What is Power BI: An Introduction

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16 November, 2023

Microsoft offers Power BI, a technology-driven business intelligence solution for presenting actionable information by analyzing and visualizing raw data. To assist an organization in making data-driven decisions, it integrates best practices, data visualization, and business analytics. Because of the strengths of the Power BI platform, Gartner verified Microsoft's position as Leader in the "2019 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platform" in February 2019.  

What is Microsoft Power BI?

Microsoft offers a business analytics tool called Power BI that enables you to share and visualize your insights. To create dynamic dashboards and business intelligence reports, it transforms data from many sources.   

A business intelligence (BI) platform called Microsoft Power BI gives non-technical working professionals the ability to analyze, visualize, and share data. For Excel users, BI's user interface is pretty intuitive, and its strong connectivity with other Microsoft applications makes it a flexible self-service tool with minimal initial training needed.

Common Uses of Power BI

Using Microsoft BI, one may mine an organization's data for insights. With the use of Power BI, it is possible to link unrelated data sets, clean and modify the data into a data model, and produce graphs or charts that show the data visually. You may share this with other BI users in your company.

Organizations can use the data models produced by Microsoft BI in several ways, such as the following:

  • Using data visualizations and charts to tell tales; 
  • Exploring "what if" possibilities within the data; and 
  • Generating reports that can provide instantaneous answers to inquiries and assist with forecasting to ensure that divisions fulfil business metrics.

Who Uses Power BI?

Microsoft BI is used by department representatives as well as management, with reports and forecasts produced to assist sales and marketing representatives and to provide management with data on how the department or individual employees are progressing toward their goals. 

Additionally, BI offers a portal for administrators to help configure its usage, as well as usage monitoring and licenses. 

Despite being a self-service BI tool that makes data analytics accessible to all users, its primary users are data analysts and BI professionals who create the data models before disseminating reports throughout the organization.

Key Features of Power BI 

Since Microsoft BI's launch, it has and will continue to introduce various data analytics tools. The following are a few of the key elements:

  • Machine Learning: Users can use automated machine learning features to develop machine learning models, integrate with Azure Machine Learning, and utilize text analytics and picture recognition in Power BI.
  • Support for Hybrid Deployment: With the help of these built-in connectors, Microsoft BI tools may now connect to a variety of data sources including Salesforce, Microsoft, and other suppliers.
  • Fast Takeaways: With this capability, users may automatically apply analytics to data and create subsets of that information.
  • Support for Common Data Models: The common data model, which BI supports, makes it possible to employ an extendable and standardized set of data schemas (entities, attributes, and relationships).
  • Personalization: With the help of this capability, developers can import additional tools and modify the look of the standard reporting and visualization tools.

Microsoft BI Updates Over Time

Project Crescent, the original name of BI, was released in July 2011 in conjunction with SQL Server, code-named Denali. After that, it was rebranded and debuted as Power BI for Office 365, which is now Microsoft 365, in September 2013.

Over time, Microsoft added capabilities including enterprise-level data connectivity and security options, which were initially modeled off Excel features like Power Query, Power Pivot, and Power View. In July 2015, Microsoft BI was made available for purchase independently.

Today, Microsoft constantly adds new functionality and enhancements to the BI program. Users can obtain Microsoft BI Desktop from the Windows Store or download the most recent version from the Power BI website to stay up to date.

Power BI Components

Microsoft BI functions by establishing connections between data sources and offering users a BI dashboard. It can link to an Excel spreadsheet alone or combine on-premises and cloud-based data warehouses. Refreshing data from cloud-based sources, such as Salesforce CRM, is automatic.

Several tools for creating and sharing data reports are included in BI. They are as follows:

  • Power Query: A tool for data mashup and transformation.
  • Power Pivot: A similar tabular data modelling tool.
  • Power View: One tool for data visualization.
  • Power Map: A 3D tool for visualizing geographic data.
  • Power Q&A: This is a natural language query and response platform.

How To Learn Power BI For Free? 

Now that you know what Microsoft BI is and how to use it, let us give you insights on how you can learn BI for free. There are various platforms where you can learn the ins and outs of  BI for free, like UniAthena’s Basics of Visualization in Power BI, and advanced courses like Mastering Power BI - Data Modelling & DAX


We hope that this guide to Power BI helped you with the basics of what is Microsoft BI.  Let us know in the comments below what are your thoughts on it! Also don’t forget to check out more free learning opportunities with UniAthena


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