Power BI is a Microsoft product, primarily used for reporting and building dashboards in order to view the information in a meaningful way.

Power BI has gained more traction over the years and is widely considered the go-to reporting software because it sits on top of the full Microsoft stack. It also integrates well with data environments set up with other platforms, such as Google’s BigQuery.

What does Power BI do?

Microsoft’s Power BI can be used for internal business purposes–reporting on how employees are using their time and measuring productivity–as well as external reporting, such as showcasing the progress of a project to a client or assessing web traffic after a marketing campaign.

This is a shortlist of what Microsoft’s Power BI does:

  • Connects to data in real-time, updating as new information is available.
  • Transform and model the data in a meaningful way.
  • Creates charts and graphs, reports, and dashboards.
  • Shares reports with others using the Power BI service, allowing visuals to be embedded into all Power BI apps.
  • Also integrates with other Microsoft solutions, such as Azure data services.
  • Creates workspaces — places to collaborate with colleagues to create collections of dashboards and reports–enabling peer-to-peer sharing.
  • Streamlines publication and distribution of data.
  • Integrates with Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant, enabling users to verbally ask questions in their natural language to access charts and graphs.

You can also just build reports and dashboards from SharePoint if you don’t have a more gourmet data layer or a database.

Do I have to use Microsoft to use Power BI?

No, you don’t have to use Microsoft to use Power BI. All you need to start using Power BI is a data layer–a collection of data–so you have metrics to manipulate and visualize.

Power BI works great with the Microsoft stack, which is why technology consultants like RookDM use it so often, but it’s not limited to Microsoft.

Power BI can be used with BigQuery, a Google product, Azure, and other similar software.

BigQuery, specifically, works great with Power BI because it’s not as mature nor as complicated as Microsoft’s stack.

Learn more about Power BI

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