Microsoft Power BI – Frequently Asked Questions

When introducing any new software into your business it is common to have many questions. Here are just some of the frequently asked questions for Power BI.

Power BI is a business analytics service provided by Microsoft. It provides interactive data visualisations for business intelligence, which empowers your employees to make fast and informed decisions.

With Power BI you can:

  • Transform data into stunning visuals and share them with colleagues on any device.
  • Visually explore and analyse data—on-premises and in the cloud—all in one view.
  • Collaborate on and share customised dashboards and interactive reports.
  • Scale across your company with built-in governance and security.

With so much data now being collected, it is important that as a business you are able to utilise this by identifying trends and opportunities that the data is presenting. One way to ensure this is by introducing a Business Intelligence solution such as Microsoft Power BI, as it easily turns raw and meaningless data into actionable insights.

When introducing any new software into your business it is common to have many questions. Here are just some of the frequently asked questions for Power BI.

Is Power BI real-time?

Reports can be real-time using streaming datasets or DirectQuery, but in most cases this is overkill. Scheduled refreshes can be set between 8-48 times a day depending on your licence subscription. The most common use case is either scheduling a refresh overnight or a few times throughout the day.

Can Power BI connect to a SQL Server?

Yes. SQL Server is one of 100+ data sources that Power BI can seamlessly connect to.

Is it possible for Power BI to send an email?

Yes. A user can choose to subscribe to the reports that matter most to them and receive email notifications when specific data changes.

Can Power BI export to excel?

Yes. A user can choose to export the data behind any visual to either .xlsx / .csv format and save this file.

Step 1: Select the ellipses in the top right corner of the visualization.

Step 2: Choose the Export data icon.

Step 3: Choose your file format, .xlsx or .csv. If the visual is filtered, then the downloaded data will also be filtered.

Step 4: Your browser will prompt you to save the file.

Can you use Power BI on a Mac

Yes. As the reports are consumed via a browser/mobile app, it does not matter what operating system you are using.

Where is Power BI data stored?

The Power BI service is built using the Microsoft Azure cloud platform. Data will be held between Azure BLOB storage and Azure SQL Database. The actual location of this depends on where your Power BI tenant is located, which is usually the closest available Azure data center.

Why is Power BI better than excel?
  • Speed – Both Power BI and Excel have Power Pivot and Power Query technology in the background to help model data, but Power BI is much faster and can handle greater amounts of data.
  • Visualisation capabilities – Building charts is much easier in Power BI and there are a greater variety of charts available. In recent times Microsoft has really put in the time to bring the formatting options of visuals in Power BI closer to that of in Excel.
  • Report consumption – Traditionally to view an excel report involves sending around an email containing a file, sometimes locked down, sometimes not, creating a chance for version chaos to ensue. With Power BI, the report is published to the online service, one file, one version of the truth, ensuring everyone is reading off the same page.
Can Power BI export to PDF?

Yes. A user can export the report to a PDF, but only using Power BI Desktop. This feature is not available in the Power BI Service yet.

To find out more about Power BI check out our interactive demos, or get in touch to have a chat about how it would work for your business. 

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