What is Power BI
Power BI is Microsoft’s suite of business analytics tools that is cloud-based. It is the evolution of the Microsoft BI Stack beginning from on -premises solutions like SSRS and SharePoint to a cloud based data analytics service like Power BI.
It is easy to get started with Power BI and begin creating reports in a matter of minutes. You can sign up for a free account here. You do not need an Office 365 subscription or SharePoint Online to begin using Power BI.
Power BI vs Power BI Pro
Power BI has a paid version called Power BI Pro that has more features like higher data capacity limits and more frequent refresh intervals. To find out more on the differences between Power BI Pro and free accounts - Power BI Pricing
Power BI Desktop Vs Power BI Service
Authors can create reports using Power BI Desktop or Power BI Service using the browser. Power BI Desktop is a powerful data exploration and reporting tool that can be installed on your computer. It allows you to drag and drop visualizations onto the report canvas and allows you to publish reports to the cloud through the Power BI Service. Power BI Desktop cannot be used to create dashboards, but can be used for Data Modeling.
Power BI Service can be used to build reports and dashboards, but there is no data modeling functionality in the browser. Once a report is created in Power BI desktop, it can be published to the Power BI Service, where consumers can access the report or a dashboard on either a Browser, IPad, IPhone, Android or Windows 10 phone app.
Power BI Concepts
Here are few Power BI concepts that you should be aware of, before you start creating reports.
A Power BI Visual or Visualization allows you to interact with data to find business insights. Some examples of data visuals are charts, tables, matrices and KPI’s. Custom Visuals created by third Party vendors extend the capabilities of Power BI and are a powerful addition to Power BI’s feature set.
A DataSet is something you import or connect to. Power BI lets you connect to all kinds of data sources and bring them together. You can do a manual refresh or schedule a refresh of a Dataset.
A Power BI report is one or more pages of visualizations (charts, graphs and images). Report Visuals can be pinned to a dashboard and can contain content from a single dataset.
A Dashboard is a consolidated view of reports from different datasets. Dashboards can be shared and questions asked of the data using Natural Query Language.
Any report or Dashboard you create is saved to your personal workspace. To share reports and dashboards with a group of people, you can create a group workspace and add the report or dashboard to the workspace to begin collaborating with other members in the group.
Power BI is a powerful self-service data analysis tool that competes with Tableau and other Self Service Analytics Tools. The Power BI team releases new features every month. If you would like to keep up to date with the latest updates to Power BI, sign up for the Power BI Newsletter
Additional Resources: Power BI Guided Learning