Analytics is a scorching hot topic today, which is scarcely surprising since we live in a data-dominated age. Analytics deals with discovering, interpreting, and processing data. But data and business analysts have a multitude of tools to choose from, and it can be challenging trying to decide which is the best fit for which project.

Today we will do our part in helping make that decision easier by focusing on Power BI, an analytics tool created by Microsoft.

Let’s get started with the basics of Power BI before understanding how to learn Power BI.

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What is Power BI?

When looking for the answer to “What is Power BI?”, we need to look no further than the tool’s creator, Microsoft. The company defines Power BI as “…a collection of software services, apps, and connectors that work together to turn your unrelated sources of data into coherent, visually immersive, and interactive insights.”

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The BI stands for “business intelligence,” and the tool gives non-technical users all the resources they need to aggregate, visualize, analyze, and share data. The business world considers Power BI one of the best drag-and-drop tools available in the industry today.

While we’re at it, we should define business intelligence. According to CIO, business intelligence “…leverages software and services to transform data into actionable insights that inform an organization’s strategic and tactical business decisions.” The tools access and analyze relevant data, then offer findings via charts, reports, graphs, summaries, maps, and dashboards, to provide users with accurate and detailed intelligence regarding the state of the company.

In summary, business intelligence uses tools to take raw data and turn it into smart plans and actions that can benefit a business on many different levels—Power BI is one such tool. If you want to learn more about business intelligence, there are plenty of business intelligence courses to choose from.

After going through about Power BI, you can begin learning Power BI by first understanding about DAX.

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What is DAX in Power BI? What is it Used For?

As you begin to learn Power BI, you will inevitably encounter the term “DAX.” It stands for “Data Analysis Expressions,” and is a collection of constants, functions, and operators developed by Microsoft and used in select BI and data visualization tools. DAX is also called a function language because the full code resides inside the functions.

DAX is used to manipulate data and helps you define the custom calculations used in calculated fields and calculated columns, working with relational data, and performing dynamic aggregation.  Put differently, DAX enables users to create new information from data that already exists in your model.

DAX uses some of the same functions as Excel, so if you are familiar with the latter, you may find DAX easier to use. It offers a higher degree of flexibility, letting users create formulas that are applied on a row-by-row basis.

Note that while DAX offers greater strength and flexibility to your data models, it runs the risk of making them overly complicated. Also, DAX comes with a steep learning curve, so be sure you want to work with it before committing.

Next, let us go ahead and learn Power BI by understanding its vast potential.

BI’s Vast Potential

Since Power BI is so versatile and packed with useful features, professionals in many different roles use it, including:

  • Administrators
  • Professionals (accountants, sales professionals, marketers)
  • Designers
  • Developers

Power BI facilitates intelligent decision making, reducing the likelihood of failure, and mitigating inherent risks. The data that BI processes is available for viewing and interaction 24/7, anywhere you have mobile access. This convenient feature means that users can pull, process, and share real-time data anytime, anywhere.

Data security is a big concern today, and Power BI lets users track and control data usage, granting access only to those who should have it. No need to bother tech support or other IT security elements in your business—the Power BI dashboard lets you regulate usage efficiently and effectively. Power BI also offers the flexibility of storing the data in Microsoft’s cloud, or safely behind your company’s firewall.

The bottom line, Power BI lets users view real-time data anytime and anyplace, create reports based on that new information, and send off specific datasets to the appropriate groups. Power BI uses the extremely popular Office 365 as its platform, which means you can use the latter’s interface for fast and easy implementations. 

Lastly, Power BI is scalable, so it can fit any organization and handle changes in size, either a rapid business expansion or an unexpected downsizing.

In summary, here’s a list of Power BI’s advantages:

  • It’s easy to use
  • It lets you access over 70 data connectors
  • It’s one of the most cost-effective, inexpensive solutions available
  • It offers interactive visual dashboards
  • It is easily accessible from anywhere
  • It provides data sharing and collaboration
  • It supports natural language search

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Next, let us understand how one can learn Power BI.

How to Learn Power BI

Thanks to Power BI’s popularity, there are plenty of educational resources available to aspiring professionals every aspect of the platform to learn Power BI beginning from the basic information to Power BI interview questions. You can even review what you’ve learned by practicing with this BI test.

For instance, you can start learning Power BI by taking 6 hours Power BI Basics course

To sum it up, here’s a list of different methods you can employ whether you’re just starting to learn Power BI, or you want to brush up/improve on your existing skillset.

  • Microsoft’s guided learning resources
  • Microsoft hosted webinars
  • Visiting the official Power BI online community
  • Microsoft’s uploaded training videos on YouTube
  • Power BI’s development team’s blog
  • Various online courses offered by different e-learning sites, companies, and websites
  • The Simplilearn method (more on this later!)

After having understood how to learn Power BI, let us next understand how to make use of it.

How to Use Power BI

When trying to understand how to use Power BI, it’s best to start by getting acquainted with the tool’s different elements. Power BI consists of:

  • Power BI Desktop. The Windows desktop application
  • Power BI Service. The online Software as a Service (SaaS)
  • Mobile apps. These apps are designed for Android, iOS, and Windows mobile devices
  • Power BI Report Server. After you create your Power BI reports using Desktop, you can publish them to an on-premises report server

Users connect to the desired data sources and build a report using Power BI Desktop. Once the report is complete, users publish it to the Power BI service, allowing end-users to view and interact with the information.

And let’s not forget that you have the option of using the Power BI Report Server if you’re not ready for people outside of your company’s firewall to see the reports yet!

The beauty of Power BI is its ease of use, even by people who don’t consider themselves to be very technologically proficient. As long as you have access to the data sources, the dashboard, and a working network connection, you can use Power BI to process the information, create the necessary reports, and send them off to the right teams or individuals.

Once you gain proficiency by learning Power BI, it is important to look into the various job opportunities for skilled individuals.

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BI Job Opportunities

Thanks to Power BI’s versatility and ubiquity, there are a host of different relevant positions available, including:

  • Power BI Analyst
  • Power BI Business Analyst
  • Power BI Data Analyst
  • Power BI Developer
  • Power BI Software Engineer
  • Senior Business Intelligence Analyst
  • Senior Software Engineer

Many different industries use Power BI, including IT, healthcare, financial services, insurance, staffing & recruiting, and computer software. Specific major companies that use Power BI include:

  • Adobe (USA)
  • Conde Nast (USA)
  • Dell (USA)
  • Hospital Montfort (Canada)
  • Kraft Heinz Co (USA)
  • Meijer (USA)
  • Nestle (China)
  • Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC (UK)

The average annual salary of a Power BI professional in India is ₹582,000.Glassdoor reports that a Power BI developer in the United States earns an average of $81,514 a year.

Do You Want a Career in Power BI?

You can engage in as much independent study and learning that you want. Still, when it comes to showing a prospective employer that you’re the best-qualified candidate, nothing beats certification. Simplilearn has just what you need, offering Power BI certification + Power BI training through its Power BI certification training course. The course is also offered as an elective in our PG in Data Analytics Program as well as our Post Graduate Program in Business Analysis, both of which are provided in partnership with Purdue University.

Simplilearn’s course helps you get the most out of Power BI, enabling you to solve business problems and improve operations. The course allows you to master the development of dashboards from published reports and glean better insight from your data.

Whether you use Simplilearn’s self-paced learning option or choose their corporate training plan, you get six hours of enriched learning, lifetime access to self-paced learning resources, and, of course, an industry-recognized course completion certificate. That certificate is your key to faster and better acceptance, helping you to stand out from the field of candidates.

Businesses increasingly realize that they need actionable data to make smarter decisions in today’s competitive commercial environment. That’s why, according to Zion Market Research, the worldwide Business Intelligence market stood at $16.33 billion in 2015 and is expected to hit $26.50 billion by the end of 2021.

So don’t delay. Visit Simplilearn today and get your start in the exciting and rewarding field of business intelligence!

About the Author

Nikita DuggalNikita Duggal

Nikita Duggal is a passionate digital nomad with a major in English language and literature, a word connoisseur who loves writing about raging technologies, digital marketing, and career conundrums.

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