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What is Power BI? Get Free Access Purchase this course

21 December 2018 · 593 views

Power BI Course

What is Power BI?

Before you start to learn about how to use Power BI, it’s important to understand what Power BI actually is. This free, 1-hour, demo-packed video from Chris Webb introduces Power BI in detail. Log-in or get a free account to watch it!

In the past, Microsoft used the brand name “Power BI” to describe its strategy of enhancing Excel’s BI functionality through the Power Query, Power Pivot, Power View and Power Map add-ins. However, today’s Power BI is significantly different (even though a lot of the same technology is used behind the scenes): it consists of Power BI Desktop, a desktop-based application for report design, and the Power BI cloud-based service. Excel is still an important part of the story, but the Power BI brand is not now used to describe Excel functionality.

Note that in the video I say that Reporting Servicesis the futureof Power BI on-premises. Since this was recorded Microsoft has named its on-premises Power BI server Power BI Report Server.It isbuilt on top of Reporting Services, and is a superset of Reporting Services functionality, but it is considred a distinct product.

The Power BI reporting lifecycle consists of several stages. After you have chosen whether to use Power BI Desktop or Excel to build your reports, you need to import data from your data sources. Some data sources will be easier to work with than others, and a data warehouse is still very useful to have as a place to store clean, conformed data. You’ll then need to model your data. This involves linking individual tables together using relationships, setting various properties that control how data behaves in your reports, and defining calculations. Finally, you publish your report to the Power BI cloud service.

One important question to ask at this stage is who in your organisation is going to be building reports. The term “self-service BI” is often used to describe scenarios where end-users build their own reports, but it can be used to mean several different things. In fact, all successful BI projects involve close collaboration between end-users and IT, where the skills of each group are used where appropriate.

In order to work with Power BI, you’ll need to download and install Power BI Desktop. If you want to use Excel, you’ll need to check which version, edition and bitness of Excel you have installed . You will also need a subscription to the Power BI cloud service and be aware of how the pricing and licensing works. For most purposes your users will need a Power Professional subscription.

Power BI is a fast-moving product and significant new features are released every week. This rapid change is a good thing, but it can be challenging to keep up with it!

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