Pros and Cons of Power BI – The Bright & the Dull side of visualization suite

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In this lesson, we are going to discuss the pros and cons of Power BI. As we learned from the previous tutorial on Features of Power BI, it’s a great tool to use for data analysis and discovering important insights. But, let us go into a little detail and learn about the advantages and disadvantages of Power BI so that you can have some basis to compare it with other tools.

First, let’s quickly revise about Power BI.

What is Power BI?

Power BI is a cloud-based business intelligence service suite by Microsoft. It is used to convert raw data into meaningful information by using intuitive visualizations and tables. One can easily analyze data and make important business decisions based on it. Power BI is a collection of business intelligence and data visualization tools such as software services, apps and data connectors that together constitute Power BI.

We can use the datasets imported in Power BI for data visualization and analysis by making sharable reports, dashboards, and apps. Power BI is a user-friendly tool offering impressive drag-and-drop features and self-service capabilities. A user can deploy Power BI on both on-premise and on-cloud platforms.

In the image given below, have a look at the process flow in Power BI.

Power BI Process Flow - Power BI Pros and Cons

Advantages and Disadvantages of Power BI

Here are the major pros and cons of Microsoft Power BI:

Pros of Power BI

Let us discuss some of the most essential advantages of Power BI which plays a key role in making Power BI a successful tool.

1. Affordability

A major advantage of using Power BI for data analysis and visualization is that it is affordable and relatively inexpensive. The Power BI Desktop version is free of cost. You can download and start using it to make reports and dashboards on your computer. However, if you want to use more Power BI services and publish your reports on the cloud, you can take the Power BI Cloud service solution for $9.99 per user per month. Thus, Power BI is offered at a fair price as compared to other BI tools.

2. Custom Visualizations

Power BI offers a wide range of custom visualizations i.e. visualizations made by developers for a specific use. Custom visuals are available on Microsoft marketplace. In addition to the general set of visualizations available you can use Power BI custom visualizations in your reports and dashboards. The range of custom visualizations includes KPIs, maps, charts, graphs, R script visuals, etc.

3. Excel Integration

In Power BI, you also have the option to upload and view your data in Excel. You can select/filter/slice data in a Power BI report or dashboard and put it on Excel. You can then open Excel and view the same data in tabular form in an Excel spreadsheet. In other words, Power BI’s capability of Excel integration helps users to view and work with the raw data behind a Power BI visualization.

Explore the easiest method to Create a Dashboard in Power BI

4. Data Connectivity

Another major advantage of using Power BI as your data analysis tool is that you can import data from a wide range of data sources. It offers data connectivity to data files (such as XML, JSON), Microsoft Excel, SQL Server databases, Azure sources, cloud-based sources, online services such as Google Analytics, Facebook, etc. In addition to all this, Power BI can also access Big Data sources directly. Thus, you will get all sorts of data sources to connect to and get data for analysis and report making.

5. Prompt Updates

Power BI gets upgrades from Microsoft every month. Microsoft has made a user community where users can upload their suggestions and tweaks about Power BI. The suggestions that get the most rating by other users have a good chance of getting included in the next update of Power BI. A Power BI user will get notified every time a new update comes which they can easily download. Due to the prompt and inclusive upgrading system, Power BI is able to include better functionalities since its release.

6. Power BI Embedded

Power BI Embedded is another positive aspect of Power BI. Using this solution, an app developer can embed or include Power BI reports and features into web-based or other apps. By using this, we can add Power BI visuals and reports into emails or websites to increase its reach to users.

7. Personal Gateway

We have talked about gateways in Power BI and their use in earlier tutorials. Personal Gateway is a tool which you can use with Power BI to authenticate data sources that are on-premise and outside the firewall. Once this tool authenticates an on-premise data source, a cloud-hosted Power BI instance can use data from that data source.

8. Data Accessibility

Power BI offers great accessibility to data sources and the data sets that you create while designing reports. All the data that you import from data sources and work with is stored in a centralized location. You can access that data anytime, from anywhere, from any platform and as many times as you want.

9. Interactive Visualizations

The most talked-about advantage of Power BI over any other data visualization tool is its attractive, intuitive and interactive visualizations. We can use Power BI’s easy drag-and-drop functionality to add different visualizations in a report. Also, we can interact with visualization by applying filters, making selections in it, etc. It is very easy to create and understand data through visualizations in Power BI.

Any queries in the Power BI advantages? Mention them in the comment section.

Cons of Power BI

After the advantages, it’s time to throw some light on the disadvantages of Power BI.

1. Table Relationships

Power BI is good with handling simple relationships between tables in a data model. But, if there are complex relationships between tables, that is, if they have more than one links between tables, Power BI might not handle them well. You need to create a data model carefully by having more unique fields so that Power BI does not confuse the relationships when it comes to complex relationships.

2. Configuration of Visuals

In most cases, you might not feel the need to configure and optimize visualizations in Power BI. But even if you do, Power BI does not provide many options to configure your visualizations as per your requirements. Thus, users have limited options for what they can change in visuals.

3. Crowded User Interface

The user interface of Power BI is often found crowded and bulky by the users. It is in the sense that there are many icons of options that block the view of dashboard or report. Most users wish that the user interface or the report canvas was clearer with fewer icons and options. Also, creating scrolling dashboards is a native feature.

4. Rigid Formulas

As we know, the expression language used to deal with data in Power BI is DAX. However, you can perform a lot of actions using the DAX formula in Power BI, it is still not the easiest language to work with. Sometimes the formulas you create work well in Power BI, sometimes they don’t. You can concatenate up to two elements but concatenating more than two elements needs nesting statements.

5. Handling Large Data Volumes

Power BI has a limit of ingesting data at a time which is approximately 2 GBs of data. If you wish to import and use data of even greater volumes, you need to extend your free version to a paid version of Power BI. Also, users have reported that Power BI takes a little more than usual time or even hangs while processing millions of rows and columns of data.

6. Complex to Understand and Master

Usually, Power BI is the easiest to use BI tool if you are using it simply to import data and create reports. But Power BI is an entire suite having a lot of other interrelated tools. When the purpose of your use is more than just creating reports in Power BI Desktop, you need to learn and master several other tools like Gateways, Power BI Report Server, Power BI Services, etc.

Take a deep dive into Power BI Report Server


This concludes our discussion on the pros and cons of Power BI. Even after going through some of Power BI general disadvantages, we are certain that Power BI is a great tool for data visualization and data analysis. Moreover, Power BI is constantly working on to make improvements in it so we can expect better versions to come.

Any confusion in Power BI Pros and Cons? Share your queries in the comment section below.

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5 Responses

  1. Ashwani Gupta says:

    Power BI won’t acknowledge records bigger than 250 MB.

    What it mean. I have tried to upload 2 GB MS access data and it was working fine.

  2. Venkat says:

    can you please share the best tool currently in market and future tools in the market as well where it will fit semiconductor manufacturing company as this company already using Qlik view, MSBI, power bi, and other tools

  3. Pavan says:

    SAP Crystal Reports vs Power BI ? Which tool is best for detail, structured reporting and graphical representations?

  4. CloudStakes Technology says:

    This is quite easy to understand that Power BI have become such greater part for so many businesses across the world. I have learned a lot through this article and main reasons why Power BI is a must.

  5. Peter says:

    I find it difficult to see what the original data in a PowerBI generated graph go back to. In Excel, by clicking on the graph elements, you are always able to relate back to the original data, not so in PowerBI

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