Power BI is a Microsoft offering that enables anyone and everyone to easily connect to any of their data, create live dashboards and reports, and explore data through interactive visualisations at any time. With Power BI, you can make all of your data viewable in a single location, regardless of where the data resides, enabling a consolidated view of business operations.
Power BI includes two companion applications. The first is Power BI Desktop, a visual data exploration and reporting tool. The second is a set of native, interactive mobile apps for Windows, iOS, and Android devices, providing secure access to live Power BI reports from any device.
Also, Power BI extends with a set of REST APIs which enable developers to integrate client and web solutions with Power BI or to build custom visualisations.
Together, the Power BI ecosystem provides a unique set of features that empower everyone to benefit from direct access to the BI they need. Power BI’s unique collection of elements include:
Pre-built dashboards and reports for popular SaaS solutions
Real-time dashboard updates
Secure, live connectivity to your data sources, on-premises and in the cloud
Intuitive data exploration using natural language power query functionality
Integrated with other Microsoft products and cloud services, including Microsoft Azure Data Warehouse, Azure Stream Analytics, Adobe Analytics, Azure Machine Learning, Office 365. Power BI benefits from the same commitment for scale & availability as Azure.
This set of capabilities is designed to help organisations get the most out of their data, no matter where that data lives – on-premise or in the cloud.
The Power BI service offers an authentic, intuitive experience for interacting with data. From creating and sharing dashboards to exploring and enhancing reports, Power BI makes it easy to engage with data from heterogeneous sources, fueling faster, more insightful business decisions. With a Power BI pro account, you get a rich, consolidated view of vital information, no matter where all of the underlying data stored.
Figure 2. Power BI In Dynamics 365 F&O
A Power BI embedded dashboard is a set of data visualisations, or charts, from one or more underlying reports, presented in an engaging way that makes it easy to glean insights – no analytics expertise needed. An advantage of Power BI is that dashboards are live. For example, when a visualisation in the user panel connected to a real-time data source, the display updates continuously, enabling faster insights.
A dashboard may contain visualisations.
Figure 3. Sample Smartsheet Power BI in Australia dashboard from multiple reports.
Dashboards are highly customisable – you may add, or “pin”, any chart from any report to any dashboard. You may also add an image to a dashboard (like a company logo) from an Excel file. Setting up a dashboard is simple, especially when the data is from popular SaaS offerings like Dynamics 365 for Finance and operations Power Bi , Google Analytics, Marketo, Salesforce, ZenDesk, and many others. Once connected to a SaaS solution, Power BI dynamics displays data in prebuilt dashboards and reports optimised
Construct highly visual, interactive panels that show live data in one place for that solution, so you can start exploring in minutes.
In Power BI, dashboards are not only for viewing – they are interactive tools. If there is information on the interface that you want to look into more deeply, drill down into the underlying reports to see details, exciting and useful drill-down views are pinned to a dashboard for easier access
Figure 4. Sample visualisation charts.
Power BI offers a variety of visualisation options, enabling you to present data in a compelling and visually appealing manner. There are a growing number of visualisations available that are applied to any dataset. These include comparison charts (bar, line, central area and waterfall charts), composition charts (treemaps, doughnut and pie charts), mixed comparison and composition charts (stacked charts), relationship charts (bubble charts), geographical charts, and gauges based on a percentage value.
Also, Microsoft has made the source code for the Power BI visuals publicly available and is enabling developers to build custom visuals for Power BI, opening up unlimited possibilities for displaying your data.
Power BI supports live, secure dashboard access on any device through native, interactive apps for Windows, iOS, and Android. By enhancing the viewing experience, the dashboard user interface is optimised for smaller displays. Setting favourites makes it easier to access specific visualisation tiles.
The apps include several mobile-specific features. You can zoom in and out of visualisations to look at data more closely. To stay on top of changes, set up alerts, and receive a notification when information exceeds or drops below certain thresholds. Take a snapshot of a report or visualisation, and make annotations using highlight features. Collaborate with others by sharing your annotated picture via SMS or email.
Natural language query – also known as Q&A – is a unique feature of Power BI that lets you ask questions of your data phrased in plain English, and produces answers in the form of new visualisations, or charts. Ask anything of your data – Q&A then intelligently filters, sorts, aggregates, groups, and displays data based on questions asked. Even the least quantitatively-inclined can quickly find answers by asking questions the same way they would ask another person.
Use Q&A by merely typing a question in the Q&A textbox near the top of a dashboard, as shown in Figure 5.Power BI then generates a chart to answer the question, using the data from the underlying reports. Pin the map to the dashboard if desired, and modify it by asking more questions. Because the user panel can contain charts from multiple datasets, your questions can involve data from any one of the datasets.
Figure 5. Ask questions of your data like you would ask a person
Power BI’s Natural Language Query intelligently filters, sorts, with a unique name, ideally using a single word and aggregates, groups and displays data based on the keywords in the question asked. Avoiding abbreviations and acronyms.
By default, all of the data and reports you create and upload are privately visible only to you. However, dashboards in power bi can be easily shared with other users in your organisation if needed – directly provide the email addresses of the people from your organisation with whom you want to share the dashboard. Any subsequent changes to a shared dashboard automatically sync across all users – no manual updates required. To control access, you can specify whether another user can share that same dashboard with others.