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One of the challenges with Power BI is that there are so many ways it can be used and so many nuances that the platform may seem overwhelming to some. In this post, I’d like to share some mainstream, as well as specialized use cases.
First a little history of how Power BI came to be. Power BI is based on SQL Server Analysis Services which is over 20 years old. Although SSAS has been reinvented and modernized a few times, the point is it’s based on the foundation of a semantic data model that’s been around for a long time.
This technology graduated into Power Pivot for Excel in 2010 and as Power BI continued to grow up, we saw Power View (a great data visualization tool) and then Power Query and add ins for Excel. When these capabilities came together in Excel as add ins, it was the transition of Microsoft taking BI to the masses, to the business analyst user rather than just through IT channels.
Finally, in 2015 Power BI was released as both a desktop tool and a cloud-based service independent of Office 365, SharePoint and Excel, among other tools, which made it a rock-solid stand-alone tool and eventually a platform that is very capable and enterprise ready.
The data model is the foundation of Power BI reports. If you get the data model right, then reporting comes easy. When you think about the queries that you create, think of them as the legs that hold up that foundation; those are your data sources or how you connect to that data.
After we get acquired data through these queries, we build the data model and again, get the model right and the rest becomes easy and you can build report visuals on top of that data model. Unfortunately, data modeling is not always super easy to do, especially when you have complex problems to solve.
When I explain to clients what Power BI is, I start with mainstream use cases. Thinking back again, years ago we used Excel or reporting services over an Analysis Services data model. We’ve now graduated to Power BI report visuals with a Power BI data model, which is still based on Analysis Services. A lot of new features are going into data models created with Power BI rather than Analysis Services and this may provide everything customers need, except for larger solutions.
Let’s look more at the progression of Power BI and mainstream use cases:
Now let’s look at some features that not everyone will need or use:
Hopefully I’ve provided a reference point to understand both the mainstream and specialized use cases in the Power BI platform as it continues to move forward at a fast pace. We are passionate about Power BI and what it can do for your business. And with our Power BI Managed Services we will manage and monitor your entire Power BI ecosystem, so you can achieve your data-driven potential without the management hassle.
To learn more about Power BI or our Power BI Managed Services, click the link below or contact us—we’d love to help.
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