Power BI for Embedded Analytics - The 2024 Review

March 15, 2024

Mile Zivkovic

Microsoft’s Power BI is an extremely powerful business intelligence tool. But how does it fare for embedded analytics? Let’s find out.

In the world of business intelligence, Power BI has a massive market share. From startups to enterprise businesses, companies around the world use it for their analytics solutions, a wide range of visualizations, powerful API and impactful dashboards.

But if you want to offer self-service analytics to your end-users? You can, in fact, embed Power BI dashboards in your website or product and show them to a group of users with different levels of access. But how does it work and is it worth investing time and money into Power BI for embedded analytics?

Let’s find out.

What is Power BI Embedded?

Power BI Embedded is a separate feature set in Power BI that allows you to embed reports and dashboards created in the main tool and share it internally (with your team) and externally (with website visitors or app users).

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The Power BI Embedded Analytics Playground helps you get familiar with the basics of how the tool works

Power BI Embedded has a range of features useful for product managers, data specialists, marketers, and just about anyone who wants to bring the power of data analytics to a wider audience. 

You can configure different user experiences with different authentication levels and permissions so that some portions of your audience see only some portions of your data.

The huge advantage of the Embedded tool set is that the end user does not have to have a Power BI Pro license to access the data as if they were in your team. Moreover, you can set row-level security (RLS) to give access to certain datasets and visualizations only to certain roles.

Power BI Embedded pricing

Much like the pricing for the main Power BI product, the embedded one is also complex, to say the least. You first need to determine whether you’re embedding dashboards for your own team or your end users. The basic currency is something called SKU or Stock-Keeping-Unit. Using SKUs, you buy Power BI capacities, of which there are two main types.

Power BI Premium is the capacity you use for internal dashboards, while Power BI Embedded is the one you use for your customers and end-users.

To cut the long story short, Power BI charges you:

  • For the number of people creating reports and dashboards
  • For the number of virtual cores and RAM memory your dashboards are using (per hour)

While the first one is fairly easy to predict, the second one is kind of hard to guess. If your app relies heavily on analytics, your users could end up refreshing dashboards multiple times per day, racking up your annual Power BI bill well over six figures.

The ease of use

If you’ve never worked with Power BI before, strap yourself in, read a tutorial or two, go through the detailed developer documentation and prepare for a few weeks of learning just to get to the basics. The Microsoft fabric of the tool means that just getting around to creating your first dashboard is going to take a long time to figure out.

You’re going to need an experienced Power BI developer just to get started. And once you have this person, it’s smooth sailing when it comes to embedding. That is, if you want to embed the dashboard or report in a simple HTML page. Using iframes, you can just copy and paste a few lines of code.

For independent software vendors (ISVs) wanting to use dashboards outside of their workspace and offer it to end users, it’s going to take more than basic SQL to get the job done. Get ready to get your hands dirty as it can take weeks to set up permissions and make the dashboard load properly in an app setting.

The Pros of Power BI Embedded

Many great things about the embedded aspect of their tool come from the main Power BI offering. There are considerable options for data visualizations, be it for internal or external use. The security is airtight thanks to Azure. Power BI can hook up to a large number of data sources, making it easy for your team to connect your app or other business apps you use.

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For very basic use cases (such as embedding a dashboard in a static website page), the embedding process is super easy. Thanks to Javascript SDK, you don’t need a Power BI pro to do the embedding process.

If you have pre-set dashboards for internal and external users, there are ample possibilities for data exploration. You can drill down into data, apply filters and select the data and date ranges that interest them.

The Cons of Power BI Embedded

While Power BI is a superb tool, the embedded toolset is far from ideal. The biggest letdown is probably the pricing, which can get extremely expensive very fast. Each user (internally) is required to have a Power BI license. On top of that, you have to pay for the usage of the embedded Power BI service. This makes it hard to predict your costs on a monthly or even daily basis.

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Then there is the customization - which works well for data visualizations. But when you want to embed Power BI content in a SaaS app, the Power BI report or dashboard should look and feel like a part of the app. This tool is lacking in the customization department and you’ll have to do a lot of design tweaks to get something that even remotely resembles your app.

The performance is not the greatest and the Power BI data in your end-user dashboards can take a lot of time to load. While this is fine for internal users who are used to Power BI desktop performance, your app users may think otherwise. The premise of interactive reports is being able to access them in seconds, and you can’t expect the end-user to wait for a minute while the data finishes fetching.

Also, say goodbye to true self-service analytics. The end-user should in theory be capable of creating their own dashboards and visualizations to explore their data. Which is possible, if they’re a Power BI developer. The average person will struggle with the Power BI user interface.

The final verdict

If Power BI is the go-to BI solution in your organization and you’ve invested time, money and manpower into it, then looking into the embedded functionality might make sense for you. However, the user experience in your web application or site won’t be phenomenal and you’ll most likely struggle to implement it.

If you’re not using a BI tool at the moment and you want one for embedded content and data visualizations in your app, you may want to look elsewhere. Power BI is complicated, expensive and requires not just time and money, but also the right people in your team to pull it off.

At Luzmo, you get straightforward and transparent pricing, tons of customization features and rich connectivity options with APIs, as well as an embedding process that is effortless.

Instead, get a free demo of Luzmo and we’ll show you how to set up an embedded dashboard in your product - in just a few hours.

Build your first embedded dashboard in less than 15 min

Experience the power of Luzmo. Talk to our product experts for a guided demo  or get your hands dirty with a free 10-day trial.