In our last webinar the #1 question and confusion seemed to be around Excel versus Power BI Desktop (formerly called Power BI Designer). The thing is, both tools are really part of an ecosystem. And the biggest confusion was around understanding how these tools fit into the overall landscape.
Here is the picture we would build to, but do read through so you understand how we arrived here and also find out how you control the future direction of Power BI (seriously, you do!).
Standalone Tool for End-to-End BI
Rob did an excellent head to head comparison of Power BI Designer versus Excel. Just read that, but I’ll add some commentary.
If you were to use a single tool for BI – getting data, building a data model and building charts/reports – we have firmly established that Excel is the world’s best data tool, period and that is primarily due to it’s internal network effect and that it is easy to adopt.
Excel is the World’s Best Data Tool, Period
Power BI Desktop is a very slick tool, with all different facets meshed together beautifully without any seams showing. Unlike Excel, where due to the “Add-In” nature Power* tools always feel a little clunky, not to mention cases where they go totally awry. But in spite of all that, it is hard, no impossible, to build a tool that can supersede Excel, or replace Excel.
However that is not quite a fair comparison. Because Power BI Desktop is primarily built for PowerBI.com.
Power BI Desktop for PowerBI.com
Power BI Desktop is primarily an accompaniment to PowerBI.com. It is essentially an “authoring tool” for PowerBI.com. Its true purpose is to build something that gets published to PowerBI.com.
You would almost never use Power BI Desktop standalone. Well you may, but understand that it is not really built for that purpose.
With these two combined – Power BI Desktop and PowerBI.com – they outshine Excel in the BI department. With the fluid development environment of Power BI desktop for authors…and the rich, easy to share, mobile ready visualization platform of PowerBI.com.
However that is not a fair comparison either, since Excel models can be published as well. Read the rest of this entry »