Power BI is Microsoft’s most powerful data analytics tool. Its clever capabilities allow even the most non-technical users in a company to gain intelligent insights into data and use this to make more informed decisions. This tool connects hundreds of data sources and pulls them into visual, easy-to-read graphs & charts, with drill-down capabilities allowing you to interrogate data further than basic reporting functionality. In a world where data is becoming increasingly accessible, having that data without the tools to make sense of it becomes almost pointless. The real value is being able to deep-dive into it, analyse the insights, then most importantly making strategic business decisions based on the findings… this is where the value lies.
Within this blog, we review the science behind visualisations, six ways to visualise data within Power BI, an overview of the tool-tip functionality also available within the tool and provide examples of where you would use each of these. This is only a small glimpse into the capabilities of this analytics tool, for more information you can visit our Power BI page.
The science behind visualisations
One of the main features that make this data analytics tool stand out against others are the dashboards and visualisations used to present your data, and it’s not just to make it look good. There is a science behind the way the data is displayed; the brain processes images 60,000 times faster than it does text. Therefore, presenting data in this way allows users to pick out the most important insights and process them much faster. Gone are the days where a data analyst must spend hours dissecting lengthy text reports. Anyone can now get a clear view of the data and what’s going on in the business through various types of views.
Ways to visualise data
There are many different types of visuals available for you to use in Power BI, in fact, there are over 20.
Alongside this, there is a rich library of custom visualisations available, as seen in the image above. These widgets are used to build and design your dashboards using drag-and-drop functionality, allowing you see the data you want, how you want.
In this blog we look at just a few of the visualisations available in Power BI, explore their uses and hopefully give you some ideas for how to get the most out of your data, or just learn more about what’s available in Power BI.
1. Area Charts
Area Charts in Power BI are also known as layered area charts, and as demonstrated in the below image, you can see why. The area between the line and axis is shaded with colour to indicate volume.
An area chart is best used for monitoring total value across trends and comparing change. The display of this chart lends itself to comparing data as you can easily see peaks and troughs over time, layered to make it easier for a user.
For example, the below image demonstrates how this chart can be used to compare yearly sales by month, to emphasise total profit.
2. Combo Charts
Combo charts combine a line chart and a column chart to produce one single visualisation.
Illustrating correlations and comparing multiple data sets is made simple with combo charts, allowing you to draw key insights quickly and see where improvements need to be made.
An example of where a combo can be used is demonstrated below, where last year and this year’s sales are represented in bar columns, and gross margin last year is represented by the line overlaying them. This allows you compare the data at a glance and identify trends quickly.
Sometimes charts and dashboards can be a bit overwhelming, or you don’t have time to look through various graphs to get an important figure you need. This is where the card visualisation comes in handy, as it displays just a single number. Real-time figures can be quickly and easily tracked, meaning you can make that all-important decision whenever you need to.
Total sales, market share, opportunity count, profit made and total number of stores are just a few examples of the metrics that can be tracked with Cards.
If one card isn’t enough and you want to display other important metrics, multi-row cards are also available as shown in the image below.
4. Doughnut Charts
Doughnut charts are very similar to pie charts; it shows the relationships of parts to a whole. The difference between them, is that the centre of a doughnut chart is left blank, allowing space for an icon or label.
They are best used for making comparisons between categories. As you can see in the example below, providers are segmented into groups giving you allowing you to analyse the data easily as a whole or per category.
5. Funnel Charts
Funnel charts allow you to visualise a linear process with sequential stages that are all connected and work as a flow of processes.
This allows you to view each stage individually and pick up quickly on any areas that are falling short, and those that are performing well.
A common example of this chart in use is demonstrated below, representing the sales funnel. Each stage represents a percentage of a total, with the largest stage being shown at the top and subsequent stages follow, like a funnel.
KPIs is a visualisation that allows you to track real-time progress made towards a measurable goal.
With this you can quickly analyse whether you are ahead or behind on achieving a goal and measure the distance towards it. The chart in the example below represents this progress and you can see at a glance the total goal value ($434,035) the in-progress value ($346,039), and the percentage of how far away the business is to achieving their goal (-20.27%).
A useful hint: Tool Tip Functionality
Within Power BI, you can create rich report tooltips. This is a feature that enables you to hover over a visual within a report and quickly gain a deeper insight. The great thing about this functionality, is that you design the tooltip, then have the ability to associate it with various fields in your reports.
The tooltip functionality allows you to gain an insight of the data from the report itself, eliminating the need to leave the report and click into data fully. This saves time and puts that power in your hands, as you can choose the information you want to see.
There are lots more visualisations available in Power BI and you can find a full list here, along with plenty more features for users to explore. Hopefully by looking at the six most popular visualisations in this article you get an idea of what Power BI is capable of and the powerful functionality availability within this tool.
As a business intelligence and reporting tool, Power BI is without doubt one of the leading products in the marketplace and one of Microsoft’s most successful tools. If you haven’t had an opportunity to explore it, I would fully recommend having a look by starting with a free trial or contacting us as we have outlined below.
Reveal hidden business insights through Power BI with PragmatiQ Solutions
At PragmatiQ Solutions, we’ll work with you to understand your data analytics needs. We’ll then support you in your use Microsoft Power BI, so you can remove the guesswork from the analytical side of your business and make better informed, data-driven decisions.
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