Microsoft's Power BI out-of-the-box tools can help improve your insights
Visualizations (aka visuals) are pictures that make it easier for the viewer to understand data than a bunch of numbers in rows and columns. Visualized data inspires immediate questions about a company's sales, growth and who uses its services, bringing a web page to life as simple charts could never do. Microsoft PowerBI is a leader in data visualization and it shouldn't be surprising that the package includes a wide variety of tools and customizations to support almost every need, but before we look into the specifics, let's start with some key reasons why you need to visualize your data.
More Than a Pretty Picture
Data visualization is about more than making numbers look nice. The goal is to generate insights quickly, easily, and without the need for a personal data scientist looking over your shoulder. It's also about sharing your data, enabling a broad cross section of teams in your organization the benefit of your analytics initiatives without having to deep dive into the underlying numbers. Here are a few key advantages to visualizing data:
1) Absorption: Your data set might contain millions or even billions (perhaps trillions) of individual points, making sense of it can be a daunting prospect, and visualization helps pictorialize everything into a single, meaningful view.
2) Insights: Visualization allows you to actually see the trends unfolding, identify outliers, and connect what might appear to be disparate data into new insights, enabling a new level of understanding.
3) Action: Pictorialized representations encourage more immediate action with more support from your colleagues than raw numbers; if you see it, you can remember it, and ensure that the complexity of the numbers doesn't interfere with your ability to chart a course forward for your organization.
PowerBI's Best-in-Class Visualization Tools
Microsoft's Power BI offers a wide variety of visualizations and features right out of the box including the ability to customize and combine multiple data sets. Power BI reports can also provide multi-perspective view into a dataset, with either a single visualization or pages full of visualizations that represent different findings and insights. To protect your data, there are administrative controls that allow report creators to edit the visuals and its underlying dataset, while consumers can view the report but not make changes.
You can begin to visualize your data using the large number of different visual types available directly from the Power BI "Visualizations" pane.
A few of the visualizations available in Power BI includes the following:
- Area Charts: Basic and Stacked
- Bar and Column Charts
- Cards: Multi Row or Single Number
- Pie, Doughnut, Funnel, Gauge or Line Charts
- Basic, ArcGIS and Filled Maps
- Standalone Images
There are even ways to integrate geographical data directly with Bing. Given all of the options, a good way to get started is to focus on your requirements first. A meaningful report requires a little planning and understanding of what insights you are looking to gain. Make sure your report is going to tell a story, and then experiment with the visualizations that fit best.
Of course, Power BI also supports custom visuals – created by developers to enable business users to see their data in a way that fits the business best. This is getting a little complicated for non-technical users, but is important if you have a specific need.
PowerBI will let you get it done with three types of custom visuals:
- Visual files, which include code for rendering data that can be imported in a Power BI report
- Organization visuals, which are deployed by Power BI administrators to allow authors to use custom visuals within an organization
- Marketplace visuals, where Microsoft and members of its community share custom visuals from the Microsoft AppSource, to be used in an individual's dashboards and reports.
Also note that more creative types can dig into Microsoft's developer tools and learn how to create and add your own visuals to this community site. Either way, you can experiment with different types of visualizations to see what works best with your data.
Data visualization tools must be flexible to meet your company's specific needs and tell its unique story. At Korcomptenz, we can help you understand what visualizations might work best for you and make analyzing data become a faster, easier, and more insightful process. Whether you want to use bar and column, doughnut, funnel or gauge charts; basic or ArcGIS maps; tables or standalone images, we are here to guide you and keep your company at the forefront of technology.