The business intelligence, or BI, space is a crowded market that’s why most people are also confused about what is Power BI. In line with that, there are many viable solutions that can meet an organization’s needs. Each solution represents its vendor’s unique approach to BI. Some vendors focus on smaller businesses while others focus on large enterprises.
Moreover, some are adept at the data organization and manipulation side, and others shine on the reporting end. According to a highly regarded research and advisory firm, Forrester, Microsoft’s PBI platform is the number one solution for BI.
In addition to that, Forrester releases quarterly assessments called the Forrester WaveTM that analyze various industries and rank their top players. On July 29, 2019, Forrester released its Enterprise BI Platforms (Vendor-Managed) Forrester Wave, and determined Microsoft Power BI to have the strongest offering in the market and the largest market presence.
Other notable platforms included (in no particular order): TIBCO Software, Salesforce, Oracle, Sisense, and Tableau Software. So what is PowerBI, and what makes it the market leader in BI?
In Microsoft’s own words, PBI is, “a business analytics solution that lets you visualize your data and share insights across your organization or embed them in your app or website.” Essentially, Power BI is a collection of products and services bundled into one platform. Its product offerings cater to businesses from small to enterprise and technical and non-technical users. Let’s start with the core product: Power BI Desktop.
Power BI Desktop is a free application from Microsoft. It’s made for a single user––particularly an analyst with some technical proficiency––to build a report from scratch. It has three components.
The first is to connect to your data, which includes the ability to pull from a variety of sources such as an Azure SQL database or an Excel spreadsheet. The next component is for data modeling. Organize, structure, and transform your connected data to prepare it for the final component––visualization.
This is the report builder that automatically links to your data model. Use the drag and drop interface to create a simple, single report or a sophisticated dashboard. Once you’re satisfied with the report, you’re ready to share it with the rest of your team or organization with Power BI Report Server.
PBI Report Server is a paid service that let’s Power BI users publish and distribute their reports. On the server, you can organize reports and manage who has access to each report. It also lets you share reports with others outside of your organization as well. You can give controlled web access and distribute your reports across mobile devices, so they can be viewed on the go.
It can be upgraded to PBI Premium for big enterprises that require large deployments and resource-intensive workloads.
Power BI Mobile is a free native mobile app available for Android and iOS, including the Apple Watch. Once a report is created and published with PBI Desktop, you can view it on your mobile device, so you can stay up to date on your business from anywhere.
Further, it has the functionality to annotate reports with your touch-enabled screen and share your new insights with your team. You can also configure the app to receive push notifications for personal data alerts.
With PBI Embedded, you can seamlessly integrate Power BI into your custom applications. It is a complete solution that gives software developers the tools to take any PBI report and embed it anywhere into your application.
This way, you can leverage the work you’ve already done with PBI and create customer-facing reports and dashboards without having to build and maintain them from scratch.
By dividing its platform into distinct products, Microsoft Power BI makes it simple and easy for a new user to quickly test the waters with Power BI Desktop while providing the full bevy of features, functionality, and resources through its other products to dedicated and power heavy users.
It has become the top market leader for BI solutions and is continuing to grow and strengthen its platform. The next time you consider a BI vendor, make sure Microsoft is at the top of your list.