Power BI is an interactive data visualization software product developed by Microsoft with a primary focus on business intelligence. It is part of the Microsoft Power Platform. Power BI is a collection of software services, apps, and connectors that work together to turn unrelated sources of data into coherent, visually immersive, and interactive insights. Data may be input by reading directly from a database, webpage, or structured files such as spreadsheets, CSV, XML, and JSON.
Power BI Desktop
The Windows desktop-based application for PCs and desktops, primarily for designing and publishing reports to the Service.
Power BI Service
The SaaS-based (software as a service) online service. This was formerly known as Power BI for Office 365, now referred to as PowerBI.com, or simply Power BI.
Power BI Mobile Apps
The Power BI Mobile apps for Android and iOS devices, as well as for Windows phones and tablets.
Power BI Gateway
Gateways are used to sync external data in and out of Power BI and are required for automated refreshes. In Enterprise mode, can also be used by Power Automate (previously called Flows) and PowerApps in Office 365.
Power BI Embedded
Power BI REST API can be used to build dashboards and reports into the custom applications that serves Power BI users, as well as non-Power BI users.
Power BI Report Server
An on-premises Power BI reporting solution for companies that won’t or can’t store data in the cloud-based Power BI Service.
Power BI Premium
Capacity-based offering that includes flexibility to publish reports broadly across an enterprise, without requiring recipients to be licensed individually per user. Greater scale and performance than shared capacity in the Power BI Service
Power BI Visuals Marketplace
A marketplace of custom visuals and R-powered visuals. You can give life to your business data and take insight from this result.
Power BI Dataflow
A Power Query implementation in the cloud that can be used for data transformations to make a common Power BI Dataset that can be made available for several report developers through Microsoft’s Common Data Service. It can be used as an alternative to for example doing transformations in SSAS and may ensure that several report developers use data that has been transformed in a similar way.
Power BI Dataset
A Power BI Dataset can work as a collection of data for use in Power BI reports and can either be connected to or imported into a Power BI Report. A Dataset can be connected to and get its source data through one or more Dataflows.
Common uses of Power BI
Microsoft Power BI is used to find insights within an organization’s data. Power BI can help connect disparate data sets, transform and clean the data into a data model and create charts or graphs to provide visuals of the data. All of this can be shared with other Power BI users within the organization.
The data models created from Power BI can be used in several ways for organizations, including telling stories through charts and data visualizations and examining “what if” scenarios within the data. Power BI reports can also answer questions in real time and help with forecasting to make sure departments meet business metrics.
Power BI can also provide executive dashboards for administrators or managers, giving management more insight into how departments are doing.
Hybrid deployment support: This feature provides built-in connectors that allow Power BI tools to connect with a number of different data sources from Microsoft, Salesforce and other vendors.
Artificial Intelligence: Users can access image recognition and text analytics in Power BI, create machine learning models using automated machine learning capabilities and integrate with Azure Machine Learning.
Quick Insights: This feature allows users to create subsets of data and automatically apply analytics to that information.
Cortana integration: This feature, which is especially popular on mobile devices, allows users to verbally query data using natural language and access results, using Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant.
Customization: This feature allows developers to change the appearance of default visualization and reporting tools and import new tools into the platform.
Common data model support: Power BI’s support for the common data model allows the use of a standardized and extensible collection of data schemas (entities, attributes and relationships).
APIs for integration: This feature provides developers with sample code and application performance interfaces (APIs) for embedding the Power BI dashboard in other software products.
Self-service data preparation: Using Power Query, business analysts can ingest, transform, integrate and enrich big data into the Power BI web service. Ingested data can be shared across multiple Power BI models, reports and dashboards.
Modeling view: This allows users to divide complex data models by subject area into separate diagrams, multiselect objects and set common properties, view and modify properties in the properties pane, and set display folders for simpler consumption of complex data models.