Microsoft BI Overview

Microsoft BI is the #1 ranked solution in our list of top Business Intelligence Tools. It is most often compared to Tableau: Microsoft BI vs Tableau

What is Microsoft BI?

Microsoft BI is a business intelligence solution that turns data into insightful and useful business information that is relevant to all levels of the business.

Microsoft BI combines familiar Microsoft tools - Office, SharePoint, and SQL server, with extra features for end-users, such as Power View and Power Pivot. This powerful product gives businesses a competitive advantage by allowing end-users to better analyze their data, collaborate and better present their data.

Microsoft BI is also known as SSRS, SSAS, MSBI, MS Reporting Services, Power BI, Microsoft BI Tools, Microsoft Big Data, Power BI Pro, MS BI, MS BI, MS BI.

Microsoft BI Buyer's Guide

Download the Microsoft BI Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: May 2021

Microsoft BI Customers

Konica Minolta, Klout, Mahindra Satyam, The Weather Channel, Argus, Credit Suisse, NCR, and Sysmex.

Microsoft BI Video

Pricing Advice

What users are saying about Microsoft BI pricing:
  • "Pricing is a big advantage that Power BI has over Tableau. Power BI is three or four times cheaper than Tableau. For my personal use, I will definitely prefer a $20 monthly fee of Power BI rather than a $70 monthly fee of Tableau. If you pay altogether for Power BI, they give you a discount, whereas, with Tableau, there is no discount. There are three versions of Power BI: Free, Pro, and Premium. The Premium version comes with a lot of things. There is no extra or hidden fee. You pay every month, and the software is with you. If you upgrade, there will be some extra charges."
  • "For my primary use case, i.e. teaching students, the free version of Power BI is adequate."
  • "Setup is easy, and the cost is economical. You do sometimes need to pay additional costs for third party products which "plug-in" to Microsoft BI."
  • "We pay on a monthly basis which is approximately $10 per user on the Microsoft Power BI Pro license. At the moment we are still down at 400 users, but once we reach 500 users, we will move to the premium edition. The premium is $5,000 for unlimited users. Currently, with the 40 users, the cost is roughly $500."
  • "This product offers good value for the money."

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Tariq Raza (MS Certified)
Operations & BI Analyst at American Hospital Dubai
Real User
Top 5
A complete ecosystem with an builtin ETL tool, good integrations with python and R, and support of DAX and Power Query (M languages)

What is our primary use case?

Tariq: I am currently using it for my professional and training use. I am using the Power BI Premium per user recent scheme announced by Microsoft. In my current company, we are using Tableau.

Pros and Cons

  • "Power BI is a complete ecosystem. It has an integrated ETL tool and good connectivity with applications such as Office 365 and SQL. There are also solutions for RPA, such as Microsoft Power Automate and Microsoft Power Apps. Power BI now has integration with Power Query, which has an AI feature for text analytics. Text analytics is a very good feature. This feature is also there in Tableau, but I like it in Power BI because you can write something like, "What is the total sale in the Eastern region?", and it will give you the answer. For example, when you have different types of user opinions, you just run one algorithm and you will have the output that provides the number of positive and negative responses. You can even have a dashboard with positive remarks. This feature has been introduced recently. Power BI supports the DAX and Power Query M languages. These languages are making Power BI very strong in data analytics, and you can do many types of analysis."
  • "It should be more user-friendly. There are very small or tiny icons that you need to move very carefully. If you go a little bit up and down, some of the values change. Its user interface should be improved. It should be like Tableau. Its performance is also slow and should be improved. I definitely feel some sort of speed issues with Power BI. The integration of Excel with Power BI would also be good."

What other advice do I have?

Tariq: I will suggest below guidelines to Power BI users. Limit the number of visuals in dashboards and reports According to Microsoft's Optimization guide for Power BI, placing many visuals in a single report slows report performance. Limit widget visuals to eight per report page and grids to one per page. Limit pages 30 points (cards: 1, gauges: 2, charts: 3, maps: 3, grids: 5). Limit tiles to 10 per dashboard. To improve Power BI report performance, remove unnecessary interactions between visuals By default, all visuals on a report page can interact with one another. For optimal report…
BL
Certified Adjunct Faculty, School of Engineering and Computing at a university with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
Helps introduce data analytics in a way that students understand and appreciate

What is our primary use case?

I have taught and mastered many desktop tools, including Power BI, for the purpose of prototyping designs for business intelligence and data warehousing. Currently, I am teaching data analytics at graduate level and Power BI is on my schedule. We teach tools like Power BI by going through common scenarios in a business intelligence environment, which most often deal with the factual numerics that get designed into a sales force reporting dashboard or similar solution, showing details like order placement, orders shipped and paid for, etc. The templates for these typically use a style of… more »

Pros and Cons

  • "What Power BI is, is a whole collection of templates of small amounts of data that can be used to do something for a real world project, that can be easily set up and become the business intelligence environment or a data warehouse for a large amount of data, for a real world customer. That's what is remarkable."
  • "When it comes to improvement, I would say there could be more tutorials for students in universities who are just learning it. And it wouldn't have to be just for students in universities. It might also be for the people who use it in the real world."

What other advice do I have?

May is the next time I'll be teaching the data analytics class, the graduate class, and I will be actively trying to promote Power BI for the team project. I would rate Microsoft Power BI an eight out of ten.
Learn what your peers think about Microsoft BI. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: May 2021.
510,882 professionals have used our research since 2012.
RicardoPedro
Northern Europe IT Business Intelligence Manager at Adecco
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
The tool is very flexible, allowing for creativity

What is our primary use case?

Microsoft BI can be useful for several scenarios, depending on your end audience, or what they're looking for. Depending on your creativity, imagination, and what the tool allows you to build, you can create a lot of cool things with it. You can build a lot of very elaborate and dynamic reports for example. The most important thing to consider is to understand what your audience is looking for. The development side of the tool is not the problem.

Pros and Cons

  • "The tool is very flexible so it allows creativity."
  • "I think that the product would benefit by increasing the range of visuals and graphics readily available, as opposed to using a third party included as part of the product."

What other advice do I have?

I would give Microsoft BI a 10 out of 10.
BlessingSithole
Software Engineer at syntegra
Real User
Top 5
Easy data source connecting, simple implementation, but needs more financial visuals

What is our primary use case?

We are an analytics company, and we consult for different companies. Currently, we were doing automation of financial reporting, income statements, balance sheets, cash flow, and different kinds of analysis on revenue and products. We extract data from ERP solutions, accounting data, and then we transform that into financial reports.

Pros and Cons

  • "I also find connecting to different data sources is quite simple. Other solutions we were using before were complicated."
  • "I think that there should be visuals for financial reporting videos. It should just be a plug and play because there is a lot of coding that goes into it with different clients."

What other advice do I have?

I would advise those thinking about implementing the solution to compare different products to see what is on the market. They have to look at the pricing which is what we looked at initially, I think it quite affordable. Additionally, research the infrastructure that is required and the cost per user for the different BI solutions. Some of the solutions are cheap, such as Eclipse BIRT and Knowage, but it takes a lot of efforts to get your reports out with them. With this solution, it is more of a drag and drop scenario. You have a quicker delivery time as compared to the traditional or the…
Okay Akdeniz
Business Application Group Manager at celikkk
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
Scalable with various licensing options and offers good technical support

What is our primary use case?

We primarily sell Power BI licenses. Mostly, we focus on the retail industry. Usually, we are using the Power BI reports for dashboards. We are also providing our customers with some data warehouse reporting. Basically, we do long-term categorization of stock and inventory numbers and sales figures so that they can compare the sales and stocks to the inventory numbers. We tend to deal with physical inventory reports. We tend not to deal with the solution for financial operations.

Pros and Cons

  • "Technical support is quite good."
  • "The licensing needs improvement. There needs to be a middle option between Pro and Premium versions."

What other advice do I have?

I prefer this product and I suggest Power BI to all customers, however, we know that if Power BI is a new idea, we make sure to show company-specific data or analytics for analyzing the data and how this solution can analyze everything quickly. That said, it's not for everybody. If all companies tried to put all their reporting expectations in the Power BI, it would not fit their expectations. It's not a standalone solution. You need other items in your toolbelt. You need, for example, something that can handle raw data, you need warehousing, et cetera. In general, I would rate the solution…
VK
CFO at Travel Food Services ltd
Real User
Top 10
Very scalable and stable with a fluid interface

What is our primary use case?

We're a retail hospitality chain spread throughout India, operating over 330 outlets across the country in various formats, ranging from a coffee chain to fast food restaurants through our in-house bespoke brands. All these brands run out of travel hubs like airports, railway stations, and highways stops. We needed a solution to manage both the multiple SKU levels and in terms of individual dynamics, the profitability of each store. We constantly track the various types of back-end raw materials, specifically on our prediction modeling where we use Power BI. We also use Power BI analytics to… more »

Pros and Cons

  • "The interface is very fluid."
  • "The challenge of this product is in truncating the table data."

What other advice do I have?

It's important to understand your entire ecosystem in terms of your tables; the kinds of tables your back-end database has and the elements of analysis that you are looking at. If you are looking at predictive modeling, you need to have at least two to three years of data, because that allows you to define the trajectory of the predictive modeling. Otherwise, it doesn't serve any purpose. Secondly, be very specific with your implementation partner, as to how you'd like a particular visualization tool to look, otherwise you may not get what you want. Finally, it's important to invest in people…
Sai Krishna J
Manager, BI & Analytics at a consultancy with 11-50 employees
Real User
Top 5
User-friendly, offers a flexible measure creation capability, scalable to large datasets, and has good community support

What is our primary use case?

I am currently a management consultant and, before my current employment, I was a management consultant as well. I also had a stint with an online retailer in India. My usage with Power BI has been in the area of practical day-to-day operations, web host operations, and equipment status monitoring.

Pros and Cons

  • "Two valuable most features are the ability to create columns and create measures."
  • "In my opinion, the software is a little bit limited in terms of the flexibility it offers, with regard to the design of the visualization."

What other advice do I have?

In a nutshell, I recommend this product and I would suggest implementing it. It has a very good range of features that it offers. For organizations starting on their business intelligence journey, I believe Power BI is a very good tool to start with. It's very user-friendly and it provides a graphical user interface where users can just drag and drop their required fields into particular templates of visualizations. It means that you get the charts quickly. There's no complex learning curve involved. From that perspective, I would say that it's definitely worth a try. My biggest complaint is…
AA
Solution Architect
Real User
Top 5
Provides great container data flow and status related paginated reports

What is our primary use case?

One of our primary use cases is to build an MSBA-based business intelligence solution for collection agents, so that they can receive daily information relating to bills in the form of ledgers. I've built several packages to import the data from where it has been dumped. I then created the data mask for data analysis to showcase all the outputs and conclusions. As a result, there is a clear breakdown of total collections, the different parameters, customer-based information, and other essential information. We are partners of Microsoft BI and I'm a solutions architect.

Pros and Cons

  • "Provides good data flow related to the container and control flow."
  • "There are some connector-related issues in their MSBA solution."

What other advice do I have?

For anyone interested in building a BI solution from scratch, it's important to be aware that the data is not taken at a single platform. I believe that Microsoft BI is the best platform for this because it gives the flexibility to store the data into an SQL Server from different sources, and the ability to first dump your data into those servers. The analysis and reporting is in the same platform. Power BI has a much greater range than SSRS. Microsoft BI is a tool that gives it to you on a single platform, and you can build an end-to-end BI solution. This is not possible in Power BI. This…
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