Data analytics: Excel vs Power BI tools 

The great minds of our world, such as Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, often say that information is the most valuable commodity. This is no doubt true and today we all collect information of some kind in the form of data. Applications, websites, accounting software store user and customer data, financial data, HR data, sales data, forecasts, etc. Physical disks cannot keep up with the terabytes of data, so instead, we often opt for public cloud services such as Azure or AWS. Of course, once collected, our data are then sorted, analysed, and processed, so that they can eventually be put to a good use.

Data analytics - Excel vs Power BI tools

Peter Drucker once famously said: you can’t manage what you don’t measure. This is one of the key principles of management, emphasising the importance of measurement and data analytics for decision-making.

Access to relevant data might just be the key to success in many fields, not only in business, but also science and many other disciplines. Data enable growth. The question is: how not to lose your way in the thicket of information and retrieve the most important data from the heap?

Data analysis in reality

Time is often said to be one of the most important resources. We can safely assume that, given unlimited time, every analyst would be able to properly classify data and draw up reports on their own, without the need for any intelligent tools.

Unfortunately, time is always in short supply, which means professionals must turn to various data analytics tools, which include the popular Excel, but also modern Business Intelligence tools.

Because we are talking about completely different tools, this article will focus on highlighting the unique opportunities opened by BI tools as compared to Excel. It is worth understanding why so many organisations have bet on Microsoft’s Power BI so you can make a well-informed investment in BI software that will match your specific needs.

Power BI vs Excel

Data visualisation

Excel allows you to present data in the form of simple graphs or pivot tables. These functionalities are not very elaborate and may well prove insufficient for large (or very diverse) data sets, making it difficult for users to read your data.

In contrast, Power BI allows you to create advanced graphs, maps, cross-tabulated graphs or simply interactive dashboards to facilitate data exploration. The options are very diverse and advanced, and Power BI reports are clear and lucid.

Different data sources combined

One of the key advantages of Power BI is its ability to combine data from different sources. Reports may include data from calculation files, text files, database files, cloud data, website data or CSV files, and that is still not all! Power BI creates links between files, which allows users to create comprehensive and versatile data sheets.

Real-time analytics

The unparalleled advantage of Power BI, however, is its real-time data analytics functionality. Users can connect to active data sources, such as, e.g., online data bases, and visualise and analyse any changes in real-time.

In addition, the process can be fully automated. Report users will then get access to automatically refreshed data. In Excel, data needs to be refreshed manually, which is often time-consuming and inconvenient, especially when data sets are large.

Export and publication

Generally, BI tools, including Power BI, allow users to export and publish reports online. Users can easily share their interactive dashboards both inside and outside their organisation, allowing others to view and interact with their data.

Analytics can also be read on mobile devices; visualised data may also be embedded in other applications and websites.

Advanced analytics

Power BI offers advanced analytics options, such as creating non-standard DAX expressions and formulas. DAX is a formula expression language that allows you to perform advanced calculations and aggregate and transform data. You can also use its static and mathematical functions for data analytics.

Data security

Power BI offers various authorisation and authentication methods, such as logins with Microsoft 365 and Azure AD accounts. This allows you to control which users access your data and reports.

You can also set up different permission levels, which means your admins will be able to manage who can access which data sets, reports and dashboards. You can also control which users can edit and publish reports.

Business Intelligence tools – taking data analysis to the next level

As you can see, as a Business Intelligence tool, Power BI offers many more opportunities and advanced data analytics functions than the popular Excel.

Thanks to its ability to combine different data sources, its wide range of visualisation options, real-time data analytics and easy publishing of reports, Power BI is now the preferred data analytics and reporting tool among many growing organisations. 

Managers need clear reports that are easy to read to take fast and successful business decisions. In many cases, what they really need is real-time data that update automatically. And this is exactly what Power BI delivers.