Microsoft Power BI – what is it and why to use it?

Powerful and modern business intelligence service in the cloud

What is Microsoft Power BI?

Microsoft Power BI is a collection of business intelligence tools offered as software as a service. With Power BI, you can analyze business data in the cloud, process the results graphically and share them easily with other people on any terminal device.

The analyses allow you to monitor your own business processes and the success of the company. The findings help to make informed decisions on the basis of current data.

You can use different databases, web services and files as data sources. The Power BI system always provides the presentation of the most up-to-date data from different sources and their appropriate formatting. Different gateways are available to link local or cloud-based databases.

The Microsoft Power BI environment of input, processing and output (click image to enlarge) (image source: Microsoft)
Power BI environment

For whom is Microsoft Power BI intended?

In principle, this powerful tool is intended for every company with a requirement for data analysis and business intelligence. Thanks to the cloud-based approach, Microsoft Power BI is also suitable for companies looking for a cost-effective entry into BI – because the installation of dedicated hardware is not required.

What are the advantages of Power BI?

  • Simple connecting, processing, modeling and visualization of data via an integrated business intelligence platform.
  • Conducting (real-time) analyses and easy creation of professional, interactive reports without programming knowledge.
  • Simple publishing of reports on different terminal devices.
  • Conducting analyses even on devices such as smartphones or tablets at any location in mobile Power BI apps.
  • Receiving alerts when data change.
  • Quickly ready for use without tedious configuration by means of pre-defined and easily customizable templates.
  • Integration of various other (cloud-based) systems possible, for example, SharePoint, CRM, ERP, etc.

The components of Microsoft PowerBI

Power BI consists of:

  • a Windows desktop application,
  • the Power BI Service and
  • the mobile Power BI app
  • (Only if required: Power BI Report Server for operation in the own infrastructure on premise)

How to work with it:

The three components of Microsoft Power BI: Desktop, Mobile and Service (click image to enlarge)
Power BI components

First, you use Power BI Desktop to retrieve your data and create a report.

Then, you can publish the report in Power BI Service and add new visualizations. You can also generate a dashboard from one or more reports.

Finally, you share your dashboards with other people in Power BI Service – especially for mobile users. They then see your dashboards and reports in Power BI Mobile apps.

Power BI Desktop

This is the software that allows you to establish the connection to your data and afterwards model and visualize the data. You can transfer your data to Power BI from almost every available data source. Using dynamic queries, you can filter the data and thus create professional analyses. Power BI Desktop is absolutely necessary for creating reports, because a dataset can be created only with the Power BI Client.

Power BI Service

Using this service, you can add the reports shared from the desktop client to a new or existing dashboard. This allows you to analyze all company and project-specific performance data in real time.

Power BI Mobile-Apps

his app is used to view and use shared dashboards and reports in a mobile environment. It is available for IOS and Android. Thanks to the real-time reports and dashboards, you can always keep an overview regardless of place and time. Access local data stored in SQL Server and data in the cloud. Keep an eye on KPIs and reports: With Power BI Mobile apps, you keep an overview of your data also while on the go.

Power BI-Berichtsserver (only if on-premises solution is required)

In case of the solution with the Power BI Report Server, the data are located within your organization's firewall and not in the cloud. The Report Server provides users with access to data and insights, as well as the reporting functions of SQL Server Reporting Services for companies – in a modern, local solution.

How do data get to Power BI?

Data are the centerpiece of Power BI. Whether you compile a dashboard or visualizations – the data originate from a dataset. But how do you integrate your data into power BI?

Both in Power BI Desktop and in Power BI Service can you import your data from many data sources.

Selection of different data sources for Power BI (click image to enlarge)
Data sources for Power BI

Importing files into Power BI

You can simply retrieve an Excel file or also other file types from your local or cloud-based data sources. Conversely, you can also store your files locally or, for example, in a SharePoint team site.

Importing local data into Microsoft Power BI (click image to enlarge)
Importing local data into Microsoft Power BI

Using content packs

A content pack is a collection of pre-configured, ready-to-use visualizations and reports. They are based on specific data sources such as Salesforce. Content packs are often used for quick visualizations in Power BI.

Power BI allows you to create content packs yourself. Hence, your team or the entire company benefits from own dashboards, reports and datasets.

Connecting databases

Power BI provides you with a secure connection with local data and cloud-based services. You can thus have the maximum benefit from existing data.

You can set up a so-called gateway for data that are stored locally and not in the cloud. This establishes a connection between Power BI and your on-premises data source.

Setting up a database connection in Microsoft Power BI (click image to enlarge)
database connection in Microsoft Power BI

Q&A: Reporting via voice command

Request a report from the system via voice command. This will return charts and graphics. With this Q&A function, you can quickly conduct new data analyses using Power BI without detailed BI skills.

Q&A in Power BI – having reports created automatically via voice command (click image to enlarge)
Q&A in Power BI via voice command

In the office, on the desktop or on mobile devices

Microsoft Power BI is available on different devices: As a desktop client, online or as a mobile application – regardless of whether on an iOS device, an Android phone or tablet.

Power BI runs on a wide variety of terminal devices, mobile and local (click image to enlarge)
Power BI on all devices

Everything from a single source: Attractive licensing conditions

TPG The Project Group is an indirect reseller in the Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program. In addition to the professional services for introducing Microsoft Power BI, TGP also offers Office 365 licenses at attractive conditions. This applies to companies with the following plans:

  • Power BI Pro
  • Power BI Premium

Power BI Pro

All users in the Power BI service are assigned either free or pro licenses (comparison free / pro). The most important difference concerns sharing and collaboration. Only pro users can publish content in app work spaces, use apps without premium capacity, share dashboards, and subscribe to dashboards and reports.

Power BI Premium

With Power BI Premium you have more dedicated data volume. In addition, you distribute dashboards, reports and other content on a large scale. And you DO NOT have to purchase licenses for each individual internal or external recipient.

    TPG service portfolio for Microsoft Power BI

    TPG The Project Group supports you with the following expertise:

    • obtaining licenses for Microsoft Power BI
    • analysis of individual reporting requirements for your company
    • connection to various data sources and implementation of a data model
    • customer-specific reports with professional visualization
    • consulting regarding technical requirements
    • implementation of a hybrid infrastructure
    • training of Power BI users

    Get to know TPG's Smart Cloud Solutions

    > TPG IdeaManagement: Convenient management of project ideas
    > TPG Oppty2Project: Easily create projects from CRM
    > TPG Project2Teams: Communication platform for every project team

    Microsoft Gold Certified Partner

    Get to know TPG's Smart Cloud Solutions

    > TPG IdeaManagement: Convenient management of project ideas
    > TPG Oppty2Project: Easily create projects from CRM
    > TPG Project2Teams: Communication platform for every project team