Power BI Services: A Comprehensive Guide

By: Published: April 9, 2021

Power BI Services

Data Analytics has become integral to every company’s business strategy. Creating comprehensive reports and running insightful reports for the same helps organizations visualize different aspects and direct their strategies both internally and externally.

Dealing with data has been an age-old “task” for businesses but the horizon has truly transformed with AI-based Business Intelligence tools that make the task much simpler. 

In this article, you will read about the whys and hows of Microsoft’s Power BI Services which offer a robust platform for Business Intelligence Services. Power BI Services and how has different applications to offer which can fulfill different purposes of data assortments and analytics at large.

Along with understanding the basic components and advantages of Power BI, you will also learn about key dashboard elements and how they can be used. 

Table of Contents

What Are Power BI Services?

Power BI Product Distribution - Services Power BI
Image Source: Scnsoft

Microsoft Power BI offers a collection of different services, apps and connector software that can derive comprehensive insights from different data sources that might be unrelated and scattered.

You can integrate different data sources and gain interactive insights to analyze important data sets. It is increasingly being used by leading businesses and organizations to run a variety of reports, gain insights, and intelligently organize your company data to understand it better.  

Visual reports can be used for internal strategies as well as for externally maneuvering business strategies at large. With wide-ranging services that are compatible and accessible over various devices and platforms, Power BI has several benefits in store for businesses that want to smartly analyze and organize their data. 

Official documentation regarding Power BI Service can be found here.

Basic Elements and Building Blocks of Power BI

Before we head over to understand the key features of dashboarding with Power BI, let us have a look at the core component which are the basic elements or building blocks of Power BI. These include:

1. Workspaces

Workspaces are shared by a group of people and act as an environment where multiple contents can be handled. It includes several dashboards, datasets, and reports, and all relevant people can be added and given access to your Power BI workspace.

2. Dataflows

Dataflows can be characterized as low-code or no-code solutions for creating data transformations. Power Query Online is used to create dataflows in a powerful yet easy way of processing large amounts of data.

3. Datasets

A dataset is a collection of data that you can connect to or import to Power BI. The same dataset can be a part of multiple workspaces in Power BI. This is the information that is later transformed into usable insights.

4. Reports

A report in Power BI is typically a wider perspective into datasets that are visually organized with distinct findings derived from the existing data. It can be embedded with a single visual or multiple visuals as per your business requirements. 

5. Dashboards

A dashboard in Power BI is a page that helps explore reports and datasets. Here the visualizations are interpreted and organized. It is also called canvas owing to one of the primary elements of the dashboard setup.

6. Workbooks

A workbook in Power BI typically consists of a data model with data from multiple tables embedded using linked tables. Data models can help define the relationship or hierarchies amidst data points that the workbook represents.

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Key Power BI Services Dashboard Elements

The dashboarding process can be illustrated as follows:

Creation of Dashboard - Services Power BI
Image Source: Edureka

The different dashboard elements that you would need to familiarize yourself with to best utilize the Power BI platform include the following:

At the extreme left, the navigation panel helps access workspaces, apps, favorites, recent items, and shared content.

2. Power BI Services Elements: Canvas

The area consisting of the actual graphs, insights, and visuals is referred to as the canvas of the dashboard. 

3. Power BI Services Elements: Q&A Question Bar

The Q&A bar is located at the top left of the canvas where you can “Ask a question about your data”.

4. Power BI Services Elements: Dashboard Title

The dashboard title can be seen in the top left in the black strip after the PowerBI logo and your indicated workspace. 

5. Power BI Services Elements: Microsoft 365 App Launcher

The yellow icon at the top left extreme is the official Microsoft 365 App Launcher. 

6. Power BI Services Elements: Labeled Icons

The top right corner indicated the labeled icons in the Power Bi Dashboard setup.

If you need more information regarding setting up Sales Dashboards in Power BI you can check it out here.

You can locate these key elements in the following illustration:

Dashboard Illustration - Services Power BI
Image Source: Office 365 Utexas

Advantages of Power BI Service

There are several benefits of using Power BI Services and here are some primary solutions it offers that can truly be a game-changer for your data requirements:

  • For starters, you can access rich and personalized dashboards that can present important information and focus on key metrics instead of dealing with surplus data. 
  • Integrations with third-party applications and multiple data sources make it easier to report accurate data in your business environment.
  • Publishing reports is made much easier with automated data refresh and is also more secure with Power BI tools.
  • Interactive visuals can be created without the need for any technical specialization and are also run without any speed or memory constraints. 
  • Power BI services are simple to use with optimized performance for extracting relevant business data intelligently.
  • You can also access a wide range of advanced data services including verbal data querying, Cortana, and other advanced cloud cognitive services with Power BI. 

Differentiating Power BI Service and Power BI Desktop

While Power BI solutions are available in various forms as illustrated earlier, the solutions offered by Power BI Service and Power BI Desktop are quite distinct with some overlapping features. The main difference between the two can be understood by what the two versions have to offer.

Power BI Desktop allows a connection to different types of data sources which are then converted into a data model for report creation. Power BI Service, on the other hand,  is essentially a cloud-based service for users to view and interact with these reports. The overlapping features, as well as distinct features, can be listed as follows.

Power BI Desktop and Power BI Service Comparison - Services Power BI
Image Source: Microsoft Docs


Thus, Power BI Services has much to offer to the business domain for intelligent collection, organization, reporting, and analysis of data that proves to be the most relevant for them. In this article, you learned about Power BI Services, Building Blocks, basic elements of the Power BI Services, its Dashboard Elements, and the differentiation between Power BI Service and Power Bi Desktop.

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Aman Sharma
Freelance Technical Content Writer, Hevo Data

Driven by a problem-solving approach and guided by analytical thinking, Aman loves to help data practitioners solve problems related to data integration and analysis through his extensively researched content pieces.

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