The Microsoft Power BI Guide for Businesses

Example of Power BI Dashboard/report

Microsoft Power BI is an analytics tool that enables businesses to visualise real-time data in interactive dashboards and reports. This data can be pulled from a variety of cloud and on-premises sources to help organisations gather intelligent insights and make more informed decisions. Keep reading to discover more… 

Why you might need Power BI

There are many challenges that organisations face that Power BI can solve, here are some of the most common reasons why businesses look to implement Power BI: 

Reporting is laborious and time-consuming

Reporting within a business can often be a time-consuming and laborious task, reliant on multiple departments and siloed data. Due to the manual nature of collating the information and producing reports, the chances of human error are increased and therefore reliability could be comprised.  

Team collaboration is difficult

Effective reporting is measured on your team’s ability to understand and act upon the information provided. If your reports aren’t providing the detail needed this can lead to guesswork or stagnation, and you want your teams to be able to act upon report insights independently.   Additionally, due to the manual nature of the reporting and lack of supporting technology, multiple versions can get shared, edited, and stored locally. As a result, challenges arise around understanding where the most up-to-date file is, and team collaboration can be difficult.  

Reporting activities are restricted to the office

If your spreadsheets can only be accessed from the office or are stored locally on employees’ laptops, then reporting can be challenging. You are limited to where you can work and with more businesses working remotely, having remote access would be beneficial. Additionally, spreadsheets are not renowned for being overly mobile-friendly, so trying to display large amounts of data can be a poor user experience. 

Benefits of Power BI

There are a variety of reasons why an organisation should use Power BI. Below we have collated a few of the key benefits: 

  • Power BI can handle huge quantities of data, so you gain meaningful insights across the entire business 
  • Once Power BI is set up, the data will be pulled from the sources automatically in real-time, meaning there is no need for someone to manually collate the information 
  • Gartner recognises Microsoft as a Leader for the fourteenth consecutive year in the 2021 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms, so you can be confident in the technology you are using 
  • There are hundreds of visualisations available within Power BI, from area charts to maps, each of which serves a different purpose. For more information on visualisations, click here 
  • Power BI benefits from twice yearly and incremental updates from Microsoft, that are rolled out automatically, ensuring that the technology is always up to date  
  • Dashboards and reports can be personalised to suit your individual business needs 
  • Alerts and notifications can be set around particular data to keep employees up to date on the most important metrics  
  • Power BI’s intuitive interface is designed to be user-friendly and easy to navigate 
  • A wide range of data sources are supported, such as the sales data captured in CRM or financial data from ERP 
  • Power BI has different price tiers with varying access, to suit different levels of business needs 
  • Drag-and-drop functionality means that staff can generate custom-made reports quickly, without the need for in-depth technical knowledge 
  • Power BI is available across devices, ensuring users can access data on-the-go 

What data sources can Power BI connect to?

Below is a brief overview of the data sources Power BI can connect to, for more details read our full blog post here 

  • Excel
  • Text/CSV
  • XML
  • JSON
  • Folder
  • PDF
  • SharePoint folder
  • SLQ Server database
  • Oracle database
  • Power BI datasets
  • Power BI dataflows
  • Microsoft Dataverse

Power BI Integrations

As part of the Microsoft Ecosystem, Power BI integrates seamlessly with the other applications in the Microsoft eco-system. We have included examples of common integrations below…  

Microsoft Dynamics 365

Drill-down into data stored within Microsoft Dynamics 365. Gain a deeper understanding of areas such as Sales, Marketing and Customer Service.


Easily embed interactive Power BI reports in SharePoint Online pages.


Quickly start creating stunning interactive dashboards by easily transferring all of your current Excel queries, data models, and reports to Power BI—without learning a new application or language.


Interactive reports can be embedded directly into Teams chats, start conversations in Teams directly from the Power BI service, get notifications of changes in Power BI directly in the Teams activity feed, and more.

power bi business guide

Power BI in action

Power BI Licensing

There are three kinds of Power BI per-user license: Desktop (Free), Pro, and Premium. Which type of license a user needs is determined by where data is stored, how they’ll interact with that data, and if that data reuires Premium features. Where data can be stored is determined by your organisation’s license type.

Microsoft Power BI Desktop (previously referred to as Microsoft Power BI Free)

The desktop application is the entry-level licensfor Power BI. It is worth noting that a user with a free license can only use the Power BI service to connect to data and create reports and dashboards in ‘My Workspace’. They can’t share content with others or publish content to other workspaces. 

Microsoft Power BI Pro

Power BI Pro provides the complete ability to use Power BI for building dashboards and reports as well as unlimited viewing, sharing and use of your reports and those shared by others. 

Microsoft Power BI Premium

Power BI Premium is the most expensive option currently available of Power BI and is designed to address the challenges of large enterprise deployments and workloads. Given the enterprise-scale demands, Premium comes with considerably more features and advanced functionality in comparison to the Desktop and Pro plans. 

Which version of Power BI license you require will be determined by your user’s needs, where your data is stored, and how you want to interact with that data.  Below is a high-level breakdown of the pricing structure, however we have a more detailed blog post on this here. 

Want to learn more about Power BI?

To learn more about Power BI, take a look at our webpage which provides further details around features, dashboards, licensing and more.

Get in touch

If you would like more information about Microsoft Power BI or how Pragmatiq can support your business, please get in touch via the contact form below, or email us at / call us on 01908 038110.