The Complete Guide to Microsoft Power BI in 2023

Modern businesses rely heavily on data, and we’re generating more of it than ever before. 

Even if organizations accumulate mountains of digital information, they can’t make sense of it unless they are able to interpret it. This is where business intelligence software comes in. 

Are you considering implementing a platform that can help you extract useful, actionable insights from your data? This is the right place for you. Today, we’ll take a look at what Microsoft’s flagship BI software Power BI does, how much it costs, and what it can do for your business. Hold on tight. 

What is Power BI? 

A Power BI solution is a set of cloud-based apps and services designed to aid organizations in collecting, managing, and analyzing data from various sources. 

Power BI can be used for a variety of purposes.  

A major purpose of Power BI is to gather data and process it to produce intelligible insights, often through visually appealing and intuitive charts and graphs. Users can use this tool to generate and share clear and useful snapshots of their businesses’ activities. 

Using Power BI, you can connect to a variety of data sources, such as Excel spreadsheets and databases, as well as both cloud-based and on-premise apps. 

In general, Power BI is a broad term that can encompass a Windows desktop application called Power BI Desktop, an online SaaS (Software as a Service) service called Power BI Service, and mobile apps for iOS and Android as well as Windows phones and tablets. 

Since Power BI is built on the foundation of Microsoft Excel, it isn’t a steep learning curve; anyone who knows Excel can use Power BI, but the latter is far more powerful than Excel. 

How does Power BI work? 

Microsoft Power BI allows companies to run reports and surface insights based on their data. It can connect to a wide variety of data sets and clean up the information it receives in order to make it easier to digest and understand. Users can then share the reports and visuals generated from this data. 

With Power BI, you can not only see what’s happened in the past, but also what might happen in the future. Machine learning capabilities are built into Power BI, which allows it to identify patterns in data and use those patterns to make informed predictions. Forecasts can be generated using these estimates, and users can prepare to meet future demand. 

Who uses Power BI?  

Power BI is a user-friendly product, making it suitable for a wide range of business users, including business analysts and data scientists.  

Depending on your role, Power BI can generate custom dashboards based on what data is relevant, and what information you require.  

It is primarily used by business intelligence professionals, who create data models and reports that are shared throughout their organizations. As not all businesses have the resources to support a full-time data expert, Power BI is often used as a self-service tool by various departments to track progress and gain insight into their teams’ results.  

Power BI works with almost any data you provide it with, so you can report on anything you want. Departments such as finance, marketing, sales, human resources, IT, and operations are most likely to use it.  

Microsoft doesn’t typically release user numbers, but around five million users used the product in 2016.  

Power BI offers the following benefits:  

  • Power BI allows businesses to input huge amounts of data that most other platforms would not be able to handle  
  • The built-in machine learning capabilities can analyze data and help users spot useful trends and make educated predictions  
  • A powerful template allows businesses to visualize their data to better understand it  
  • With Power BI, users have access to cutting-edge intelligence capabilities and powerful algorithms that are regularly updated  
  • Users can customize dashboards to access data quickly with powerful personalization capabilities  
  • KPIs can be configured to send alerts when important metrics and measurements change.  
  • As opposed to complex spreadsheets, Power BI has a user-friendly and intuitive interface  
  • In addition to SharePoint, Office 365, and Dynamics 365, the platform integrates with other popular business management tools like Spark, Hadoop, Google Analytics, SAP, Salesforce, and MailChimp.  
  • Modern businesses are increasingly concerned about data security, and Power BI offers granular control over internal and external access to data  

What are the components of Power BI? 

Each Power BI app has its own features and uses.  

  • Power Query: A tool for connecting, transforming, and enhancing data 
  • Power Pivot: A tool for creating data models 
  • Power View: A tool used to visualize data in charts, graphs, maps, etc. 
  • Power Map: Another tool for creating immersive 3D images 
  • Power Q&A: A plain-language question and answer engine for your data 

How does Microsoft Power Platform work? 

Power BI is part of Microsoft’s Power Platform. Power BI, PowerApps, and Microsoft Flow are included in this group. 

With PowerApps, organizations can create their own responsive business applications with the click of a button using Dynamics 365’s Common Data Service for Apps. It is possible to create employee engagement surveys, cost estimators, budget trackers, to-do lists, and booking apps without coding knowledge or developer input. 

PowerApps’ drag-and-drop interface makes it easy for anyone to build and launch richly functional, professional apps. Business data can be collected and analyzed using the apps, as well as customer engagement can be improved by integrating them with Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Dynamics 365. 

Microsoft Flow is a sister-service to PowerApps, which uses the Common Data Service for Apps to automate repetitive administrative tasks. 

For users, there are already thousands of ready-made workflows—digital sequences that trigger predefined actions when certain activities occur—that are already available. If someone tweets a particular word or phrase, you can create CRM leads, track Outlook emails in an Excel spreadsheet, or send an email when an analytics alert is triggered. 

Microsoft services can be connected to third-party apps and programs using these workflows, without the need for complex custom integrations. 

Does Microsoft offer any other Business Intelligence products?  

Microsoft’s Power BI is part of a broader line of BI products, which include:  

Azure Data Services  

With Azure Data Services, users can quickly build intuitive apps that integrate artificial intelligence, using a variety of tools, technologies, and deployment options.  

Machine Learning Server  

Using Python and R, Microsoft Machine Learning Server analyzes big chunks of data, creates AI-powered apps, and surfaces insights.  

Analytics Platform System  

Data warehousing and Big Data analytics are made easier with Microsoft Analytics Platform System. Through SQL Server Parallel Data Warehouse, users can integrate extensive data, perform high-speed queries, store scalable data, and maintain their databases easily.  

SQL Server  

Microsoft’s SQL Server is a relational database management system. Like a spreadsheet, it stores and manages data in large quantities in rows and columns. Other applications use SQL Server, a standardized programming language, to organize and retrieve data. Data visualization, real-time analytics, and performance tuning are all features included in recent versions of SQL Server.  

Can Power BI be installed on-premises? 

Power BI isn’t available as a private, internal cloud service. However, Power BI Report Server is an on-premise reporting solution that can be migrated to the cloud in the future. It’s included with Power BI Premium, so you can migrate to the cloud as you please. 

Can Power BI be used on mobile devices? 

Yes, of course. There are native apps for Power BI for Android devices, iOS devices, and Windows 10 devices. You can download Power BI mobile apps from the Apple App Store, Google Play Store, and Windows Store. 

What is the cost of Power BI? 

Power BI offers a variety of versions and plans, so there’s a price point for everyone. There is no charge for Power BI Desktop and Power BI Mobile, Power BI Embedded is a pay-as-you-go service, and Power BI Pro and Power BI Premium are based on how many users will access the platform, and how much they will use it. 

Power BI Pro Price 

The monthly fee for Power BI Pro is $9.99 per user. 

Office 365’s Enterprise E5 plan, which costs $35 per user per month, also includes Power BI Pro. 

Power BI Premium Price 

Power BI Premium is priced based on the number of users in your organization. A minimum capacity level of “P1” is available for $4,995 per month. 

Organizations with more users and greater analytical needs will be most likely to adopt this model. Power BI Premium is really only a sensible option for businesses with more than 500 active users. 

Power BI Embedded Price 

In contrast to Power BI Pro, which is priced by user, or Premium, which is priced by capacity, Power BI Embedded is priced by “render”. Any activity within Power BI Embedded is a render. Renders occur when an app’s end user loads a Power BI report, refreshes it, or interacts with it in any way. 

Power BI Embedded’s pay-as-you-go pricing depends on which “node” you choose. Nodes are points of connection between systems or devices and networks. Nodes in Power BI Embedded come with different processing powers; the more power they have, the more expensive they are. 

Choosing an A1 node type, for example, will cost you $1.0081 per hour, and 3GB of RAM will be provided, which can complete 300 renders per hour for that price. 

You will pay a little more for a node with more power and capacity; an A4 node has 25GB of RAM, can process 4,800 renders, and costs $16.13 per hour. 

Power BI Embedded is a cost-per-hour service; there are no upfront costs or termination charges. 

Is Power BI compatible with my system? 

Power BI Desktop requires the following minimum requirements: 

  • Versions of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, or later 
  • .NET 4.5 
  • Internet Explorer 9 or later 
  • Minimum RAM of 1 GB, recommended RAM of 1.5 GB or more. 
  • Recommended display size: 1440×900 or 1600×900 (16:9). The lower the resolution, the higher the chance that certain controls (such as closing the startup screen) will not display correctly. 
  • Windows Display settings: If your display settings are set to make text, apps, and other items larger than 100%, you may not be able to see certain dialogs that must be closed or responded to in order to continue using Power BI Desktop. In Windows, go to Settings > System > Display, and use the slider to return display settings to 100% if you encounter this issue. 
  • CPU: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster x86- or x64-bit processor recommended. 

Is Power BI compatible with other products? 

Using Power BI Pro, users can pull data from both Microsoft products and third-party platforms. 

Among the Microsoft solutions you can connect Power BI to are Exchange, Office 365, Dynamics 365, SharePoint, Excel, Cortana, and Teams. With Custom Connectors for Power BI or Microsoft Flow, users can extend Power BI’s native connectivity to new data sources. 

The analytical power of Power BI can be accessed directly from your spreadsheets with some of the app’s components. Excel users can now merge and prepare data sources, create reports, and generate visualizations with Power Query, Power Pivot, and Power View. 

Salesforce, GitHub, QuickBooks, ZenDesk, Marketo, Facebook, and Google Analytics can also be connected to Power BI, with more connections being added all the time. 

Is Power BI customizable? 

Power BI allows users to customize dashboards and interfaces. It is also easy to create custom reports. With the open-source data visualization library, you can visualize data the way you want. You can create stunning visualizations with the custom visuals SDK using well-known JavaScript libraries like D3, jQuery, and even R scripts. 

Conclusion 

With Power BI, you can visualize data however you like, making business analytics a breeze. Using Microsoft’s Power BI, companies of any size and type can now consolidate and analyze data on their own with ease, efficiency, and accuracy. This is an invaluable tool that can revolutionize business success. 

Interested in learning more? You’ve come to the right place. ClinkIT Solutions is a 6X Gold Microsoft Partner that offer mentor-led self-paced online training programs on Microsoft Power BI.