Microsoft BI Review

Good data transformation features, easy to learn for users of Excel, and the support is quick


What is our primary use case?

Enterprise reporting and digitization of dashboards using Microsoft Power BI, SSRS and Azure Reporting DB by integrating several applications to establish single version of truth.

How has it helped my organization?

Microsoft BI stack is very easy to use and most of the developer versions are free such as Power BI, DAX, SQL Server Development Edition. This helped us quick prototyping to generate value of data resting in silos. 

What is most valuable?

What I like most is that I can do everything in Power BI that I can do in Excel. It is very compatible with Excel tools, and anybody who works with Excel can learn and use Power BI quickly. 

Writing formulas and data transformation are good features.

What needs improvement?

The only challenge I have found is that they do not have a Mac version of Power BI. They should have versions for both Apple and Unix because you cannot install the desktop version for these operating systems.

In the future, I would like to see them add more AI and machine learning features, as well as self-service analytics.

You can use R and Python, but it would be helpful if they had some no-code machine learning options that you find in other tools.

The UI/UX can be improved. Products such as Tableau and QlikView are very good in terms of the user interface.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Microsoft BI for five years, on and off.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I have not found any issues with respect to stability. Microsoft has invested a lot and they are continuing to invest in Power BI.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Given that there is a server version for services that can be used to implement and roll out reports at the organizational level, it's scalable.

In my current organization, I am training 15 people on how to use it and I am looking to expand to 50 users.

How are customer service and technical support?

Microsoft support is quick. We also have a dedicated partner for support, and they are good.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Prior to incorporate Power BI in the stack, we were using Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services(SSRS) only. They do not have any visualization interface, but you can do static reporting. This is the reason that we are switching. Probably, we will use SSRS and Azure SQL at the backend, but there won't be used as the visualization tool.

For visualization, we used to use Excel. Which not reliable. 

How was the initial setup?

The installation is easy. The download takes perhaps five minutes, depending on the bandwidth. Overall, it can be downloaded and installed within half an hour and no training is required.

The desktop version is used for development and the cloud version is used to submit a report. Essentially, it is Power BI Desktop and Power BI Services. The desktop version is what is on-premises.

What about the implementation team?

You can deploy yourself but of course, in an office, you require an administrator.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The cost of this product is very low, at approximately $8 or $9 per month for a developer. It is the cheapest of all of the visualization tools. They have a 30-day trial available for you to try it.

For personal use, this product is free to use.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Tableau is a little bit expensive, although it is good if they want a very sophisticated solution. Both Tableau and QlikView are a little better in terms of the user interface.

What other advice do I have?

You need a technical team to operate the solution. You need people for the administration of the data connection and data integration. They should be skilled in SQL, data management, and so forth. Typically, these are data engineers.

We plan to continue using Microsoft BI. We are onboarding and implementing organization-wide for our long-term strategy, and the entire organization will be using Power BI.

My advice for anybody who is considering this product is that it is easy to learn, especially for somebody who is good at Excel. Other tools are easy to use as well but if you are a Windows user then Power BI is a good option.

I would rate this solution an eight out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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