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Microsoft BI OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

Microsoft BI is #1 ranked solution in top Business Intelligence Tools and top Reporting Tools. PeerSpot users give Microsoft BI an average rating of 8 out of 10. Microsoft BI is most commonly compared to Tableau: Microsoft BI vs Tableau. Microsoft BI is popular among the large enterprise segment, accounting for 68% of users researching this solution on PeerSpot. The top industry researching this solution are professionals from a computer software company, accounting for 20% of all views.
Microsoft BI Buyer's Guide

Download the Microsoft BI Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: June 2022

What is Microsoft BI?

Microsoft BI is a business intelligence solution that turns data into insightful and useful business information that is relevant to all levels of the business.

Microsoft BI combines familiar Microsoft tools - Office, SharePoint, and SQL server, with extra features for end-users, such as Power View and Power Pivot. This powerful product gives businesses a competitive advantage by allowing end-users to better analyze their data, collaborate and better present their data.

Microsoft BI was previously known as SSRS, SSAS, MSBI, MS Reporting Services, Power BI, Microsoft BI Tools, Microsoft Big Data, Power BI Pro, MS BI.

Microsoft BI Customers

Konica Minolta, Klout, Mahindra Satyam, The Weather Channel, Argus, Credit Suisse, NCR, and Sysmex.

Microsoft BI Video

Microsoft BI Pricing Advice

What users are saying about Microsoft BI pricing:
  • "Pricing is a big advantage that Power BI has over Tableau. Power BI is three or four times cheaper than Tableau. For my personal use, I will definitely prefer a $20 monthly fee of Power BI rather than a $70 monthly fee of Tableau. If you pay altogether for Power BI, they give you a discount, whereas, with Tableau, there is no discount. There are three versions of Power BI: Free, Pro, and Premium. The Premium version comes with a lot of things. There is no extra or hidden fee. You pay every month, and the software is with you. If you upgrade, there will be some extra charges."
  • "For my primary use case, i.e. teaching students, the free version of Power BI is adequate."
  • "All of the licenses are on an annual basis, but Microsoft will amortize it to an extent. If it's five years, they'll include the possible interest they might have the following year. Ideally, their licensing scheme is an annual license, but they make it easier for some of our clients to take a five-year license but package everything inside for them to buy the license for five years."
  • "Setup is easy, and the cost is economical. You do sometimes need to pay additional costs for third party products which "plug-in" to Microsoft BI."
  • "Its price is very low. It is like $10 per user, per month. The clients pay for their own licenses. It is not on us. There are no costs in addition to the standard licensing fees. That's the beauty. With other systems, you need to spend a couple of thousand dollars just to get started, and then you need to spend $500 per year for the license, which becomes much more costly. You have a system here where for $120 to $140 a year, you can start with two people and start developing and deploying. You can see why the cost difference is huge, especially when you are on a low scale, like us, and you're not building something very huge."
  • "We pay on a monthly basis which is approximately $10 per user on the Microsoft Power BI Pro license. At the moment we are still down at 400 users, but once we reach 500 users, we will move to the premium edition. The premium is $5,000 for unlimited users. Currently, with the 40 users, the cost is roughly $500."
  • "If it has to be applied on the cloud, then it costs around $10 per month per user. For a pro license and for a premium license it's around $20 per month per user. If it has to be applied on-premises then, depending on the course of your server, you have to buy a software assurance version of the database."
  • Microsoft BI Reviews

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    Tariq Raza (MS Certified) - PeerSpot reviewer
    Operations & BI Analyst at American Hospital Dubai
    Real User
    Top 5
    A complete ecosystem with an builtin ETL tool, good integrations with python and R, and support of DAX and Power Query (M languages)
    Pros and Cons
    • "Power BI is a complete ecosystem. It has an integrated ETL tool and good connectivity with applications such as Office 365 and SQL. There are also solutions for RPA, such as Microsoft Power Automate and Microsoft Power Apps. Power BI now has integration with Power Query, which has an AI feature for text analytics. Text analytics is a very good feature. This feature is also there in Tableau, but I like it in Power BI because you can write something like, "What is the total sale in the Eastern region?", and it will give you the answer. For example, when you have different types of user opinions, you just run one algorithm and you will have the output that provides the number of positive and negative responses. You can even have a dashboard with positive remarks. This feature has been introduced recently. Power BI supports the DAX and Power Query M languages. These languages are making Power BI very strong in data analytics, and you can do many types of analysis."
    • "It should be more user-friendly. There are very small or tiny icons that you need to move very carefully. If you go a little bit up and down, some of the values change. Its user interface should be improved. It should be like Tableau. Its performance is also slow and should be improved. I definitely feel some sort of speed issues with Power BI. The integration of Excel with Power BI would also be good."

    What is our primary use case?

    I am currently using it for my professional and training use. I am using the Power BI Premium per user recent scheme announced by Microsoft. In my current company, we are using Tableau.

    What is most valuable?

    I’m going to go cover my TOP 5 Features for getting you started on your own visualisations so you can be up and running and leveraging Power BI within your own business in no time at all. Power BI Desktop Sure you probably want to build some beautiful and interactive reports and dashboards to share all those insights from your data with your business, but perhaps lacking the experience that report designers, data queries specialists or Excel Power Users have? Well now all your end users can easily access data and build their own reports using a simple yet powerful interface, Power BI Desktop. Power BI Desktop is a free download which provides an excellent canvas for creating your own masterpiece’s or perhaps just a simple report or dashboard tile. Power BI Desktop with its monthly release cycle is constantly evolving with newly added features or enhancements that can ‘bring data alive’ often in just a few minutes or hours. Visibility Data is arguably one of most precious resource that businesses are generating today. The key aim to be able to manipulate and easily combine this valuable data with other datasets, and then have a simple way to gain a deeper understanding of their business. With data often residing across multiple systems and formats, a valuable resource that businesses need is to be able to collate the various datasets and generate different ways to visual and understand it. In order to identify trends and relationships which were not previously visible and help make those important DECISIONS that business need to make every day based on the right facts. With a deeper understanding that comes from interpreting data in a visual form, the data world has become even more important for a business to be able to leverage and gain the competitive edge it needs; so it’s no wonder that Microsoft’s BI can provide so much value with the data-shaping and modelling capabilities to unlock hidden insights. Custom Visualisations Every business has its own culture and way of doing things, sometimes the ‘standard way’ of doing something just doesn’t cut it and a need to customise it to make it work is needed. The same goes for visualisations that come as standard with Power BI tool, which for some may not provide the depth or complexity of visualisation that is needed in order to ‘bring data alive’. However by accessing the growing library of custom visualisations or even creating ones that meet a specific need is perhaps a way to find a competitive edge. Import Excel Data One of the recent improvements that was added was the ability to import data from Excel. It has a wizard for making it very straight forward so your Excel ‘Power User’s’ now have even greater functionality to make sense of the data. Power Q&A Have you wanted to be able to ask questions in your own language and have it answered? Now Power BI makes that very easy with the Dashboard Power Q&A and the underlying data models. You just start typing in your question and the data model provides the context and answer which can then be manipulated to suit your own visualisation needs.

    What needs improvement?

    Power BI is good with handling simple relationships between tables in a data model. But, if there are complex relationships between tables, that is, if they have more than one links between tables, Power BI might not handle them well. You need to create a data model carefully by having more unique fields so that Power BI does not confuse the relationships when it comes to complex relationships. In most cases, you might not feel the need to configure and optimize visualizations in Power BI. But even if you do, Power BI does not provide many options to configure your visualizations as per your requirements. Thus, users have limited options for what they can change in visuals. The user interface of Power BI is often found crowded and bulky by the users. It is in the sense that there are many icons of options that block the view of dashboard or report. Most users wish that the user interface or the report canvas was clearer with fewer icons and options. Also, creating scrolling dashboards is a native feature. As we know, the expression language used to deal with data in Power BI is DAX. However, you can perform a lot of actions using the DAX formula in Power BI, it is still not the easiest language to work with. Sometimes the formulas you create work well in Power BI, sometimes they don’t. You can concatenate up to two elements but concatenating more than two elements needs nesting statements. Power BI has a limit of ingesting data at a time which is approximately 2 GBs of data. If you wish to import and use data of even greater volumes, you need to extend your free version to a paid version of Power BI. Also, users have reported that Power BI takes a little more than usual time or even hangs while processing millions of rows and columns of data. Usually, Power BI is the easiest to use BI tool if you are using it simply to import data and create reports. But Power BI is an entire suite having a lot of other interrelated tools. When the purpose of your use is more than just creating reports in Power BI Desktop, you need to learn and master several other tools like Gateways, Power BI Report Server, Power BI Services, etc.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    I have been using this solution for more than three years.
    Buyer's Guide
    Microsoft BI
    June 2022
    Learn what your peers think about Microsoft BI. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: June 2022.
    609,272 professionals have used our research since 2012.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    I am currently using it for my personal training, and I didn't find any stability issues, but when it comes to big data, there may be some sort of issues where the system might hang.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    In terms of adding more users, there shouldn't be any issues or limitations. Currently, I am using it for my personal use. For very big companies with large-scale data and many rules, there would be speed issues with Power BI. Therefore, I don't recommend Power BI at this level. For such organizations, Tableau is the best solution. I have tried Tableau in many companies with many nodes, and I found no speed issues with Tableau. So, I won't recommend Power BI for organizations where 2,000 or 4,000 computers are connected, and there are multiple branches with data coming from different countries.

    How are customer service and support?

    I contacted them for an installation issue related to the RPA Power Automate Desktop. I had downloaded this software, and I was trying to use it with Office, but there were some installation issues. I contacted Microsoft's technical team, and they logged in to my computer and fixed the issue. Their support is very nice. They called me and then remotely connected to my computer through Teams. They gave me very good support, and I am perfectly satisfied with them.

    Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

    I can mentions main difference between Power BI and tableau which is as under. Advantages of Tableau Here, are pros/benefits of using Tableau BI: •Less cost of training •Very fast and easy to create visualizations •Good customer support •Data Interpreter Story-telling ability •Tableau offers a feature of visualization •It helps you to combine shape & clean the data for analysis. •It helps you to handle a large amount of data. •Uses scripting languages like R & Python to avoid performance for complex table calculations. •Allows users to create reports, dashboards, and stories using Tableau Desktop. Advantages of Power BI Here, are pros/benefits of Power BI •Offers pre-built dashboards and reports for SaaS Solutions •Provide real-time dashboard updates. •Secure and reliable connection to your data sources in the cloud or on-premises •Power BI offers quick deployment, hybrid configuration, and a secure environment. •Data exploration using natural language query. •Feature for dashboard visualization •New features frequently added that are great for excel users. •Extensive database connectivity capabilities Q&A feature publish to the web. •integration with both Python and R coding to use visualizations. •Power Query provides many options related to wrangling and clean the data. •Post publishing the data into Power BI web service can schedule refresh without manual intervention. •Power BI backed by the superpower of with artificial intelligence and machine learning. Disadvantages of Power BI Here, are cons/drawbacks of Power BI •Dashboards and reports only shared with users having the same email domains. •Power Bl will never mix imported data, which is accessed from real-time connections. •Power BI can't accept file size larger than 1 GB. •Dashboard never accept or pass user, account, or other entity parameters. Disadvantages of Tableau Here, are cons/drawbacks of Tableau •Relatively high cost •No change management or versioning •It is expensive, BI, when compared to other tools. •Importing custom visualization is a bit difficult. •Not offers easy methods for embedding reports to other applications. •Tableau is suitable only for a large organization which can pay for licensing cost. •The tableau does not offer support for artificial intelligence and machine learning. •There is integration with other Microsoft products like Power Apps , Dynamics 365, Office 365, and Microsoft Flow, which uses Single Sign-On (SSO).

    How was the initial setup?

    Its initial setup is very simple. There is no issue at all. If you have everything set up on your computer, it takes only 10 minutes. In terms of maintenance, Power BI does not require any maintenance, but the database behind Power BI requires some sort of maintenance. Power BI is like a tap. It is just providing what is in the tank. For clean water, you just need to clean the tank at the back. To get good visualizations, you need to clean your database, tabling structure, and data modeling. If you are doing all data modeling in Power BI, then data modeling requires some sort of maintenance.

    What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

    Power BI comes in three levels – Desktop, Pro, and Premium. The Desktop level is free for individual users. Pro – The Pro plan costs $9.99 per user, per month and includes a mobile app, the ability to publish and share reports, a 1 GB model size limit, eight data refreshes daily, the ability to connect to over 100 data sources, embedded APIs and controls, AI visuals, data security and encryption, metrics for content creation and publishing and up to 10 GB per user maximum storage. Pro is available for free for companies that have the Microsoft 365 E5 solution. Premium (per user) – Microsoft launched this new pricing strategy that costs $20 per user, per month. It includes all of the features of the Pro plan, plus paginated reports, a 100 GB model size limit, 48 data refreshes daily, advanced AI features, XMLA endpoint read/write connectivity, data flows, the ability to analyze data stored in Azure Data Lake Storage, application lifecycle management and up to 100 TB of maximum storage. Premium (per capacity) – This plan starts at $4,995 per month per dedicated cloud compute and storage resource. It includes all of the features of the Premium per user plan, plus on-premise reporting, a 400 GB model limit, multi-location deployment management, Bring Your Own Key (BYOK) and autoscale add-on.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    No, I am diehard fan and accredited professional of Microsoft technologies, so I have no other thought.

    What other advice do I have?

    I will suggest below guidelines to Power BI users. Limit the number of visuals in dashboards and reports According to Microsoft's Optimization guide for Power BI, placing many visuals in a single report slows report performance. Limit widget visuals to eight per report page and grids to one per page. Limit pages 30 points (cards: 1, gauges: 2, charts: 3, maps: 3, grids: 5). Limit tiles to 10 per dashboard. To improve Power BI report performance, remove unnecessary interactions between visuals By default, all visuals on a report page can interact with one another. For optimal report performance, interactivity should be minimized. Reduce the number of queries fired at the back end and improve report performance by disabling unnecessary interactivity. Enable Row-Level Security (RLS) Row Level Security restricts user access to certain rows in a database depending on the characteristics (role) of the user executing a query. With RLS, Power BI only imports data the user is authorized to view. Combining Power BI roles with roles in the back end can result in substantial performance gains. Test all roles before rolling out to production. Use Microsoft AppSource certified custom visuals Power BI certified visuals are AppSource visuals that have passed rigorous quality testing. Microsoft verifies that certified custom visuals have robust, high-performance code. Certified custom visuals are the only custom visuals that can be viewed in Export to PowerPoint mode and email subscriptions. Use preview feature of hierarchy slicers instead of custom visual If you need to show hierarchy in slicers, enable the preview feature provided by the Power BI desktop instead of using of a custom visual. Provide data categorization for Power BI reports (HBI, MBI, LBI) High Business Impact (HBI) data requires users to get a policy exception to share the data externally. Low Business Impact (LBI) and Medium Business Impact (MBI) data do not require exceptions. By using Power BI data sensitivity labels, you raise user awareness about required security and how reports should be shared inside and outside the organization. Use on-premises data gateway instead of Personal Gateway Personal Gateway takes data and imports it into Power BI. Enterprise Gateway (on-premises data gateway) imports nothing, which is more efficient when working with large databases. Use different Power BI gateways for Live Connection and Scheduled Data Refresh If the same gateway is used for Scheduled Data Refresh and Live Connection, Live Connection performance will slow down when Scheduled Data Refresh is active. Avoid this issue by creating separate gateways for Live Connection and Scheduled Data Refresh. Test custom visual performance on reports to ensure fast report load time; use an alternative visual if the chosen visual performs poorly Uncertified custom visuals are generally not tested by the Power BI team. Custom visuals can perform poorly when handling large datasets or complex aggregations. If a custom visual performs poorly, consider replacing it with a different visual. Limit complicated complex measures and aggregations in data models Push calculated columns and measures to the source where possible. The closer they are to the source, the higher the likelihood of improved performance. Create calculated measures instead of calculated columns. Use star schema to design data models. Use slicers sparingly Slicers are a great way of allowing users to navigate data, but they come at a performance cost. Each slicer generates two queries: one gets the data, and the other fetches selection details. Creating too many slicers negatively impacts performance. To evaluate which slicers are infrequently used, use the Filter pane and remove unnecessary slicers. Ensure the Power BI report and data source are in the same region With the tenant and data source in the same region, you can reduce network latency. The results are faster data transfer and faster query execution. Import only necessary fields and tables instead of entire datasets Ensure the model is as narrow and lean as possible. Power BI works on columnar indexes; longer and leaner tables are preferred. Ensure the cache update frequency aligns with the data source refresh frequency Cache update frequency should be set at similar intervals to data source refresh frequency. By default, the Power BI cache update frequency is set to one hour. If, for example, your data set refreshes only once per day, you should update the cache frequency accordingly. Use white or light background colors For users distributing printed reports, white or light backgrounds are printer friendly. Shorten numbers Don’t exceed three or four numerals when displaying numbers. Display measures to one or two numerals left of the decimal point and scale for thousands or millions. Use Report Tooltip pages to provide more context for the highlighted measure Report tooltips are a great way of sharing additional information on the metric. Use limited visuals in Report Tooltip. Ensure you select Tooltip field carefully (categorical or measure). Use templates (.PBIT files) to speed up and standardize report development instead of starting with an empty .PBIX Templates can be saved with custom color palettes and themes pre-incorporated. Templates ensure corporate branding is pre-applied to all pages. Templates ensure connections to commonly used data sources are already in place. Templates create commonly used DAX measures. Source: LinkedIn Use names that are meaningful to your business users or intended audience Power BI provides the ability to give aliases to report objects. Avoid ambiguity when naming columns and measures. Consider hiding unused columns in the data model. Source: LinkedIn Reduce queries Reduce the number of queries sent by Power BI using the settings for Slicers and Filters.

    Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

    On-premises
    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    Deepak Damodarr - PeerSpot reviewer
    Data Office Lead at a computer software company with 201-500 employees
    Real User
    User friendly, easy to set up and great for analyzing data
    Pros and Cons
    • "The most interesting feature of Microsoft Power BI is that it's very user-friendly."
    • "here are still better UI designs they can go through. I'm assuming they are focusing more on capabilities rather than look-and-feel designs."

    What is our primary use case?

    There are several different use cases. The most basic use case would be just to be able to share data from a database or a data repository. That's the most basic use case.

    Microsoft Power BI is a visualization tool, is a BI tool. There are more than 1,000 use cases that you could use. There are countless use cases for which a BI tool or visualization tool could be used for.

    The simplest use case is where a colleague in an organization who does not have any coding skills or does not have any technology background wants to be able to look at some data from a database or a repository of data. He or she could use Power PI just to be able to connect to that system and just take a look at or peek into that database. It is as simple as that.

    How has it helped my organization?

    Over the last six years, Microsoft Power BI has evolved, matured, has brought in a lot of new features. Six years back, when I first started using Microsoft Power BI, it was just one of the tools among the crowd of tools that I had access to and may not have been that interesting, at that point in time. It was fairly rudimentary and fairly basic in terms of its feature capabilities. However, in the last six years, Microsoft has put a lot of focus and effort into developing it further, and has, on a regular incremental basis, started deploying and enabling capabilities and features, which now makes Microsoft Power BI one of the leading BI tools in the industry.

    We realized the benefits very quickly. In 30 minutes, a company can begin to realize the benefits.

    In the most basic use case, which is for a user to be able to just access a data which he or she normally would not have been able to himself or herself, since they don't have SQL query knowledge, or they don't know how to access, log into a SQL Server or a database. They can do that using Power BI within half an hour or less.

    What is most valuable?

    Like any typical BI visualization tool, Microsoft has several features. The most interesting feature of Microsoft Power BI is that it's very user-friendly.

    It is a cloud-based BI tool even though it does come with a desktop client. The ability for a very beginner, basic user to get started with Power BI is very easy. Even if you don't have Microsoft licenses and just want to use a tool for analyzing data, without having to share it with others, you can do that with Microsoft Power BI.

    What needs improvement?

    I'm comparing this with other existing and newcomer BI tools. The look and feel of the tool has, only like a month back, undergone a major change. If not, for the last five years at least, last four years at least, the look and feel have been very, very similar all the time. 

    It did not change much in the last four years. Barring a lot of functionalities and capabilities being added, it did not change much. The look and feel were pretty much the same. However, about a month back, the latest release of Power BI, they made some further, drastic changes to the way the buttons and the panels are set up. That said, they can do more. There are still better UI designs they can go through. I'm assuming they are focusing more on capabilities rather than look-and-feel designs.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    I've used the solution for six years now. 

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    The solution is quite stable and we have not had any, not come across significant bugs, so far. We've only come across some features which are missing or could have been improved, like certain types of charts that were missing in the past, which are being added. Some of the advanced charts are available as a paid service from third-party partners and not available out-of-the-box. There are very unique features or some very specific capabilities that were missing or are still missing. We could always manage it by bringing in a partner to create an add-on or something like that.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    The solution is very scalable and we do plan to increase usage. 

    How are customer service and support?

    We haven't opted for technical support yet as we have a few other tools which are also being used by the organization, in the new organization that I'm in, right now. Power BI was being offered to colleagues to use on a self-service basis. There were communities and subject matter experts within the organization who had offered their services to the wider organization to come and ask questions. It was basically community-based support, I would say, within the organization. 

    Also, Microsoft offers free community-based support for Power BI and proactive support is simply paid. It's paid service from Microsoft and other partners, so we have not opted for that yet, something we will look into once it comes to that point. Yet, it's a fairly mature product. We don't think there would be issues with the platform. The issues would be more to do with how to use the platform, or how to use the platform in conjunction with other systems, other software, et cetera, which is more specific to our organization rather than something the vendor has to support us with.

    You do get your questions answered eventually, however, you have to wait maybe one or two days to get the questions answered.

    How would you rate customer service and support?

    Positive

    Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

    I have used more than ten to 15 different types of software in the past 20 years.

    I have used Tableau and I have used Qlik Sense. These two are, I would say, the top two leading platforms. We switched completely to Power BI, however, we started using Power BI more, alongside Tableau and Qlik Sense. The organization where I used to work previously had the commercial ability to acquire multiple software, depending on use cases, or depending on business requirements, or needs. In the previous organization, the organization was using one particular platform, then they decided to bring in a second platform, then they decided to bring in the third platform. As part of that mix-and-match scenario, we ended up using Qlik Sense and Tableau. And then we also started, in parallel, using Power BI, which then started to get better feedback and reviews, in general, so we ended up using it more and more.

    How was the initial setup?

    It comes bundled with Office 365Office 365 is a SaaS-based office suite. Anything that you build on your desktop or Power BI, you can publish into the Office 365 cloud environment. It's relatively easy to get everything up and running. 

    It's as simple as taking your credit card and buying an Office 365 license and configuring the AD group and you can be up and running. Of course, depending on how secure and structured you want to make your entire setup, it can take a few months, sometimes, with the full rollout to happen. 

    A very basic pilot rollout can be done in a matter of a few weeks.

    For the actual deployment and configuration, we just needed five people, and five resources working between six to 12 months. Some were required only for six months. Some are still continuing as part of further enhancements as some of the resources are being retained from a training and onboarding purpose so that they can do a training of the wider organization, and colleagues in the organization, show them how to use Office 365, and get trained on that. The actual development itself took less than two or three months.

    In terms of maintenance, there are regular patch updates that get pushed from Microsoft. The backend IT support team needs to ensure all the patches are tested before they're deployed in production, for all the users to use.

    What about the implementation team?

    Microsoft usually sells through a partner, most of these licenses, and Microsoft also usually recommends a partner. In our case, we did an RFP to bring in the subject matter experts, partners who are certified on Microsoft platforms.

    We had a system integrator who came in and helped us deploy and roll out Microsoft 365. As part of that, as I mentioned, we got Microsoft Power BI. 

    We are now thinking if we should switch on all the other capabilities of Microsoft Power BI or not.

    What was our ROI?

    We have noted an ROI, however, it varies from use case to use case.

    There are some use cases in which if you deliver it, the cost savings or the revenue generated from that, or the benefits from that one single use case will cover the entire cost of all 65 licenses, for the entire year.

    Then there are use cases, in which you'll have to wait for a few years or months before a company will actually see some benefit being derived.

    What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

    They have made the desktop client free of cost, which is also what Qlik Sense is. The Qlik Sense Desktop is free of cost. Tableau, the web version of Tableau online, there's a trial period you can use it for. Microsoft also has made Power BI available as a free add-on, or a free complimentary add-on alongside Office 365 for corporate users. This means even if the organization does not want to use Power BI, if they're using Qlik Sense, Tableau, Looker, ThoughtSpot, Domo, or the other tools, Power BI will still be available to them when they're using Microsoft Office.

    While it comes bundled with Office, you don't have to buy any additional licenses, just for building and publishing. That said, the moment you want to start sharing your reports, your dashboards, and your analysis with others, that is the point where you need to then start paying for additional capabilities or plans.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    I've always been part of different transformation programs where we were required to evaluate a BI tool, to meet the business requirements. Usually, Power BI ends up coming in the short list of products from a BI perspective, from a BI reporting perspective, apart from sometimes Tableau, and Qlik Sense. Sometimes, we also come across ThoughtSpot, Sisense, and Domo. These are some of the other tools which we have also, sometimes, shortlisted.

    The differences have become very, very minimal between solutions. There are very few, minor differences between different tools. About four or five years back, there used to be drastic capability gaps between the different tools. Four or five years back, Tableau was the most mature, followed by Qlik Sense, followed by MicroStrategy, followed by a few other tools like SAP Analytics, or a few others. Today, Power BI is alongside Tableau, and Qlik Sense is in the top three. That's based on my experience of having worked on all these three platforms. Tableau, among the three, has the best UI, user interface. Qlik has the best performance, in terms of building complex data models. Power BI, however, is the easiest and most fun to use when it comes to getting somebody to use the tool from scratch. 

    There are a few other benefits and strengths. Qlik Sense and Power BI, both come with built-in ETL which is data integration capabilities. They have very mature data integration capabilities, as compared to Tableau, whereas Tableau has very basic integration capabilities. You need to buy another ETL product for it to be able to do a similar level of data transformation as Qlik Sense, or Power BI.

    What other advice do I have?

    We are a customer and may also be a Microsoft partner, as we are a telecom. 

    I'd rate the solution nine out of ten.

    Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
    Flag as inappropriate
    Buyer's Guide
    Microsoft BI
    June 2022
    Learn what your peers think about Microsoft BI. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: June 2022.
    609,272 professionals have used our research since 2012.
    Certified Adjunct Faculty, School of Engineering and Computing at a university with 1,001-5,000 employees
    Real User
    Top 5Leaderboard
    Helps introduce data analytics in a way that students understand and appreciate
    Pros and Cons
    • "What Power BI is, is a whole collection of templates of small amounts of data that can be used to do something for a real world project, that can be easily set up and become the business intelligence environment or a data warehouse for a large amount of data, for a real world customer. That's what is remarkable."
    • "When it comes to improvement, I would say there could be more tutorials for students in universities who are just learning it. And it wouldn't have to be just for students in universities. It might also be for the people who use it in the real world."

    What is our primary use case?

    I have taught and mastered many desktop tools, including Power BI, for the purpose of prototyping designs for business intelligence and data warehousing. Currently, I am teaching data analytics at graduate level and Power BI is on my schedule.

    We teach tools like Power BI by going through common scenarios in a business intelligence environment, which most often deal with the factual numerics that get designed into a sales force reporting dashboard or similar solution, showing details like order placement, orders shipped and paid for, etc. The templates for these typically use a style of diagramming called star schema, which is a common dimension modeling technique. 

    I can't say whether it's the most frequent real-world use case that a real customer would focus on, but for the level of our tutorials, a sales scenario might involve a description of customers, products, locations, maybe geography, and the timing of sales for trends analysis.

    Other than Power BI, I also teach AWS and Azure, where I help guide students to plan and come up with architecture for deploying to the cloud. It's not actually very hands-on, as it's more to help with architecture diagramming for the intentions that students have when using them. And at our institution, all of our courses last only four weeks, so it's very fast tracked, which sometimes means that we don't really go too in-depth.

    AWS has a lot of samples and diagrams, including many graphics that are fairly artistically detailed. The level at which I've helped students reference those kinds of diagrams is mainly for their team projects, to illustrate their intention, for example, to deploy a database into AWS. If it's an SQL Server database, we usually choose Azure. But it's not to actually do it. It's rather to have the intention to, for illustration purposes.

    How has it helped my organization?

    I had a brilliant student in May last year, 2019, who did her graduate capstone project - where I was her advisor - using Power BI. And she has two times now responded to my invitation to be a guest speaker on that tool to classes such as the data analytics class that I've been teaching for about 20 times now, going back six years.

    At my institution, I'm the only one teaching database design, whether undergrad or grad, and I found Power BI was a very attractive tool to introduce during the database design class, and then later enable the students to use it for their capstone. Unfortunately, it didn't work out in November this year, because few of the students picked up on it and gave the actual time it would take to focus their attention on using Power BI templates.

    Overall, my observation is that the enrollment is way down and the students who are still in the program are very distracted, I think because of the pandemic. Despite this, Power BI has helped me introduce students to business intelligence and data analytics because it's a very attractive and cost-effective tool (there's no cost to it, it's free).

    Another reason I'm inspired to focus my time on helping students with Power BI is because of the analyses done by the Gartner Group and Forrester Research, wherein they reviewed the strengths of Power BI. Both of them call it a "killer app". That caught my attention. And Power BI seems like the best thing to suggest to the students.

    And I'm up to it on my side teaching through online, although I'm regretting that I cannot go on a campus to be still there for the students whose strong preference is to be together in a room learning on site. I hope that in the class in May, there'll be more people really interested in actually using it. In November, I was hoping some of the students would, but for reasons such as the pandemic, these online students have too many distractions. Especially if they're also still working or they have families with kids at home.

    What is most valuable?

    What Power BI is, is a whole collection of templates of small amounts of data that can be used to do something for a real world project, that can be easily set up and become the business intelligence environment or a data warehouse for a large amount of data, for a real world customer. That's what is remarkable. And that's what it takes.

    It makes use of the ordinary things, and they'll sound familiar. Excel, Access, or SQL Server as the database, and the deployment techniques like Azure for it to be in the cloud.

    It's very heavily like Microsoft promoting its own products, but I forgive it because this time it works. And I'm speaking from some experience; I worked in the data warehouse technology group at Oracle for three and a half years, and I was helping Oracle's clients put up a data warehouse with Oracle as the database, and to migrate data into the Oracle database. So that was my background. And for me to be persuaded that this collection of regular, already known, already used desktop tools could work just as well, but with the added value of the samples, the templates, frequent updates, and lots of support. That says a lot.

    It also has other features that I like, especially regarding the designs in the set of templates for things that would perhaps be very puzzling to somebody doing it for themselves. It has pre-built tables to hold, during project lifestyle, maybe a small select amount of test data with the intention of the large amount of data going into production after deployment. And it has all the table designs that start out generic but that can be easily customized.

    What needs improvement?

    When it comes to improvement, I would say there could be more tutorials for students in universities who are just learning it. And it wouldn't have to be just for students in universities. It might also be for the people who use it in the real world.

    The evidence that I see when I look into it is there's a lot of user group type of connections to the Power BI world. And many, many bloggers telling their stories and promoting themselves or small businesses promoting themselves to do it for you using Power BI. The claim being that they could help you get it done instead of you doing it yourself. That's what goes on in this industry. You see a lot of entrepreneurial people who want to work in the role of consultant and get paid for it. There's a lot of that.

    And the invitation to look into the websites comes from little mini tutorials, which can be very helpful. But the next step of those tutorials, if most of the people get what they want out of them, is a contract to do the work. I don't want to introduce those kinds of things to my students, because it's kind of promoting something that could be a distraction.

    I worked for years as an independent consultant. I even did a fairly long series of contracts up in the state of Washington at Microsoft and I had 38 years in the industry before I became an academic teacher. But I'm avant-garde when it comes to sales. I avoid salesman because I don't want to believe the hype. I don't want to be deceived. And I don't want to suggest that somebody go that way. The topic of sales is overdone. This is an opinion on my part.

    On a practical note, the process of importing data into a new environment that has recently been designed is always a major effort. And Power BI has some weaknesses when it comes to loading data into an otherwise good concept and a good design because if it's not seriously tested and all shortcomings noticed beforehand, the importing process will fail.

    Even a cool tool like Power BI cannot anticipate the complexity of the variety of sources of data. But they're not alone. That would not be a disqualifier. But because I don't have direct yet, hands-on, having done this, I don't really know how Microsoft would improve this area.

    I think they've got it handled on integration. Everything that you're working with is already a Microsoft environment or a Microsoft tool. It's integrated. But if you're using the desktop tools by Microsoft and you need to deploy into a backend of Oracle, there might be some things that a smart consultant has to help out with. So cross-platform integration could use some improvement in terms of ease-of-use.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    I have used Microsoft BI in my data analytics classes for a few years now. 

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    In an abstract sense, it's holding up. I don't speak to actual customers of Microsoft products to answer that question. But I would suggest that it's holding up because the Gartner Group put out another magic quadrant output that describes it as being in the leader category.

    It's a well-respected research group, Gartner. In fact, companies that want to acquire its research for anything more specific or consulting, have to pay for it and have ownership. I don't pay for it. But there are many vendors who have my school email on their lists, so I get the reports for free, and I have my hands on quite a collection of the reports.

    And that's why I'm mentioning them because the Gartner Group has mentioned Power BI twice now. So as far as long-term prospects go, I'd say Power BI is a stable solution.

    How are customer service and technical support?

    Microsoft provides frequent updates and a lot of support for Power BI.

    Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

    I have worked in the data warehouse technology group at Oracle for three and a half years, helping Oracle's clients deploy a data warehouse with Oracle as the database. But when Power BI came onto the scene, I was more and more persuaded to use it instead for business intelligence and data warehouse purposes. This was mainly because I enjoyed how easily Power BI builds on existing tools that I'm already familiar with like Excel and Access. 

    How was the initial setup?

    The setup is straightforward, because it exhibits itself within familiar tools, like spreadsheets.

    The complexity comes when you try to convert from simple beginnings into something that needs to eventually become reality. But I'm guessing. I don't know that it's complex. And anyway, I personally like complex. It attracts my attention.

    What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

    For my primary use case, i.e. teaching students, the free version of Power BI is adequate.

    What other advice do I have?

    May is the next time I'll be teaching the data analytics class, the graduate class, and I will be actively trying to promote Power BI for the team project.

    I would rate Microsoft Power BI an eight out of ten. 

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    AndreasSemousu - PeerSpot reviewer
    Technical Sales Manager at Skhomo Technologies
    Real User
    Top 5
    It has self-serve analytics that the end-users can do themselves
    Pros and Cons
    • "The one feature most of our customers like is data visualization. When we were doing BI directly from SQL, most users found it challenging to create their own reports. Power BI has self-serve analytics that the end-users can do themselves. On most projects, people are primarily using data visualization and self-serve analytics."
    • "These licenses are in US dollars. With a long-term license, the client is unaffected when the exchange rate goes up. However, if the exchange rate goes down, you don't get refunded from the excess money you've paid. I guess that is a risk you take in business."

    What is our primary use case?

    We deal with government agencies that compile stats and data. For instance, the use cases for the department of education are all school-related. They need to know the number of schools in a given region, attendance, etc. They also need to monitor monthly changes in the data, so they run analytics to see where enrollment and attendance are dropping or how schools are performing. 

    Recently, we developed an application for the South African statistical bureau. They use Power BI for their dashboards to show precisely how many people were counted in which areas, and where they have the challenges. We have different use cases depending on the project and the client's requirements.

    It's deployed in the cloud because Microsoft has switched to offering Power BI as a service. Most of our clients are doing all of their business intelligence primarily on the cloud, but we still have clients that are running SQL who prefer to do their own intelligence internally instead of using cloud solutions.

    What is most valuable?

    The one feature most of our customers like is data visualization. When we were doing BI directly from SQL, most users found it challenging to create their own reports. Power BI has self-serve analytics that the end-users can do themselves. On most projects, people are primarily using data visualization and self-serve analytics. 

    There are probably several other useful intelligent tools included with Power BI that we never use, but they might be good for other use cases. For instance, if you're selling consumer products, you might benefit from Power BI's ability to track sales performance. But our government customers mostly use data visualization internally to make decisions. 

    What needs improvement?

    I'm not a heavy Power Bi user. I use it as my CRM, and it gives me all the information that I need. I haven't found anything that isn't useful for what I'm working on at the moment. Maybe later, I might think of something and find that Power BI doesn't have. It's quite an improvement compared to using Microsoft SQL for business intelligence. 

    For how long have I used the solution?

    We've been working with Power BI for many years. Before we started using Power BI, we were on SQL SSIS and SSRS. We've been in the BI business launched back in 2003. Most of our business was business intelligence even though we didn't have a lot of analytics. 

    We do quite a lot of data warehousing, business intelligence, etc., but when we started, we were mainly dealing with data manipulation. I would say it has been more than 15 years.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    I don't have any complaints because we used to be a partner of a company that set up our environment. They are a sales partner, and our sales are very good, but there were always issues with the technical support. At the moment, I would still recommend everyone to move to Microsoft Power BI regardless of their environment.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    It's highly scalable and stable. 

    Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

    One of the vendors we used to work with was Qlik, but we found that Qlik's support wasn't as good as what we're getting from Microsoft. With IBM, the biggest challenge was that companies didn't have the analytics skills to use their solution. Customers would complain that it didn't do what they wanted it to do, but it is not the tool. It's the skill that you have on the market. 

    Microsoft made sure they certified competent solution implementers. It was great. We were privileged to be one of those companies that Microsoft picked, and they helped us train some of our technicians to be adept at some of these solutions.

    All of our technicians are certified, so Microsoft refers certain organizations to us locally for help implementing their solutions. We have a solid technical team, especially around the Microsoft Power Apps, including Power BI.

    How was the initial setup?

    Deploying Power BI is straightforward because they've made it so easy with cloud solutions when they came out with the Microsoft Power Apps. Power Apps includes Power BI, Microsoft Flow, and some others. I do everything myself, so I can do my workflows in the background of Power BI on all the applications even though I'm not an everyday applications development person. I haven't done development in years.

    With Power Apps, you don't necessarily need to install anything because it's already there on the cloud. You customize it and point it to your data sources. Within a couple of minutes, you're done. Then from there on, you can customize your reports however you want. I think it's effortless to work with.

    The number of people needed for deployment depends on the size of the organization, and the scope of what you're trying to do. You may have a small organization with fewer than 500 people, but they might deal with a lot of data. That means the project is going to be very big. 

    Conversely, you could have an organization with about 2,000 people, but they are not a data-intensive organization. Then you will need just a few people. For much larger organizations, you'll find that you might need to have the whole applications development team of between five to 10 people for the actual implementation, including your project manager, business analysts, and various technical support personnel.  

    For a big organization, you would maybe have five technical guys, including your lead as well as two senior technical people and two juniors. Then as the project grows, you can add four more. At the end of the day, we're looking at about five to 10 people for a bigger project.

    However, it's not the same as an on-prem deployment. Most of the work is customization because everything else has been done on Azure. Generally, with things like your standard Power BI deployment, you need just about five people. That includes the project manager and the business analysts plus two or three technical people. 

    You do an installation and all the customization a client wants, but from there on, you run out of work to do because everything is running smoothly. I've heard some say that it's making people lazy because if you do everything correctly the first time around, you won't have anything to do for a couple of months except maybe change a couple of things for users. From the technical point of view, you find that you have absolutely no work to do until you move on to the next client. The deployment is quick versus how long it used to take as before we went on to Azure.

    You don't need a large team for maintenance because somebody else takes care of it. At most, you need two or three technical people and then an account manager. Probably about three. You're not managing the service or the infrastructure. You are just managing the environment.

    The management is much easier compared to how we used to do it before. You needed maybe six or seven people, with some managing the environment and others the infrastructure. For example, the department of education has a user base of more than 500,000 people, but the whole environment is managed by two people. With the Azure infrastructure, everything running in the background is taken care of. 

    What was our ROI?

    The return on investment with Microsoft is quite good. The value of the product is far higher than the price you pay. The most significant added value with Microsoft products is their ease of use. If you buy things like Power BI, you become a Microsoft partner and gain access to some customer training, so you learn to optimize everything related to Power BI.

    They go the extra mile. They have the training online, so when you get stuck, you can go through the training and know exactly where you made a mistake instead of going out to a training institution and spending a lot of money for precisely the same training. The licenses you pay over five years don't even make a dent in some companies' budgets.

    For instance, one of our customers was running a Software AG solution analytics solution. Even though we are a Software AG partner, we suggested they go with a different solution because of their budget. We implemented Power BI, and now they don't want to go back to the previous product because they're saying this one is much more user-friendly than before.

    What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

    Most of the customers we work with go for volume licenses. Some pay annually or get a more extended license for three to five years. All of the licenses are on an annual basis, but Microsoft will amortize it to an extent. If it's five years, they'll include the possible interest they might have the following year. Ideally, their licensing scheme is an annual license, but they make it easier for some of our clients to take a five-year license but package everything inside for them to buy the license for five years.

    I think that's helpful because most government institutions budget on a five-year basis. They have a five-year plan broken down into an annual OPEX. The CAPEX will be five years, and everything else would be OPEX. Most of these licenses get put on an OPEX whereby the client pays once. Then for the five years, they don't necessarily have to worry about anything with Microsoft.

    These licenses are in US dollars. With a long-term license, the client is unaffected when the exchange rate goes up. However, if the exchange rate goes down, you don't get refunded from the excess money you've paid. I guess that is a risk you take in business.

    What other advice do I have?

    I would rate Microsoft BI nine out of 10. We buy from a couple of vendors, and Microsoft is always at the top of the list for ease of use, simplicity, and cost. I've used the other vendors, but I'm still in love with Microsoft.

    Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

    Public Cloud
    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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    RicardoPedro - PeerSpot reviewer
    Northern Europe IT Business Intelligence Manager at Adecco
    Real User
    Top 5
    The tool is very flexible, allowing for creativity
    Pros and Cons
    • "The tool is very flexible so it allows creativity."
    • "I think that the product would benefit by increasing the range of visuals and graphics readily available, as opposed to using a third party included as part of the product."

    What is our primary use case?

    Microsoft BI can be useful for several scenarios, depending on your end audience, or what they're looking for. Depending on your creativity, imagination, and what the tool allows you to build, you can create a lot of cool things with it. You can build a lot of very elaborate and dynamic reports for example. The most important thing to consider is to understand what your audience is looking for. The development side of the tool is not the problem.

    How has it helped my organization?

    The usability of the tool is very simple. If you know the basics, it's fine. Even if you don't have the basics, there is a lot of self-service documentation available which helps to guide the user to start to use the tool, and how to navigate through it. 

    There was also a new feature added last month to help new users practice using the system by providing an example data set to experiment with. Power BI server can be run on-premise so that your reports are available locally. Or you can have a premium version, including all your reports on the Cloud. It can be determined by the number of refreshes required from the reports or can depend on the volume of users that are consuming the reports.

    What is most valuable?

    The tool is very flexible so it allows for creativity. Power BI allows you to incorporate Microsoft Visio diagrams and other graphics from Microsoft tools. You can also integrate third-party visual graphics created from other tools, such as R or Python. It is useful to be able to obtain additional charts or different types of graphics developed by a third-party tool. This gives you more options for your end solutions. However, for some third-party tools and graphics such as Zoom charts, you have to pay for those separately. This is useful if you really wish to mesmerize your audience with dynamic, interactive visuals.

    Alternatively, if you just want to use what is available to you, and with a little bit of UX/UI knowledge and creativity, you can build really cool stuff with it. For example, you can have dynamic dashboards on a screen that is connected in real-time. Users can interact directly with the data, so when they click the mouse, they can see the data changing. There's a lot of things that you can do with it. Let's say you develop a report, to put on a big touchable screen. Let's say the CEO is presenting to someone, and he's on a big screen. As soon as he touches a dialogue or a graphic on the screen, all the data changes. 

    As an example, in CNN news, or any news, where they are presenting, and there are some dashboards and reports, journalist clicks on the screen, and everything changes instantly. That's what Power BI can do. If you have touch screens Power BI allows you to interact with your data.

    What needs improvement?

    I think that the product would benefit by increasing the range of visuals and graphics readily available, as opposed to using a third party included as part of the product. One way they could do that is for Microsoft to buy some of those third party companies, as they are specialists in visual creation, and they are making money from that. However, I understand that perhaps Microsoft maybe doesn't want to invest in that side of the business. Perhaps it is a financial decision. I would say that if we can have those additional visuals built into the product, it will be great. Alternatively, in the future, there should be an additional tool there that allows you to create your own visuals. That will give users more flexibility. 

    It would also be useful for users with little experience in coding, or other Microsoft tools such as Excel. For example, let's say, you are a random user, and you're just looking at the computer for the first time. You open Power BI, but you know you can go to an Excel file and connect to that Excel file from Power BI. This is very simple and intuitive. So, once you have connected to the data, you can see your fields on the right-hand side, and all you need to do then is to drag and drop the fields you need. You can then select a relevant visual or graphic, and put the information alongside that visual, and then you have the visual and the data created as one item. This is very useful and dynamic. This would also have the other huge advantage, in that it would be a cheaper solution to use. I would like the ability to reuse connections. 

    For example, if I created a connection to an SQL server, and I published my report using that connection, and then shared my report, it would be useful to be able to reuse the existing connection to the SQL server. In this way, I can reuse the existing dataset to create another report. I believe this is already the subject of a support ticket. Say I then wanted to reuse another connection from a different connection, say Oracle, to use in the same report, I could use the connections to those two sources and build the report. If I already have the sources online, and available for me, it would make sense that I could reuse them. At the moment, you can only reuse one data source. You cannot reuse more than one data source, at least if the data sources are online. One workaround would be to access each data source in turn, to obtain the data for the report. However, from October 2020, when using Excel driven reports, it is possible to reuse data flows or reuse the data component, from Power BI in Excel. So Microsoft has already implemented it for Excel, but it is still in the preview features. That will help a lot in financial areas. This could also impact company sales forecasts and sales.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    I have 10 years of experience using BI tools, like Tableau, Power BI, QuickView, and MicroStrategy. I have a background in technical architecture but my main expertise is in BI tools. I use Power BI. It's a business intelligence tool that helps you develop and create reports that you can connect to various data sources. Then you can slice and dice, and build what you want to build from there.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    Microsoft BI is stable.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    The product is scalable, and new updates come out every month.

    How are customer service and technical support?

    Microsoft Technical Support is very good. If I need their assistance, they will liaise with me. They are very flexible, useful, and very friendly. They are very open to helping you out. So depending on how you escalate your call, and say it's a high-priority issue they contact you very fast. They have support lines globally. So if I'm in the Czech Republic, I may be contacted by someone from Romania, or from India, or another zone. It's fine, if, for example, I'm not English, and I need to speak to someone who speaks Spanish, they put me in touch with someone who speaks Spanish. There is a lot of available support for Power BI, and they have their own Power BI page called Power BI Support. Power BI issues are registered on that page. Support usually fixes the issues within the given timeframe. The other good part about Power BI is the huge Microsoft community that it is there. So you can raise tickets and use the community which is on the same page. Sometimes the community helps you find your solution. So, it provides two ways to access support solutions.

    How was the initial setup?

    It's easy to install which helps new users to the product. The installation process is easy. You can install it from the Microsoft store, or you can go directly to the Microsoft portal, and download the version that you require. It keeps historical versions available in case you need to test a different version. The advantage of the Microsoft store is that as soon as you install it from there, it always keeps you updated with the latest version. Also from a Power BI service point of view, you have several capabilities. The learning curve comes in when researching the different features, and what is new in the product, as well as what is going to be provided in future versions. The advantage of Power BI is that every month you have something new provided with the update. For example, you may have a new connection, additional visuals, or use new narratives.

    What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

    We have 8,000 Power Bi licenses in our organization, so it is widely used. Setup is easy, and the cost is economical. You do sometimes need to pay additional costs for third party products which "plug-in" to Microsoft BI.

    What other advice do I have?

    I would give Microsoft BI a 10 out of 10.

    Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

    On-premises
    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    Itay Oleinik - PeerSpot reviewer
    Vice President at Shiluv
    Real User
    Top 20
    Good integration with Office applications, very easy to deploy, great support, and inexpensive
    Pros and Cons
    • "Its connectivity with other Office applications, mostly with Excel, and the ability to deploy it very easily are the most valuable features. It comes sort of bundled with the cloud, so you don't need to set up a server and a standalone infrastructure. So, getting into the system or building something that you can deploy is very easy and very cheap. With other systems, you need to have a server, and you need to have a license for the server. The initial setup is very costly."
    • "It has come a long way in terms of how it was working two years ago, but there are some things that you still can't do with it. For example, permission management and user access management are still a bit limited. It is basically based on the idea that everybody from the organization can see everything or limit the type of data they can see. If I want you to see only one report and the other guy to see another report, I can't do it. There should be a better way to manage permissions and users. It should also support external users much better."

    What is our primary use case?

    We built a BI system to provide clients with access to the data that we collect. They can access the data report and various reports by using Power BI.

    It is built into the Azure cloud. You can't deploy it otherwise.

    How has it helped my organization?

    We have a product called ED Tracker, and we allow clients to subscribe to this product, and they use it through Power BI. It enables us to offer new services to clients and basically allows them to work on the data or report themselves, rather than sending them data with PowerPoint decks, PDF reports, etc. So, we work with our clients through this platform. They need to have the license. If they want to access the system, we just tell them that they need to get a license. The license is very cheap. It is $10 a month per user. It is not very expensive, and once they have the license, they can access our cloud solution.

    What is most valuable?

    Its connectivity with other Office applications, mostly with Excel, and the ability to deploy it very easily are the most valuable features. It comes sort of bundled with the cloud, so you don't need to set up a server and a standalone infrastructure. So, getting into the system or building something that you can deploy is very easy and very cheap. With other systems, you need to have a server, and you need to have a license for the server. The initial setup is very costly.

    What needs improvement?

    It is an evolving solution. So, it still has some rough edges. As compared to Tableau or QlikView, there are some things that you can't do when you want to. For example, giving specific access to some reports for users. You can get it up and running very fast, but some things are a bit trickier, and for some of the things, you need to actually write code. 

    It is sort of a work in progress. They're catching up on the competition, but it still takes time. Other solutions are more mature, and they have been in the market much longer, but it is catching up. It has come a long way in terms of how it was working two years ago, but there are some things that you still can't do with it. For example, permission management and user access management are still a bit limited. It is basically based on the idea that everybody from the organization can see everything or limit the type of data they can see. If I want you to see only one report and the other guy to see another report, I can't do it. There should be a better way to manage permissions and users. It should also support external users much better.

    There should be the ability to export to PowerPoint or PDF. It should be more efficient. It's rather clunky right now. Sometimes, the system is inconsistent in the way it does things. 

    For how long have I used the solution?

    I have been using this solution for two years.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    It is adequate in terms of speed and stability. It is very stable. Sometimes, it is a bit slow. It can be faster, but you need to subscribe and purchase additional packages or resources, and then it becomes more expensive.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    We haven't scaled yet, but you have the ability to have a dedicated server on Azure with CPU. You can increase and have an SQL Server, so you can scale it.

    As of now, we have around 10 to 12 users internally and externally. Some are internal, and some are external clients. We do have plans to increase the usage because we're trying to sell and market the product to other clients as well. So, we do have plans to increase the number of users. One of the benefits is that it doesn't matter if we have 10, 20, or 50 users. It doesn't inflict any costs on us because they go directly to the cloud. They don't come to us. It is very indirect, but we do plan to extend the usage of that system. We might also extend it internally.

    How are customer service and support?

    Their technical support is absolutely magnificent. A week ago, we had an issue related to permissions, and we couldn't find out how to do that. My colleague contacted the support of Power BI. They not only answered us by mail; they also had a half an hour session with us on Teams to better understand what our issues were. They wanted us to send them the files. They reviewed them and told us that there were still some limitations, but they were working on them, and they will let us know.

    We were stunned that someone from Microsoft is interested in what we're doing and someone is willing to go online and have a half an hour session with us so that we can explain what we're doing and what is our issue, and they can think about how to resolve it. We're a small client. We're not a big company. So, we were stunned by their support. Their support is amazing.

    Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

    A few years ago, we've tested QlikView and Qlik Sense. Their deployment costs were rather high, so we decided to use Power BI.

    How was the initial setup?

    It was very easy and straightforward. It was rather quick because you can launch it. It is very easy to publish. They give you direct access to their cloud. For small solutions or datasets like ours, the initial setup was a matter of days. We started with the desktop on-premise, and then we published it to the cloud. It was rather easy. It was a matter of days to a week or two.

    What about the implementation team?

    We used our own team. Its deployment and maintenance are taken care of by a PM and a colleague of mine. It is very easy. You just press publish, and it's off to the cloud.

    What was our ROI?

    In terms of ROI, it is a 10 out of 10.

    What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

    Its price is very low. It is like $10 per user, per month. The clients pay for their own licenses. It is not on us. 

    There are no costs in addition to the standard licensing fees. That's the beauty. With other systems, you need to spend a couple of thousand dollars just to get started, and then you need to spend $500 per year for the license, which becomes much more costly. You have a system here where for $120 to $140 a year, you can start with two people and start developing and deploying. You can see why the cost difference is huge, especially when you are on a low scale, like us, and you're not building something very huge.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    We didn't evaluate other options because we have had some past experience with other solutions. We knew that QlikView might be good, but you need to spend a couple of thousand dollars just to get started if you want to do something. We knew the costs, and the entry cost was much higher. So, we decided to go with Power BI. It is also integrated with Office and Excel, so it's very easy to go along and do some of the things that you can do in Excel. It is very easy to transition between them.

    What other advice do I have?

    If you are looking for a good BI solution for a small business that is very easy to deploy and not costly and that can use the cloud in terms of security, Power BI is probably the best solution in the market.

    I would rate it a nine out of 10. There are other solutions that might be better than this, but they're more costly. It is the cheapest BI solution in the market. It is not the best in terms of features, but it is the best in terms of value for money. For the volume of work that we have, there is absolutely no competition.

    Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

    Public Cloud

    If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

    Microsoft Azure
    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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    BlessingSithole - PeerSpot reviewer
    Software Engineer at syntegra
    Real User
    Top 5
    Easy data source connecting, simple implementation, but needs more financial visuals
    Pros and Cons
    • "I also find connecting to different data sources is quite simple. Other solutions we were using before were complicated."
    • "I think that there should be visuals for financial reporting videos. It should just be a plug and play because there is a lot of coding that goes into it with different clients."

    What is our primary use case?

    We are an analytics company, and we consult for different companies. Currently, we were doing automation of financial reporting, income statements, balance sheets, cash flow, and different kinds of analysis on revenue and products. We extract data from ERP solutions, accounting data, and then we transform that into financial reports.

    What is most valuable?

    The data modelling and the use of decks are key features. It is difficult to create financial statements using most BI solutions, with decks it is a bit easier to summarize data and to have cascading totals that you would find in an income statement or balance sheet. Most other solutions, you can not have a moving total but with this solution, we found it very easy to implement. 

    I also find connecting to different data sources is quite simple. Other solutions we were using before were complicated. 

    What needs improvement?

    I think that there should be visuals for financial reporting videos. It should just be a plug and play because there is a lot of coding that goes into it with different clients. We should have a visual for income statements and other elements, this should be made easier. For example, suppose you are looking at an inventory report, it is all plug and play because you can just use a matrix or a table to summarize the information and the visuals. The systems are more adapted to that kind of area than for financial purposes.

    For the next release, I think they need to improve on getting more visuals that are related to the finance side of things. Like I mentioned before, the matrix now is more of an OLAP cube, we are looking into something more adapted to the finance field, such as a drag and drop where you can build an income statement very quickly without too much code. This would be a nice addition. 

    As far as I understand Microsoft has two solutions that are similar, Power BI Report Builder and Power BI Desktop. The features that you get in Power BI Desktop are more advanced than the features that you get in Power BI Report Builder. They should just merge the two and move forward this way. There is no reason to have two different applications serving the same purpose.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    I have been using the solution for 18 months.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    The biggest problem we have had is refreshing with MySQL, we are using a MySQL backend. It has to refresh all the data at once and store it in a cache, is my understanding. I am not sure where Power BI stores the data that it gets from the warehouse, this takes some time. If there are interruptions in the network, then the figures become messed up at some point. It should either commit all the data or it should not commit anything at all if there are errors. I think that is the biggest issue we have had so far.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    We are rolling out the solution to various clients and one of them is a large client in the manufacturing industry. The solution scalability is very good, we can do a lot with it.

    We have about 40 users at the moment. As we continue to expand, we are looking at approximately 20 companies with about five users at a time. Currently, we have done five companies, but I think by the end of this quarter, we should have about 100 users in total. At the end of the year, we hope to have at least 200 users from different financial departments in different companies. It is my team that does the financial reporting, we also have other companies that have the operations and logistics. We are looking to probably double that figure because eventually, we should be moving to the enterprise license. We had seen that the enterprise license will be beneficial to us. If everything goes as planned, we are looking at about 500 users at some point.

    How are customer service and technical support?

    At the moment we have not needed much technical support from Microsoft. Most of the problems we have faced have either been resolved by someone else on the forums available. We also have an expert consultant in the UK who helps us. The areas that have needed assistance has been very minimal.

    Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

    We have used Eclipse BIRT and Knowage in the past but were not as good and more complicated. We find Power BI is more direct, it is much easier to connect to other data sources and so forth.

    How was the initial setup?

    The setup was very straightforward. You just download through the Windows Store or through the website, then you just start to connect your databases.

    What about the implementation team?

    The first deployment took approximately four months. The data preparation took most of the time, once we got into Power BI we had most of our financial reports in a month.

    Part of our implementation strategy was to get the requirements from the customer, documents, information on what they were using before, key performance indicators and other information. Afterwards, we started to build the data warehouse with the requirements in mind. We tried to mimic the reports that they were using before when we were building the Power BI reports. We tried as much as possible to have reports that look similar to the reports to meet our customer's needs.

    There is a similarity between Microsoft Excel and Power BI. If you understand one it make the other easier to understand. If you grasp Excel, it is easy to grasp Power BI as a user. We wanted to make it as similar as possible to the Microsoft Excel experience, with the drill-downs and the pivot tables and so forth. I think with the matrix in Power BI, it is more or less similar, it is the same experience. To summarize our implementation strategy, it was to try to mimic the reports as much as possible and then add more features that are available in Power BI.

    What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

    We pay on a monthly basis which is approximately $10 per user on the Microsoft Power BI Pro license. At the moment we are still down at 400 users, but once we reach 500 users, we will move to the premium edition. The premium is $5,000 for unlimited users. Currently, with the 40 users, the cost is roughly $500. 

    There can be some additional cost, for instance, it was an internal decision to have an on-premises gateway set up with the standard Windows Server installed on it. We had to set up this server on our side, which costs us no more than $400. This was important because we needed something to allow our reports to refresh on a regular interval without people using the personal gateways.

    What other advice do I have?

    I would advise those thinking about implementing the solution to compare different products to see what is on the market. They have to look at the pricing which is what we looked at initially, I think it quite affordable. Additionally, research the infrastructure that is required and the cost per user for the different BI solutions. Some of the solutions are cheap, such as Eclipse BIRT and Knowage, but it takes a lot of efforts to get your reports out with them.

    With this solution, it is more of a drag and drop scenario. You have a quicker delivery time as compared to the traditional or the older BI solutions.

    The biggest lesson I have learned with working with this solution has been in the area of data warehousing, you should develop something that is more like a star schema when building a BI solution, especially with this solution. It makes things much easier. We did not favour the star schema, we preferred the snowflake approach. However, data modelling is easier when you use the star schema.

    I rate Microsoft BI a seven out of ten.

    Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

    Public Cloud
    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    WinayakWagle - PeerSpot reviewer
    Owner at Pranali Consultants
    Real User
    Straightforward to setup, constantly updated, and very stable
    Pros and Cons
    • "The solution is quite scalable."
    • "Microsoft has got a very large repository of all change suggestions which have been raised by the BI community. They keep on adding features that are very widely sought after by the community. We don't focus on product features. We focus on business requirements. To use the solution, we find that existing features are good enough and offer us a very effective solution."

    What is our primary use case?

    The data is captured by transaction processing systems, and even when the data is captured by a very sophisticated enterprise resource planning system, or ERP system, such as SAP. We'll find that that data is organized in a manner that is suited for the data updated. Therefore, when data has to be used for decision making, it has to be reoriented and organized in a manner that is suitable for data analysis and further for predictive analytics also. What we do is pull out data from multiple data sources, either on SAP or somewhere else.

    There could be a certain budget or plan or target-related data on some other platform or on a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. The data is stored at different places. Some data could be on your internet platforms. Wherever it is, we pull out the data. Then we get that into the SQL server and we organize it in a manner that's suitable for further creation of dashboards and analytics applications, which can be used for better decision making.

    How has it helped my organization?

    The company has been able to make better decisions, due to the fact that, when we prepare business intelligence or data analytics applications, they are used by very similar decision-makers, as well as middle-level management decision-makers. From the same infrastructure, the data is used by even the report consumers. You can consider three layers of users, report consumers, mid-level use, as in, those who do interactive analysis of data, and decision-makers. Right at the top, those who would like to see the key performance indicators and use them for deciding a course of action can do so. All of our applications have been providing functionality for all these types of needs, including risk and compliance.

    What is most valuable?

    The solution offers many features, however, just the way in which that product is designed is quite useful for us. 

    The way in which it can connect to multiple data sources is also very useful. The way in which data can be manipulated by using data analysis expressions has also been a good feature for us.

    The solution is stable.

    The solution is quite scalable. 

    Our clients seem to be happy with the level of technical support they receive.

    With our experience, the initial setup is straightforward.

    Microsoft is often updating the solution adding new helpful features.

    What needs improvement?

    I'm not a product expert as such, however, I am aware that Microsoft comes out with a newer version, which is really downloadable and it's replaced every month. Therefore, the improvement is continuous. Since Microsoft provides a free downloadable desktop version of our BI. That desktop portion gets a new version which comes every month, we can replace the older version. 

    Their ecosystem is quite good in terms of adding new features, in terms of adding custom visuals or adding many more interfaces or reporting features and more functionality within existing reporting and graphs. We don't have much to complain about except that they can always add many more features as they go.

    Microsoft has got a very large repository of all change suggestions which have been raised by the BI community. They keep on adding features that are very widely sought after by the community. We don't focus on product features. We focus on business requirements. To use the solution, we find that existing features are good enough and offer us a very effective solution.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    We've used the solution since its inception. We've used it for a very long time. We have been in this domain for the past 30 years.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    The solution is quite stable. That's why it is right at the top, of Gartner's quadrant. We have deployed it with hundreds of users and it's withstood the test of time.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    The solution is quite scalable. Of course, it requires data strategy just like any solution or any tool.

    We tend to have 100 to 200 users at a minimum using the solution.

    The solution is extensively deployed. We have plans to use it on an ongoing basis. They come out with new versions and new features every month, and this constant updating and iteration of the product have really been very helpful for us to provide more advanced solutions.

    How are customer service and support?

    In terms of technical support, we don't really deal with it. Normally, our clients have a contract with Microsoft, however, my understanding is that their experience is good. 

    Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

    We were using a CA tool and we have done work on Oracle. We have done work on many such platforms. However, since 2008 or 2009, we have been focusing on Microsoft as the total cost of ownership has been quite reasonable.

    How was the initial setup?

    The initial setup is quite straightforward.

    Our implementation strategy involved a business requirement phase where we sought out to understand exactly the expectations for a particular project. Then there is was a design phase where we decided on a data strategy of pulling data from multiple data switches. After that, there was a dashboard design phase, which includes wireframing of dashboards and then designing the dashboards according to those wireframes. Finally, we deploy and in that phase, we put in role level security, et cetera, and deploy it at an enterprise level. The entire process tasks three to four months in total, end-to-end.

    We don't require much maintenance due to our maturity in design and development. We have been monitoring sites without having to add too many resources at our end as we have a robust design and maybe one person can handle four to five.

    What about the implementation team?

    We do the implementation on our own. We have deep experience in this area, and we have developed two types of processes that we use to deploy our solutions. One is the data approach, where you know all best practices and methodologies are embedded into that thing. That framework gives a hundred percent assurance in terms of the success of that project. We have also developed a presentation layer framework whereby different subject areas are designed with very indicative dashboards and those dashboards can be quickly adapted to any data. That way, rather than starting from scratch, we use this framework which helps us to deploy our solution quite successfully. It's very fast also. We save around 50% to 55% of the time this way.

    What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

    We don't deal directly with licensing. That said, certainly, we are aware in terms of what the Microsoft BI license costs. If it has to be applied on the cloud, then it costs around $10 per month per user. For a pro license and for a premium license it's around $20 per month per user. If it has to be applied on-premises then, depending on the course of your server, you have to buy a software assurance version of the database.

    They don't charge for additional features. If you want a premium capacity to handle your work or job, then there is a separate license available. That is a premium license, which is available with the entire product managed by Microsoft and you can use lot more features, including Azure, et cetera.

    What other advice do I have?

    We are Microsoft partners.

    We have two deployment options. Some of our clients have deployed the cloud solution. Some are deployed on-premises.

    Anybody who has worked on existing spreadsheet-based solutions can quickly adapt to Microsoft BI and the data visualization and interactive data features, they'll find it very exciting to use and very fast to adapt to it. It's a very effective solution.

    I'd rate the solution at a nine out of ten.

    Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

    On-premises
    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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    Buyer's Guide
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    Updated: June 2022
    Buyer's Guide
    Download our free Microsoft BI Report and get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions.