The most important thing for a data analyst is the choice of the right tool to help them do their job. In a seemingly ever-expanding sea of data analytics tools, it can sometimes seem hard to focus on a single superior choice. When examining the pro-and-con list for each of these tools, thinking about your everyday needs is ultimately what can best help you make your decision. This is where Power BI –  Microsoft’s new data analytics tool meant for professional use by data analysts – comes into play. Essentially, Power BI is a suite of tools that help data analysts be better and more efficient at their job.  What Microsoft offers through Power BI are dashboards which provide all of their data in one place, in real time, and available on all of their devices.  

The target audience 

A data analyst’s job is to collect, process and perform statistical analyses of data. Their goal is to understand how data can be used to answer questions and solve problems. Data analysts usually work with IT teams for companies of any size to mine and gather data relevant to their organization. They do this by analyzing and interpreting results using standard statistical tools and techniques. A data analyst’s job also includes pinpointing trends, correlations, and patterns in complicated data sets, identifying new opportunities for process improvement, providing concise data reports and clear data visualizations for management, designing, creating and maintaining relational databases and data systems, and triaging code problems and data-related issues. 

So, what are the most important feature to data analysts regarding the tools they use for their work? The answer is cohesion, precision, and efficiency. Power BI offers all of these under one useful set of tools. Data analysts are creative and curious by nature, and another advantage of Power BI is the freedom to freely express their creativity through endless variations on customizing their own visualizations and their dashboards to their own preferences. 

 

Cohesion 

Analytics change daily, and as such, they require tools that can keep track of information quickly and in real time. This is achieved more easily when all the tools needed to analyze data are found in one place. Through hybrid deployment support, Power BI offers integration of hundreds of sources, from Microsoft to SalesForce and Google Analytics, giving analysts more time to focus on their work instead of mining sources. Furthermore, Power BI also offers integration with Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant to quickly note observations via their mobile phones using verbal software.  

The place where Power BI’s cohesion is most obvious is certainly its’ dashboard. When talking about Power BI’s dashboard, we are talking about a single page that contains all of the users’ reports told through visualizations containing only the most important information from that report. These reports – sometimes referred to as stories – are called tiles and are pinned to the dashboard from reports. Tiles not only come from reports (each of which is based on one dataset) but also lead to them – meaning we can view the dashboard as a sort of entryway into the reports created by the user. Entire report pages can also be pinned to the dashboards in form of one tile. What this means for data analysts is that the second they log into Power BI, they are greeted by real-time visualizations leading them to all their existing reports, cutting down on time and effort usually needed to toggle between multiple reports and apps. To add to the usage of dashboards, you can also share dashboards with your colleagues to get a second opinion or a helping hand with your reports.  


Precision 

An important feature in creating data analytics reports is precision. Users need to be able to pinpoint exact data useful for its organization and analyze it in the most efficient way possible. Also useful in providing precise information in data analytics is real time provided by Power BI’s dashboard. The use of these tools allows users to precisely create, share, and manage their reports, helping their organization to achieve optimal results through data analysis.  

At its core, Power BI is a data analytics tool. The number one way users can use it for analyzing data is through reports. A Power BI report is one or more pages of visualizations, also sometimes called visuals (charts and graphs like line charts, pie charts, treemaps, and many many more). Reports can be created from scratch within Power BI, can be imported with dashboards that colleagues share with you, or can be created when you connect to datasets from Excel, Power BI Desktop, databases, SaaS applications, and apps. For example, when you connect to an Excel workbook that contains Power View sheets, Power BI creates a report based on those sheets. And when you connect to a SaaS application, Power BI imports a pre-built report. One report is contained in a single workspace, can be associated with multiple dashboards within that workspace (tiles pinned from that one report can appear on multiple dashboards), and can be created using data from one dataset.  

 

Efficiency 

The most certain way to achieve efficiency is certainly by saving time, and this is exactly what Power BI offers. By concentrating all of the tools, reports, and workers in one place, Power BI aims to cut down on time previously needed to switch back between apps, create visuals, and meet with coworkers. The dashboard is the best representation of the way in which Power BI gathers reports in one place. Not only can reports be accessed, viewed and edited from the dashboard, they can also be shared with your coworkers, who can also edit them right from the app, cutting down on time usually wasted in sending those reports back and forth. Multiple dashboards are all stored in one workplace. Workplaces also contain reports, workbooks, and datasets created by all of your teams’ members. Again, this minimizes the time wasted in traditional team communication and optimizes the efficiency of each user. Power BI also offers the option of collaboration in Office 365, allowing you to easily schedule and hold meetings on one platform.  

Another tool found in the workplace is Excel’s workbooks. By having workbooks available to all coworkers under one workplace, Power BI minimizes the chances of miscommunication or accidentally losing data. All workbooks are constantly available to all of the users online, allowing them the freedom to set their own schedule and gain access to data at any given time. 

Power BI also offers users the option to directly publish their content to the web instead of using traditional services, again cutting down on time and effort needed to keep track of all of the data. This allows your clients to easily access your reports anytime from any device. 

The future is now 

Looking at all of the tools Power BI provides for its users, it is easy to conclude that any data analyst serious about their job should take into consideration incorporating it into their daily routine. Power BI is not just a data analytics tool, workplace hub, or a tool for mining data, it is all of those things. By switching to Power BI, users can optimize their efficiency in ways not previously available, completely cutting out the need to use several unnecessary tools and spread their data over multiple storage areas and workplaces. The future is now, and with its ability to easily integrate and bring all of the available information to all the users,  Power BI is one of the best representations of what it will look like.