Power BI Overview


Power BI is a data analytics and visualization platform offered by Microsoft. It provides a suite of tools for retrieving, preparing, and modeling data, as well as visualizing data in reports and dashboards, and sharing that content with other users at Davidson College.




Power BI Desktop is the main tool for connecting to data and creating Power BI reports. It is a free download from Microsoft, and is available to all Davidson users who have a Windows machine.

✓ The Power BI Service (app.powerbi.com) is Microsoft’s cloud platform for creating and sharing Power BI content. Because it runs in your browser, it is compatible with Mac, Windows, and Linux machines. All Davidson users have access to the Power BI Service through their Davidson.edu accounts. Users without a Power BI license have their own personal workspace where they can use Power BI for experimentation and personal projects. Users who have either a Pro or Premium license can also have access to shared workspaces where they can access college datasets and collaborate with other Davidson users.

✓ The Power BI Report Server (data.davidson.edu) is an on-premises server that is hosted and maintained by Davidson’s Technology & Innovation department. It serves as an alternative platform to share Power BI reports and paginated reports with Davidson staff and faculty users. Licenses are not required in order to access the report server, but users need to either be on campus or, if off campus, connected to the college network via VPN.




✓ Reporting

✓ Data analytics and visualization 

✓ Business intelligence




The T&I Data Management team provides support for Power BI. Please submit a ticket to ti@davidson.edu if you want to request licenses, access, or if you have specific questions about Davidson’s Power BI environment.

→ Users who are new to Power BI are encouraged to take Davidson’s online course on edX, Analyzing and Visualizing Data with Power BI. Those who want to request team training on Power BI should reach out to Pete Benbow (pebenbow@davidson.edu).




✓ Power BI features & benefits




Because Power BI is the primary focal point for enterprise reporting at Davidson, a great deal of emphasis is put on data security.

In the cloud, Power BI content is organized into workspaces, and each workspace is secured so it is only accessible to particular users. Workspace admins are limited to T&I employees only. Non-T&I users can have either Viewer permissions (read only) or Contributor permissions (read and write) to one or more workspaces. 

On the Power BI Report Server, reports are organized into folders. Access to these folders is governed by security groups which are created and maintained by the T&I department. For example, the ability to see the “Departmental Budget Reports” folder is determined by the user being a member of the corresponding security group. T&I admins have full control over folders and reports on the report server, and non-T&I users have read-only access.




Power BI Pro licenses cost $2.10 per user per month, or $25.20 per user annually.

Power BI Premium licenses cost $4.50 per user per month, or $54 per user annually.

Please contact ti@davidson.edu if you wish to acquire Power BI licenses for your team.




Davidson’s online course: Analyzing and Visualizing Data with Power BI

Power BI documentation


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