A Modular Approach to BI
February 23, 2018
A Modular Approach to BI
Score 9 out of 10
Overall Satisfaction with Microsoft Power BI
Power BI is currently being used by several management level stakeholders within our company. We have built a management data mart in Amazon Redshift data warehousing infrastructure which powers all the dashboards built on Power BI. Important company level decisions are made based on the Microsoft Power BI dashboards. There were numerous reports floating around in emails and Excel sheets with a different data definition for each report before Microsoft Power BI was put in place. The dashboards provide C levels to make critical decisions and the live data capabilities in Microsoft Power BI provides us to make marketing campaign decisions swiftly.
- One of the most important features in Microsoft Power BI is its minimal learning curve required. excel proficiency would be enough to get even a non BI person to build powerful dashboards
- Powerpivot DAX functionalities are prevalent in Power BI which allows us to perform time series data manipulation. It also allows to
- Excel is versatile and Microsoft Power BI allows integration with office 365 and excel. Management often loves to view numbers on excel and with the help of plugins and publishing fixed pivot tables online, Microsoft Power Bi brings the functionality of excel to interactive dashboards.
- Multiple data source integration is quite powerful and robust.
- Microsoft Power BIis very modular if a functionality is missing a third-party app can be downloaded to fill the gap, this is particularly a powerful feature as not all tools can have all the features in place.
- Every month there are updates to the software and it allows for a free one year trial subscription
- The natural language query and machine learning support to analyze graphs and quickly summarize data is a fancy plus to have.
- The community is vast and open source communities are active to build apps and help to debug errors and aid in workarounds.
- The drilling functionalities on dimension allow the dashboards to be more interactive.
- The data can be manipulated step by step in the backend to arrange the data in the required format. Each step can be manipulated or isolated to achieve the desired result. Example Transform, Transpose, Reverse rows etc
- Dashboards are quite fast and interactive as the data is stored in the cloud in the backend instead of hitting the database
- It can connect to plenty of third-party online services to draw data like Google Analytics, Salesforce, and Sharepoint etc.
- One of the major drawbacks of Power BI is its inability to do incremental data loads effectively. The data needs to be refreshed in its entirety, consuming a lot of resources., even when the same data is required in multiple tables. The query is fired for each instance of the table.
- Lacks external input capabilities within the dashboard. There are no forms infrastructure to input and play around with the dashboard.
- Time-based KPIs need improvement and needs modeling and constant debugging is required to get DAX based functions right.
- The Q&A feature is far from being usable. The questions are often hard to put across.
- The pivot functionality is highly under-utilized. The excel pivot tables can make Microsoft Power BIi a very powerful tool to use.
- Hosting Microsoft Power BIi on portals akin to Tableau online is not available
- Minute details on formatting still needs to improve.
- Data level security and user group specification needs to improve
- On premise power bi report server are expensive option when compared to BI Tools
Power BI, Tableau, and QlikView are the market leaders when analyzed on Gartner`s magic quadrant for business intelligence tool. One of the critical drawbacks of all these visionary tools is the absence or expensive back end that are needed to support the infrastructure. Incremental data load is absent which is a critical requirement these days. PBI also lacks data level security and user group management compared to others. The learning curve in PBI is the least (because of excel and Powerpivot and exception of DAX) compared to other tools. PBI cannot be used for high data processing when compared to tools like Birst which has a robust backend to support the load.
Microsoft Power BI can connect to most prominent databases such as Amazon Redshift, MySQL, Oracle, Teradata etc. The live data streams are still not robust and face lags and breakdowns frequently especially with redshift. Power BI and excel go hand in hand and offer interoperability. Flat files and other text file sources can easily be connected. PBI distinguishes itself from other tools by connecting to online service apps like Salesforce, SharePoint, QuickBooks and other services.
Microsoft Power BI needs to develop a dedicated portal like Tableau Online to host different dashboards. All users need to login to access the dashboard, data level security needs to be implemented on a more robust scale. Downloading of data from the dashboard is difficult. PBI offers iframe code which can easily be hosted on an internal portal for everyone to access. However, the data needs to be public and if security is needed then we would have to implement SSO based security or any other form of security on our own (this will prevent logging in to PBI to view reports)
Power BI is a powerful tool for interactive dashboards and upon aggregated data sets if not using-premise infrastructures. All our management level dashboards are on powerbi. The third party apps are really helpful in forecasting, adding new viz, financial modelling and other analytical functions. When the organization depends extensively on Excel for anlaytics Microsoft Power BI would be the next best tool.Microsoft Power BI is not usefull when product level or lower level data is required for anlaysis and also in exporting or downloading data from hosted reports and dashboards. Blending data sources in powerbi is also a challenge.
Microsoft Power BI Feature Ratings
Using Microsoft Power BI
PBI is very easy to use because of its similarity with power pivot and excel. DAX is the basic foundation language to be mastered to quickly build reports. Custom measures have been introduce to write instant DAX functions (But doesnt work all the time and need a understanding of DAX to debug). Easy to chart multiple charts and also third party charts.
Like to use
Easy to use
Technical support not required
Quick to learn
Feel confident using
- Ability to perform Data manipulation on the backend to arrange data as per dashboard and reporting needs
- Import various data sources from online services especially third party data serivces like salesforce, GA etc
- Comparing plan numbers and budgeting and also installing third party modular apps to support advance analytics
- Input external data in a hosted dashboard
- Downloading sample data from the dashboard or easy sharing of a particular view or annotation
- Performing DAX based functions on time series and variance comparisons and making adjustment in viz.