1. Introduction to Power BI

Subtitles Enabled

Sign up for a free trial to access more free content.

Free trial

Building Your First Dashboard

13 lessons , 3 exercises

Start Course


In this lesson, we’ll introduce the concept of dashboards and discuss why Power BI is an ideal tool for creating them.


What is a Dashboard?

  • An easy-to-read, single screen interface showing the Key Performance Indicators (or KPIs) for a business unit

Uses of Dashboards

  • Provide a high-level overview of the business
  • Spot trends and obtain insights from raw data
  • Improve decision making and results

Power BI Advantages over Excel

  • Create detailed, insightful visualizations quicker than Excel
  • Accessible to users without advanced IT skills
  • Connects to wide variety of data sources, which can be larger than Excel files

Power BI Advantages over Tableau or Qlik

  • Part of the Microsoft product suite
  • Lower cost than competitors. Power BI Desktop is free, Power BI online service has a low monthly subscription cost


In the next few courses, we're going to show you how to build Power BI dashboards that turn raw data into compelling visual insights that can empower you and your viewers.

We'll look at how to build a range of visualizations such as bar charts, tree maps, area charts, and much more.

We'll also look at the various formatting tools available in Power BI.

In this first course, we'll run through the main products bearing the Power BI name.

We'll show you how to build a report in a matter of minutes, upload it to the Power BI cloud, and share it with colleagues throughout your business. Before jumping into the software, let's consider some fundamental questions. First, what is a dashboard? A dashboard is simply an easy to read, single-screen interface that shows key performance indicators for a business unit.

In Power BI, dashboards are effectively a collection of different visual elements such as charts, tables, text boxes, or even images and videos.

Dashboards are used in a number of business contexts.

The provide managers with a quick, high-level overview of the business on an annual, quarterly, or monthly basis.

Dashboards also make it easier to sport trends and obtain insights from raw data. Consequently, they often lead to improved decision-making and better results.

So why should we use Power BI to create dashboards? If you have experience creating dashboards in Excel, then you'll find Power BI to be a significant improvement.

Since Power BI is a purpose-built visualization tool, we can create detailed visualizations with great depths of insight much more easily and quickly than we can in Excel. Furthermore, Power BI is designed to be accessible to a variety of users and doesn't require highly-technical data analysis skills.

As such, you'll find that the process of creating dashboards is much easier to learn in Power BI than it is in Excel.

Power BI can also connect to data sets from a wide variety of sources and can handle much larger data sets than Excel.

If you're familiar with other visualization software such as Tableau or Qlik, you might be wondering what advantages Power BI offers over such tools.

The first advantage of Power BI is that it's a Microsoft product. If your business currently runs Microsoft products, you'll find it particularly easy to integrate Power BI into your current software ecosystem.

The second advantage is cost.

Power BI desktop, which is the primary visualization tool we'll use in the first few courses, is completely free.

The online service, which we'll also use, has a free version, and a modestly priced paid version.

Finally, Power BI receives frequent updates, usually on a monthly basis.

Unlike other Microsoft products such as Office, these updates are completely free.

Now that you understand the geneal advantages of Power BI over other visualization tools, we'll introduce you to the range of Power BI products. We'll cover these products in the next lesson.