Microsoft Power BI For Dummies

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Microsoft Power BI For Dummies by Jack A. Hyman

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Data is everywhere — no matter where you go, and no matter what you do, someone is gathering data around you. The tools and techniques utilized to evaluate data have undoubtedly matured over the past decade or two. Less than a decade ago, for example, the lowly spreadsheet was considered an adequate tool to collect, measure, and calculate results — even for somewhat complex datasets. Not anymore! The modern organization accumulates data at such a rapid pace that more sophisticated approaches beyond spreadsheets have become the new normal. Some might even call the spreadsheet a dinosaur.


Welcome to the generation of business intelligence. And what does business intelligence require, you ask? Consider querying data sources, reporting, caching data, and visualizing data as being just the tip of the iceberg. Ask yourself this question: If you had to address your organization’s needs, what would they be? Would taking structured, unstructured, and semistructured data and making sense of it be part of your organizational requirements? Perhaps developing robust business analytics outputs for executive consumption? Or, is the mandate from the leadership the delivery of complex reports, visualizations, dashboards, and key performance indicators? If you’re shaking your head right now and whispering all the above, you are not alone.


This is what enterprises today, large and small, expect. And with Microsoft Power BI, part of the Power Platform, you can deliver a highly sophisticated level of business intelligence to your organization, accomplishing each of these business objectives with little effort.


Power BI was initially conceived as part of the SQL Server Reporting Team back in 2010. Then, Power BI made its way into the Office 365 suite in September 2013 as an advanced analytics product. Power BI was built around Microsoft Excel core add-ins: Power Query, Power Pivot, and Power View. Along the way, Microsoft added a few artificial intelligence features, such as the Q&A Engine, enterpriselevel data connectors, and security options via the Power BI Gateway. The product became so popular with the enterprise business community that, in July of 2015, Power BI was separated from the Office family, becoming its own product line. Finally, in late 2019, Power BI merged with other Microsoft products to form the Power Platform family, which consists of Power Apps (mobile), Power Automate (workflow), and Power BI (business intelligence).


Whether you’re using Power BI as a stand-alone application to turn your data sources into interactive insights or integrating Power BI with applications such as Power Apps, SharePoint, or Dynamics 365, Power BI allows users to visualize and discover what is truly essential in their vast data resources. Users can share data at scale with ease. Depending on your role, you can create, view, or share data using the Power BI Desktop, the cloud-based Service, or the mobile app. The Power BI platform is designed to let users create, share, and consume business insights that effectively serve you and your team.


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