What is Power BI? Top Features of Power BI


It is a natural tendency of a human brain to understand things better through visuals rather than plain text. The same data which is represented in the form of tables is better interpreted by the brain when that data is viewed in the form of charts or graphs. Moreover, you can memorize information depicted in attractive visuals more than what is written in text. Such representation of data in the form of graphs, maps, charts, and dashboards is called data visualization. People have been visualizing data since decades. But the reason it has gained so much popularity in recent years is because data visualization forms an important phase of the data science process.


Earlier, data was quite limited and could be visualized manually or through simple tools. Today, however, we are dealing with big data - roughly 2.5 quintillion bytes of data is generated each day. Evidently, traditional systems fail to visualize such massive amounts of data. There are powerful data visualization tools available in the market to address this problem. One of the top tools you will definitely come across is Microsoft Power BI. As it is designed by Microsoft, many companies have adopted this advanced tool to meet their data science needs.


This article gives an answer to the question - ‘What is Power BI?’ and what are its top features.

An Introduction to Power BI

As described in the Microsoft website, Power BI is a collection of software services, connectors, and applications that work together to transform the unrelenting sources of data into coherent, visually attractive, and interactive insights. The source of such data can be anything from an Excel spreadsheet or a collection of cloud-based and on-premises hybrid data warehouses. The connection to data sources is established easily with Power BI and users can visualize and identify trends and share them with anyone.


Basically, there are three elements that Power BI consists of:

        Power BI Desktop - a Windows desktop application

        Power BI service - an online SaaS cloud service (Software as a Service)

        Power BI mobile apps - designed for iOS, Windows, and Android devices


Beyond these three elements, there are two other features of Power BI:

        Power BI Report Builder - it is used in Power Bi service to create paginated reports.

        Power BI Report Server - an on-premise report server used to publish Power BI reports after their creation in Power BI desktop.


Power BI is suitable for professionals with a non-technical background as its user interface is quite intuitive for those who are familiar with MS Excel. This business intelligence platform is all you need for your data visualization needs. In fact, Power BI was declared a Leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence platform in 2021 (for the fourteenth consecutive year).

The Top Features of Power BI

Mentioned below are some of the top features of Power BI that have led to its huge adoption among enterprises and startups alike.

        Data connection - Power BI allows users to pull data from a variety of sources like Excel, text file, SQL, Microsoft Azure, pdf, csv, on-premise, or cloud. Irrespective of the source of data and its format, it is easy to visualize it through the use of Power BI.

        Integration with Excel - The Excel business data can be gathered, published, and shared with ease through Power BI. If a user is familiar with Office 365, they can comfortably connect data models, Excel queries, and reports to Power BI dashboards.

        Promotes user-driven innovation - The users who start using Power BI get weekly and monthly updates to the tool that improve its features and capabilities. These improvements are based on thousands of suggestions submitted by a community of over half a million worldwide members annually.

        Enhanced security - With Power BI, you can be sure that your business data is safe. Power BI uses Active Directory to set up access to the control panel. This means the organization can use different Microsoft solutions through this panel only. Access to different users is granted in a very controlled manner.

        Equipped with Artificial Intelligence - This platform allows users to access image recognition and text analytics, build machine learning models using automated machine learning capabilities and integrate them with Azure machine learning.

        Offers APIs -  Through this feature of Power BI, developers can use sample code and APIs (application performance interface) to embed the dashboards created in Power BI in other software products.

        Unified self-service and enterprise analytics - Through Power BI, you can meet both the self service and enterprise data analytics needs on a single platform. Moreover, you can access an open connectivity framework, powerful semantic models, pixel-perfect paginated reports, and an application lifecycle management toolkit.

Bottom Line

There is far more to Power BI than the features mentioned above. If you are looking for a career in data science, then knowledge of Power BI is quite advantageous. You can take an online Power BI course to become well-versed in using this business intelligence platform. It will help you explore many important Power BI concepts like desktop layouts, dashboards, BI reports, functions, and DAX commands. So get started today and stay ahead of your peers.







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