Tip of the Week #37 – Colorful Data Insights with Power BI
This week’s tip comes from assistant developer Casper Lee Faxner, who suggests we try out Microsoft Power BI – a free and ultra-powerful tool that allows you to compile and share all of your business data in multiple visually-stimulating graphical formats.
Like Jet Express as described in our last Tip of the Week, Power BI is absolutely free and incredibly easy to use. It is a business analytics service which can be used with all of your devices, on premises, in the cloud or a hybrid of the two. While easy to use, the capabilities of Power BI are so numerous and extensive that the tool becomes difficult to describe with any brevity.
Power BI employs dashboards, reports and datasets, with datasets being the name given for the source of information used to create the dashboards and reports. Together, the three make the major building blocks of Power BI.
Datasets can be compiled from your local Excel workbooks or Power BI desktop files, or from different content packs – either internally from your organization or from popular subscription (Saas) services such as Microsoft Dynamics, Azure, Google Analytics, Salesforce, Quickbooks and many more. Data can also be pulled from databases such as Azure SQL.
Power BI lets you bring static (and let’s face it, often boring) data to life with a variety of graphics, charts and graphs, even including open-source custom visuals. From there, you can create and share dashboards, reports and presentations.
The dashboards you create will be made up of tiles, and each tile is a visual representation of the data gathered from its originating dataset. When you create a tile, you “pin” it to your dashboard, and every dashboard you make can contain multiple tiles, reflecting multiple datasets.
Hopefully you are getting an idea of just how limitless this tool can be for gathering, arranging and sharing data in a refreshing and dynamic fashion. Truly, your imagination is the only boundary. And the best way to learn it is to use it!
Thank you Casper!