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Learn Power BI

A Comprehensive Guide to Start Learning Power BI

Power BI is a powerful business intelligence and data visualization tool offered by Microsoft. This widely used software converts data from various sources into BI reports and interactive dashboards, which help members of an organization to help inform their decision-making process. If you’ve always wanted to learn Power BI but can’t figure out how to get started, this guide is for you. Here, you’ll learn more about the various ways to learn Power BI, free resources to take advantage of, and the types of careers that commonly use Power BI.

Power BI is a powerful business intelligence and data visualization tool offered by Microsoft. This widely used software converts data from various sources into BI reports and interactive dashboards, which help members of an organization to help inform their decision-making process. If you’ve always wanted to learn Power BI but can’t figure out how to get started, this guide is for you. Here, you’ll learn more about the various ways to learn Power BI, free resources to take advantage of, and the types of careers that commonly use Power BI.

What is Power BI?

Microsoft Power BI is a group of BI (business intelligence) services and products that converts data from various sources into reports, visualizations, and interactive dashboards. This allows users to share data insights with others who work at their organization or to embed them onto a website or application. Power BI offers effective business solutions with each of its individual elements and provides users with even more capabilities when these components work together.

One of the main benefits of working with Power BI is that it can integrate with other Microsoft services and products and third-party platforms. Users can connect Power BI to Excel, Teams, SharePoint, and Exchange, among others. Whether your data is stored in an on-premises data warehouse, a cloud-based warehouse, or an Excel spreadsheet, Power BI can easily connect to these data sources, provide visualizations based on the data they contain, and offer insights that you can then share with other stakeholders. There are several Power BI products, each of which has different uses; Power BI Desktop creates reports, Power BI Services publishes the reports, and the Power BI mobile app provides users with a way to view each dashboard or report.

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What Can You Do with Power BI?

Power BI is a valuable tool for illustrating what’s happening within an organization in the present. It also has applications for helping to anticipate what may transpire in the future. Because it relies on machine learning capabilities, Power BI can locate patterns in data, then draw from these patterns to predict various “what-if” scenarios. Based on these predictions, Power BI users can create forecasts and work to prepare for different demand patterns that may emerge. They can then communicate this information through data visualizations, which impart key data findings to stakeholders to make more educated business predictions.

Power BI is a go-to for those who work with data because it can be used to input huge stores of data that would be a struggle for other platforms to process. Because this intelligence suite is cloud-based, it provides users with regularly updated algorithms and intelligence capabilities. Those who use Power BI can personalize their experience by creating dashboards that allow them to quickly and easily access necessary data. In addition, it’s possible to create alerts in Power BI, which provide users with up-to-date measurements. Best of all, because this platform can integrate with other business management tools, such as Office 365, SharePoint, SAP, Google Analytics, and Hadoop, it remains a hugely popular tool for those working with data across platforms. 

Careers that Use Power BI

The various applications for Power BI span professions and industries. This tool’s accessible interface and flexibility make it valuable for small-scale use, such as for employees to use for data reporting. In addition, companies can also elect to use this business solution on a larger scale, such as by hiring Microsoft Power BI partners or BI experts who assist Engineers in optimizing the benefits of various Power BI solutions.

In the retail sector, Power BI is useful for streamlining data management processes and helping retailers more effectively analyze data points to unearth actionable insights into customer purchasing patterns. This tool also has applications for consolidating data so companies can use it to help streamline supply chain operations. In the agricultural sector, Power BI draws from predictive analytics to provide forecasting insights, such as weather forecasts, wind direction, and temperature. This information helps inform decisions about irrigation or crop protection.

Those working in the banking sector also rely on Power BI to keep track of business performance and customer needs. When Power BI is used to manage workflows, banks and financial institutions better understand their customers, monitor profits and losses, focus on innovative digital opportunities, and even integrate various services and applications. Power BI is also used in the manufacturing sector to help businesses improve customer engagement and the efficiency of production sites. This tool also helps those working in manufacturing to reduce the frequency of information bottlenecks, predict hardware issues, reduce product disruptions or downtime, and make more informed business decisions.

Why Learn Power BI?

Microsoft Power BI has over 115 million users and is considered the industry-leading BI platform. Companies worldwide rely on this data solution, and the demand is expected to grow as more organizations see the value in collecting data. This versatile tool is relied on by Developers, Administrators, Designers, Marketers, and Accountants, among others, to cut down on risk and errors and facilitate intelligent decision-making. Many professional benefits await those with a background in using Power BI, and knowledge of this suite of tools can open many professional doors.

Power BI’s drag-and-drop system can quickly and easily transform data into meaningful visualizations. Power BI users can create dashboards or reports that present their findings in mere minutes from inputting data. Professionals can easily share these reports with both internal and external stakeholders. In addition, Power BI provides a way for users to monitor and control data usage, providing access only to those who should have it. When using Power BI, users can view real-time data at any time and from any location, making it a popular tool for those on the go.

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How to Learn Power BI

One of the most effective and interactive ways to learn Power BI is by enrolling in an in-person or live online course. Live online Power BI classes, as well as Power BI classes in-person are currently offered by top educational providers. Courses are available for those new to Power BI, as well as intermediate and advanced learners interested in mastering more complex topics, such as Microsoft Power Query and DAX functions. In addition to courses that specifically focus on Power BI, instruction options are available in classes that include Microsoft Excel, data analytics, and data visualization, among others. You can also search through a complete listing of live online and in-person Power BI classes for a breakdown of each Power BI course's price, length, and learning format.

If you aren’t quite ready to commit to a class that meets at regularly scheduled times, another learning option to consider is self-paced Power BI courses. Asynchronous study allows learners to begin learning Power BI with the help of pre-recorded videos, pre-loaded tutorials, and instructional content. These classes allow learners to balance learning around other life commitments, such as family or work. You can pause videos or watch them multiple times when studying asynchronously, which can help you balance studying Power BI with other personal or professional commitments.

Another way to learn more about how to work with big data is to watch Noble Desktop’s Getting Started in Python: Data Science free webinar. This 80-minute video covers many relevant data science topics, such as how to use data science in the business sector, which have applications for those interested in pursuing business intelligence. You can also learn more about Power BI by visiting Noble’s Data Analytics Blog & Learning Resources page, which has over 150 articles on relevant data topics, such as how to use Power BI, working with Tableau, and the various types of data analytics.

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Free Introductory Power BI Course Online 

If you’re not ready to invest in a lengthy course, you can still start learning how to work with data for free online. In Noble Desktop’s free Data Science Webinar, you’ll receive instruction on core data science concepts, such as how professionals can use data science in the business sector and the different tools Data Scientists use when handling data. This 80-minute webinar is a great way to familiarize yourself with the field of data science and learn more about how professionals manage and analyze large volumes of data.

In addition to Noble Desktop’s business intelligence and data science resources, other top educational providers also offer free Power BI instruction. Udemy’s Power BI Quick Start is a free, two-hour course containing helpful video content on creating your own interactive Power BI dashboard. Students also receive instruction on creating full reports and publishing them on the Power BI service. Udemy also has another free Power BI course, Learn Power BI Fast, in which users learn how to create a professional Power BI report in under two hours. Participants also receive instruction and both basic and advanced data visualization concepts.

In addition, Analyzing and Visualizing Data with Power BI is free from edX. This course teaches students how to use Microsoft Power BI in approximately four weeks. Certification is available for those who pay for the course, or students can elect to simply explore the free content. 

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Level of Difficulty, Prerequisites, & Cost 

Most users consider Power BI relatively easy to learn and estimate that it takes approximately four to six weeks to become familiar with its essential data visualization capabilities. The speed at which you learn Power BI will depend on different factors, such as your prior experience working with data or visualization software, your familiarity with basic mathematical concepts, and how you approach the learning process. As with most skills, studying Power BI in a structured environment, such as an in-person or live online course, can make learning much easier and faster than it would be in self-directed study.

If you want to begin learning Power BI, several prerequisites can help speed up the learning process. A background in data visualization, such as creating charts or graphs, is one such skill that can expedite the learning process. In addition, a basic familiarity with data modeling and how to pull data from sources such as the internet is another beneficial first step. Also, having a background working with spreadsheets such as those in Microsoft Excel is a common first step toward learning Power BI since Power BI can seamlessly integrate with Excel to facilitate data analysis and visualization.

If you are considering purchasing Power BI, several packages are available for different price points. Power BI Desktop is available as a free download, Power BI Pro is currently offered for $9.99/user/month, and Power BI Premium costs $20/user/month. In addition, a free Power BI trial is also available from Microsoft.

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How Does Learning Power BI Compare to Other Applications?

If you’re looking to compare Microsoft Power BI to other business intelligence tools and applications, several are available that can help professionals find actionable insights within their data. Domo is a low-code business cloud platform that allows users to easily combine their data and use it across various workflows and business processes. Domo is a powerful tool for creating customized, interactive dashboards and helping to make data accessible to those from all backgrounds. A free trial is currently available at Domo. Quotes for different price plans are also available on Domo’s website.

Another popular alternative to Power BI is Yellowfin. This embedded analytics platform offers users the tools for creating action-based dashboards, interactive data visualizations, automated analyses, and data-driven storytelling. Most Yellowfin users consider this tool to be easy to use because of its low-code user interface, as well as its AI-generated insights and automated alerts. Yellowfin provides a straightforward, scalable cost breakdown for its products. Quotes are available on Yellowfin’s website.

Zoho Analytics is another popular business intelligence and data analytics platform. This tool provides users with a variety of useful BI tools. Zoho Analytics users work with this platform to analyze data contained in different apps, databases, and files and create data visualizations that convey their findings. In addition, this tool makes it easy to create stunning dashboards and reports or monitor KPI metrics. Zoho Analytics offers a free trial and various pricing options starting at $24/user/month.

How to Decide the Best Way to Learn Power BI

Thanks to the wealth of available learning options, learning Microsoft Power BI is easier than ever before. Ultimately, the one you decide depends on why you want to learn this tool and how you intend to use your training. If you’re interested in a general overview of Power BI or want to learn more about the field of business intelligence, free introductory-level classes are a great starting point. Top educational providers such as Udemy currently have free beginner-level Power BI courses, which are a great resource for those interested in learning more about how to use this business solution. Because most free online Power BI classes are available asynchronously, you can watch video content and read tutorials at your own speed, on your own time.

For those interested in developing a solid working knowledge of Power BI or who hope to fill a skill gap so they can progress in their current profession, Noble Desktop’s Power BI Bootcamp will provide a more rigorous study option. Those who elect to enroll in a bootcamp receive hands-on training from an expert instructor who is available to answer questions, provide guidance, and offer industry-relevant training with this tool. Bootcamps typically cover a range of pertinent business intelligence and data analytics concepts, such as creating data visualizations, business reports, and time intelligence reports, as well as working with Power Query. The cost of bootcamps is typically several hundred dollars.

If you want to develop your Power BI skills to begin a new career or pivot to a new industry, a Power BI certificate or certificate in a related field like data analytics can provide the training you need. Noble Desktop’s Data Analytics Certificate provides students with the necessary training to work as a Business Analyst or Data Analyst. An expert instructor teaches participants how to work with Python, SQL, Tableau, Excel, and Power BI. All students have access to one-on-one mentoring and have the option of a free class retake to revisit course material. Although certificate study typically costs several thousand dollars, it is an excellent professional investment for those serious about working with data.

Learn Power BI with Hands-on Training at Noble Desktop

Noble Desktop's Power BI Bootcamp is an excellent option if you want to learn more about using Power BI. This project-based course prepares students to use Power Query for data querying, Power BI’s data model for connecting to datasets, and its report view for designing interactive data visualizations and dashboards. Students work with different case studies to learn how to work with various Power BI capabilities and this tool’s DAX language for creating visualizations based on their data. All students have the option of a free retake for up to one year to revisit the material and gain additional practice.

Another excellent learning option for individuals who are interested in working with Power BI is Noble Desktop’s Data Analytics Certificate. This intensive course is offered in the in-person and live online format and provides participants with hands-on instruction with core data analytics and business intelligence tools and programs. Those enrolled complete real-world projects using Microsoft Excel, Python, SQL, and Tableau and have the option of also taking the Power BI Bootcamp free of charge. All students receive instruction from an expert instructor and one-on-one mentoring.

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