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Power BI

Simple, Straightforward, and Jargon-Free Answers

What Is Power BI?

CONTENTS
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Power BI

What Tools Make up Power BI?


Power Query
Power Pivot
Power View
Power Map
Power BI Sites
Power BI Q&A

5
7
10
16
17
18
19

How Much Does Power BI Cost?

20

How Does Power BI Stack up


against the Competition?

21

How Will Power BI Fit within a


Broader BI Strategy?

26

Resources

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Power BI

is part of Microsoft Oce


365s Enterprise oerings. It marks the latest
development in two important and ongoing
trends in business intelligence. The rst is the
move toward self-service, which means
whether youre an analyst, a CIO, or a
marketer youll be able to pull up the metrics
you need on your own, without having to
involve a BI expert or someone from IT. The
second is the growing reach of Big Data,
which involves the collection and processing
of massive amounts of information. Big Data
analyses are often performed on information
from disparate sources, originally recorded
for a variety of purposes that dont
necessarily have anything to do with
providing business insights.

What Is Power BI?

POWER BI |

With Big Data, you could, for instance, investigate


trends in search engine queries to get a sense of what
products people are interested in. Or you can
compare stock performances for various industries
over a given period of time. But of course youll also
want to understand how your own business is
operating in as ne of detail as possible. The idea is
that youll be able to apply the insights that emerge
from these analyses to your plans for where to take
your business in the future.

What Is Power BI?

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Power BI

is actually not any one tool, but


a suite of tools. You get access to the entire
Power BI lineup with a subscription to the E3
or E4 versions of Microsoft Oce 365, but
many of the tools are available as add-ons to
Excel 2010 or 2013. The technologies
underlying Power BI make it possible for
users without much technical background to
create reports and graphs based on data from
a wide array of sourcesboth internal and
external to their organizations.

What Is Power BI?

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A
&

Power BI

also allows great freedom in tailoring analyses and


visuals to answer whatever questions most need answering, in whatever
way is the easiest for report consumers to grasp. You can then share
those reports on team or department sites, manage who can edit or
update them, and present them with interactive graphs and charts,
including dynamic 3-D maps. You can even simply type in a question
with Power BIs Q&A feature and get an answer in graph form.

What Is Power BI?

POWER BI |

POWER QUERY

Were going to describe the tools as youd use them


sequentially, from gathering and combining the data, to
modeling and analyzing it, to visualizing it, onto sharing and
managing access to reports. So rst

Power Query
This is the tool you use to gather the data. Its
probably best suited to be used by analysts or
data scientists simply because theyll better
understand what information from various
sources means and how it needs to be structured
for meaningful comparisons. But Power Query is
actually easy enough to use that with a little
instruction just about anyone can make a good
start at picking it up. Its available through Excel
2013, but there are some added sharing and
management features you get with a Power BI in
Oce 365 subscription.

What Tools Make Up Power BI?

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Power Query

starts with what youll


probably recognize as an Excel Spreadsheet,
but it has a lot more features and controls. The
main benet of Power Query, though, is how
easy it is to import data from just about any
source into the elds. Whether you need
metrics on the performance of various stocks
as listed on Wikipedia tables or seasonal sales
gures from one of your companys own
SharePoint lists, Power Query makes data
entry as simple as point and click. You can also
merge data from dierent sources and
structure it to be compatible with whatever
format youre using.

What Tools Make Up Power BI?

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With Power Query, you can pull data into a


spreadsheet from any of the following sources:
Web page, Excel or CSV le, XML le, Text le,
Folder, SQL Server database, Microsoft Azure,
SQL Database, Access database, Oracle
database, IBM DB2 database, MySQL database,
PostgreSQL Database, Sybase Database,
Teradata Database, SharePoint List, OData feed,
Microsoft Azure Marketplace, Hadoop File
(HDFS), Microsoft Azure HDInsight, Microsoft
Azure Table Storage, Active Directory, Microsoft
Exchange, Facebook, and a subset of Data.gov

What Tools Make Up Power BI?

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Power Pivot
This is the tool you use to analyze the data. Now that youve
uploaded all the data with Power Query, its time to see
what kinds of comparisons, correlations, and trends will
allow you to derive meaningful insights from that
information. Power Pivot is another tool that can be added
on to Excel 2013 (or SharePoint 2013), and it will be used
primarily by BI experts and data analysts, though again with
some practice just about anyone can learn how to use it.
Power Pivot allows you to work with tools like the following:

POWER PIVOT

What Tools Make Up Power BI?

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Data Models
These are what you create with all the information you
gathered in Power Query. Familiar to anyone with
experience using Excel, you can think of a Data Model as an
abstraction from the basic bits of information. Using the
same collection of elds, you can potentially create several
dierent abstractions depending on what kind of insights
youre looking for, and they would all be equally accurate.
What the model looks like will be determined by the
relationships you choose to highlight and the operations
you choose to perform.

What Tools Make Up Power BI?

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Relationships
These allow you to dene how columns from dierent
tables with similar or identical data should be interpreted in
the context of each of the tables. You may, for instance,
have a column specifying the names of companies in two
dierent tables, one to show monthly earnings and other to
show annual earnings. With Power Pivot you can draw a
line and highlight the relationship to make reports based
on data from these columns easier to interpret.

What Tools Make Up Power BI?

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Data Analysis Expressions (DAX)


These are formulas that will be performed automatically by the
Data Model, and the products of these operations will appear
in the display. DAXs can be as simple as adding two elds and
showing the sum in a third. Or they can do much more
complicated operations incorporating several more variables.

What Tools Make Up Power BI?

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Hierarchies
This is when one eld or category exists within a larger
category. Medical device manufacturers, for instance, are
part of the more general healthcare industry. By creating
hierarchies in your Data Model, you make it possible for
people who view the report to zoom in or out, so they can
compare trends at varying levels of generality and specicity,
to see whats driving them or where they may be headed.

What Tools Make Up Power BI?


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Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)


These are the metrics that are most closely tied to your
business goals. So youll obviously want to highlight them in
your models to track all the factors that have a positive or
negative impact on them.

What Tools Make Up Power BI?


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Power View
This is what you use to turn your tables full of numbers into
graphs that can be understood at a glance. With a little
instruction and practice, pretty much anyone will be able to
read and interact with Power View reports. Another Excel 2013
add-on, Power View lets you present data in whatever way is
best suited to the question you need to answer, from bar
graphs and pie charts to trend lines and scatter plots. And the
displays can be interactive, so, for instance, you can click on a
table representing a hierarchical category and drill down into
the subcategories within it.

What Tools Make Up Power BI?


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Power Map
If your data is tied to source locations, you can present it on a
3-D dynamic map. Power Map reports are also easy for people
who arent necessarily data experts to interpret, and this tool
as well comes as an add-on for Excel 2013. Power Map is
usually the Power BI tool that gets the most oohs and aahs
when we do presentations. You can show trends developing
over time, use the mouse to pan, and zoom in or out.

What Tools Make Up Power BI?

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Power BI Sites
Since the queries and tables and workbooks you create will
likely be of value to other people in your company, and since
theyre easy to work with, youll want to make them accessible
to your coworkers. Power BI Sites are similar to sites in
SharePoint in that you can set one up for each department or
team that may need to use a common online dashboard and
storage cache. Anyone who needs the information on one of
your reports can then access it on the Power BI Site. You can
even collaborate with each other in creating, editing, or
updating the report. Youll need at least an E3 subscription to
Oce 365 to access Power BI Sites.

What Tools Make Up Power BI?

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Power BI Q&A
Another tool only accessible with E3 and E4 Oce 365
subscriptions, this is the ultimate in self-service business
intelligence. You can use Power BI Q&A even if youve never
even seen an Excel Spreadsheet before. All you have to do is
type in a question and youll get a graph formatted to make to
make the answer as easy to grasp as possible.

What Tools Make Up Power BI?

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You can get the Excel tools (Powers Query, Pivot, View, and Map) with
an Oce 365 Midsize Business subscription for $15.00 per user per
month. For a company with 60 employees, that works out to $900 a
month, or $10,800 a year. You can also get Excel 2013 with Oce 365
Pro Plus for $12 per user per month. Thats $720 a month for 60
employees, ($8,640 per year).
To get Power BIs full capabilities though (with Sites, Q&A, Data
Management, and the Windows Store App to take Power BI mobile),
you need an E3 or E4 Oce 365 subscription. E3 is $20 per user per
month, or $1,200 a month for 60 employees ($14,400 a year). E4 is $22
per user per month, $1,320 a month for 60 employees ($15,840 a year).
Check for deals and pricing updates here:
http://oce.microsoft.com/en-us/business/compare-all-oce-365-for-busin
ess-plans-FX104051403.aspx

How Much Does Power BI Cost?

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Tableau Desktop is Power BIs most attractive alternative.


Both Tableau and Microsoft hold prominent places in
Gartner Researchs 2014 Magic Quadrant Leadership Sector
for business intelligence. According to Ken Raetz, Manager
of Business Intelligence Services at LBMC Technologies,
Tableaus very rich visualization capabilities are far superior
to that of Excel and Power BI. But, he points out, Power BI
will be much less expensive for most users. If you own Excel
2010 or 2013, Raetz explains, you can download the
functionality for free. And more often than not, the
visualization capabilities of Excel are quite good enough.

How Does Power BI stack up


against the Competition?

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Raetz goes on to say:

Another reason we selected Power BI is the shallow


learning curve for users, compared to Tableau and
other similar solutions. Excel is very familiar to
most data analysts and nance/accounting teams. It
is a comfortable environment on which to add
powerful analytic capabilities.
How Does Power BI stack up
against the Competition?

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In another review, Brandy Craig, a BI Consultant at Matisia


Consultants says: I'm glad to leave a maintainable solution in the
hands of my client, and Power BI is the only BI Development tool
that does ETL, Data Models, Drag and Drop report building, Pivot
Tables, and more in an environment that's well known.
Craig goes to say, If you haven't seen the demos online, do a
search, and see for yourself - this is a great BI suite! (I do not work
for Microsoft, although I do consult out there from time to time. I
do occasionally make a recommendation for a dierent BI
reporting tool, but in general, nd Excel can accomplish quite a bit
for less money and in less time.)

How Does Power BI stack up


against the Competition?

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Rob Kerr, a BI expert with business analytics rm Blue Granite,


explains why Power BI will be appealing to many companies:

How Does Power BI stack up


against the Competition?

Power BI will be a quick win with customers


who need big company BI without the capital
investment and complexity that accompanies
it. Other customers will initially resist moving
their BI systems to Microsofts cloud for a
variety of reasons

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While Power BIs SaaS strategy will postpone adoption for some
customers, its the right one for Microsoft and its customers. Why?
Reduced Complexity. Power BI will be compelling primarily because
of the array of integrated functionality it provides. Provisioning such
a comprehensive system on-premises would take most customers
weeks or months. As with Oce 365 and Windows Azure, Power BI
instances will deploy in days, not weeks, and future infrastructure
upgrades will be left to Microsoft, freeing in-house resources to
worry only about the application layer

How Does Power BI stack up


against the Competition?

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Pace of Evolution. The BI/Data Analytics space is rapidly changing.


Mobility, Big Data and traditional Business Intelligence are quickly
merging to create a new kind of insight & analytics landscape.
Cloud-based systems can iterate and improve faster than traditional
on-premises alternatives. Ultimately, adopting a cloud-deployed
system will benet customers by providing more modern, up-to-date
systems that keep up with their evolving BI/Analytics needs.
Broadened Adoption. By removing the need to make large up-front
infrastructure investments, Power BI will make the decision to use
the technology much easier for more customers--ultimately
broadening adoption of advanced BI capabilities.

How Does Power BI stack up


against the Competition?

POWER BI

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How Will Power BI Fit within


a Broader BI Strategy?
Power BI is seductive. Once you get your hands on the controls, its easy to
start to feel like you have an entire world of data at your ngertips and that its
all yours to sift through for insights relevant to your business decisions. But, as
youre plugging in to diverse data sources, structuring tables and relationships,
building models, drawing up graphs, and creating dynamic presentations, you
need to keep in mind two crucial questions:
How reliable is this data?
What does the data mean in the context of our business goals?
You could do an analysis of Facebook comments, for instance, and come away
thinking people have a generally favorable view of your product. But then you
have to ask how favorable is being dened. And you also have to ask if
Facebook commenters are representative of your target customers. If they are,
you still have to ask how you can use this information about their favorable
views to make further progress toward your goals.

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So you do have detract a bit of marketing hype from the videos and other
materials you come across when researching Power BI. In and of itself, Power BI
really cant stand in place of a comprehensive business intelligence strategy.
Power BI is a spectacular tool set for collating, modeling, and visualizing
databut you need to have a reliable process in place for recording meaningful
data in the rst place. One of the best things about Power BI is that it allows you
to pull in information from a wider array of sources than ever before, but not all
information is gathered using the same methods, denitions, samples, etc.
So the farther aeld you go to get your data, the more provisional you should
consider any conclusions derived from it. And most of the information youll be
relying on will be internal to your organization. This means you have to have a
way to generate the data before you can use any tools, however powerful, to
analyze it. And you need a way to make sure the data is clean and not duplicated,
unusable, or contaminated with extraneous or unreadable bits of information.
(Raw data can be dangerous.)

How Will Power BI Fit within


a Broader BI Strategy?
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A more holistic view of business intelligence follows steps such as:


Setting business goals
Identifying key performance indicators relating to those goals
Establishing procedures and putting in place mechanisms for recording
and storing data on those indicators
Creating regular processes for collecting, reporting, and sharing this data
(This is the step where Power BI is most helpful)
Scheduling meetings of decision-makers to discuss the reports, interpret
them in the context of your business goals, and determine the
implications for the broader business strategy
Bottom line: Power BI is a great tool, but its no substitute for a comprehensive BI solution.

How Will Power BI Fit within


a Broader BI Strategy?

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Power BI for Oce 365 Overview and Learning:

http://oce.microsoft.com/en-us/oce365-sharepoint-online-enterprise-help/power-bi-for-oce-365-overviewand-learning-HA104103581.aspx

Power BI Getting Started Guide:

http://oce.microsoft.com/en-us/oce365-sharepoint-online-enterprise-help/power-bi-getting-started-guide-HA
104103589.aspx?CTT=5&origin=HA104103581

Power BI: Self-Service Business Intelligence Archived


Webinar, with Aaron Crouch:
http://landing.apterainc.com/power-bi-self-service-business-intelligence-archive

Power BI For Oce 365 Reviews and Ratings,


TrustRadius:
http://www.trustradius.com/products/power-bi-oce365/reviews

Power BI
Simple, Straightforward, and Jargon-Free Answers
POWER BI |

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Is Microsoft Power BI a Game Changer? by Rob Kerr at


Blue Granite:
http://www.blue-granite.com/blog/bid/322825/Is-Microsoft-Power-BI-a-Game-Changer

Oce 365 Business Pricing Table:

http://oce.microsoft.com/en-us/business/compare-all-oce-365-for-business-plans-FX104051403.aspx

Oce 365 Pro Plus:

http://oce.microsoft.com/en-us/business/oce-365-proplus-business-software-FX103213513.aspx

Power BI
Simple, Straightforward, and Jargon-Free Answers
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ABOUT APTERA
With oces in Fort Wayne, IN, and Nashville, TN, Aptera is home to one of the most
talented software and web design teams in the country. Since its founding in 2003,
the Aptera team has grown from a two-man operation to an organization with over
seventy employees serving businesses all over the country. A Microsoft Gold
Certied Managed Partner, Apteras team has experts in SharePoint, Business
Intelligence, .NET Development, Cloud Computing, Microsoft Lync, and more. Were
equipped to step in at any stage of your businesss project, from analyzing
workows and installing data-tracking modules to building custom software or a
new web site, and from optimizing your search rankings to moving you into the
cloud. We believe the key to our success has been hiring excellent people, giving
them the resources they need, and encouraging them to treat every project as the
basis for a lasting partnership.
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