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Getting Started with Microsoft Power BI

Updated: Jul 28, 2021

Microsoft Power BI Dashboard

What is Microsoft Power BI? According to Microsoft, Power BI transforms your company's data into rich visuals for you to collect and organize so you can focus on what matters to you. Power BI is available in a desktop version or a web version and for this blog post we will be using the web version.

Who is Power BI for? There is really no correct answer for this because people from all different job roles can find it useful. Whether you are an executive of a fortune 100 company or are the only employee for your home-based business, Power BI can benefit you. Let me give you a few examples:

Example 1: Let's say you are a Chief Marketing Officer for a fortune 100 manufacturing company. You would want to create a dashboard to keep an eye on the industry and the company's market share, product volume, sales, and sentiment.

Example 2: You've started a part-time home based web business that sells your 10 year old daughters hand-crafted jewelry. Things are going well and you've decided it's time to invest a little bit more into the company. Being a web based business Google Analytics plays a key role in all of your decisions. You would want to link google analytics to your Power BI so you could have what you feel is more important right at your fingertips.

How does one go about setting up a Power BI and how much does it cost? The web based version of Power BI is really easy to set up. All you need is a Microsoft account (free to sign up) and then use this login information to sign into Microsoft Online (also free to sign in) and you are ready to begin using Microsoft Power BI.

The cost of Microsoft Power BI is as follows:

Power BI license comparison chart

Power BI license comparison chart

Power BI license comparison chart

Ok, you've signed up for either the free or paid account for Microsoft Power BI now what's next? Start by clicking the Get Data button at the bottom left of your screen

Power BI Dashboard

This will bring you to a page that gives you four choices of how you choose to get your data. These four choices are:

  • My organization

  • Browse content packs that other people in your organization have published.

  • Services

  • Choose content packs from online services that you use.

  • Files

  • Bring in your reports, workbooks, or data from Excel, Power BI Desktop or CSV files.

  • Databases

  • Connect to live data in Azure SQL Database and more.

Personally, I started with the Services option. This brought me to a page that allowed me to connect easily with software like Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Google Analytics, Project Madeira, and a whole lot more.

Power BI Content Packs

This is a great starting point as I was able to see information right away from these softwares and begin to drill down and create and edit dashboards of information that I needed. Once this was finished I needed to upload some digital marketing information that I kept on excel spreadsheets. I clicked the Get Data button again and then clicked Files and uploaded my information. Here's a quick tip if you are uploading information from Excel. Your information contained in the spreadsheet must be formatted into a table. All you have to do for this to happen is to press ctrl + a to select all and then ctrl + T to create a table. Save this new excel table and then upload it into power BI.

After uploading the new dataset into Power BI click it and you now have the ability to create custom visual reports from that data set.

Power BI Dashboard

In the above picture you will see my datasets on the right. If you click one of them a chart is automatically updated to the screen if your dataset contains information. From here you can go under visualizations and change the type of chart you want, colors, filters, and a bunch of other things.

When you are finished make sure to save your work because this automatically creates a report. Once you create a report then you are able to pin which charts, graphs, etc. you'd like to your dashboard by clicking the little pin that appears when you hover over each chart, graph, etc.

Power BI Dashboard

After you pin your items to the dashboard and then visit your dashboard you will see a wonderful visualization of your data represented.

Power BI Dashboard

But the fun doesn't stop there. Once you have everything you'd like pinned to your dashboard you can then customize the layout. You can pick and choose what goes where, how big or small the block is, whether you want to add a video or company logo, titles, and a lot of other things. Microsoft Power BI is very robust.

And there you have it! That's all that there is to begin to using Microsoft Power BI. Let me know in the comments section below what your thoughts are on Power BI after you've begun using it.

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