Power BI by Microsoft is an industry standard tool for business intelligence, and as such, proficiency in this program opens a lot of doors for people seeking to work in data analysis. Highly successful corporations such as Toyota, Adobe and Coca-Cola are thought to use Power BI in their business strategies.
As one of the most widely-used and highly rated tools, Power BI enables you to smoothly import and manage data sources, transform and convert raw data, and produce meaningful insights for your client in interactive visualizations, reports and dashboards.
Whether you are just starting out in data analytics, or already have a good grasp of several different programs, will influence your approach to learning. But the best way is just to go ahead and learn by doing.
While not at all necessary, many people opt for a learning program and certification, in order to have their knowledge of Power BI monitored and validated by professionals. If you are interested in certification, that can be an option for you too – and a motivation to get good quickly!
But perhaps as many, if not more, people teach themselves Power BI, and as data analytics values self-directed learners, this does not need to be a second-best option. As ever, for the freelancer, YouTube is a gold mine of educational videos.
You can watch lessons by Power BI experts, from the absolute beginner level.
To the more intermediate level for those who already have some knowledge of data programs:
… And get a heads up on what NOT to do:
The sky’s the limit, which handily also means that you can start from whatever level you’re at.
What does learning Power BI involve?
As a Power BI expert in training, you will be covering all the aspects of using the program as you would in a real project. This is the best way to learn. You will be performing deep data analysis, beginning with mining, importing and transforming data from various sources such as SQL servers.
You will also be involved in data warehouse development and work on SSAS (SQL Server Analysis Services), SSIS (SQL Server Integration Services), and SSRS (SQL Server Reporting Services). Much of this is transferable knowledge from other software, which will speed you along if you are already proficient in one or more of them.
Then you will learn how to apply DAX (Data Analysis Expression) queries and functions to start generating valuable parameters for the data. The work will involve data models, machine learning models and especially data relationship management – this last aspect being especially important in Power BI – to generate better insights.
From there you will be able to start creating charts, visuals and documentation to explain your data models, relationships and algorithms. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) with clear objectives will be identified and close monitoring to ensure clarity.
Finally you will be creating tailored charts, reports, visualizations and dashboards to interactively represent what you have discovered. Depending on your client’s needs, you may create timelines of growth for them, and also provide an element of prediction, advice and expected outcomes based on what the data has produced.
One of the most exciting ways to use your data analysis skills in Power BI is to freelance as a data analyst, for example through a site like Pangaea X, which connects analysts to clients.
Data analysts are in high demand, and an analyst skilled in Power BI can expect to be well compensated for their work.
Due to the relative newness of data analysis as an industry, it is also a very open field and not yet hemmed in by strict requirements for formal qualifications. Many data experts have made a lot of money and successful, interesting careers after teaching themselves various programs, including Power BI.
In addition, if you did want to pursue a job for a data analytics company, showing that you are self-motivated enough to teach yourself Power BI will weigh in your favour.
Whatever you end up doing with this valuable skill set, it is well worth the investment of time and effort to become a Power BI expert.