Several years ago, there was a blog post written about the 5 reasons that you should use Power BI. In this revisiting of the topic, I’m going to take a look at all the new features added as well as the things that have shown themselves to be more useful as time has marched on.
If your visual needs are met but there isn’t a way to connect to your data, then there is always the option of developing a custom data connector. Or, if you are more familiar with data cleaning and engineering with Python or R scripts there are custom script data sources as well.
Since Power BI Desktop receives monthly updates, and the service is updated weekly, there are always new features and creature comforts being added. Many of which are requested by the community!
Speaking of community, Power BI's is very active and helpful. A lot of it centers around powerbi.com, community.powerbi.com, blog.powerbi.com, and local user groups. Using those sites, you can request a new feature or vote on other suggestions, get answers to technical questions, and read up on the newest features in desktop and the service, community challenges, webinars, and much more. There are a bunch of local user groups for Power BI or SQL Server, and many of them have started to provide online meetings.
As you could expect from the name, Power BI is part of the larger Power Platform which includes PowerApps and Power Automate. All these platforms interconnect and can affect one another. For example, you can embed a PowerApp in a Power BI report, allowing people to turn data into action. You could also use Power Automate to trigger a Dataset refresh based on any number of triggers such as data-driven alerts, Files being uploaded to SharePoint, new rows being inserted into a table in SQL, and many more.
DataFlows allow a few people on a team who are more familiar with data modeling/transformation to curate common business logic for others to use, reducing the chances of the same metric showing differently in two places. While this functionality exists in many other places (SQL, Oracle, etc.) the ability to have the same knowledge and UI for query building in Power BI desktop carry over to an ETL tool means this pattern is more accessible to people who would traditionally not work in the BI space.
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Posted by Evan Gordon
Consultant: Data Platform and Analytics