your next Power BI dashboard.