It is a natural tendency of the human brain to understand things better through images rather than plain text. The same data that is represented in the form of tables is better interpreted by the brain when that data is viewed in the form of tables or graphs. In addition, you can memorize the information represented in attractive images more than what is written in text. This representation of data in the form of graphs, maps, charts, and dashboards is called data visualization. People have been visualizing data for decades. But the reason it has gained such popularity in recent years is because data visualization forms an important phase of the data science process.
Previously, the data was quite limited and could be viewed manually or using simple tools. Today, however, we are dealing with big data, roughly 2.5 trillion bytes of data is generated every day. Obviously, traditional systems cannot visualize such massive amounts of data. There are powerful data visualization tools available on the market to address this problem. One of the best tools that you will definitely come across is Microsoft Power BI. Because it is designed by Microsoft, many companies have adopted this advanced tool to meet their data science needs.
This article answers the question: ‘What is Power BI?‘and what are its main characteristics.
Introduction to Power BI
As described on the Microsoft website, Power BI is a collection of software services, connectors, and applications that work together to transform tireless data sources into consistent, visually engaging, and interactive information. The source of that data can be anything from an Excel spreadsheet or a collection of local and cloud-based hybrid data stores. Connection to data sources is easily established with Power BI, and users can view and identify trends and share them with anyone.
Basically, there are three elements that Power BI is made up of:
Power BI Desktop: a Windows desktop application
Power BI service – an online SaaS cloud service (software as a service)
Power BI mobile apps – designed for iOS, Windows, and Android devices
Beyond these three elements, there are two other Power BI features:
Power BI Report Builder – Used in the Power Bi service to create paginated reports.
Power BI Report Server – A local report server used to publish Power BI reports after they are created in Power BI Desktop.
Power BI is suitable for non-technical professionals, as its user interface is quite intuitive for those who are familiar with MS Excel. This business intelligence platform is everything you need for your data visualization needs. In fact, Power BI was declared a Leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platform in 2021 (for the fourteenth year in a row).
The main features of Power BI
Here are some of the top Power BI features that have led to its great adoption among businesses and startups alike.
Data connection: Power BI allows users to extract data from a variety of sources such as Excel, text file, SQL, Microsoft Azure, pdf, csv, local, or in the cloud. Regardless of the data source and its format, it is easy to visualize using Power BI.
Integration with Excel: Excel business data can be easily collected, published and shared through Power BI. If a user is familiar with Office 365, they can conveniently connect data models, Excel queries, and reports to Power BI dashboards.
Promotes user-driven innovation: Users who are new to Power BI get weekly and monthly updates to the tool that enhance its features and capabilities. These improvements are based on thousands of suggestions submitted by a community of more than half a million members around the world annually.
Enhanced security: With Power BI, you can be sure that your business data is safe. Power BI uses Active Directory to configure access to the dashboard. This means that the organization can use different Microsoft solutions only through this dashboard. Access to different users is granted in a very controlled way.
Equipped with artificial intelligence: This platform allows users to access image recognition and text analysis, create machine learning models using machine learning capabilities, and integrate them with Azure machine learning.
Through this Power BI feature, developers can use sample code and API (application performance interface) to embed dashboards created in Power BI into other software products.
Unified self-service and business analytics: Through Power BI, you can meet your business data analytics and self-service needs on a single platform. Plus, you can access an open connectivity framework, powerful semantic models, pixel-perfect paginated reports, and an application lifecycle management toolkit.
Power BI is so much more than the features mentioned above. If you are looking for a career in data science, then the knowledge of Power BI is quite advantageous. You can take an online Power BI course to familiarize yourself with using this business intelligence platform. It will help you explore many important Power BI concepts, such as desktop layouts, dashboards, BI reports, functions, and DAX commands. Get started today and stay ahead of your peers.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism