Microsoft-in-campus Session On Power BI [Part 3]

Meet the cloud based analytics and visualization tool from Microsoft – Power BI. Power BI is a easy-to-use self-service business intelligence tool.

This post is a part of the series called Microsoft-in-campus session on Power BI.

  1. Microsoft-in-campus Session On Power BI – Sharing My Insights
  2. Microsoft-in-campus Session On Power BI [Part 1]
  3. Microsoft-in-campus Session On Power BI [Part 2]
  4. Microsoft-in-campus Session On Power BI [Part 3]
  5. Microsoft-in-campus Session On Power BI [Part 4]

In this session, the speaker enlightened on the following.

  • Power BI building blocks- Datasets, Reports and Dashboards
  • Hierarchy between Datasets, Reports and Dashboards
  • Creating a sample report
  • How to save a report?

Power BI Building Blocks

Power BI has three building blocks namely the dataset, report and dashboard. You can understand the hierachy between these building blocks from the following definitions.

A dataset represents a single source of data that you connect or import into Power BI. Dataset holds the information of the data source and the information required to connect, like credentials. A dataset once created can be used in multiple reports.

A report in Power BI is intended to represent data using visualization such as charts and graphs. In order to create a report, data is required. We can import or connect to data using datasets.

Reports can be manually created by using datasets. Or, Power BI automatically creates reports for you when you connect to online services (through service content packs). Power BI desktop lets you create reports by combining different data sources.

Content pack is a simple way to organize and package datasets, reports and dashboards together into a single entity.

Learn more about Content packs in part 2 of this series..

Dashboard is a way to organize and present insightful reports in one place. A dashboard is canvas on which you can pin with tiles and widgets. Each tile is a visualization from a report.

Widgets are special types of tiles with which you add entity like text, images, etc that are not part of the report.

Learn more about Datasets, Reports and Dashboards.

How To Create A Report?

Creating a report involves the following.

  1. Signing up for Power BI (assuming you don’t have a Power BI account)
  2. Connecting to a data source
  3. Creating a simple report

Sign up for Power BI: You can easily sign up for Power BI by heading to PowerBI.com. All you need is an Organization email address to get started with Power BI. Email address from email service providers like Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, etc. cannot be used to create an account with PowerBI.com.

Sign up for a Power BI account
Sign up for a Power BI account

Connect to data source: In order to create a report, we need data. The speaker used the data from the samples provided by PowerBI and I’ll be using the same. If you wish to follow along, you can find the samples in the Welcome screen. We will be using the Retail Analysis sample. You can learn more about the sample here.

Power BI Welcome screen
Power BI Welcome screen
Retail Analysis sample
Retail Analysis sample

Create a simple report: The Retail Analysis sample is a content pack that contains the dataset, report and dashboard. You need to understand the data to create reports and to draw insights with your data.

Power BI Service - Dataset, Report and Dashboard
Power BI Service – Dataset, Report and Dashboard

The Retail Analysis sample focuses on sales data and compares metrics such as sales, new stores, margin, etc. between the current year and the previous last year.

Let us create a couple of reports and pin a few on to a dashboard.

Step 01: Click on the dataset using which you want to create a report.

Step 02: You will see a blank canvas with Visualizations and Fields windows on the right sidebar.

To create a report, click on Dataset
To create a report, click on Dataset

Step 03: We shall create a simple table report to compare total units sold last year and this year each month during the fiscal year. In order to do that, drag and drop the Fiscal Month field from the Time sheet on to the blank white canvas. By default, PowerBI creates a table visualization when you drag and drop a column from the Fields window.

create-visualization
Drag the fields on to blank canvas to create visualizations.

Step 04: Drag and drop Total Units Last Year and Total Units This Year columns over the table report created earlier. PowerBI automatically udpates the values based on the Fiscal Month that you placed on the canvas earlier. The Visualization windows lets you to gain more control and allows you to change and format the visualizations.

Step 05: You can save the report by click on the Save button. Once you save the report, you can find it under the Reports section. The yellow asterisk indicates that you have created the report recently. This behaviour is applicable for datasets and dashboards.

I have created an additional report page and few other visualizations other than the table visualization.

Creating additional pages in a report
Creating additional pages in a report

Step 06: Now, let us pin the report the to a dashboard.

To pin a visualization to a dashboard, hover over any visualization and you will find the ‘pin’ icon. Click on the pin icon and you can pin it to either a new or an existing dashboard. That’s it. This way you can pin visualizations that are in the similar context to present data in a meaningful way.

Hover to pin
Hover on a report to pin it to a dashboard
Pin to dashboard
Pin the visualization to either a new or existing dashboard
Creating dashboard by pinning required visualizations.
A sample dashboard with reports that I created.

We now have successfully created a report, learnt how to pin reports to a dashboard and also learnt to save reports.

The speaker also demonstrated how to create reports in Power BI Desktop and upload it to the Power BI service. You can learn more about that from the Power BI documentation portal.

Microsoft-in-campus Session On Power BI [Part 2]

Meet the cloud based analytics and visualization tool from Microsoft – Power BI. Power BI is a easy-to-use self-service business intelligence tool.

This post is a part of the series called Microsoft-in-campus session on Power BI.

  1. Microsoft-in-campus Session On Power BI – Sharing My Insights
  2. Microsoft-in-campus Session On Power BI [Part 1]
  3. Microsoft-in-campus Session On Power BI [Part 2]
  4. Microsoft-in-campus Session On Power BI [Part 3]
  5. Microsoft-in-campus Session On Power BI [Part 4]

Data source and Dataset

We can create powerful visualizations and reports using Power BI when we connect to data. Each time we connect Power BI to a data source, a dataset is created.

A dataset contains information about the data source, its credentials etc. A data source can be anything ranging from a simple csv file to an on premise enterprise database.

A data source is where the data in a dataset really comes from.

Let us see the different data sources that Power BI can connect to.

1.Files

You can connect variety of file types such as csv, excel, txt files to Power BI and draw insights using the data from the files.

2.Databases

Power BI has the potential to connect to both on premise databases and to the cloud databases. The real advantage of connecting to cloud databases is that the connection is live. This is really useful as the data is being queried from the database as we start creating visualizations and reports.

The speaker emphasized on real-time connection and live connection at this point. Power BI supports live connection which means the data might be few minutes older than the data in the database unlike the real-time connection.

The speaker also mentioned that Power BI is an in-memory tool and the amount of data it holds for processing is only limited by the machine on which Power BI is accessed.

3.Other Data Sources

With Power BI you can connect to number of online services such as Facebook, Google Analytics, Salesforce Reports, Zendesk etc. and draw insights.

Microsoft continuously builds connectors to connect to variety of online services making it easier for the users. Users are provided with (service content packs) pre built reports and they’re literally ready to go once they connect to a service.

Content Packs

In order to understand what content packs really are, we need to understand datasets, reports and dashboards.

Content pack is a simple way to organized and package datasets, reports and dashboards together into a single entity. We shall be discussing about reports and dashboards in the next blog post. This is little weird but this is how the session was organized.

There are two types of content packs – Services and Organizational. Learn more about the types of content packs.

Organizational content pack – Assume that the sales reports of an Organization have to be shared within the Sales management folks within the organization. Rather than sending individual reports separately, the reports and the corresponding datasets can be bundled together as an Organizational content pack and can be shared across the sales team.

Learn more about life cycle of an Organizational content pack and about data security.

Personal Gateways

Power BI Personal gateway acts as a bridge to securely transfer data between on premise data source and Power BI service.

Power BI personal gateway comes only with the Power BI Pro version. The data transfer is secured through the Azure service bus and prevents the need to open additional ports in Windows Firewall.

Personal Gateways can be run either as a service or as an application in Windows machines. Personal gateways are used with data sources that supports refresh.

Learn more about installing and setting up personal gateway.

The speaker concluded the second session with the above mentioned topics. Stay tuned for the upcoming sessions, as there are demos presented.

OTN Yathra 2016 – My Experience and Takeaways

In this blog post, I’ll share my experience as a first-timer to the OTN Yathra conference. I’ll also share my takeaways that will help you to get maximum value if you’re planning to attend conferences.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are my own.

One of the goals I had set for 2016 is to attend at least one event/conference before the year ends. I’m glad that I accomplished it by attending the OTN Yathra 2016 conference on April 24, 2016.

Before attending the OTN Yathra conference, I had neither an idea on what was it all about nor what to expect. So I’m writing this post with the intention to shed some light for people like you who are curious to know about OTN Yathra.

My Experience

What is OTN Yathra? – OTN Yathra is a conference organized by Oracle ACE directors and volunteers across India in six major cities (Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Mumbai and Noida). The main focus of the conference is to unite the Oracle community members to raise awareness on happenings around the Oracle world and to build network amongst the community members.

Technical conferences/events are one of the easiest ways to keep yourself up to date on a technology and also a way to meet and network with new people within that community.

How did I hear about OTN Yathra and does it cost to register? – I was keen on finding a conference/event on Oracle database technology. Eventually I ended up finding OTN Yathra through social media. OTN Yathra is a one-day conference and the registration to the conference costs 700 INR which includes lunch. Note that the early bird registration costs only 500 INR including the lunch.

How did I spend the day? The day of the conference had arrived and I showed up half an hour prior to the actual start time. As soon as I hit the welcome desk, one of the members asked if I can volunteer with souvenir distribution for registered members. I was more than happy to help and I volunteered.

Volunteering at OTN Yathra 2016 conference
Volunteering at OTN Yathra 2016 conference

I started to introduce myself to two other volunteers. I usually shy away from speaking to strangers but I opened up the conversation on that day. After all, the purpose of these conferences is to network with people within the community.

The conference was scheduled to start by 9.00 AM. The conference began with the introduction session and the organizers presented about the what OTN Yathra was all about and also about the Oracle ACE program. As soon as the one of the organizers talked about the ACE program he acquired the attention of the attendees. Because most people hardly knew about the ACE program.

OTN Yathra 2016 - Introduction session
OTN Yathra 2016 – Introduction session

By the end of the introduction session, the organizers promised goodies for the attendee who tweets more with the hashtag #OTNYathra.

OTN Yathra 2016 - Twitter Hashtags

The agenda for the conference has been shared in OTN Yathra’s website beforehand. The attendees can pick up sessions of their choice from the agenda. All of the attendees were hoping to learn, new and interesting stuffs.

OTN Yathra 2016 Agenda
OTN Yathra 2016 Agenda

As you can see from the agenda, the sessions were interesting and I couldn’t wait any longer to hear from the speakers. As a first-timer, I felt that the sessions were very insightful and motivational. I believe that most people would have felt the same. The sessions I most enjoyed were the ones presented by Connor McDonnald, Hariharaputhran, Sai Penumuru and Chaitanya.

Are the sessions suitable for everyone? The sessions were focused more on the intermediate to advanced level Oracle users.

OTN Yathra 2016 - SQL Tuning session
OTN Yathra 2016 – SQL Tuning session

Breaktime & Lunch – During the breaks, I happened to speak to two speakers and it was really amazing to listen to their stories. Snacks and lunch were provided during the breaks and I must admit that the lunch was good.

OTN Yathra 2016 - Lunch time

Around 5 PM, all sessions were completed and all the attendees gathered for the closing ceremony. The interesting part was when all the speakers were invited to the dais and the attendees were allowed to ask questions.

Surprise goodies! – Finally, to my surprise, the organizers called out all the volunteers and thanked by rewarding them with a book. I was excited to receive the book. The closing ceremony came to end an after the entire group was photographed.

Goodies time
Goodies time

OTN Yathra 2016 - Group photo

A big thanks to the Organizers – Organizing a conference is no easy task. I really appreciate Sai Janakiram and his team for organizing the OTN Yathra 2016 conference.

I would say – OTN Yathra is a journey destined to learn, share and to spread the love for Oracle.

Things that put me off – During the introduction session, the organizers promised goodies to the attendees who send highest number of tweets with hashtag – #OTNYathra. It was very disappointing to see that they didn’t have any mechanism/tool to count the tweets sent with the announced hashtag.

Takeaways from OTN Yathra

If you are attending conferences only to learn without networking with folks around, you’re missing ton of opportunities. I’ll share a few tips that I picked up along the way which might help you to get maximum value from the conferences you attend.

Prepare your questions prior to the conference. I learnt that preparing insightful questions prior to day of the conference can help you get answers from experts and also makes you to stand out in the eyes of the speakers. This could lead to an interning or business opportunity.

Don’t forget to take your calling card. Don’t expect every person you meet to have an account in the favorite social media of your choice. Having a calling card (good ol’ traditional way) provides an easy way for you and the other person to stay connected after the conference. Most people I met didn’t have a Twitter account. Thankfully, all of the speakers had theirs and I was able to connect with them.

Choose people to network with. It is hard to meet and make friends with all people you see in the conference. Most conferences will have a meet up page (OTN Yathra has one) or a similar way to explore the attendees and the speakers. Learning to identify and choosing people to network with, benefits you and the person you connect to. At the least, you will refrain yourself from people who may not want to befriend with you.

Ditch the internet and carry the agenda. Lots of people, due to lack of internet connection, were enquiring others about the agenda. Jotting the agenda down or taking a snap of the agenda will be handy during the conference.

Do follow up on what was promised. Sometimes, the organizers/speakers might forget what they had promised you on the day of the conference. For example, you might have been promised to receive slides or links to the articles. Don’t wait up for days, to receive what has been promised. Instead, do follow up with the organizers/speakers. This way you don’t miss any good stuff.

Digital recorder might be handy. Carrying your digital recorder might save your day. You can record the sessions and listen to them at your convenience. This might be handy if you’re unable to follow speakers who speak fast and also saves you from losing important stuffs that you might have missed to note. I would recommend you to buy Zoom H2n recorder if you don’t own one (Amazon US sells it cheaper that the Indian store).

What are your takeaways from the conferences that you attended? Please do let me know in the comments.

Image credits

Microsoft-in-campus Session On Power BI [Part 1]

Meet the cloud based analytics and visualization tool from Microsoft – Power BI. Power BI is a easy-to-use self-service business intelligence tool.

This post is a part of the series called Microsoft-in-campus session on Power BI.

  1. Microsoft-in-campus Session On Power BI – Sharing My Insights
  2. Microsoft-in-campus Session On Power BI [Part 1]
  3. Microsoft-in-campus Session On Power BI [Part 2]
  4. Microsoft-in-campus Session On Power BI [Part 3]
  5. Microsoft-in-campus Session On Power BI [Part 4]

What Is Power BI?

Power BI is a cloud based SSBI(self-service business intelligence) tool. You heard that. It’s cloud based and all you need to use Power BI is just a browser.

With Power BI you can analyze and visualize data. You can collaborate with your team, create reports and share the reports with intended people. Visit PowerBI.com and get your hands on the Microsoft’s SSBI tool right away.

History Of Power BI

Until 2015, Microsoft as part of Business Intelligence, was focusing more on Power Query, Power Pivot, and Power View and MSBI tools. Though these tools were powerful, yet it required the involvement of IT developers to come up with a report or analysis.

Starting from early 2015, Microsoft started to shift its focus towards SSBI. This is where Power BI plays an important role. Power BI is not just intended for BI developers. Anyone with data wanting some insights can use Power BI. It’s easier to analyze and visualize data with Power BI. This tool leverages HTML 5 to render visualizations in browser.

How Do You Use Power BI?

There are two ways to use Power BI.

  1. Power BI Service (PowerBI.com)
  2. Power BI Desktop

What Is Power BI Service?

As mentioned earlier, Power BI can be accessed via PowerBI.com and this cloud SaaS is called the Power BI service. To access the cloud service, you require a modern web browser and a work email address. You cannot sign up for Power BI using emails from free service providers like Gmail, Yahoo or Outlook. No other special hardware or software is required.

What is Power BI Desktop?

Power BI Desktop is a free application that works in conjunction with the Power BI Service. Power BI Desktop allows you to do the following.

  • Get the data from variety of sources
  • Create relationships between your data and enrich your data model
  • Create and save your reports
  • Upload or publish your reports

The reports created using Power BI Desktop can be published to Power BI Service right from the Power BI Desktop application. Both Power BI Service and Power BI Desktop are free.

Power BI, in terms of pricing model, is categorized as

  • Power BI (Free)
  • Power BI Pro

You can upgrade to pro version by purchasing the license.

How Power BI Pro Differs From The Free Power BI Service?

Power BI Pro allows you to consume live data sources, on premise data and allows to collaborate with team using Office 365 groups. With the free Power BI Service and the Power BI Desktop, you can only analyze and visualize data but cannot share or collaborate with your team.

The below image shows the comparison between Power BI and Power BI Pro.

Power BI vs Power BI Pro Power BI vs Power BI Pro

Learn more about Power BI vs. Power BI pro.

How Much Does Power BI Cost?

Power BI and Power BI Desktop versions are free. The Power BI Pro version costs $9.99/user/month (600 INR/user/month)

Power BI And On-Premise Data

This Microsoft-in-campus session was intended to encourage the Organization to use Power BI and the speaker focused on how the Organization can connect with on premise data to analyze and visualize data.

Power BI is not available as an internal product or as an internal service. However, by using Power BI service, Organizations can collaborate and share reports using the on premise data.

Power BI can be connected to variety of data sources including files and databases. It can also directly connect to third party applications such as Salesforce, Mail Chimp, Google Analytics, etc. using the built-in connectors.

The speaker concluded the first session with these topics.

Microsoft-in-campus Session On Power BI — Sharing My Insights

In this post, I’ll share my insights from the Microsoft-in-campus session on Power BI that I attended recently. The session focused on how developers and professionals can leverage Power BI.

Technical conferences and sessions are great opportunities to learn new technologies, tools and to meet exciting people.

Recently I had the opportunity to attend a session on Power BI for developers and professionals and I would like to share with you the stuffs that I learnt from the training.

If you’re new to Power BI, then this blog post is absolutely for you. I have divided the blog post into a four part series based on the session topics.

This post is an introductory blog post and will give you a quick overview of what will be covered in each blog post.

The speaker of the session is Kedar Ghanekar, Solution Specialist and Practice Head at Synergetics.

Okay, let’s get started.

The one-day session was broken into four small sessions. The following are the broad classification of the one-day training session.

  1. Introduction to Power BI
  2. Power BI Data Sources
  3. Power BI Reports and Dashboards
  4. Power BI Live Reporting

Introduction to Power BI

This blog post will focus on introducing Power BI and its capabilities.

The speaker started by introducing Power BI and the tools included in the suite. He then explained the history of Power BI, how to get started with Power BI and the infrastructure needed to use Power BI.

Later in the session, the speaker covered the pricing model of Power BI and whom Power BI is intended for.

Power BI Data Sources

We cannot speak of analysis and visualization without connecting to data. This blog post focuses on Power BI’s ability to connect to variety of data sources.

The speaker focused on the variety of data sources such as files, databases and cloud apps that can be connected to Power BI to acquire data for analysis.

The speaker also focused on Content Packs in Power BI in this session. Content packs allows to share reports and insights with intended people or groups.

Pushing data to Power BI via Personal Gateways was also discussed.

Power BI Reports and Dashboards

This blog post enlightens on how you can generate reports and visualizations after connecting to data.

The speaker began by highlighting the three important components of Power BI – Datasets, Reports and Dashboards. The hierarchy between these components were also explained.

The speaker then continued the session with a simple demonstration. A sample report was generated and then the speaker demonstrated how the reports can be enhanced by adding parameters, filters, etc. Adding parameters and filters gives more flexibility to the end users in understanding the data.

The demonstration also included saving the reports and the speaker explained the various file formats used in Power BI.

Power BI Real-Time Reporting

This session focused on creating real-time dashboards and reports using Power BI. This allows to create visualizations with data continually updated.

REST API in Power BI allows to fetch and push data to Power BI from client/web applications. This is very useful when creating real-time reports. The speaker gave an overview on how REST API in Power BI works and demonstrated with a small console application.

The speaker also mentioned how Azure stream analytics can be used with Power BI for real-time reporting.

With this the session came to an end and the speaker opened up for questions.

The session was engaging and I felt that it session proved to be effective and the speaker attained the purpose of the session — introducing Power BI to Business Intelligence developers and Professionals.

Thanks to my Organization, Synergetics and Microsoft for organizing such an informative and effective session.