Power BI is a Microsoft data visualization tool that pulls information from various sources into one interactive dashboard. Power BI stands for business intelligence and makes the world of data more accessible for business users, allowing them to make better decisions, uncover insights and even ask questions about the data in natural language.
Using different tools in combination, such as Power Query (also known as getting & Transform) and Power Pivot, you can transform your raw data into a visual story. All of it lives natively in Excel! If you have decided to start with Power BI but already know how to use Excel, this will be a massive plus as you learn new skills.
The great thing about learning Power BI is that it is free. You can download Power BI Desktop for free from the official Microsoft website and take advantage of tons of online resources like tutorials, articles, videos, and forums.
There are many tools available in the Power BI suite: Power BI Desktop, Power BI Service, Power BI Mobile Apps, Power BI Premium, Power BI Report Server, Power BI Embedded, Power Query Online and On-Premises Data Gateway, Custom Visuals Marketplace, Office 365 and Dynamics 365 integration. You can find out more about each of these on the Microsoft page.
Ask for Help from a Community of People Who Use Power BI
People are often shy about asking for help, but you do not want to be too shy to ask for assistance when it is about your career.
Ask for help from someone who has already achieved what you seek. It is a great way to learn the ropes from someone with experience.
Make a list of people who have similar career goals as you do, and ask them if they would like to help each other out with advice from time to time. They will likely be thrilled that you asked for help.
Find a mentor and ask them for advice on what steps you should take next to achieve your goal.
Prepare Before You Learn
Before you start, complete a few preparatory steps that will help you get the most out of your learning time. First, scan the Power BI website for learning materials like free training videos and support forums where fellow learners can share insights about their journey.
If you are more hands-on, consider looking into courses from trusted online learning platforms like Coursera or even YouTube. These sources have tutorials led by experts in the field who can walk you through everything step by step. Because Power BI is growing in popularity among businesses, there is bound to be something for everyone!
Look for Scholarship Opportunities
Another way to gain access to Power BI training courses is by looking for scholarship opportunities. For example, you can search LinkedIn for scholarships sponsored by Microsoft and other companies interested in providing free or discounted education. It might allow you to take a class at a reduced price or even free of charge. Additionally, you can look for a scholarship for Power BI users on the Microsoft website and within the Power BI community and forums.
It is crucial to look into all your options to have the best chance of finding the perfect user group or training course. In addition, once you have completed your training course, be sure to network with others to build relationships that could lead to job opportunities in this field later on down the road.
Follow Experts and Industry Leaders
You can find the top experts and industry leaders to follow by doing a Google search for “top Power BI experts” or “top Power BI bloggers.” Once you have found some that you like, follow them on social media and subscribe to their blogs. If you find an expert whose work you enjoy, look for opportunities to meet in person at conferences and events or virtually through video chats and webinars. This way, you will have a chance to ask questions of your own, which may be helpful as you are trying to learn more about a particular topic.
In addition, if there are any opportunities to collaborate with one of these experts on a project or blog post, it can be beneficial to reach out directly via email. They may not always have time for this type of thing (especially if they are popular). But if they respond favorably, it will often result in enormous benefits both professionally and personally.
Practice Using Different Data Sources with Your Power BI Skills
Keeping in mind the value of knowing different data sources will help you create a successful career with Power BI, but how do you get started?
A great way to practice using different data sources with your Power BI skills is to play around with the data. You can use the sample files provided by Microsoft or use a free gallery dataset from PowerBI.com. The more familiar you are with your data, the more comfortable you will be working with it and manipulating it in ways that make sense for your analysis needs.
Importantly, each data source has certain limitations and unique features, so it is essential to learn how to work within these constraints rather than just trying to force a square peg into a round hole! Before diving into using them yourself, I recommend reading through some documentation about common sources, such as Excel spreadsheets or CSV files, to get started on this path of mastery over the tools.
Learn How to Create Dashboards That Tell a Story
In Power BI, dashboards tell a story. When creating your first dashboard, think of it as a book’s cover page. It typically has the book title and an image or illustration that matches the book’s contents. A good dashboard tells a story using visuals: graphs, charts, pictures, and more.
You can create a compelling narrative with dashboards by following these guidelines:
- Use keywords in the title of your dashboard to attract attention. For example, “Sales Performance Analysis by Region” is better than “Regional Analysis.”
- Use only a few key metrics on each dashboard to keep viewers from getting overwhelmed with information. You can always add more data in separate dashboards for specific audiences or purposes later.
- Include visual elements that draw attention to important areas or trends within your data set. Make sure these visuals stand out from one another rather than blending. You do not want people glancing at your carefully created infographic and not noticing anything!
- Designate headers and footers where users expect them: above the title bar (on top) or below (at the bottom). Avoid placing them anywhere else since this could make navigation confusing for some people who may not be familiar with its layout yet! It goes double if there are several tabs in different sections, so they do not accidentally click on something they were not looking for when scrolling down through all those options.
Immerse Yourself in the Power BI Culture to Gain Lifelong Success
If you are getting your feet wet in Power BI, congratulations! You are on your way to a long and rewarding career.
Make sure you have access to great resources that will help you learn about Power BI.
Connect with other Power BI users in person and online. Learn from them and become their friend.
Do it because it is fun. It will make you feel good, and it is rewarding.