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What is Power BI?

by Rob Collie

Power BI, Definition #1: An Umbrella Term for all of the Power Tools

Power BI, Definition #1:  An “Umbrella” Term for all of the “Power *” Tools
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An Overdue Treatment

I’ve posted before about Power Pivot vs. Power View and then later I added Power Query and other technologies to the explanation, but I’ve never just straight-on tackled the question of “What is Power BI?”  So let’s get that off the list…

…And clean up my prior visuals while we are at it.  (Can you believe that Power Query doesn’t have an icon/logo yet?  Well, boom – I just gave it one.  You’re welcome, Microsoft – although really it was just from one of the buttons already in PQ.)

Unofficial Definition = “Umbrella Term for the ‘Power *’ Tools”

#1, Power BI is an “umbrella” term that is used to describe all of the various “Power” data tools that Microsoft offers us.  This is NOT the definition that you will typically hear from Microsoft, but colloquially, when someone says “Power BI,” there’s a good chance this is what they mean.

Official Definition = “The Cloud Publish & Manage Service from MS”

But I think Microsoft would say, more officially, that Power BI is their paid cloud service for publishing, sharing, managing, and consuming the results of those tools pictured above.

For instance, Microsoft sales reps today are measured, in part, by their customers’ adoption of precisely that online subscription service.  They are NOT measured by how many of their customers are simply using the “free” desktop tools included in the Power BI “umbrella” term.

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What Self-Service BI means to our world (with Excel)


Guest Post From Miguel Escobar!

Today we’re blessed with another guest post from Miguel Escobar.  I love the style of this one, and the movie industry tie ins of course.  I also really like that Miguel “detected” the similarity between Hans Rosling’s TED talk and the Power View demos that first emerged in 2011 – the first time I saw Power View, my immediate thought was “Amir is riffing on Hans Rosling” and I wondered how many other people were thinking the same thing.

But above all I love to hear people’s stories.  How they came to “get involved” in this stuff.  I would say Miguel falls somewhere on the more advanced end of the spectrum – even using the term “Self-Service BI” kinda gives that away – but the fact is that the worlds of BI and Excel are indeed converging.  So let’s hear Miguel’s story shall we?


What has been the impact of Self-Service BI in our modern world?

Its self-service BI a good thing? heck yeah it is. You can bet on that BUT…is that such a good thing that would drive engagement of the users into actually transforming data into information and information into insights? and even further…decisions based on those insights?

3 years ago I couldn’t even think of having a great reporting and visualization tool at my reach because I couldn’t afford that and college tuition at the same time and then Powerpivot became available…how did it impact me and some of my friends?

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