Monday, 20 March 2023

What is Power BI? And do I need it?

We take a look at the features of Power BI and consider how to decide whether it is a tool your organisation should be using.

You’re probably aware of Microsoft Power BI, even if you aren’t using it. Although the name might be familiar, are you familiar with what it does? If not, this article is for you.


We’ll take a look at the features of Power BI and consider how to decide whether it is a tool your organisation should be using.


Microsoft says, “Power BI is a unified, scalable platform for self-service and enterprise business intelligence (BI).” 


What does that mean? Microsoft Power BI offers simple ways to connect to different data sources and integrate the data you hold across your business. You can use the desktop app to tap into various data sources around your business and pull that data into reports. And, more than that, it is brilliant way to present the data and reports in visualisations and dashboards and easily share them with your colleagues. 


Or as Microsoft has it, “Connect to and visualise any data, and seamlessly infuse the visuals into the apps you use every day.”


Users can choose how they present that data in charts and dashboards. Users are empowered to use and manipulate the data, drill down into the information and use to inform their work and make better decisions.

What are the benefits of Power BI?

One of the main advantages of Power BI is the familiar look and feel. If you’re using the Microsoft 365 office and productivity apps in your business, then users should find Power BI comfortable and intuitive to use.


The tight integration of Power BI with the other Microsoft 365 apps is another huge advantage of Power BI. It’s simple to share your reports and insights through your other office apps, such as Microsoft Teams and SharePoint. Furthermore, you can intuitively combine it with Microsoft Power Automate workflows.


Undeniably, another key advantage of Power BI is that it’s simply a great tool. Gartner’s most recent Magic Quadrant for analytics and business intelligence platforms placed Microsoft’s Power BI far ahead of even its nearest rivals. Only Salesforce Tableau and Qik made it into the top right quadrant (a leader in ability to execute and a visionary in terms of completeness of vision) and there was clear white space between them and Microsoft Power BI. 


Microsoft offers a huge range of connectors to enable you to connect to the data sources within your organisation in order to draw on that data to build your reports and dashboards. 


With the resources of Microsoft behind it and the clear product roadmap ahead of it, Power BI offers a good degree of certainty and longevity in terms of the quality and lifecycle of the solution.


Depending on your licencing agreement with Microsoft you may already have Power BI licences available for you to use. Even if you don’t, it’s easy to try Power BI desktop for free. And the Pro and Premium licencing is great value – especially compared to other comparable tools.


Do you need Power BI?

Business analysts Forrester has investigated the business benefits that organisations typically report after deploying Power BI. 


It says users report:

•    A single organisational version of the truth

•    A move from static reporting to real-time or near real-time information

•    A reduction in licensing, labour and resource costs and a move towards greater automation in reporting activity

•    Legacy report writer cost reductions 

•    Finance, HR and other business analyst productivity savings

•    Margin increase as a result of better and more timely sales and marketing insights

•    Operational cost savings as a result of fact-based decision making

•    Greater accountability and business culture enhancements through data-drive decision making and self-service reporting and analysis


Forrester reports significant financial and competitive benefits for firms that use Power BI to develop data-driven decision making, especially for those which were previously struggling with legacy reporting solutions, static reports or spreadsheet-based reports and analysis. 


As to whether you need Power BI, we suggest you ask two very simple questions:

•    Would you like to improve the reporting and business intelligence in your organisation?

•    Are you already using Microsoft 365 tools in your organisation?


If you answer yes to both, then we would definitely recommend that you use – or, at least, explore the potential of – Power BI for your organisation.


What next?

Need help and advice about using Power BI? Whether it’s new to you or you’d like to get more out of an existing deployment, our team can help.


Call us: 0808 164 4142


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Further reading

Learn more about other technology subjects on our blog:

•    The year in review: 2022’s biggest tech stories

•    Best new Teams features added in 2022

•    What is Microsoft Autopilot? And do I need it?

•    Choosing the right Business Intelligence tools