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rocky09
Impactful Individual
Impactful Individual

How do you differentiate between Power BI and Excel

Hello, Can some one share your views on difference between Power BI and Excel?

2 ACCEPTED SOLUTIONS
v-yulgu-msft
Microsoft
Microsoft

Hi @rocky09,

 

Please have a look at below articles which list some difference between Excel and Power BI.

When to use Power BI vs Excel / Power Pivot

Power BI Desktop vs. Excel - A Feature Comparison

Excel vs Power BI in Excel vs Power BI Cloud: What’s the difference?

 

Regards,

Yuliana Gu

Community Support Team _ Yuliana Gu
If this post helps, then please consider Accept it as the solution to help the other members find it more quickly.

View solution in original post

freder1ck
Kudo Kingpin
Kudo Kingpin

Hi Rocky09, 

To be sure, there's a good deal of overlap. 

 

I'm implementing Power BI Pro (and everything below pertains to Pro), but at the same time I've been introducing Power Query and the data model. Sometimes I start in Excel and end up in Power BI (copying the queries from workbook to PBI desktop). Data sources are one issue, especially if you're using 32-bit databases. 32 bit Excel can connect to these but 64 bit PBI can't. 

 

Excel is great for ad hoc analysis and the quick and dirty. Want to combine a bunch of files a vendor sent you? Excel. Want to scrape a website for some info or solve a puzzle involving matching people to projects? Excel. All of that "data massaging" everybody does? Automate it with Power Query in Excel. Excel is also better at handling tablular style reports than PBI. PBI tables cannot show duplicate rows (Vote to change that here!). And too many columns in a table can bring you quickly to the dreaded horizontal scroll bar. Want to explore your data and see what's there? Excel. If there's a lot there, load it into the data model instead of a table and build pivot tables off of that. Or look at it in power pivot and filter there. In Excel 2016, you can also use Publish to Power BI. I've just started using it, but I think it will be great for tabular reports. Your pivot tables, pivot charts, etc accessed through Excel Online (via the Workbooks tab in the Power BI App/Workspace). You can also save and share queries through the data catalog (not currently possible in PBI). 

 

Power BI is ideal for Dashboards, alerts, KPIs, and visualizations, including analyzing your data visually. Although Excel does have some of the newer charts now, they can't connect to the data model (vote to change this here!). Want a beautiful branded report? Power BI. Want to see margin vs. total sales? Power BI scatter chart. Want cross filtering between charts? Power BI. Want to save your users from seeing how long it takes to refresh the data? Power BI. Want to share high-level analysis with execs? Power BI all the way. I like the filter pane in PBI (even if it makes me lazy sometimes). I love being able to give my report readers ALL the fields that won't fit as slicers as report level filters when the report is published to PBIS. I loved relative date filtering at first, but am a bit gunshy because it relies on the server time and not my local time (or universal time). Want to make reports available to a broad range of readers with varying degrees of tech savvy? Power BI. 

But I'm living the dream of Power BI and Excel: better together. Export to Excel from Power BI and if the person using a report needs to refine the results for a special purpose, they can do it with Power Query and the data model in Excel. They can build new pivot tables in Excel using datasets in Power BI. And I'm constantly copying and pasting between Excel and Power BI queries.

View solution in original post

3 REPLIES 3
freder1ck
Kudo Kingpin
Kudo Kingpin

Hi Rocky09, 

To be sure, there's a good deal of overlap. 

 

I'm implementing Power BI Pro (and everything below pertains to Pro), but at the same time I've been introducing Power Query and the data model. Sometimes I start in Excel and end up in Power BI (copying the queries from workbook to PBI desktop). Data sources are one issue, especially if you're using 32-bit databases. 32 bit Excel can connect to these but 64 bit PBI can't. 

 

Excel is great for ad hoc analysis and the quick and dirty. Want to combine a bunch of files a vendor sent you? Excel. Want to scrape a website for some info or solve a puzzle involving matching people to projects? Excel. All of that "data massaging" everybody does? Automate it with Power Query in Excel. Excel is also better at handling tablular style reports than PBI. PBI tables cannot show duplicate rows (Vote to change that here!). And too many columns in a table can bring you quickly to the dreaded horizontal scroll bar. Want to explore your data and see what's there? Excel. If there's a lot there, load it into the data model instead of a table and build pivot tables off of that. Or look at it in power pivot and filter there. In Excel 2016, you can also use Publish to Power BI. I've just started using it, but I think it will be great for tabular reports. Your pivot tables, pivot charts, etc accessed through Excel Online (via the Workbooks tab in the Power BI App/Workspace). You can also save and share queries through the data catalog (not currently possible in PBI). 

 

Power BI is ideal for Dashboards, alerts, KPIs, and visualizations, including analyzing your data visually. Although Excel does have some of the newer charts now, they can't connect to the data model (vote to change this here!). Want a beautiful branded report? Power BI. Want to see margin vs. total sales? Power BI scatter chart. Want cross filtering between charts? Power BI. Want to save your users from seeing how long it takes to refresh the data? Power BI. Want to share high-level analysis with execs? Power BI all the way. I like the filter pane in PBI (even if it makes me lazy sometimes). I love being able to give my report readers ALL the fields that won't fit as slicers as report level filters when the report is published to PBIS. I loved relative date filtering at first, but am a bit gunshy because it relies on the server time and not my local time (or universal time). Want to make reports available to a broad range of readers with varying degrees of tech savvy? Power BI. 

But I'm living the dream of Power BI and Excel: better together. Export to Excel from Power BI and if the person using a report needs to refine the results for a special purpose, they can do it with Power Query and the data model in Excel. They can build new pivot tables in Excel using datasets in Power BI. And I'm constantly copying and pasting between Excel and Power BI queries.

View solution in original post

v-yulgu-msft
Microsoft
Microsoft

Hi @rocky09,

 

Please have a look at below articles which list some difference between Excel and Power BI.

When to use Power BI vs Excel / Power Pivot

Power BI Desktop vs. Excel - A Feature Comparison

Excel vs Power BI in Excel vs Power BI Cloud: What’s the difference?

 

Regards,

Yuliana Gu

Community Support Team _ Yuliana Gu
If this post helps, then please consider Accept it as the solution to help the other members find it more quickly.

View solution in original post

Greg_Deckler
Super User
Super User

While with the Power series plug-ins you can do certain similar things in Excel as with Power BI and in Power BI you can do certain types of calculations like what you can do in Excel, I would say that the intended purpose of the tools are vastly different. Excel is your traditional spreadsheet program with a very long history which leads to a vast array of features. Traditional spreadsheets allow you to reference individual cells and do all kinds of calculations. Without the power series of plug-ins though there really is no capacity to easily build complex data models, really you are just dealing with essentially unrelated tables of information.

 

By contrast, Power BI is really focused on data ingest and building potentially complex data models easily. In Power BI, you can easily relate separate tables to one another. You can then create a wide array of visualizations for that data and this is focused toward visualizing aggregations of that data in your data model.


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