Join Gini von Courter for an in-depth discussion in this video Overview: Power BI Concepts, part of Power BI Pro Essential Training.
- [Voiceover] Business intelligence isn't a new idea. At its simplest form, business intelligence is about connecting business decision-making to facts about the business; to really take a deep dive and understand what the data is underneath your business so that you're making better decisions. We'll start by getting some data from one or more sources. And particularly if we have multiple sources of data that we're tying together, we will create a model that expresses the relationships in the data. We'll then create visualizations: charts, tables, tiles, cards, and so on, that we can share with our colleagues.
And with all of that information summarized in a way that's helpful and useful, we'll be able to make better business decisions, as a team or as an organization. Until recently, business intelligence was all large-enterprise business intelligence and the players were big players: SAP and Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, and other large companies creating really large tools. So enterprise BI was the realm more of the IT professional than anyone else; and that meant that IT folks had to have a great understanding of what was happening with the business so that they could get the right data to create reports and visualizations that could then be shared with business managers and other end-users.
Really, the first alternative to this was Microsoft Excel; because Microsoft Excel allowed users to analyze data themselves for the first time, even if they had to take it offline. Excel is a popular business tool because so many people learn to use Excel to be able to get a better handle on the data in their department or in their functional area. Excel, then, is our step into self-service business intelligence. And the first version of Power BI was almost totally built in Excel and add-ins for Excel.
Microsoft has continued to evolve Power BI, so Power BI now has a new set of tools and it also has some core understandings of what we create and how the artifacts that we create are related. First, we will create datasets. Those are the models I referred to a moment ago. It could be all data from one source: one spreadsheet, one line of business system; or it could come from multiple places, and then we'd need to create a model. We'll use those datasets to create reports.
Don't think of reports as simply rows and rows of figures. Reports in Power BI can be amazing geospatial maps, different types of charts, and other visualizations. Those reports can't be shared directly. If we want to share the information in our reports, we'll take those reports and create dashboards. And again, this is very easy to do. We have a toolset that's growing. Currently what we have are four major Power BI tools; the first is the Power BI service.
And the Power BI service is web-based: powerbi.com. And for some users, the only tool they'll use is the Power BI service because the Power BI service allows users to manipulate visualizations and to use them to do a deeper analysis of business information. If you're an end-user, you may spend most of your time on powerbi.com. If you're a business analyst or a power-user, someone who wants to work robustly with the data in your organization, then you will probably be using Power BI Desktop or Power BI Desktop Pro which is a free download, software that sits on your computer and allows you to do the things that we previously did in Excel: to model our data and transform our data, and we can also create reports that we can then publish to the Power BI service.
There are apps, also, for free for Power BI mobile devices. And then finally there are a set of development tools that are beyond the scope of this particular course. Let's see how we'll use these tools for the core activities of business intelligence. First, we need to get data; and we can either do that using the Power BI service, which we will do at the beginning of the course, or we can use Power BI Desktop to obtain data.
Next, we might want to model the data; and particularly if we have data from multiple sources. Power BI Desktop is, in my opinion, the best place to do data-modeling because it gives us very powerful tools to be able to shape and transform our data. Creating visualizations and reports can really happen in either place. We'll usually create visualizations in Power BI Desktop; however, we can manipulate and view our visualizations in Power BI service as well, or powerbi.com.
And then finally, to share information with our team, we'll use the Power BI service. Even if we created our visualizations in Power BI Desktop or the pro version of that, Power BI Desktop Pro, we will still publish those to the Power BI service. And sharing can be either web-based in a browser or using the Power BI mobile apps. We've come a long way from business intelligence being run only at the enterprise level. Power BI has something in it for everyone.
For IT professionals, Power BI is a real win; because it means that they can spend their time focusing on providing data to the analysts who are going to use the data rather than creating reports or other functions that are more business functions, really, than they are IT functions. So Power BI allows IT professionals to focus on their core competencies: data protection, data security, and providing high-quality data to the business.
For business analysts, Power BI is a fabulous tool because it allows them to explore data and create reports and create dashboards for users that are very very powerful, without necessarily needing to crawl into the backend, the data side of things. And with Power BI Desktop Pro, they can pull together information that's coming from a number of different data sources and create really powerful robust data models that will be very useful within departments and across functional areas.
And for end-users, the win in Power BI is instant access to data in real time to be able to visualize data differently and learn more about the business, and also to be able to share their analyses with other members of their team. Whether you're an IT pro, a business analyst, or an end-user or power-user, Power BI has something to offer you. Let's get started.
- Signing up for Power BI Pro
- Connecting to data sources
- Uploading data such as CSV and XLS files
- Creating reports, visualizations, charts, and maps
- Filtering, sorting, copying, and pasting visualizations
- Downloading custom visuals from the gallery
- Modifying existing reports
- Creating and managing data dashboards
- Querying data with Power BI Q&A and Microsoft Cortana
- Sharing report and dashboards
- Using Power BI Desktop and mobile apps