Microsoft Power BI: Tools, Pricing, Examples and More

Senior Business Analyst and BI Consultant, ScienceSoft

Published:
5 min read

Editor’s note: In the article, Maryna presents a structured overview of the Microsoft Power BI suite. Read on to learn how businesses can advance their decision-making with Power BI and feel free to check how ScienceSoft’s Power BI consulting services help our clients meet their business objectives.

Does any simple analysis require a lot of manual effort and several days of data crunching with Excel? Or maybe the rigidity of your data warehouse architecture hinders you from performing particular analytical tasks? As you are still reading this, I may venture to say that right now you are eagerly looking for a solution that would help you overcome the above-mentioned challenges. Well, make yourself comfortable, as I am going to tell you about how Microsoft Power BI can cure your pains and accelerate your business intelligence system.

What is Power BI?

power bi products

Power BI is a recognized leader among business intelligence platforms, which is constantly increasing its market share. Being a part of the Microsoft Business Intelligence (MSBI) suite, Power BI is a collection of applications and services, which helps companies import, aggregate and present corporate data in the form of immersive and easy-to-digest reports and visuals. It is flexible enough to fit in any data landscape: it can facilitate advanced analytical capabilities within days or even hours to complement a company’s DWH or work as an aggregation point for those companies who don’t want or cannot afford a DWH solution yet.

To satisfy your particular analytical needs, you may employ some or all of the following Microsoft Power BI products:

• Power BI Desktop

It’s a free Windows desktop application, which allows accessing multiple data sources, cleansing (with the special tool Power Query) and transforming data into a data model and visualizing it in the form of compelling reports.

• Power BI service

This online business analytics service helps users distribute reports, collaborate with colleagues in a workspace and administer business intelligence. The usual approach is to create reports with Power BI Desktop and then distribute them with Power BI service. A company can choose between two Power BI service versions – Power BI Pro and Power BI Premium.

I recommend Power BI Pro to those companies, which want to grant each employee the full range of self-service BI capabilities. With individual user licensing at $9.99/month, users can share and post personal reports and dashboards as well as read and interact with analytics that other users have published to the Power BI service. Power BI Pro is also available to Office 365 E5 users at no additional cost.

Businesses in need to process huge data sets and give access to a large number of viewers, I suggest opting for Power BI Premium. Unlike in Power BI Pro, pricing starts from $4,995/month with this version for the dedicated cloud compute and storage resources. To estimate how much Power BI Premium capacity you may need, feel free to resort to our Power BI consultants who will help you define it by taking into account the number of users, workload needs and other factors.

• Power BI Mobile

Power BI Mobile is a native mobile app for Windows, iOS and Android devices. It enables secure access to corporate data for those Power BI users who want to stay in the know anywhere and anytime.

• Power BI Report Server

If you need to keep all your data and reports on your own servers due to industry regulations, for example, you will have to employ Power BI Report Server. It is an on-premises solution for reporting, which is available through two different licenses – Power BI Premium or a separate SQL Server Enterprise Edition with Software Assurance.

Power BI pricing

Power BI Desktop Free
Power BI Pro $9.99/user/month or free for Office 365 E5 users
Power BI Premium Starts from $4.995/month for the dedicated cloud compute and storage resources with annual subscription
Power BI Mobile Free
Power BI Report Server Available through two different licenses - Power BI Premium or SQL Server Enterprise Edition with Software Assurance at no additional cost
Do you want to see how Power BI works?

Discover how Power BI turns data into meaningful stories to find answers for the most diverse business questions.

Power BI in use

power bi use cases

As a Microsoft Power BI Partner, ScienceSoft helps companies configure the Power BI suite for their particular needs, explore the full potential of Power BI and navigate them around Power BI limitations. Here, I would like to draw on ScienceSoft’s experience to show you how some Power BI capabilities work in different use cases.

• Data visualization

Power BI intuitive features and tools enable business users with no technical background to create simple reports and dashboards. However, if you want your reports to reflect more complex analysis, I highly recommend involving a business analyst. That way, the business analyst will create reports and dashboards of needed complexity and share them with business users who will be able to alter them slightly if required.

In our practice, we find this approach particularly effective: our business analysts develop a set of reports and dashboards so that our clients can modify them in the future to meet the ever-changing business requirements. In one of our projects, a number of Power BI reports and dashboards delivered by ScienceSoft’s team helped an international real estate developer gain deeper insight into their business and spot trends for new business opportunities.

• Secure data democratization

Power BI leverages row-level security to help companies create the data-driven culture company-wide with no risk of data being exposed to unauthorized users. And to ScienceSoft’s customers, who want to get greater control and visibility over Power BI content, I recommend Microsoft Cloud App Security. With its help, security administrators can monitor user activity and access, perform real-time risk analysis and set conditional access policies to avoid data breaches.

• Real-time data analytics and reporting

With advanced analytics and reporting capabilities of Power BI, companies can make dynamic decisions when conducting inventory management, task fulfillment, fraud detection, etc. In one of our projects, the dashboards and reports implemented for monitoring the working time of 25,000+ employees and tracking task fulfillment in real life allowed the machinery maintenance entity to improve HR and performance management.

Start your Power BI journey!

Consider this article to be a helper at mapping your business objectives to the Microsoft Power BI suite and the first step towards success in your Power BI endeavor. If you are not sure where to start your Power BI implementation or have doubts about the feasibility of Power BI integration into your business architecture, I am ready to share my opinion on your particular case, just let me know.

Do you need to get an expert opinion on Microsoft Power BI? Our consultants will analyze your current reporting capabilities and offer an optimal solution to meet your business needs.