The first tool of Power BI

 Sep 16, 2016

BI, or Business Intelligence, has gained a big trend in the self-service area, this allowed users without expert technical skills to create their own solutions in regards to data analysis and reports. With this rapid growth towards self-service, Microsoft introduced Power BI as a tool to centralise all these capabilities in one application.

In one of my previous blogs, I have covered an Intro to Power BI and gave a quick rundown of its components, in this blog post I will look at one of those components a little closer. The component of interest will be the or Power BI Service, this allows us to use an internet browser such as Chrome to create some dashboards and reports.

To access this portal you have to use the following link:, after navigating to the link you will have to Sign In with your credentials or alternatively Sign Up if you don’t have an account (Don’t worry it is free).

Once logged in you will be introduced with a workspace screen, this should be blank if you signed in for the first time or if you haven’t created anything yet. Alternatively you might see the Get Data screen from the beginning to connect to a data source.

To the left of the screen in the Grey Menu strip you have a few options to get started. From the bottom upwards you have the follow actions at your disposal.

1. Get Data

This menu action allows you to import data from a wide variety of data sources, this included Content Packs that was created by your Organisation or Content Packs that was created by an online service, such as Bing. Not only do you have the capability to use content packs but you can actually import data from Files or connect to a database.

2. Datasets

Any data that you import or connect to will be represented by a dataset, please take note that if you connect to an online content pack you might not have a dataset.

3. Reports

One way to show data on this portal is to publish a report through the Power BI desktop application, when you use this tool it will not only publish the datasets but it will also publish a report to the workspace. Your users can then view or interact with the report.

4. Dashboards

Finally we have the Dashboards, this is a view that has the ability to represent multiple pieces of information. The dashboard contains pins to data of interest that you want to consolidate onto one view as opposed to multiple different reports.

To give you an example of how to bring in some free data to work with, we will get data from an online service and then look at the outcome after the retrieval. Firstly you want to use the Get Data option on the bottom of the grey menu, once you have clicked it you are then introduced to two ways of getting data. The first way you can connect is by using a Content Pack or alternatively you can use one of your data sources.

In my case I will be using the Online Services, to get some demo data to work with. By clicking on the Get button on the Services Tile you are introduced with a list of online data sources that you can choose from, some of these services might even contain multiple different types of data. I will be using data from the Bing Service.

Once you have clicked the Add button you are then taken back to your workspace, which will now have a fully populated dashboard that contains information related to Xbox.

This was a quick look into what is available to you if you use the Power BI Service, there is a lot more you can do with it. I won’t be covering it but let your curiosity go to work and play around with this amazing tool.

For more information, take a look at New Horizons' course "10989 - Analysing Data With Power BI".

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About the Author:

Auret Swanepoel  

As a recent addition to the New Horizons team, Auret is a highly skilled and qualified IT Technical trainer. He has been a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) since 2008 and has since then, also become a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP), a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) and a Microsoft Certified Information Technology Professional (MCITP). With his international experience as a trainer in South Africa, Auret is able to adapt his teaching style to different audiences in the classroom and ensure that students are learning in a positive and collaborative environment.

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