Microsoft Power BI

What is Microsoft Power BI? Types and What to Use It For

Microsoft Power BI is a strong tool for data visualization and business intelligence. It lets users turn data into visuals for better understanding and easier decision-making. It’s made for both data experts and everyday users, aiming to make data analytics accessible to everyone. Companies use Power BI to analyze customer behavior, track performance, forecast trends, and monitor data in real-time.

It’s useful for professionals in marketing, finance, sales, and operations. After reading this article, you’ll know more about Power BI’s capabilities, who it benefits, and how it compares to other tools. For those looking to learn Power BI, Coursera offers courses to help you start using this important business intelligence platform.

What is Microsoft Power BI?

Microsoft Power BI is a data visualization tool for business intelligence. It is made for business professionals of all data knowledge levels. The dashboard shows data through graphs, maps, charts, scatter plots, and more. Power BI’s “AI Insights” uses artificial intelligence to analyze data sets for users.

Power BI includes different applications: Power BI Desktop, Pro, Premium, Mobile, Embedded, and Report Server. Some applications are free, but the pro and premium versions of Power Bi offer more analytics capabilities.

Power BI is part of Microsoft’s Power Platform, which also has Power Apps, Power Pages, Power Automate, and Power Virtual Agents. These are low-code tools designed to help businesses with data analysis, business solution design, process automation, and no-code chatbot creation.

What is Power BI used for?

Using the Power BI enables you make data-driven decisions, whether you’re new to data or an expert. You can use it to:

  • Make reports and dashboards with different visuals from data sets.
  • Connect data sources like Excel sheets, data warehouses, and cloud storage to get business insights.
  • Turn data into visuals such as pie charts, gauge charts, KPIs, and more.
  • Give everyone in the company access to data and visualization tools to support a data-driven culture.

The Parts of Power BI

Power BI includes several key components:

  • Power BI Desktop, a desktop application for Windows.
  • The Power BI service, an online service.
  • Power BI Mobile apps for Windows, iOS, and Android.

These components allow you to create, share, and use business insights effectively.

Power BI also has:

  • Power BI Report Builder for creating reports to share online.
  • Power BI Report Server for publishing reports from Power BI Desktop on your own server.

Advantages of Power BI

Power BI offers many benefits for businesses analyzing their data through BI visualizations, patterns, and insights. These benefits include:

  • Accessibility: Power BI is user-friendly for both non-technical and technical users. It has pricing options for both small and large businesses.
  • Integrations: It can integrate with other Microsoft products like SharePoint, Office 365, and Dynamics 365, as well as other non-Microsoft products like Spark, Hadoop, Google Analytics, SAP, Salesforce, and MailChimp, allowing it to use data from different sources.
  • Customer Support: Microsoft provides support for troubleshooting and assistance.
  • Customization: Users can create custom visuals to better understand complex data sets.
  • Collaboration: Power BI makes it easier for teams within an organization to work together.
  • Scalability: It can handle large data sets, making it suitable for both small businesses and enterprises.

Disadvantages of Power BI

The platform has attractive benefits but also has drawbacks for business users. These include:

  • Pricing. There are free, Pro, and Premium plans with essential data reporting and analytics capabilities. However, the free version offers limited features.
  • Uses a lot of resources. Running the platform on a company’s infrastructure can use up compute and other resources quickly, which some companies might find hard to keep up with.
  • Cluttered interfaces. The dashboards have many visual components, making them seem cluttered and not always user-friendly.
  • Many features. While basic analytics and reporting are straightforward, Power BI also has many complex features, like APIs that require detailed technical knowledge.
  • Complex data relationships. Power BI can easily find relationships between a few data tables. However, adding more tables can lead to inaccuracies and slower processing.

share reports in the organization

Who uses Power BI?

Power BI is a self-service business intelligence tool that enables data analytics for employees. It’s mainly used by data analysts and BI professionals to build data models and share reports in the organization. However, even those without an analytical background can use Power BI to make reports. Department staff and managers use Power BI for creating reports and forecasts to help sales and marketing. It also helps provide data on department or employee progress towards goals.

Key Features Of Power Bi

Microsoft Power BI connects to data sources and provides BI reports and dashboards. It works with data from Excel spreadsheets, cloud-based, and on-premises data warehouses. Cloud-based data, like Salesforce CRM, gets refreshed automatically. For data from Excel workbooks and Power BI Desktop files connected to online or on-premises sources, users need to refresh manually or set a schedule for updates. This ensures reports and dashboards have the latest data.

Power BI includes apps for desktop, as a SaaS product, or for mobile use. Power BI Desktop is for on-premises use, Power BI service is cloud-based, and Power BI mobile runs on mobile devices.

Power BI components for creating and sharing business insights include:

  • Power Query: Integrates data from different sources.
  • Power Pivot: A data modeling tool.
  • Power View: Lets Power Bi users create and interact with data visualizations.
  • Power Map: A tool for 3D geospatial data visualization.
  • Power BI Q&A: A natural language query engine for data visualization.
  • Power BI Embedded: Allows embedding reports, insights, and visuals into apps or websites.

Power BI Use Examples


In retail, Power BI helps study customer behavior and sales trends. This helps retailers manage their stock and set the right prices. For instance, a retail chain might use Power BI to see which products sell well in certain areas and change their marketing and stock management based on that.


Education institutions use Power BI to track student performance, attendance, and engagement in programs. They identify trends and patterns in student data, helping teachers tailor learning experiences to improve grades. One use case is analyzing how a new teaching method affects student grades across subjects.


Healthcare organizations use Power BI to make patient care better and operations more efficient. They analyze patient data to see health trends and improve treatment methods. A hospital could use Power BI to monitor how patients with a certain condition recover. This helps the hospital use its resources better.

Manufacturing and Engineering

In manufacturing and engineering, Power BI optimizes production and supply chain management. A manufacturing company can use Power BI to track machine performance and predict maintenance needs. This reduces downtime and increases production efficiency.

Public Sector

Public sector entities, such as government agencies, use Power BI to improve services and make policy decisions based on data. For example, they might analyze crime data to better allocate law enforcement resources or monitor traffic patterns to plan cities more effectively.

Finance and Insurance

Financial institutions and insurance companies analyze financial data, assess risk, and improve customer service using Power BI. A bank might use Power BI to spot trends in customer transactions and adjust its financial products to better serve customer needs.

How much does Power BI cost?

Power BI offers different versions and plans, including a free option through a Microsoft Fabric free account. This free account lets you create interactive reports without needing a credit card. There are also paid plans based on the number of users and usage level, with options like Power BI Pro and Power BI Premium. Organizations can also get a license for Microsoft Fabric, which includes Power BI Premium features.

Power BI Pro Pricing

Power BI Pro costs $10 per user, per month. It allows each user to publish reports and dashboards and view content across the organization. The license includes a 1GB model memory limit, refreshes datasets every 8 days, and provides 10GB of storage per user.

Power BI Premium Pricing

Power BI Premium is $20 per user each month. It gives users access to larger model sizes and more refreshes. Power BI Premium also includes XMLA read/write, deployment pipelines, and enterprise features. The memory size limit is 100GB. Datasets can be refreshed every 48 days. Users get 100TB of Power BI native storage.

Power BI Premium with Microsoft Fabric pricing

Licensing your organization for Microsoft Fabric gives you access to Power BI Premium and all Microsoft Fabric features. Microsoft Fabric is a dedicated resource priced by capacity. The “P1” capacity costs $4,995 per month. Power BI Premium through Microsoft Fabric offers the same refresh rate and storage as individual licenses. It also includes a 400GB model memory size limit and access to OneLake storage, OneLake BCDR storage, OneLake cache, and networking. This is suitable for larger organizations with more users and greater analytical needs.


Is there any data limitation in Power BI?

Power BI has strong data handling features, but its limits depend on the version used. Power BI Pro has a 1GB limit per model and 10GB of storage per user. Power BI Premium offers more: a 100GB model size limit and 100TB of storage for the organization. Dataset refresh rates are higher in premium versions. Despite limits, Power BI can grow with your business, offering more capacity and performance through different licenses.

Can Power BI be used by multiple users?

Yes, Power BI supports multi-user collaboration. Multiple users can access, analyze, and share data from the same datasets and reports. With Power BI Pro, users can publish reports for others in the organization to view and interact with. Power BI Premium offers features for large organizations, like distributing content to many users without a per-user license. Collaboration features include commenting on dashboards and reports and sharing insights through apps. Power BI is useful for teams on data-driven projects.

Does Power BI have an app store or marketplace?

Yes, Power BI has an AppSource marketplace where users can find and install extra services, apps, and connectors. This marketplace offers hundreds of Power BI visuals, apps, and connectors from Microsoft and other companies. It enriches the Power BI ecosystem and gives users many tools for better data visualization and analysis. Through AppSource, users can connect their Power BI dashboards and reports with other software services. This expansion improves Power BI’s functionality and flexibility to meet specific business or industry needs.

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