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Why should I use Power BI when I have Excel?

It’s a question commonly posed, why use Power BI when I already have Excel? And the honest truth is that you may not need to, it is truly dependent on what you require. What this blog is not looking to do is present Excel and Power BI as the same solution under different names. Whilst there is a heavy overlap in the capabilities of the two tools, they do offer different skill sets.

Once you better understand the unique capabilities of both Excel and Power BI, you can compare this against your own requirements to deduce which solution is best suited to your organisation.

So let’s compare.


What is Excel?

Excel allows you to create spreadsheets from scratch or from templates, perform calculations, and organise your data. You can present your data in a variety of charts and graphs and create forecasts to predict trends in a matter of clicks.
Excel is often used for lists, basic reporting, and financials.

Features of Excel

  • Widespread and familiar
  • Suits ad-hoc projects, offering quick analysis
  • Can be used for subsequent tasks after reporting
  • Offers a more intuitive handling of tabular style reports

Power BI

What is Power BI?

Power BI is Microsoft’s business intelligence and analytics service. Power BI allows you to create interactive data visualisations, reports, and dashboards, connecting and modelling data – all with the ability to publish and share this content with your wider team. This allows users to monitor important data easily.
Power BI provides a simple interface that lets you easily see a story behind data. It is highly interactive and can be used to report on subjects such as customer behaviour, demographics, process analytics, ROI, buying trends, and more.

Features of Power BI

  • Graphical and intuitive
  • Offers beautiful visualisations of data
  • Powerful click though and drill down
  • Can handle large datasets and store larger amounts of data
  • Ideal for dashboards and KPIs
  • Can automatically refresh data (you don’t have to reupload datasets)
  • Suits a non-Financial audience
  • Designed for collaboration*1
  • Easy to connect to data*2
  • Mobile friendly*3

*1 Once a report has been published to the cloud you can share it and control the level of access that other users have. You can see at a glance who has access to a dashboard or report.
*2 Power BI currently supports 90+ connectors and Microsoft are continually expanding the data sources available. These built-in connectors include Azure, SharePoint, Google Analytics, One Drive, Excel and even on prem data sources such as SQL database.
*3 You can view your reports on the Power BI mobile apps and interact with them just as you would on your desktop browser. These mobile apps are available on iOS, Android phone or tablet and Windows 10 devices.

So which do I want?

When it comes to Excel or Power BI, there’s no one correct answer. Your solution will depend on your individual requirements and desires. In making your decision, there are 3 key questions that may help you understand which software will work best for you.

What do you want your solution to achieve?

What role is it that you need your data handling software to serve? Once you have established this, have a look back at the features of each solution to determine which best serves this function.

How important is ease of collaboration?

How many people will need to use this solution or interact with its analysis? Does this number make the ability to collaborate easily a priority? If so, Power BI may be a preferrable option.

Do you need high-level analytics?

Finally, what kind of analysis do you require? If you require high-level analytics, Power BI is more able to facilitate this.

If you want to know more about any of the technologies mentioned, or any of the solutions we provide, get in touch by filling out the form below or calling 0191 4770365.

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