Power BI: Introduction

A week from now, I will be conducting a training on a Power BI for a private firm in the Philippines. As our organization’s technology specialist in Data Analytics, talking about Power BI should pose as an as easy task given my familiarity with the tool. However, as days pass, I find myself a bit nervous. So I decided to finally write about something data related in this blog. After all, there’s a whole page dedicated to this.

I was first exposed to the world of business intelligence in my first job – I was hired as an Associate Software Engineer for a known multinational outsourcing company just right after I passed my board exam. It was not in direct relation to my degree (Electronics and Communication Engineering), however I find myself pleased and doing well during the bootcamp. That’s when I find myself deeply interested in the field of business intelligence and data analytics. Needless to say, I was taught various tools to be used in this field, which includes Power BI.

Power BI is a Microsoft’s business analytics service consisting of apps, services, and connectors that turns data into reports and dashboards. It is composed of an application called the Power BI Desktop wherein reports are curated and made from various compatible data sources and connectors using immersive and interactive visuals, a Software as a Service (SaaS) called as Power BI service where dashboards can be seen and made online, and the Power BI mobile application which is available for both Android and IOS devices.

Being another Microsoft product, Power BI Desktop shares the ease of use and UI most people are familiar with. It helps that it follows and shares functions used in Power Query in Excel, which makes formulating your calculations easier. It also has intellisense enabled when creating your calculations or queries, which helps beginners and professionals alike when using built-in functions. The Power BI Desktop is pretty straightforward and can be used by beginners and hobbyists to create their own reports. Of course, complexity of the measures or data transformation may vary, but generally speaking, it is easy enough to learn and use even for people without much data science or math background.

In addition to it being dubbed as self-service BI tool, it also has a lots of supported data sources both on cloud and on premise such as Azure SQL Database, local Excel files, flat files on One Drive, SharePoint lists, Salesforce, Dynamics 365, and OData feed to name a few. Once published to its SaaS Power BI Service, a refresh schedule can be arranged so that your report always have the freshest data available to your use.

These data sources can be easily prepped, manipulated and transformed to create visually immersive reports with interactive visuals by simply using the old but reliable drag and drop function into the report canvas. Published reports can be shared to the organization with secure features such as row level security or can easily be embedded to websites and applications.

As for its benefits, Power BI when used to show insights on data can provide data driven decisions for an organization. Business intelligence is an emerging trend in the industry now, and as we move further along with technology, a bit of knowledge on this fields can benefit us in the long run. Here are some reasons why you should consider learning this easy to learn but powerful tool.

If you have questions or need some tips, kindly let me know by commenting on this post. I’ll be glad to help! 🙂