What Is Power BI?

Power BI is a business intelligence software that turns completely unrelated data sources into coherent, visually immersive interactive reports and dashboards, allowing raw data to become real insights.

It doesn’t matter whether your data is coming from an Excel spreadsheet, a cloud-based service or on-premise. Power BI lets you easily connect data sources, visualize the data, and share reports with anyone and everyone across your team or organization.

The “power” of Power BI is its ability to connect to popular apps and services — along with custom data sources — to explore data with incredible detail.

Here are just some of the things you can do with Power BI:

  • Quickly visualize and analyze data
  • See all of your data in one place
  • Explore data in incredible detail
  • View live dashboards with real-time updates
  • Create interactive reports in minutes
  • Schedule and automate reports

The right business intelligence software makes data exploration simple and reporting a snap, but what’s important to understand is how Power BI is accessed and used within an organization.

How to Use Power BI


Power BI is designed so that each person within an organization can have the level of access required to execute their job and get the information they need, when they need it.

How you use Power BI within your organization depends on your role on a project or team. For example, if you are a data analyst, you likely spend a lot of time crunching numbers. In a case like this, Power BI Desktop would allow you to organize and analyze data, and then publish reports to the Power BI service to make them accessible to the right users within your company.

People in other departments would then be able to access the information they need. The CEO may receive an automated Power BI report that illustrates key metrics and performance markers. A salesperson may use the Power BI mobile app to access incoming opportunities and drill into reports for lead details and other information on the go.

As you can see, different roles in an organization can and will use Power BI in completely different ways.

Now, let’s look at the individual roles and how they use Power BI.

Power BI is a business intelligence software solution that meets the demands of many. That being said, it’s the IT department and developers who are typically tasked with integrating Power BI as a solution within the organization. While the C-suite, managers and other people in the business will rely on the software, making sure it is working how needed is the job of the CTO and his downstream team. In mid-size companies or a small business, a developer or consultant is likely the one responsible for setting up Power BI.

Most businesses will want to create custom visualizations to view their data in a unique and tailored way.

If you are a developer, you might use Power BI APIs to push data into data sets, or to embed dashboards and reports into your own custom applications. This would allow you to synthesize information from multiple systems and data sets into easily understandable visual models that you can display however you need to meet the requirements of the project.

The outcome is that stakeholders, management, employees and customers (or anyone else) can receive reports and dashboards. Both reports and dashboards can be scheduled, accessible via password or be part of data-driven subscription.

Users with this level of access often only need to view and interact with the data to retrieve information for making business decisions, notifications or fulfilling the function of their job.

A Power BI user with this type of role would not have full access to the software, which is fine because their only need is getting the information they need when they need it, whether through an automated Power BI report, custom dashboard or self-service BI.

Admins are another important role, and serve the function of managing the Power BI tenant, usage monitoring, provisioning of licenses, governance policies and company resources. Their function is solely to manage who has access to the software.

Power BI Desktop vs Power BI Pro vs Power BI Premium


There are three different Power BI licenses, each with its own level of pricing, functionality and use.

Power BI Desktop

Perfect for individual users that want to analyze data for free without the need to share data with others.

Power BI Pro

A cloud-based Microsoft service that allows users to easily share information and collaborate in the cloud.

Power BI Premium

An on-premise, enterprise-level solution for large organizations that want full control and governance

Power BI Pricing


Here's how you can send UNLIMITED reports to UNLIMITED users with ONLY ONE Power BI license — in any format.

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As you can see, Power BI pricing varies greatly depending on the license you choose.

The pricing strategy varies just as much between products. While the free version gives you all of the dashboards and connections you would need, it’s limited when it comes to sharing — you won’t be able to collaborate or share reports with others. Other than that, Power Bi Desktop has all of the features that you’ll find in Power BI Pro.

Power BI Pro removes the limitations of Power BI Desktop and allows you to share your data, reports and dashboards. Pricing is based on per user, which works for small to midsize organizations. Those that have high capacity demands and the need an on-premise solution for data governance and security must rely on Power BI Premium.

Some of the advantages of Power BI Premium include:

  • Greater scale and performance
  • Flexibility to license by capacity
  • Unify self-service and enterprise BI
  • Extend on-premises BI with Power BI Report Server
  • Support for data residency by region (Multi-Geo)
  • Share data with anyone without purchasing a per-user license

You can use the Power BI calculator to get an example of costs.


Expanding the Capabilities of Power BI


While Power BI does offer a robust business intelligence solution and a great self-service analytics tool, there is no built-in feature that allows users or administrators to schedule and automate reports.

For large organizations, this can be a huge drawback, for two reasons:

  1. In order for users to collaborate and access data you are required to pay for a license for every user that needs access to the software, whether they will be a regular user or not.

  2. If your organization has a need to schedule and automate Power BI reports to different user groups (C-suite, management, employees, vendors, customers) or send reports in specific formats (Word, Excel, PDF, PowerPoint) to specific destinations (Printer, Fax, Email, FTP, Dropbox, Google Drive) then you won’t be able to accomplish this with Power BI alone.

The Microsoft online service does have scheduling capabilities, it can only be used in two ways:

  1. to run a scheduled refresh of the data, so when users view it online the data will be current. However, there is a limit to the number of refreshes you can do each day, which may not work for some;
  2. to send notifications to users once the reports are ready to view. However, once again, the user will still need a license to actually view the report, which means if the individual receiving the report only needs monthly or quarterly reports, you’re spending a lot of money on licensing costs for very little use of the software.

PBRS Expands the Functionality of Power BI and Eliminates the Need to Purchase a Power BI License for Every Report Consumer

Have you ever wanted to automatically schedule Power BI reports? How about email reports automatically to unlimited users or export and send to SharePoint?

PBRS allows you to export reports in any format you choose:

And send to any destination:

And all of this can be done with a single Power BI license.

You can literally send automated and scheduled reports to tens of thousands of people with a single Power BI license, which can save tens of thousands of dollars in saved licensing costs.

For example, with only ONE Power BI license and PBRS, you can schedule automated reports to a team of 500 (or 10,000); have the reports generated on a specific time, exported to PDF, encrypted, password-protected and faxed, emailed and uploaded to Dropbox every week. This means you can do mass distribution of Power BI reports and dashboards to an unlimited amount of offline recipients with only one Power BI license.

Example Power BI Reports


Schedule Power BI Reports


Here's how you can send UNLIMITED reports to UNLIMITED users with ONLY ONE Power BI license — in any format.

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If you are familiar with SSRS scheduling then scheduling reports with PBRS will be familiar territory.

With PBRS, you’re able to do data-driven subscriptions and scheduling for any number of Power BI reports and dashboards.

On-Premise or In the Cloud

For businesses with high-security and data protection needs, PBRS is also an on-premise solution that allows you to be completely in control of the environment it runs on, which means you can have all the functionality you need, without the security concerns.

Power BI Automated Reports

Save time and money by automating the export and delivery of your Power BI and SSRS reports using PBRS.

Export Data from Power BI


Export Power BI and SSRS to XLSX, PDF and CSV. Send to email, Google Sheets, Dropbox, Folder, Printer and FTP.

Power BI Export to Excel

Export Power BI data to Excel is as a single file or combine multiple workbooks into encrypted files ready for distribution. Choose the destination, the recipients and the schedule, and you’re done.

Power BI Export to PDF

Send scheduled reports to a printer or fax, or email a password-protected PDF, to unlimited people with one license as many times as you like to whoever you need to.

Power BI Export to PowerPoint
Share PowerPoint presentations with shareholders, management or anyone you choose. No need for multiple licenses. You can do it all with one. Simple and flexible. In the cloud or on-premise.

Power BI Export to Word
Automate the export of Word docs to your team or customers however you want. Reports can be scheduled, automated or sent using triggered events. Data-driven subscriptions are here.

Power BI Export to Sharepoint

PBRS Destinations

  • Email
  • Folder
  • Printer
  • FTP
  • Google Drive
  • Dropbox
  • SharePoint
  • Slack
  • Fax

Business Intelligence with Power BI

So far, we’ve talked about what Power BI is and briefly discussed the benefits of the software. We also looked at examples of how a company may use Power BI, along with the different roles and how they work. Where we’ll go next is diving deep into the why behind business intelligence.

Microsoft Power BI and Power BI reports are just one solution in the arms race to business intelligence and becoming a data-driven organization.

If you’re here because you have questions about Power BI, the first question that sent you here might have been “what is Power BI?”

Now, you might be asking yourself — “what does perfect business intelligence actually look like?”

Perfect business intelligence is the art of getting the right information to the right people at the right time.

Business intelligence combines data management and data analytics with a process that allows that information to be acted on to produce better results for the business. The only way that is possible is to make data accessible.

It starts with understanding what data you have, determining what data you need, and creating a system for gathering that information and distributing it across your organization as needed.

The end result typically means the bottlenecks of waiting on people for information is replaced with self-service software that allows people to get all the information they need — right when they need it.

No more waiting on reports. No more time-consuming information gathering. People can jump in with the necessary access permissions and pull what information they need to do their best work.

Send UNLIMITED reports to UNLIMITED users with ONLY ONE Power BI license — in any format.