Microsoft Power BI is a collection of business intelligence tools such as software services, apps and data connectors. Power BI has come all the way up from a niche player to a leader. However, many fail to understand that it is useful for not just data visualization. Here is an article that explains how many perceive Power BI and what are the features apart from data visualization.
Majority of the organizations across multiple industries recognize Power BI only as a visualization tool. The common misconception of Power BI as a front-end data visualization tool hinders the other capabilities. Consequently, it becomes too late to realize the full potential of Power BI. So, how can you experience the true capacity of Power BI? What are the features of Power BI, and not just data visualization? Read this article to know the answers.
How organizations act when it comes to Power BI?
Power BI is a full-stack BI platform. Many organizations don’t underestimate Power BI. They only consider Power BI a data visualization platform and a Tableau-compete tool. Normally, Power BI experts come at the end of business intelligence projects. But they should ideally start on Day 1 itself. Failing to do so may result in decrease of quality in data preparations and data modeling. And, hiring Power BI engineers who lack skills in data preparations and modeling can result in underestimating Power BI.
Power BI developers just keep doing what they know the best. They only focus on manual data crunching process and mesmerizing data visualizations. And, they would just know how to remove columns and do basic transformations using Power Query Editor. If you think this is the end of Power BI, then you would be mistaken.
Business decision makers and IT architects may be not completely aware of the data transformation capabilities (Power Query, M, Data Flows) and data modeling capabilities (DAX, Tabular) of Power BI. They may still prefer to drag and drop numerical columns to the values section of the visuals. The data transformation and data modeling competencies help to enable a data culture in the organization. Besides, it provides integrated self-service analytics and enterprise analytics.
Business managers generally feel that data modeling and features like Power Query should be focused by data engineers rather than data visualization experts. If a data visualization engineer would limit to just visualizations, then a strong data modeler would be necessary in the team. And, it is necessary to understand the Power BI involves not just data visualization.
Full-Stack BI with Power BI
Power BI can become a full-stack BI solution. This is because even though it is a single tool, it lets you carry out the key steps of business intelligence. And, Power BI will let you do almost everything that you can do using the traditional SQL Server toolkit. The below table enables you to compare Power BI with the SQL Server suite.
|Area||SQL Server Stack||Power BI|
|Data Load||SSIS||Power BI Query Editor|
|Data Modelling||SSAS||Power BI Query Editor|
|Metrics||SSAS||DAX / Power BI|
|Reporting||SSRS (Paginated & Mobile)||Power BI|
Power BI is integrated with Microsoft Excel. As a result, you can utilize Microsoft’s Query Editor to create queries and transform your data employing natural language. Further, you can create powerful data models using Power BI. And, the visualization tools from Power BI helps you to design stunning interactive reports.
Capabilities of Power BI – And, not just Data Visualization
Power BI consists of a set of tools to collect, prepare and interactively visualize and share data across your organization, in an optimal and secure way. Power BI caters to not just data visualization, the other main functionalities are Data Preparation, Data Transformation, and Data Modelling.
Self-service data preparation
Dataflows are leveraged to ingest, cleanse, transform, integrate, enrich, and schematize data from a large array of data sources. Business analysts can use dataflows in complex data preparation situations and create dataflows using Power Query.
Power BI Dataflows helps to integrate data from different sources and prepare the data for modeling. It can also be used to define data source connections, ETL logic, refresh schedules, and more. With dataflows, tasks that once required data scientists to oversee can now be handled with a few clicks by analysts and report creators.
The transformation capabilities in Power BI include: Pivoting/Unpivoting columns, replacing values, calculating derived columns, and filtering/summarizing rows. The basic options in transformations include column add/remove, data filtering, duplicate removal, change column data type, value replacement, joins and merges. Advanced options include pivot/unpivot data, transpose columns, term extraction, data format, normalize/denormalize data, functions (mathematical, statistical, aggregations), R scripts.
Power Query helps to transform and manage data inside Power BI. Based on M language, Power Query is optimized for flexible data mash-up queries. You can also perform advanced transformations using M code.
Power BI has multiple uses, but one of the most interesting of them is to model and shape data to make it easier for self-service BI. Power BI is a solution that includes data loading, data modelling, metrics, reporting and distribution. It can take the source data and perform in-process data modelling relatively easily as well as providing an easy to use and powerful user interface for analytics and reporting. It is the use of Power BI to model and shape data, that proves to be of most value to database professionals.
Microsoft Power BI is popular as a data visualization tool. And, many are beginning to realize that it serves not just data visualization. Check out our Power BI implementation and consulting services to know how we can help you in your Power BI projects. Request a FREE demo to learn more about how Power BI can help you in gaining business intelligence.