Do you want to make more precise data-driven decisions? Microsoft’s Power BI is an incredibly useful tool for organizing and visualizing complex sets of data.

However, while there are many advantages to using this system, there are also some potential disadvantages. To decide whether the service is right for your business, you should consider MS Power BI’s pros and cons as well as how much it will cost in the long run. When you weigh the strengths and weaknesses of each version of Power BI, you’ll choose a system that will help your business thrive.

MS Power BI Pros: Robust Visualizations on a Simple Platform

Power BI is popular because the software generates detailed visualizations from a user-friendly platform. You don’t need any training on how to use the system because every feature is intuitive.

Power BI works by taking data from a spreadsheet, data warehouse, or cloud storage source and generating visuals from the information. Most businesses use this tool to create compelling visuals for reports. You can also use it to find new patterns in the data and make accurate business decisions based on these trends.

The Power BI system is quite complex. It includes:

    • desktop application for creating and publishing reports;
    • Software as a Service (SaaS) option that you can access online;
    • Mobile applications for smartphones and tablets;
    • gateway for syncing data between different sources and applications;
    • On-premise servers for storing data on-site; and
    • visuals marketplace where you can download custom visuals made by Power BI users.

However, not all of these services are available to every user; service availability depends on the product license you purchase. There are three types of licenses that Microsoft offers: 

MS Power BI Free MS Power BI ProMS Power BI Premium 
Cost: FreeCost: $9.99 monthly per userCost: $4,995 monthly
Create visuals 
Export visuals 
Publish to the web 
XUse custom applications and app workspaces
XSet up email subscriptions to dashboards and reports
XGreater control over the Application Programming Interface (API) 
XMore sharing options
XData analysis through desktop and Excel 
1 GB maximum data set size1 GB maximum data set size 10 GB maximum data set size
10 GB storage per user 10 GB storage per user 100 TB storage per user 
XCloud servicesCloud services
XData encryptionData encryption
XAccess to custom visuals
XXCloud computing 
XXOn-premise storage 
XDistribute content to other MS Power BI Pro users only Distribute content to anyone (not only MS Power BI Pro users)
XXPerform advanced data analytics 

If you use the free version of MS Power BI, pros include access to the software’s robust standard visuals and the ability to publish and export reports. It’s also the least expensive option.

The benefits of an MS Power BI Pro license are that you’ll get more options to share, publish, and collaborate on visuals and reports. This is useful for organizations with larger staffs or that need to communicate with remote teams.

MS Power BI Premium has some advantages over both the free version and MS Power BI Pro. You’ll get more storage and a higher maximum data set size. You can also choose between on-premise, cloud storage, or a hybrid option. Additionally, any authorized user can access the content you’ve created in Power BI; there’s no need for every staff member to have an MS Power BI Pro account. This is the best choice for large organizations that need to store, analyze, and visualize a great deal of data and distribute reports across the enterprise.

No matter which version you choose, you’ll have access to Power BI’s detailed visuals and sleek platform. However, before you select a system, you should also consider some of Power BI’s greatest weaknesses.

MS Power BI Cons: Lack of Data Quality Control

Every version of Power BI has one major downside: Insufficient data quality control. When you sign up for a Power BI license, you bring your own data. It’s your responsibility to collect quality data, normalize it, and decide which sets of data to compare in each visual.

Unless you have experienced data scientists on staff, this isn’t easy. It’s common to collect the wrong type of data. You may also compare the wrong data sets and make inaccurate business decisions that hurt your bottom line.

Power BI also doesn’t support large data sets. Even the most expensive version, Power BI Premium, supports less data than some of its competitors like Tableau.

Additionally, each individual version of Power BI has its own unique list of weaknesses: 

MS Power BI Free MS Power BI Pro MS Power BI Premium 
Visuals are more limited Expensive if you have a large staff and need multiple Pro licensesMuch more expensive than the other two versions 
No customization optionsLimited storage Storage is still relatively limited
Little IT support No cloud computing or on-site storage On-premise storage requires additional infrastructure 
Few sharing options Can only distribute content to other MS Power BI Pro users May take longer to deploy 
Limited cloud storage Few advanced data analytics options More complex and has a higher learning curve 
No cloud computing or on-site storage 
No advanced data analytics 

These weaknesses may not be dealbreakers for your organization. For example, if you just need to generate a visualization quickly and have a very limited budget, the free version or an MS Power BI Pro license will meet these needs. If, however, you want to perform more complex data analytics, then you’ll need a more powerful system like MS Power BI Premium.

The Most Cost-Effective Visualization System 

Generally speaking, MS Power BI is useful for organizations that only need basic visualizations or can afford a Premium license. For small organizations with limited budgets, hiring a data analytics firm is often a better choice.

If one or more of the following statements are true about your organization, then hiring a data analytics firm is the most cost-effective and favorable option:

  • Your organization doesn’t currently have a data scientist on staff;
  • The IT budget is tight;
  • You don’t have any data storage infrastructure in place already;
  • You generate multiple reports daily, weekly, or monthly;
  • You collect large amounts of data or need to compare data sets from multiple sources;
  • You want to make improvements to data quality or your overall business intelligence (BI) strategy; and
  • You want to present personalized, professional-looking reports to stakeholders.

A data analytics firm can give you all of the benefits of an MS Power BI Premium license at a lower monthly cost. Additionally, you’ll get a full BI audit assessing the quality of your data, a custom BI roadmap, and personalized platforms tailored specifically to your staff’s workflows. All of these innovative tools and resources combined will help you gain a richer understanding of your data and identify the key business trends that will lead to future victories.

To get a free business intelligence audit today, contact Tek Leaders. We will assess the quality of your data and help you decide which system is most appropriate and cost-effective. Our team of visualization experts can also create custom dashboards that enable you to generate robust visuals and make stronger evidence-based decisions. If you have more questions about the innovative and affordable visualization services we offer, you can reach us by email directly. 

    Author: Devender (Dev) Aerrabolu

    Devender (Dev) Reddy Aerrabolu is the CEO of Tek Leaders. His goal is to help SMBs bring value from their data. Dev helped Tek Leaders grow from scratch into a $25 million enterprise by focusing on clients’ data needs.