Straight Talk Review: Strengths and Weaknesses of Microsoft Power BI

Straight Talk BI ReviewsAt 5000fish, we feel that the only way we can help you determine if Yurbi is the right business intelligence solution for your needs is to be fully educated about our product and be able to speak knowledgeably about the pros and cons of other business intelligence (BI) products.

This is why we publish Straight Talk Reviews about other BI tools in the market – so that our customers and prospects are fully educated about both Yurbi and its competitors in order to evaluate whether Yurbi is the right fit.

Microsoft Power BI

One tool we think is worth mention is brought to you by Microsoft. Did you know that Microsoft has a powerful BI tool? If you didn’t, let us introduce you to Microsoft Power BI. (And if you did, you should still keep reading.)

Whether you’re a fan of Microsoft or not, Microsoft Power BI is worth considering if you’re searching for a business intelligence solution. Below, we’ve identified Microsoft BI’s major pros and cons:

The Pros

  • It is affordable: You really can’t beat the cost of Microsoft Power BI. There’s a free, basic version that users can access via desktops and the power user version only costs $9.99 per user, per month.
  • It’s attached to a major brand: Because Microsoft Power BI is part of the Microsoft suite of business products, Microsoft’s BI tool has tight integration with its other business tools such as Microsoft Excel, Azure, and SQL Server.  You have to be careful with this one however,  the original front-end interface of Yurbi was built in Silverlight, a tool that Microsoft also heavily invested in and abandoned a few years later.  Luckily we moved Yurbi to a 100% HTML and Javascript front-end and everyone’s loving it.
  • Microsoft is investing resources into it: Microsoft has recently released a ton of new features for Microsoft Power BI, which shows that Microsoft is investing time and resources into this product. Though the product doesn’t have all of the bells a whistles that other BI products on the market have, it doesn’t mean that more advanced features won’t be available in the future.
  • It’s great for Excel users: If you’re a Microsoft Excel power user, you will love Microsoft Power BI because the tool navigation is very similar.
  • It has good report visualization capabilities: Microsoft Power BI has around 16 different chart types, which is a reasonable amount if you want to represent your data in a variety of formats and visualizations.
  • It has extensive database connectivity capabilities: Microsoft Power BI connects to most types of on-premise databases and they have a large and growing list of cloud-based connection options as well.

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The Cons

  • It’s best for Microsoft Excel power users: Typically, your average business user is not a power user of Microsoft Excel. If the end user of your business intelligence software is a business user, Microsoft Power BI is going to be very challenging to use. Thankfully Microsoft Power BI doesn’t require users to write SQL code like other BI tools, but the tool is challenging to use if you are not a Microsoft Excel power user.
  • It doesn’t handle large data sources well: If your company has a huge set of data to analyze, Microsoft Power BI probably isn’t the best solution for you. When trying to connect and import large datasets, Microsoft Power BI users will experience a lot of time-outs and slow performance.  Their solution will be to migrate that data into SQL Server to start.
  • It’s pretty complex: If Microsoft has one flaw, it’s that they make their product options too complex.  Power BI is no exception.  It’s very difficult to understand exactly what components of Power BI you may need, and the list is long.  There’s Power BI desktop, the Power BI Gateway, Power BI Services, and the list goes on and on.

    Because there are so many moving parts to this software, you will spend a large chunk of time figuring out what each part does. This also means that there are more parts to the software that have the potential to break, making the product more challenging to troubleshoot. This all adds up to increasing the total cost of ownership which we outline here.
  • It doesn’t allow for granularity: Microsoft Power BI doesn’t allow you to build scheduled reports, personalized user views, personalized notifications, personalized security views, or customizable reports. {UPDATE: Microsoft has released a data level security feature in March 2016 so personalized security is now possible.}

    Before purchasing Microsoft Power BI, your company should have a firm grasp on what it needs a BI tool to do. If your organization has many different use cases and user profiles that require customization, Microsoft Power BI is not the best solution.

  • It doesn’t have a solution for data quality: Microsoft Power BI assumes that the data you’re pulling has already been properly scrubbed and cleaned up, which means the data quality is high. If you need data cleansing capabilities, you will need to find an alternate solution to cleanse your data.

The Bottom Line

If you’re a Microsoft-favorable organization and you have a group of Microsoft Excel power users, Microsoft Power BI will work well within your organization at a very low price point. However, if your company doesn’t have Microsoft Excel power users and your end users are business users, this tool is probably not going to be the best BI solution for your company. Don’t be swayed by the price of Microsoft Power BI – make sure your organization has defined its business intelligence use cases and truly evaluate whether Microsoft Power BI can meet your needs.

We hope this review of Microsoft Power BI was informative. Now, find out the pros and cons of other popular BI solutions by exploring more straight talk reviews.

Have you used Power BI or Power BI Pro? If so, leave a comment with what you have to add as a strength or weakness.





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  • brado

    So far, very impressed with PowerBI, it is coming out with new visualizations & enhancements every few weeks. Solid development community. Very powerful demo of its power being able to create a data visualization and publish it for viewing on my mobile device within minutes as well as sharing dashboards with other users, looking forward to where this product evolves to.

  • Pingback: Power BI – More to come – BI Amir()

  • Parvaneh S

    What else do you recommend beside Power BI?

    • davferg

      Hi Parvaneh, it really depends on your requirements. There is not a best product for all companies, many of the products on the market have a sweet spot that fits best with certain environments or use cases. I would recommend checking out our eBook on how to best understand your requirements when searching for a solution – https://www.yurbi.com/ebooks/business-intelligence-buyers-guide-pt1/

  • bokfan1

    “It doesn’t handle large data sources well: ” – what is meant by “large”?

    • David Ferguson

      Hi Michael, sorry for the slow response. Take a look at this article from Microsoft – https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/the-conceptual-data-model-and-limits/ You’re looking at 10MB limit on the free version and 250MB on the Pro. We talk to large and small customers each week that have exceeded the effectively of Excel, mainly because with the large data sets it becomes so slow.

    • davferg

      Hi Michael, sorry for the slow response. Take a look at this article from Microsoft – https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/the-conceptual-data-model-and-limits/ You’re looking at 10MB limit on the free version and 250MB on the Pro. We talk to large and small customers each week that have exceeded the effectively of Excel, mainly because with the large data sets it becomes so slow.

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