Microsoft Power BI is an analytics solution that focuses on the visualization of data and gaining insights across one’s entire business.
Power BI is a popular tool that makes it possible to connect to dozens if not hundreds of data sources, ending with a live dashboard that makes reporting easier than ever before.
To put it simply, Power BI could be a great choice for some businesses with analytics needs. But is it actually worth the cost? And what exactly is the cost? There are actually quite a few factors involved that determine this.
In this guide, we’ll be exploring the hidden costs of Microsoft Power BI, as well as some of the negatives of Power BI to consider.
How Much Does Power BI Cost?
Currently, Microsoft offers Power BI Desktop for free, and it is actually a great tool for a single data analyst. Power BI Pro is $10 per month. From here, things get more complex. Microsoft has many different prices for non-profits, education, government, and other types of businesses. For Office 365 Suite subscribers, you can use Power BI Pro for a small add-on cost. So from an upfront price, Power BI seems like a no-brainer.
However, the upfront cost is just the tip of the iceberg. Like any Microsoft product, Power BI comes with a lot of hidden costs.
The Hidden Costs of Microsoft Power BI
One of the biggest weaknesses of Power BI is the many different hidden cost factors involved when purchasing the software. We broke these costs down into basic groups to make them a little easier to understand.
1. Architecture and Implementation Cost
One hidden cost associated with Power BI is simply getting it going.
Installing Power BI is far from simple. It is a cloud application and requires a Microsoft Azure setup. If your data is on-premise and behind your firewall, you have to set up a Power BI Gateway to copy your data into the cloud. Just like most Microsoft applications, there is a consulting community ready to give you a statement of work and a hefty bill to get you going. And let’s not forget about the cost of maintaining all these moving parts and time working with Microsoft support.
It’s worth noting that Microsoft has an option to avoid copying everything into Azure. By purchasing Power BI Premium, you can set up your own Power BI server on-premise-- but that starts at a whopping $5,000 per month. Yes, we said “per month,” yes we said “starts.” 😱
2. Operations Cost
Before you can publish reports to the cloud, you’ll need to use the Power BI Desktop tool to create them. Big companies have expensive Software Delivery platforms for a reason-- mainly to apply patches and upgrade their Microsoft software. Keeping up with all the patches, upgrades, desktop deployments, and connections to the cloud infrastructure have a lot of hidden costs associated. And it’s quite unavoidable if you’re going to use Power BI for its most basic use cases.
3. User Adoption Cost
This is the hidden cost that drives so many people to search for an alternative to Power BI and finding DashboardFox.
In many cases, a company will spend time, money, and effort to implement this relatively low-cost software, but discovers that none of their teams want to use it. Power BI is a power tool-- data analysts and technical people love it. Business users simply don’t have time to mess with it. It’s pretty much the Microsoft Excel of BI. Some people love Excel and can build a data model to predict the future with it. Many others, unfortunately, can barely right click and insert a column.
Microsoft tools are often exclusively oriented to power users because they make it possible to access lots of bells and whistle via about ten different menus, keyboard strokes, right clicks, etc. Business users just don’t see the use cases and appeal. And so, businesses will invest money in training and workshops that may not even work.
4. Training Cost
Microsoft has a ton of training partners. It’s for a reason, of course-- training is a big thing in the Microsoft world. If you are a Microsoft-oriented company, you probably put training on Microsoft as part of your annual performance review plan. With Power BI, expect to boost up that training budget.
Did we miss any other hidden costs that you are familiar with? Leave a comment with your experience and tell us if you’ve found any issues…
Consider DashboardFox The Alternative To Microsoft Power BI
Microsoft Power BI does have its use cases, but the hidden cost cons of Power BI can be quite a turn-off. Luckily, there’s an excellent alternative out there for your business.
We’ve learned about all of these hidden costs by speaking with potential customers who are looking for something other than Power BI, and they end up finding DashboardFox.
After a DashboardFox demo, we tend to hear the following:
- It has much lighter infrastructure requirements.
- It is a lot easier to connect to data.
- The way DashboardFox handles building a semantic layer against our database is much easier.
- Report building couldn’t be simpler.
- It’s not as intimidating.
- DashboardFox Support is very helpful.
- The one-time cost is preferable.
- Everybody loves the Fox!
Use Cases Where DashboardFox May Not Fit
DashboardFox is an excellent alternative to Power BI, but there are some scenarios where the platform may not be what you need.
If most of your data is in the cloud and behind an API, DashboardFox may not be ideal. DashboardFox thrives on databases and while we can connect to APIs via third party ODBC connectors, it may not be ideal for your use case.
For a small group, even with the hidden costs, Power BI could be the best bang for your money.
Want to learn more about all of DashboardFox’s awesome features? Sign up for a free demo today to experience our platform for yourself!