Basic Introduction To Power BI

In this article I will discuss the fundamental concepts of Power BI. So this article will cover basic knowledge on power BI, the need of power BI, the importance of data visualizations, the components of Power BI, the architecture of Power BI, the building blocks of Power BI & the cost of power BI tools.

So let’s get started.

What is Power BI?

Nowadays, Business Intelligence has become the most trending technology. Huge amounts of raw data can be converted into meaningful & useful information which will help us to understand our business properly. Suppose in an organization we are having lots of data and suddenly we get a requirement from a client to provide a detailed analytical report for the company’s financial or sales or whatever it may be for a whole tenure of the last five years or more for which they want the data to be quickly converted into an analyzed report or a visualized report. So in that scenario, how we can do that? For this Microsoft has provided Power BI, a cloud based, business analytics service tool which can be used to analyze huge amounts of data into visualizations. Sometimes it’s very complex to convert or analyze a report from a bunch of datas. So this powerful tool helps us to understand, analyze and visualize our data in a convenient way.

Refer fig-1 for the overview of Power BI tool,

Power BI tool
Fig-1 represents the opening page of the power BI tool. This page gives the monthly update on Power BI: what's new link, forums, Power BI blogs & tutorials, recent files & data source are listed on the left hand side. You can also hide this page by unchecking the option “Show on Startup” option.

Power BI tool
Fig-2 represents the page where you can design your custom reports.

Need of Power BI

We can get following benefits from Power BI tool described as below,

  • It provides fast answers to any business query in forms of visual reports.
  • Enables real-time analysis with quick navigations.
  • Use of slicer will help to identify cross-selling & up-selling opportunities.
  • Reduces the risk of bottle necks.
  • Provides better understanding of your business.
  • Helps in historical analysis.
  • Provides a wide range of visualizations of data.
  • Helps to create quick insights from an excel sheets or local database (Power BI provides lot of data sources like sql server, oracle etc. Refer fig-2).
  • Helps to create custom visuals such as bar graph, pie chart, clustered column chart etc.
  • Identify issues & Improves Performance, Decision making.
  • No dependency on information technology staff or database administrators.
  • Allows sharing of report to anyone or everyone you want.
  • Identify relationships & data flow patterns.

    Power BI tool
    Fig-3 represents the basic 4 benefits of Using Power BI.

Importance of Data Visualizations in Power BI

 A picture is worth a thousand words -- especially when you’re trying to find relationships and understand your data, which could include thousands or millions of variables. Data Visualizations make sense of data. So data visualization is a collection of data which can be represented in a pictorial, data story or graphical way. With interactive visualizations like charts or graphs we can change what data we see and how it’s processed.

So data visualization depicts the following importance in representing the data,

  1. Data visualizations provide  the easiest way to see patterns emerge & change over time.
  2. It allows us to quickly interpret the data & adjust different variables to see their effect, and technology is increasingly making it easier for us to do so.
  3. It turns letters & numbers into pleasing visuals which helps us to recognize patterns & find exceptions.
  4. It helps in giving better customer insights.
  5. It helps to predict company’s past & future growth.
  6. Power BI provide Visualizations such as Map representation, Card Visualizations, stacked area chart, tree map, clustered column chart, pie chart etc.
  7. Apart from this power BI provides several custom visuals which can be imported from power BI store.

Refer to the below image for some of the Power BI visuals,

Power BI tool
Fig-4 represents the different visuals for a report.

Components of Power BI

Power BI has following components,

  • Power Query,Power Query is a mash up or transformation tool which can be used to search, access, and transform public and/ or internal data sources.
  • Power Map,It’s a geo spatial data visualization tool that gives interactive geographical information.
  • Power Pivot,Power Pivot is an in-memory tabular data modelling tool.
  • Power View,Power View is a data visualization tool which can analyze, visualize and display data as an interactive data visualization using Power View.
  • Power BI Service,Using Power BI Service you can share data views and workbooks which are refresh-able from on-premises and cloud based data sources.
  • Power BI Q & A,It is a natural language question and answering engine which helps to ask questions and get immediate answers with natural language query.
  • Power BI Desktop is a powerful development companion tool.
  • Data Management Gateway  gives periodic data refreshers, expose tables and view data feeds.
  • Data Catalog helps to discover and reuse queries. Metadata can be facilitated for search functionality.
  • Power BI Mobile Apps support Android, Apple & Windows phone.

Refer to the below image for better visualization.

Power BI tool

Fig-5 represents the basic components of Power BI.

Architecture of Power BI

Power BI has following phases,

Phase-1(Data Preparation/Data Integration)
Here the data are extracted from different sources which are in different file formats. Different sources can be like Sql server, SAP, Oracle, Excel sheets and Pdf, word, CSV files & other databases.

Phase-2(Processing Data/Data Warehouse)
Before presenting the data, the data needs to be preprocessed for visualization. Business rules are applied to filter the data in the data set & then those data are loaded to data warehouse.

Phase-3(Data Presentation Layer)
In data presentation layer data can be presented in form visualizations like reports & dashboards.Power BI tool
Fig-6 represents the different phases/Architecture of Power BI

Building Blocks of Power BI

Diagrammatic representation for building blocks of Power BI as shown below,

Power BI tool

The basic building blocks of Power BI are as follows,

  • Reports
    Reports are the collections of visuals. The below fig-7 depicts a report.

    Power BI tool
  • Datasets
    Datasets are the collection of data/information which is combined to provide a data set. The below fig-8 depicts a dataset.

    Power BI tool
  • Dashboards
    Dashboards in Power BI is a collection of Visualizations in one page which depict a story about data. The visualizations are known as tiles & are pinned to the dashboards from reports. In Power BI, a tile is a single visualization found in a report or on a dashboard. It’s the rectangular box that contains each individual visual. The below fig-9 depicts a dashboard.

    Power BI tool
  • Visualizations
    Visualizations are the representation of data that are used to find business insights. They are different types of Custom Visuals like pie chart, bar graph, and Clustered column chart, etc. Also we can import visuals from stores such as Enlighten Aquarium, Bullet chart, Dual kpi, etc. The below fig-10 depicts different types of visualizations,

    Power BI tool

Cost of Power BI tool

Microsoft Power BI provides three different plans which are described as below,

Power Bi Desktop-Free
  • It is available for free for a period of 60 days.
  • Data capacity limit is 1 GB.
  • Import data & exports from Excel, CSV and Power BI Desktop files.
  • Publish to web.
  • Create & share reports across users.

Power BI Pro-$9.99

  • It is available for $9.99/user/month.
  • All power BI features available.
  • Live data source with business connectivity.
  • Shared data queries through Data Catalog.
  • Manage access control and sharing through active directory groups.

Power BI Premium-$14,985

  • It is available depending on capacity pricing per node per month.
  • Suppose I require 3 P1 nodes & Power BI Report Server, so it will cost $4,995/node/month i.e. total it will cost $14,985.
  • Reports can be published on-premises with Power BI Report server.
  • This plan is dedicated to an organization or a team.

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