Microsoft Power BI: Pros and Cons

Research and Markets suggests that the Global Business Intelligence and Analytics Software Market is poised to grow at a CAGR of around 7.1% to reach approximately $32.4 billion by 2025.

While there are many BI tools in the market, Microsoft Power BI happens to be one of the leading solutions that deliver insights to enable fast and well-informed decisions. Such is the reputation of Microsoft as a front runner in BI technology, that for 12 consecutive years now, Gartner has recognized Microsoft as a leader in analytics and business intelligence.

Power BI has a host of versatile features such as robust and interactive data visualization, data exploration – both on-premise and in the cloud, collaborative dashboards and built-in data governance and security. Although Power BI has a powerful portfolio of features and is one of the most popular tools in the market, it is important to assess if Microsoft Power BI is the right tool for YOUR business needs. In this article, we analyze the pros and cons of Microsoft Power BI in order to give you an absolutely objective understanding of what makes Power BI the tool it is.

Pros and Cons of Microsoft Power BI
THE PROS
Affordable Pricing

One of the major advantages of using Power BI for data analysis and visualization is that it is relatively affordable. To start with, there is a free, basic desktop version of Power BI that can be used to make reports and dashboards on your computer. In order to use advanced Power BI services and publish your reports on the cloud, you can opt for the Pro version – Power BI Cloud, for just $9.99 per user per month.

Easy Learning

Microsoft Power BI is designed to be handy even for the new users. It can be conveniently used without extensive prerequisite knowledge about BI tools. If the user has an average knowledge of Excel, making charts, graphs, and tables from a Power BI dataset can be quite simple. You can also use slicers which are essentially filters to focus your reports on specific data that meet the required criteria.

Frequent Updates

Microsoft releases monthly updates for Power BI and has a reputation for being responsive to feedback and insights provided by the user community. It is also easy for users to submit suggestions and rank them in order for developers to incorporate common requests into the subsequent releases. In the case of an available update, you receive a notification regarding the same when you open the Power BI application. Some of the most recent updates of Power BI included improved features in reporting, custom visuals, data connectivity and preparation.

Accessibility to Multiple Data Sources

Power BI can connect to multiple data sources and data sets, be it reading data from Microsoft Excel or text files such as XML and JSON. It can also accumulate data from BI tools like Google Analytics, Facebook and Salesforce at any given time. Power BI retrieves data from multiple sources and stores them as datasets in a centralized location for offline analysis. Power BI also supports integration with Microsoft Excel that allows the user to further analyse the data on a spreadsheet.

Innovations in Cloud & AI

Cloud and AI are some of the significant emerging trends in the BI market. And Microsoft has been making a massive push in both these fields and is emerging as a front runner in delivering modern business intelligence solutions. Microsoft’s Azure Synapse Analytics and Power Platform are great examples of the company’s commitment towards these emerging technologies.

Learn more: Power BI robots

Data Visualizations

Power BI has a powerful arsenal of visualization tools and widgets for effective comprehension of data. Visualizations are useful to analyse the underlying business dynamics and in turn arrive at business decisions. There is also an easy drag-and-drop functionality that helps you to add different visualizations to a report. Also, we can interact with visualization by applying filters, making selections in it, etc. It is very easy to create and understand data through visualizations in Power BI.

Power BI also has many types of graphs and charts and a single report can have multiple visualizations. In addition, Power BI integrates with Bing to provide default map coordinates when a map visualization is created. Map visualizations are useful to display quantitative information on a map, to show spatial patterns and relationships etc. A feature called ‘KPI Visuals’ helps convey the amount of progress made towards a measurable goal. All in all, Power BI is an excellent tool for creating data visualizations.

Multi-device Flexibility

Power BI is available on multiple devices – you can use it offline on the desktop or mobile as well as access it as a web-based tool from a browser. This gives an ease of access to the managers and other members of the organization to access and view reports on the go.

THE CONS
Limitations for Data Handling (Free Versions Only)

In the free version of Power BI, the volume of data that can be processed at a time, is limited to about 2GB. If you happen to hit the data limit, you are required to upgrade to the paid version of Power BI in order to continue. However, since the Pro version is affordably priced ($9.99 per user per month), it is a good investment that offers a plethora of useful features at this price point.

Another concern that users have is the lag experienced in the free version when working with a large amount of data. The user feedback suggests that the tool tends to falter and takes a longer time to ingest the large number of rows and columns. However, since Microsoft rolls out updates at regular intervals, this issue will be solved pretty soon.

Needs Some Knowledge of Excel

If your organization doesn’t use Excel or any other Microsoft applications actively, understanding and adopting Power BI can take couple of days till there is familiarity with the user interface..

The User Interface

Power BI has a user interface that is considered a little cluttered by some of its users. This opinion could be due to the interface having too many icons, in turn obscuring the dashboard and the report itself from view. Since this has been a common pain-point brought up in the feedback section, Microsoft has worked on it to make the UX experience a better one for the Power BI users and it keeps updating the UX in each release.

Limited Modification of Visuals

Although the visualizations on Power BI are attractive, there are a limited number of options in which you can configure or modify the visualizations to suit your needs. There are no code custom visual solutions available which can eliminate this concern altogether.

Conclusion

If you were to look at Power BI’s strengths as opposed to its weaknesses, the former far outweigh the latter. This could very well be the reason why Microsoft Power BI is one of the most venerable BI tools in the global market. If you’re already a Microsoft customer and using Office 365, Azure etc. Power BI should be an obvious choice for you.

In a time when enterprises are considering new and innovative ways to analyze data and glean valuable insights, a modern business intelligence solution like Microsoft Power BI is key. It helps deal with the challenges of traditional BI solutions, helping your organization make insight-driven and well-informed decisions.  Offered at an affordable price with a versatile portfolio of features, coupled with its cloud capabilities, Power BI is a great tool for any enterprise, irrespective of their domain or size.

Acuvate is a Microsoft Gold partner and has helped several medium and large organizations deploy and adopt Power BI. We analyze the needs of your enterprise in order to build a custom Power BI solution for you. If you’re still unsure whether Power BI fits your needs, please feel free to get in touch with one of our Microsoft experts for a personalized consultation.

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