Is Power BI Cost-Effective for My Business?

Is Power BI Cost-Effective for My Business?

You may have seen articles about Microsoft’s Power BI, a powerful Business Intelligence tool well known for its user interface and reporting capabilities. Maybe these articles have caught your attention and you’re starting to think about whether or not Power BI is the right choice for your company.  

Let’s say there is an accountant in your company that is playing with the free version of Power BI. This employee has started generating some interesting dashboards that are creating some new business insights. Maybe you have a customer relations team that wants to build a customer-facing dashboard so your clients can see information about the business they are conducting with you. 

Applications like these and many more are possible with business intelligence, but there’s a problem: you have a budget and, when reviewing dashboard/reporting solutions in the past, you found there was a steep learning curve, cost, and time to market. Does Power BI change things enough to meet these varying needs and give you the ability to cover these requirements in a cost-effective manner? Let’s dig into the cost options for Power BI and see what scenarios make the most sense for your business.

Free Power BI

The most cost-effective option for Power BI is the free version. You cannot beat the price here, but the available applications are limited. With the free model, you have all the power of the tool, but only for a single person. An individual can use any data source for the reports and have the full power of the tool. While reports cannot be shared with other Power BI users, they can be saved as PBIX files and shared among the team.  This is a great way to introduce the tool to your team and see how they would use it to help with their day-to-day operations.

Power BI Pro

Power BI Pro is the most common use case. The price is $10/month for each user. Much like the free mode, each user can create their own reports and continue using any reports or templates they may have created in the free version. However, with the Pro plan, reports can then be published on the Power BI site and shared with other Pro users within the company. Here, you can set up data gateways for live data or schedule data refreshes directly from internal sources. The amount of data allowed in reports is increased and a true corporate strategy can be set up for usage. Security exists to use, edit, and reuse reports and datasets. Although there are benefits to the Pro plan, it lacks the availability of customer-facing reports. Every user, no matter how minor or limited, requires a monthly subscription. For internal company options, this will meet the need and keep your costs in a manageable window.

Power BI on Premise

On-premise Power BI is another implementation option. With On-Premise Power BI, a Power BI Report Server is used, which is a unique version of Power BI that runs completely within the firewall of your company. The license is included free with a SQL Server Enterprise Edition license with SA or as part of a full Power BI Premium license (which we’ll touch on next). A special version of the Power BI desktop is used to develop reports and publish it to the on-premise server. Any employee in the company can use the reports for no additional costs. With this version, users have full capabilities running on internal hardware. The Power BI Report Server is not always up to the latest version of the cloud Power BI service but can handle many needs. It is a great no-cost option if your environment already has Enterprise Edition of SQL Server.

Power BI Premium

Power BI’sPremium model is the most flexible business intelligence solution but also the most expensive model. This model starts around $5K per month and changes based on capacity and throughput needs. A Power BI Report Server license is also included in this option as outlined above. Power BI Premium allows an unlimited number of users, both inside and outside the company. It has the most flexibility with embedding report elements into other tools and websites for specific business needs. At this level, users can build out their overall Business Intelligence strategy and will be using Power BI as their primary reporting/analysis tool.

Choose the BI Model that Best Fits Your Needs

By looking at the models described above, users can easily see that Power BI is a very versatile tool. With a very low-cost entry point and the ability to scale up to large enterprise solutions, it’s plain to see how much Power BI can benefit your company. This model of growing as your needs grow and paying just for what you need makes Power BI one of the most compelling options for business analytics and reporting on the market today.

For more information or questions concerning Power BI, and what model best suits your business needs, contact CQL today or visit our blog, “If You Have a Business, You Need to Understand How to Curate Business Intelligence.” We have first-hand knowledge and experience with each level of the Power BI tool.