We love Power BI, and have run many courses in it. The cloud-based data analytics tool speaks to our inner data geek. I can manipulate large amounts of data, and produce informative and compelling dashboards and reports, then share them with my colleagues, easily quickly and without having to be a programmer or “Power User”. Our course attendees love Power BI too, but some of them have said that they need to convince their Boss to implement it. So, if you’re thinking about using Power BI service, if you’re worried about dipping your toe into the Data Analytics pool, if you need to convince your Boss, MD or FD to let you implement Power BI, here’s my top five reasons to use Power BI.
- It’s based on Excel. Although it’s considerably more powerful in some areas, Power BI has evolved out of Excel, a tool most of us use every day. If you’re familiar with Excel Formulas, if you can just about manage a VLOOKUP, Power BI should hold no problems for you. Power BI shares a lot with Excel too. The “Get Data” tools (once known as Power Query) are exactly the same in Excel and Power BI, so if you learn one, you ‘ve learnt the other. Similarly, DAX, (sometimes called the language of Power BI) is there in PowerPivot in Excel, so again you can use the power of DAX in either Excel or Power BI, they’re just the same. You’re not learning some new, different, analysis tool. You’re building on skills you already have, using tools and methods that already feel familiar.
- Power BI can access your data. No matter where or how your data is held it’s a safe bet that Power BI can read it. There are data connectors for many popular databases, SQL, MySQL, Oracle, Access etc. and applications, Salesforce, SAP, SharePoint and Google Analytics to name a few. Of course, you can read Excel files and CSV’s, either individually or by the folder and if all else fails you can use ODBC, ODATA, XML or JSON. What’s more you can integrate and relate these data together in Power BI. So, for example, you can relate your Google Analytics results with your Accounts data, to see the financial impact of a web marketing project. You don’t have to go to IT to connect to your data, Power BI makes it easy to connect and select the data that’s important to you, no matter where it is.
- Produce great Reports and Dashboards easily and quickly. Accessing your data is all very well, but presenting that as a list of numbers is probably not the best way to communicate with the data. Power BI’s main focus is on creating interactive Reports and Dashboards and it’s really easy to do. At last you can present your data in a way that’s easy to understand. Then sharing these Dashboards is a breeze, and you can see them on SmartPhones, Tablets, and PC’s. If you need to communicate, persuade, or sell with your data, Power BI Reports and Dashboards are great.
- End your data cleaning nightmares. I’ve mentioned Query already, but this is really a little-known jewel in the Power BI crown. Accessing data from corporate databases or Excel files is all very well, but often you need to do a lot of “cleaning” before the data can be used. Date formats need to be changed, Post Codes need to be converted to uppercase, data held as text converted to numbers, and all the myriad of cleaning and converting that needs to be done before the data can be used. Query lets you transform and clean your data, then creates a process that runs whenever that data is accessed. Clean the data once and no matter how many times it’s updated or refreshed to data cleaning is automatically applied to the new data. You can get all the data you need, in the format you want, automatically with Query.
- The price is right. All this power and utility starts, amazingly, as a free service. So if you need to evaluate Power BI there’s no cost of entry. Many companies are quite happy with the facilities the Free Power BI gives, but if you need more the “Pro” version of power BI offers many more features for refreshing and managing data, dashboards and reports for a low monthly fee. Compare these costs against the fees for Power BI’s competitors and you’ll understand why Power BI has got such a following.