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Power BI Overview

Power BI is a cloud-based suite of business analytics tools that enables anyone to connect to, visualize, and analyze data with greater speed, efficiency, and understanding. It connects to a broad range of live data through easy-to-use dashboards, provides interactive reports, and delivers compelling visualizations that bring data to life. 

The Power BI Service contains much of the same functionality as the desktop client, however, is delivered via a web portal. Licensed users authenticate with their NetID and password. Report authors who wish to share reports and dashboards with other deliver those reports through the Power BI Service.

Get Started with Power BI.

Benefits and Features

Northwestern faculty and staff can:

In addition, a variety of report types can be generated from the data and published on the web as well as across mobile devices through the use of Power BI Desktop.

Power BI Desktop

Power BI Desktop is a report development tool available for download from a Windows computer. It is used to create custom reports and for formatting the data into visualizations. These visualizations can be organized in a dashboard for individual use or shared via the dashboard in the Cloud. 

To share reports and dashboards with others in the organization, a Power BI Pro license is required for the developer and anyone who will be consuming the shared reports.


There is no cost to use the standard Power BI Desktop license. 

The cost to use the Power BI Pro license is $2.00 per month per user.

Access and Licensing

To request access  via the Standard or Pro license and for download instructions, please complete the Power BI Request form. Departmental approval is required.

A valid Chart String is required for any users requesting a Pro License.

Comparison of Power BI Standard vs Pro Licensing.


Power BI is a self-service portal. Users should contact their local IT support to see if Power BI support is offered.

Additionally, online resources are provided by Microsoft, some of which are listed in the Additional Resources on this web page.  

Additional Resources

Last Updated: 10 May 2018

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