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Sasa-Vujovic
Senior Consultant at ICTPro
Real User
Top 5
Easy to prepare, distribute, and automate reports or connect to databases

Pros and Cons

  • "Many of my customers already use Microsoft products like Office 365, so I often propose Microsoft Power BI because it integrates well with all the standard Microsoft business tools. And it's the quickest tool to implement and start using daily."
  • "Microsoft BI's visualization could be better. Though Power BI's visualization has steadily improved over the years, it's not on the level tools like Tableau and SAS or some of the more expensive products on the market."

What is our primary use case?

As a consultant, I propose something appropriate for my client companies. Mostly, it's some type of ERP, warehouse management, or BI software. It depends on the size of the companies and their requirements.

Small and medium-sized businesses usually need some operations software to cover all the daily necessities. In most cases, I propose some local or regional software for ERP and warehouse management solutions. But for business intelligence and reporting, I typically go with a Microsoft solution.

What needs improvement?

Microsoft BI's visualization could be better. Though Power BI's visualization has steadily improved over the years, it's not on the level tools like Tableau and SAS or some of the more expensive products on the market.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Power BI is as stable as every other Microsoft product. It depends on the environment and other factors — it's not just Power BI. But it's quite stable, I think. And it's also on a very high level.

How are customer service and support?

Microsoft has a lot of partners that offer support and help you with implementation. So if you have some issues that can't be resolved by one level of support, you can find someone else in the same environment. I would say that from the partner level, Microsoft support is excellent. But, of course, it depends on how much you want to pay for it.

How was the initial setup?

The complexity of the Power BI setup depends on how much integration you need, the number of different databases you have to connect, and whether you're automating the system. However, setup is relatively easy for a standard environment. For reporting alone, it was easy to set up. So it really depends on the complexity of the environment, not on the tool.

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

Power BI's price is reasonable, especially if you can put it in some bigger package and use it with other products. The value of a solution doesn't just come from its features as a standalone product. The price should also reflect how easy it's to set up, clean data, and integrate with other solutions. So in that regard, I would say Microsoft Power BI's price is appropriate.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I recommend Tableau to customers for some things and Power BI for others. But, overall, you can use Power BI in more ways, it's cheaper, and it has a better pricing model.

What other advice do I have?

I rate Microsoft Power BI nine out of 10. It's widely used and incredibly practical. And it's a little easier to prepare, distribute, and automate reports or connect to databases. Power BI is also useful for warehouse management and data systems in data lakes. It's like a Swiss knife for reporting. So I generally recommend Microsoft Power BI for clients who don't have specific requirements for visualization. Tableau is better in that area. But at the same time, Power BI is also upgrading those features. 

Many of my customers already use Microsoft products like Office 365, so I often propose Microsoft Power BI because it integrates well with all the standard Microsoft business tools. And it's the quickest tool to implement and start using daily. You don't need much training. People can pick up this tool quickly and start using it right away. So I think that's the biggest advantage of Power BI. 

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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CB
Business Intelligence Developer at Kathmandu
Real User
Easy to make people understand what is going on but I would like to use SQL properly within the reports

Pros and Cons

  • "The drag and drop facility to easily change the data correctly is the most valuable feature. I am happy to see visualizations. It's easier to talk about and make people understand what is going on."
  • "I would like to be able to use SQL properly within the reports and allow multiple people to work on the same report at the same time. If one person is working on it, then it causes issues for anyone else wanting to make reports."

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case is to learn what Power BI can do. We also use it to create dashboards and to see what is available for people to use. We see how it integrates with Excel. You can easily get the data into a visualization but also still have access to the underlying data.  

We use it see how we can move away from an Excel spreadsheet but still give the users the correct answers to the questions that they have. I want to move away looking and fixing issues on particular lines and be able to easily answer the questions with visualizations so users can answer the questions a lot quicker and adapt to changes easier.  

How has it helped my organization?

I was self-learning it, we don't use it in our organization. We are looking to use it though in the future. We use a different tool and want to see if we can get more questions answered with Power BI. It's linked to Office 365 and Azure, so it would help us to answer some difficult questions and help identify issues/problems so we can find solutions and adapt the model a lot quicker. Going through over 100,000 lines of data takes too long and we need to be able to group the data more to be able to identify what works better, so a pie chart or map will help to identify issues that are not working. 

What is most valuable?

The drag and drop facility to easily change the data correctly is the most valuable feature. I am happy to see visualizations. It's easier to talk about and make people understand what is going on. But I need a way to work on getting the data showing correctly and be able to drill down into a worksheet like Excel, as people like to know what the top-level information means. It's important to be open and show them what they want. The number of visualizations is great. So many different options to choose from like heat maps to pie charts.

What needs improvement?

I would like to be able to use SQL properly within the reports and allow multiple people to work on the same report at the same time. If one person is working on it, then it causes issues for anyone else wanting to make reports. We want to condense some reports, so they work for all departments, and not have a version for every single department. Also, I would like to have formulas easier to complete and create. Having its own system means something new to learn, although saying that, it's not hard to pick up this information. 

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Microsoft BI for six months.  

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

Microstrategy, and no, we have not swapped yet. I use both to keep on top of my own skill set. 

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

It depends on what you are wanting to do. Get the cost of users, and the servers, and work out if you are hosting, or if it's going into the cloud. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We didn't as it's a company decision to look to change the BI system. 

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Microsoft Azure
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Learn what your peers think about Microsoft BI. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: November 2021.
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MK
Executive Vice President at a security firm with 201-500 employees
Real User
Good visualization, automatic charts, and drill-down capabilities

Pros and Cons

  • "The drill-down capabilities and automatic charts are the best ones. The visualization is also very good. In terms of visualization, no competing product, such as IBM Cognos or any other product, has the same capabilities."
  • "Microsoft BI comes under pressure when there is a lot of data to be crunched. It gets slower and slower, and the functionality becomes a bit of a problem. The performance goes down with data being fed into the system. The infrastructure requirement also increases if you have to increase the performance. This is the area that can be improved in my opinion. Initially, the product is good, but over the years, when data gets accumulated, it becomes a problem unless the old data is kind of archived and is no longer shown on the visualization. It has a feature by using which a user can query for a report through simple questions to a bot. So, if I want to look for the customer share of revenue by geography, I just simply state that in the chatbot. If I wanted it in a pie chart, then you say, "Please show it to me in a pie chart." It comes out well for basic charts. This feature should be improvised more so that people can very quickly get customized reports on the go."

What is our primary use case?

I take care of business transformations in the company, which includes solution transformation, and so on. We have a range of products that are legacy products. They are fairly old. We are substituting them with new age products, and one of them is Power BI. We are using its latest version currently.

What is most valuable?

The drill-down capabilities and automatic charts are the best ones. The visualization is also very good. In terms of visualization, no competing product, such as IBM Cognos or any other product, has the same capabilities.

What needs improvement?

Microsoft BI comes under pressure when there is a lot of data to be crunched. It gets slower and slower, and the functionality becomes a bit of a problem. The performance goes down with data being fed into the system. The infrastructure requirement also increases if you have to increase the performance. This is the area that can be improved in my opinion. Initially, the product is good, but over the years, when data gets accumulated, it becomes a problem unless the old data is kind of archived and is no longer shown on the visualization.

It has a feature by using which a user can query for a report through simple questions to a bot. So, if I want to look for the customer share of revenue by geography, I just simply state that in the chatbot. If I wanted it in a pie chart, then you say, "Please show it to me in a pie chart." It comes out well for basic charts. This feature should be improvised more so that people can very quickly get customized reports on the go.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for a couple of years. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Its scalability is good. The only issue is the performance that degrades when more data comes in, but when it comes to scalability within a particular level of data, it is really good.

How are customer service and technical support?

I don't know. I am not technically so much involved in the day-to-day side of this.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is a process by itself, so we have to take external help in terms of implementation. In terms of various reports and other things, I don't have an idea about the complexity of the implementation because we took expert advice, and an external consultant implemented it for us. I would guess that it is a bit extensive and needs a lot of work to be usable.

What other advice do I have?

I would definitely recommend Power BI for those entities that are not complex. Unless and until there is a very high volume to be handled, I believe Microsoft Power BI is the best solution to go for, particularly when somebody buys a stack of Microsoft products, which includes Office, SharePoint, and so on. The whole Microsoft Office Suite is a brilliant product in its entirety, and there is good and easy integration with SharePoint, etc. This is a nice feature that other products don't have. There is a stack of IBM as well, but it is not as good as Microsoft.

I would rate Microsoft BI an eight out of ten. I am pretty happy with this solution, and the two points are down because of the performance issue and probably the cost.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Private Cloud
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
ND
Business Intelligence Manager at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Real User
Top 20
Good reporting, enables self-service BI, it's stable, and we are satisfied with the pricing

Pros and Cons

  • "It's easy to create reports and it's easy to download the data from the corresponding report."
  • "We would like improvements made to the paginated reports so that it produces quality similarly to SSRS."

What is our primary use case?

This solution is primarily used for business analytics. We generate reports so that the business analytics team can use them for their analysis.

How has it helped my organization?

Previously, we used Excel to perform the analysis. It was very tedious for them to get data into Excel, do the refresh, and generate the reports. Now, using Microsoft BI, they can connect directly with the data, it gets refreshed automatically, and they don't have to worry about refreshing it.

They get the data in the report section and they don't have to worry about report generation, data modeling, and other aspects.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the reporting. It's easy to create reports and it's easy to download the data from the corresponding report.

This product enables self-service BI.

What needs improvement?

The paginated report functionality, which was intended to replace SPSS, is not yet up to the mark. We would like improvements made to the paginated reports so that it produces quality similarly to SSRS.

There is no automation for paginated reports, so then need to make it automated.

Ultimately, I would like to see all of the features from SSRS that are missing. That's ideally what I would like to have.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Microsoft BI for the past 10 years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This product is pretty stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability depends on the kind of reports and data we are looking at. It has multiple features for us based on the functionality and the requirement of the customer. It's not limited only to enterprise-specific customers. Rather,  It can be used by small, medium, as well as enterprise-based customers.

There is no limitation as such. So it's quite scalable.

I have work two different companies at this time, and as far as I know, there are between 1,500 and 2,000 people who use this product.

How are customer service and technical support?

The quality of support depends on the Microsoft partner that you are working with. 

We have not faced any significant issues, but when we have, we raised a bug with the Microsoft technical team and they have resolved things accordingly.

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

This is the only tool that we are using for reporting. Previously, we used Crystal Reports.

What about the implementation team?

We deployed this product ourselves. We used the documentation that is available at Microsoft.com.

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

The cost of licensing depends on the number of people that are going to be using the reports, and we are satisfied with it at $10 per user.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Our company focuses on Microsoft products, so we did not evaluate solutions by other vendors.

What other advice do I have?

My advice is that if you are looking for an aggregated level of data, using it for reporting, then it's better to use Power BI because everything will be in memory and it will be much faster.

I would rate this solution a nine out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Private Cloud
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: partner
IH
Advisory Software Engineer at a tech services company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Interactive, user friendly, and efficient in terms of performance

Pros and Cons

  • "The best thing about this solution is that it is very user friendly. It is interactive in terms of visualizations. It is very eye-catching, and it attracts users. There are a lot of options to visualize the data in different drafts and views. I have used different visualization tools, and I found Power BI to be more efficient in terms of performance, user-friendliness, and ease of use."
  • "A few features available in Tableau are not available in Power BI. For example. Tableau has the ability to make up the physical layer and all other stuff at runtime. In Power BI, we have to develop a proper physical layer to connect it. The limitation that we normally face is related to the direct query mode. When it comes to the direct query mode, most of the functionality is not working, which is an issue for us. We have to use the direct query mode frequently because the client needs real-time data. They should work on this limitation. There are a lot of other technical things that need to be improved. I am also following the Power BI platform and Microsoft Support Center platform on the web where users have put their requirements. Microsoft is also working on improving this solution. In every update, they add new features to this solution."

What is most valuable?

The best thing about this solution is that it is very user friendly. It is interactive in terms of visualizations. It is very eye-catching, and it attracts users. There are a lot of options to visualize the data in different drafts and views. 

I have used different visualization tools, and I found Power BI to be more efficient in terms of performance, user-friendliness, and ease of use.

What needs improvement?

A few features available in Tableau are not available in Power BI. For example. Tableau has the ability to make up the physical layer and all other stuff at runtime. In Power BI, we have to develop a proper physical layer to connect it.

The limitation that we normally face is related to the direct query mode. When it comes to the direct query mode, most of the functionality is not working, which is an issue for us. We have to use the direct query mode frequently because the client needs real-time data. They should work on this limitation.

There are a lot of other technical things that need to be improved. I am also following the Power BI platform and Microsoft Support Center platform on the web where users have put their requirements. Microsoft is also working on improving this solution. In every update, they add new features to this solution.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for more than four years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is stable. I haven't found it hanging. It consumes a lot of memory on the local system but not while developing the reports. It also depends on the data on which we are working, but generally, it is light and stable.

How are customer service and technical support?

My overall experience with Microsoft is actually quite good. We have contacted their technical support once or twice. It was something related to the Power BI visualization, where we needed to visualize some data, but they had some kind of limitation in personalization. We also wanted to connect Power BI with other servers, but we were facing some performance issues. The reports were not working fine. I don't think they managed to solve our issues.

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

I have worked on SiteSense and Oracle OBIEE. I feel more satisfied when I'm working with Power BI. It is more convenient as compared to other solutions.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is easy. I didn't find any complexity in it. It can be difficult if the end users don't know how to use it. If they are trained on it, then after a week or a month, it gets easier for the end users. 

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

Its cost seems to be unreasonable if you have many users, but for a lesser number of users, it is reasonable. It is $10 per month. Clients easily accept this option, so they must think it is reasonable. 

It is quite cheap as compared to other tools, such as Tableau. One of the best things about this solution is that it has a trial version.

What other advice do I have?

I would rate Microsoft BI a seven out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Syed Fahad Anwar
Principal System Developer at a government with 51-200 employees
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
Is easy to install, stable, and scalable, and helps to quickly create dashboards

Pros and Cons

  • "What I like about Power BI is how fast you are able to create dashboards and how fast you are able to fetch the data. You can connect to the database or data source, and then you can design your dashboards very easily."
  • "There are some limitations in Power BI; you have to work in the Power BI base. However, if you want something not out-of-the-box and you want something custom, you have to do a lot of work."

What is our primary use case?

The use case for power BI is to generate dashboards for high-end management and operational dashboards.

What is most valuable?

What I like about Power BI is how fast you are able to create dashboards and how fast you are able to fetch the data. You can connect to the database or data source, and then you can design your dashboards very easily.

The best thing about Power BI is that you can manipulate the data within Power BI, so you don't have to update the data source to have filtration or conditional formatting. You can easily do those things under Power BI.

It is easy and has rapid development.

It is stable and scalable as well.

What needs improvement?

There is an issue with Microsoft because the on-premises Power BI is behind the cloud Power BI. So, the on-premises Power BI is six months or one year behind the cloud version because Microsoft published the cloud features first, and then they published the on-premises version. This has been an issue. They should be on the same level of capability.

There are some limitations in Power BI; you have to work in the Power BI base. However, if you want something not out-of-the-box and you want something custom, you have to do a lot of work. Microsoft can provide some easy way to customize the dashboards.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using this solution for two to three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is stable, but there is an issue with Microsoft because the on-premises Power BI is behind the cloud Power BI. The features of on-premises Power BI are six months or one year behind the cloud version. They are not on the same level of capability.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability of Power BI is quite good.

How are customer service and technical support?

Microsoft technical support could be more knowledgeable.

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

We switched to Power BI because it is easy, and there is rapid development.

How was the initial setup?

Installation is easy and took about half an hour.

What about the implementation team?

It requires a little bit of effort, and we needed the help of a consultant.

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

Power BI comes with enterprise Microsoft licensing. So for the user, you don't have to pay, but you do have to pay a one-time cost.

What other advice do I have?

If you want to use Power BI, you should go for the cloud version. Don't use the on-premises version because the cloud version has a lot of features which the on-premises version doesn't have.

Also, if you are going to use Power BI, you should know what all your capabilities are. Otherwise, if you try to do some things such as develop a dashboard which is not supported by Power BI, it will be a showstopper for you.

I would rate this solution at eight on a scale from one to 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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Mohammed Motiwala
Summer Intern at a financial services firm with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Good visualization capabilities, a lot of online content, but not easy to define a relationship and has a bit of a learning curve

Pros and Cons

  • "Its visualization capabilities are pretty good. It is very easy to use. You can easily make your dashboard."
  • "Defining a relationship was very confusing. There were circular directions for which I had to do a lot of adjustments in the data. They can do something to make it easier."

What is our primary use case?

I used it to build a simple dashboard. What I did was very simple. I used it to load different datasets. I defined relationships between them and played around with the data by using visuals.

I must have downloaded the version that was really available at that time.

How has it helped my organization?

I had to build a simple dashboard in which I had to combine two or three different datasets. They were large enough, so it wasn't possible to work on them easily in Excel. In Power BI, I used the relationship feature, and I was able to store the data in such a way that it does not occupy a lot of space. I could then send the file over email.

What is most valuable?

Its visualization capabilities are pretty good. It is very easy to use. You can easily make your dashboard.

There is a lot of self-help content available from a lot of different platforms, such as YouTube. So, whenever I faced an issue, it was not difficult. I could always find a solution to the issue I was facing.

What needs improvement?

Defining a relationship was very confusing. There were circular directions for which I had to do a lot of adjustments in the data. They can do something to make it easier.

For how long have I used the solution?

I worked on it this summer. I just used it for a month or two.

What other advice do I have?

Defining Relationships can be confusing when you are working with a complex data model. It can result in circular relationship referencing and the interface does not help solve it, or even understand it, in any way. It takes time to figure out a different way to structure the data model and Power BI offers no guidance on that. Online help is limited.

There is a lot of content available online. When I started out, the way I was defining the relationship between the data and the way my model was structured was not very efficient. I spent a lot of time in making it more efficient. So, I would advise others to do enough research. I was learning on the go. If you spend about six or seven hours learning it, it would be much better. Even though it is marketed as something that is easily usable and anyone can come and start using it, there is a bit of a learning curve.

I was very easily able to load the data and conduct an as-is analysis of what is happening, but if I want to do a deeper analysis of the data and break down a variable into different components, I don't know if it is possible in Power BI. I tried to do it a little bit, but it was not easy. So, it is good when you have the data, and you just want to present it and look at it in different ways, but if you want to analyze the data and break down the numbers and play around with the data, I don't know if it is possible in Power BI.

I would rate Power BI a seven out of 10.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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MJ
Global Director - HR Technology & Platforms at a manufacturing company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Good visualization with an easy initial setup and good overall stability

Pros and Cons

  • "The fact that you can visualize items is great."
  • "The solution could be quicker at rendering data."

What is our primary use case?

We primarily use the solution for building dashboards, one-off analytics, and things of that nature that combine data.

How has it helped my organization?

The functions from a standpoint of generating analytics have been really helpful overall. That aspect has helped improve our organization.

What is most valuable?

In general, we are pretty pleased.

The ability to combine the data and to connect with pretty established platforms has been the solution's most valuable aspect to us. 

The fact that you can visualize items is great. The visualization power is very good.

The initial setup is straightforward.

What needs improvement?

I don't know if I can pinpoint any specific items that I don't like. However, the more connectors that they provide the better. 

I don't use it day in, day out to tell you if it has any kind of functionality items that may be open up for improvement opportunities. 

The solution could probably beef up items related to statistics and things to cover the gap between the advanced things that you can do with Tableau. Any kind of advanced statistical analysis would be very helpful in future releases.  

The solution could be quicker at rendering data.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using the solution for three years or so.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is very stable. It's reliable. We've been happy with it. There aren't bugs or glitches. It doesn't crash or freeze.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The solution can scale well if you need it to. That shouldn't be a problem for any organization.

I'm not sure how many people are actually using the solution in our organization. Everybody has been kind of encouraged to leverage the platform on an ongoing basis. However, obviously, those that are holding jobs related to any kind of analytics are probably more prone to using it.

How are customer service and technical support?

I don't tend to deal with technical support. That's probably more on the IT team than on my plate and therefore I don't really know how their tech support works. I can't speak to their knowledgeability and response times.

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

With our company, there were probably those that needed to do advanced analytics that were using solutions like Tableau or Excel.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is not complex. It's pretty straightforward. A company shouldn't run into any problems when it comes to setting it up.

What other advice do I have?

We have a pretty strong partnership with Microsoft and we tend to help them develop their product as well.

We are using the latest version of the solution at this time.

I would advise other organizations that the product has a lot to offer and therefore it's worth the investment and the effort.

I would rate the solution at a nine out of ten. Sometimes it could be quite at rendering data, however, overall, we've been happy with the results.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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