What Does Microsoft Power BI Do? A Complete Guide for a Beginner

As stated by Microsoft, Power BI is a business analytics solution to enable businesses to visualize data and share valuable insights. It is considered one of the leading business intelligence tools available.

The tool’s popularity can be imagined as it has the highest Google search queries compared to its counterparts.

Being a non-professional, ever thought that is Power BI easy to learn? If you have experience creating charts and business reports using Excel, it becomes easier for you to use Microsoft Power BI for data visualization.

But many business professionals are unaware of the use of Power BI. So, let’s understand what does Microsoft Power BI do?

But before we understand the nitty-gritty, let’s understand the basics of Power BI and its multiple types.

What is Microsoft Power BI?

Microsoft Power BI is a business intelligence platform that enables non-technical users to analyze, aggregate, share, and visualize datasets. Power BI has an intuitive user interface that makes it easier for the users to explore its functionalities and extract the best output from the tool.

There are multiple versions of the tools available. You can utilize the free version of Power BI for your small or midsize business or purchase the professional version by paying a monthly subscription fee.

Pie charts

Source: Power BI

The lowest pricing point of Power BI is $8.11 per user per month. You can avail the Power BI Pro version for $52.04 per user per month to get the Microsoft 365 E5 subscription offer. Power BI offers individual user licenses to create well-vetted reports based on their business requirements. The Power BI Pro version still has restrictions compared to the advanced version of the tool.

Advanced Power BI Pro, also known as Power BI Premium, can cost you around $16.34 per user per month. You can also avail of the per capacity per month-based plan for $4075.32 monthly.

The per-capacity plan offers on-premises reporting, deployment management, and BYOK (Bring Your Own Key). You can use the premium version of Power BI to share your reports outside your enterprise ecosystem safely and securely.

There are multiple other services and tools associated with Microsoft Power BI.

Let’s understand them one by one.

  1. Power BI Service

    Power BI is a Microsoft-hosted cloud service that enables the users to view reports, dashboards, and Power BI apps using the web browser or the mobile application for iOS, Windows, and Android.

  2. Power BI Desktop

    Power BI Desktop

    Source: Power BI

    It is a self-service, free report authoring and data analysis tool that you can use on your Windows. It can help you connect over 70 on-premises and cloud data sources to transform your information into intuitive and attractive visuals.

    Who usually uses the Power BI Desktop version?
    Developers and data scientists use Power BI Desktop to create and manage the business intelligence reports and make them accessible to the Power BI Service.

    What are the benefits of Power BI Desktop?

    Using Power BI Desktop, you can:

    • Connect to your datasets
    • Model and transform those datasets
    • Create graphs and charts within a few clicks
    • Create intuitive dashboards and reports
    • Share the reports using the Power BI services
  3. Power BI Pro

    Power BI Pro

    Source: Power BI

    Microsoft Power BI Pro is a powerful cloud-based tool that enables users to collaborate with other Power BI users. The Power BI Pro coloration features separate it from Power BI Desktop. You can distribute visualizations and reports to multiple other Power BI subscribers to ensure proper data analysis for making well-informed decisions.

    Power BI Pro also allows users to embed Power BI visuals for different Power BI apps, integrate with other leading Microsoft solutions, share dashboards, data, and reports with other Microsoft Power BI users, create different workspaces to collaborate on different reports, and enable peer-to-peer sharing.

    You can also share published reports and dashboards outside your business ecosystem using Power BI pro to users who have the certified license of the tool.

    You can better understand the difference between Power BI Desktop and Power BI Pro go-through the below-listed table.

    Product comparison table

    Source: Power BI

  4. Power BI Premium

    Unlike Power BI Pro or Desktop, Power BI premium is not software. It provides the organizational capacity and space in the Microsoft cloud to share and manage reports. Being an organization, you can choose to apply to the dedicated capacity based on the number of users, workload, or factors like scale down or up.

    Power BI Premium enables the users to publish the reports across the enterprise ecosystem without requiring an individual license. It provides the users with the ability to maintain BI assets with the help of the Power BI Report Server.

    Power BI Premium gives greater performance and scalability in the Power BI Service. Being a Power BI Premium user, you get a set of capabilities, one API surface, and access to the features for embedded analytics.

  5. Power BI Report Server

    Power BI Report

    Source: Power BI

    Report Server is an on-premises server used to view reports on a mobile device, email, or web browser. Once the report is created using the Power BI Pro or Desktop, the Report Server can be used to view those files.

    If your company has some restrictions on cloud usage, Power BI Report Server can be highly useful for accessing the reports and viewing them on the preferred devices.

  6. Power BI Mobile

    You can use the Power BI mobile application to use Android, iOS, and Windows 10 devices to help you manage, view, and edit your datasets. You can interact with data and connect with other users to collaborate on different reports and help your business achieve new business heights.

  7. Power BI Embedded

    Power BI Embedded enables the developers to embed Microsoft Power BI reports and dashboards into other applications. You can embed the reports within your enterprise ecosystem using the Power BI account or in different applications that don’t require a Power BI account.

    The Power BI ecosystem has multiple uses in different aspects for enterprises to bypass their troubles handling datasets.

    Now, Let’s look at the common uses of Power BI.

Common Uses of Microsoft Power BI Tool

Power BI Preview

Source: Power BI

Power BI can be used to extract insights from the organization’s data using powerful data visualization and representations. You can connect disparate datasets and clean or transform them into a data model.

You can create graphs and charts to present the raw datasets with a visually appealing representation. The reports created using Power BI can be shared with other Power BI users within the organization.

The reports are created using Power BI. The organization can use its wide ecosystem in multiple ways like telling stories using charts and data visualizations, examining multiple scenarios, and forecasting future business trends.

You can get answers to multiple questions and hurdles that restrict your business from scaling to new heights and performing better in different departments. It provides access to the managers or administrators for executive dashboards that can enable them to get more insights into the department’s performance.

There are multiple benefits offered by Power BI that allures the business professionals to use the tool for achieving better business results and ensuring they can improve their existing business operations.

Let’s understand the reason behind using Power BI.

Why Do People Use Power BI?

Multiple businesses want to gain more reporting power and analytics to enhance their data analysis approach. Microsoft Power BI enables the business to go beyond Excel and get to the next level of business intelligence.

Using Power BI, businesses can scrutinize, assemble, and visualize data available in the company to gain better insight into the business’s performance and operations. It allows professionals to make informed decisions using the available data to drive better results.

Look at five amazing benefits Power BI offers.

  1. Handle Large Business Data

    It can handle large datasets and can easily process and convert the data into meaningful forms that can be easily understood by a non-technical professional. Multiple platforms struggle to handle inputs of huge quantities and deliver disorganized results that can hinder the analytics of datasets.

    Microsoft’s Power BI helps businesses to create charts, bars, and other data representation formats for better data understanding.

  2. Provides the Power of Machine Learning

    Microsoft Power BI provides businesses the power of intelligence and machine learning as it has multiple features that can analyze the data and enable you to spot valuable trends for better and more precise predictions.

    It can adjust the raw data to help the business analyst understand the valuable insights from the data and use it for business success and improvement.

  3. Powerful Templates

    Microsoft Power BI provides the users with powerful templates that can visualize the information to extract more value for the organization’s data. You can also work on a white plane space, load your dataset into different representations, or use existing templates to create your reports.

    You can edit the text, image, size, and other elements of the reports using the features provided by Power BI and create the most intuitive reports for your datasets.

  4. Great Protection

    You can protect your Power BI reports dashboards, and other datasets using the robust protection provided by Microsoft Power BI. If you share your reports across your organization or outside your organization, it can stay protected from the attacks and threats in today’s digital world.

    You can export your reports into different file formats like PowerPoint, Excel, and PDF, among others, without compromising the security of the files.

  5. Great Support

    Power BI provides great assistance in making data-driven decisions as it provides 500+ free connectors for its users. You can also connect with hundreds of cloud data sources or on-premise sources like Azure SQL Database, SharePoint, Dynamics 365, Excel, and Salesforce.

    Microsoft also offers partner businesses that provide consulting services and knowledge to assist you in better managing your report-creating process.

    Microsoft Power BI also offers a robust support network with community forms and other support resources to streamline the report-making process.

  6. User-friendly Interface

    Power BI offers an intuitive and user-friendly interface that enables users to easily navigate different functionalities and access the wide range of features available.

    You can bypass the complexities and don’t require technical knowledge to handle the business operations. With a simple report-making process, you can deliver the best reports for the available dataset and assist the data analysis team to understand the valuable insights.

    Now let’s discuss who can use Power BI and make its optimal use.

Who Uses Power BI?

Power BI is a self-service tool your employees can use to achieve the best data analytics results.

Power BI is mostly used by business intelligence professionals and data analysts who need to create data models and reports.

But Power BI can also be accessed by non-technical professionals in multiple departments to create robust reports for better business performance and analysis.

Power BI can be used in the organization’s internal departments or the core operational team to create reports and predict business forecasts. The tool offers a powerful admin portal for administrators to configure the implementation, monitoring, and license usage.

The tool offers great and easy-to-use functionalities that can assist your business in analyzing the raw data in the best representation format to scale the business in the right direction.

Let’s understand the key features of Power BI to find out whether or not it’s the right fit for your organization or not.

Key Features of Power BI

  1. A Quick Start

    You can get instant insights because of the uncomplicated setup offered by Power BI. You don’t require any prior training to access multiple features of the tool. Having the basic knowledge of using Excel can assist you in making optimum use of Power BI.

    You can access the dashboards of multiple services like Google Analytics, Microsoft Dynamics, and Salesforce.

  2. Streamlined Publication and Distribution

    Data analysts for other professionals can upload the created reports and visualization in the Power BI Service without emailing or putting the large files in the shred drive.

    If the user makes a new change, the data will be updated easily, and there will be no requirement for uploading the reports again.

  3. Real-time Information

    The updates in the Power BI dashboards happen in real-time once the data is streamed or pushed in. This enables the users to solve the problems and identify new opportunities with finesse.

    Dashboards or reports can update and display new visual and data changes in real-time, enhancing the quality of creating reports. Multiple streaming data sources like social media sources, factory sensors, or other time-sensitive data sources can be transmitted and collected in real-time.

  4. Customization of reports

    Microsoft Power BI offers multiple editing features that can assist you in building and customizing your reports from scratch. The users can create intuitive reports to assist the viewers in quickly understanding the relationship between different data points and filter out the valuable trend or insight that can assist in solving the problem.

  5. Integration of advanced technologies like AI and ML

    Microsoft Power BI can access text analytics and image recognition, integrate with Azure Machine Learning, and create machine learning models to assist the user make the most of the advanced technologies.

  6. Cortana Integration

    Power BI coordinates with Microsoft’s digital assistant, Cortana, and enables the users to verbally ask queries in natural language to access graphs and charts.

    These features of Microsoft BI can assist you in leveraging the data representation and data analytics task to enhance your business operations and bypass different business difficulties.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Power BI affordable?

Yes, Power BI is an affordable BI tool compared to others. The base price of the tool is around $8.11 per user per month, and the pro version of the tool can cost you $16.34 per user per month.

How to create my first report using Power BI?

You can create your first report using Power BI within a few steps. You need a dataset to make data visualization amendments using Power BI. The powerful Power BI editor can assist you in making an intuitive report.

Is Power BI a powerful business intelligence tool?

Yes, Power BI is a powerful business intelligence tool that can assist you in converting the raw data into robust reports using the power of data visualization and multiple advanced features.

Can I use Power BI to handle complex operations?

Yes, Power BI has multiple versions that can assist you in managing different business complexities and data visualization changes. You can choose the Power BI version based on your requirement and use it to bypass your business problems or friction.

Let’s Convert Your Data into Insights Using Microsoft Power BI

Now that you understand the ins and out of Microsoft Power BI and have a crystal clear idea of what it can do, you need to decide whether or not it’s a good fit to handle your data visualization and data reporting issues.

If you have a dilemma, you can use the free version and get hands-on experience with the tool to clear your doubts before making the buying decision.

Hundreds of businesses globally trust Microsoft Power BI, and it can assist you in multiple ways. Try it out once.

Gaurang Bhatt

Written by

Gaurang Bhatt

Gaurang has 15+ years of experience solving complex business problems and enabling businesses with data-driven decisions using data analysis and predictive modeling tools like Tableau, Power BI, Looker, and Google Data Studio. His expertise lies in data visualization, reporting, and creating ETL pipelines. In addition, he is passionate about exploring different technologies like machine learning and AI. He shares his knowledge and learnings on the LabsMedia platform.