An Unsaid Brotherhood between Power BI and Excel

Is this even relatable? Are you even serious, and what are we really trying to express?

We have your answers!

In the world of data analysis and visualisation, two prominent tools have been at the forefront of business intelligence: Power BI and Microsoft Excel. While they serve different purposes, they share an unsaid brotherhood that complements each other’s strengths.

YES! Power BI, the modern business intelligence tool, and Excel, the timeless spreadsheet software, can work together seamlessly to create a robust data analysis ecosystem.

Let’s discover how.

The Evolution of Excel


Excel, a spreadsheet application that has been around for decades, is known for its versatility in handling various data-related tasks. We know this, right? It is a staple in offices worldwide, and its formula-based calculations, pivot tables, and charting capabilities have made it a go-to tool for data analysis and reporting.


Power BI is a suite of business analytics tools that empower organisations to visualise their data, share insights, and make data-driven decisions. Enabling users to connect to a wide range of data sources, prepare and transform data, build interactive reports and dashboards, and share them across the organisation or embed them in applications and websites. The platform is designed to be user-friendly with a low learning curve, making it accessible to technical and non-technical users.


What’s that fuzz about The Unsaid Brotherhood?

The synergy between Power BI and Excel arises from the recognition that each tool has distinct strengths that can be harnessed in tandem. Here are some key aspects of their unsaid brotherhood:

1. Data Extraction and Transformation

Excel is well-known for its data manipulation capabilities. Users can clean, transform, and organise data using functions, pivot tables, and other tools. Power BI, on the other hand, excels at connecting to various data sources, including databases, cloud services, and online sources. Users can pull data into Power BI and perform ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) operations to prepare it for analysis. The data can then be exported to Excel for further analysis, creating a seamless data flow between the two tools.

2. Advanced Data Visualisation

Power BI is a powerhouse when it comes to data visualization. It offers various chart types, custom visualisations, and interactive dashboards. Users can create visually stunning and dynamic reports that help with better data interpretation. Excel, while it also provides charting capabilities, can benefit from Power BI’s advanced visualisations by importing Power BI reports into Excel. This integration allows Excel users to access the best of both worlds: Excel’s calculations and Power BI’s visuals.

3. Real-time Data Updates

Power BI enables real-time data updates and live dashboards. It can connect to streaming data sources and update reports as new data arrives. Excel can utilise Power BI’s capabilities by importing Power BI reports or using Power Query to retrieve data from Power BI datasets. This integration is invaluable for users who require up-to-the-minute data in their Excel spreadsheets.

4. Data Sharing and Collaboration

Power BI’s cloud service facilitates easy sharing and collaboration on reports and dashboards. Users can publish reports to Power BI’s cloud service, share them with colleagues, and collaborate in real-time. Excel users can benefit from this by embedding Power BI reports within Excel workbooks, enhancing collaboration while retaining the flexibility of Excel.

5. Extensive Data Modelling

Power BI offers a robust data modelling environment, enabling users to create relationships between tables, calculated columns, and measures. Excel users can import Power BI datasets into Power Pivot, an Excel add-in that provides advanced data modelling capabilities. This integration allows Excel users to leverage the robust data modelling features of Power BI within their familiar Excel environment.

6. Data Security and Governance

Power BI provides features for data security, governance, and compliance. Organisations can define roles, permissions, and data-level security rules to ensure people can access the right data. Excel users can benefit from these security measures when they access Power BI reports, ensuring that sensitive data remains protected.


How to Leverage this Brotherhood?

Certainly, to leverage the unsaid brotherhood between Power BI and Excel effectively, consider the following steps:

  • Identify the right tool for the job:

Understanding when to use Power BI and when to use Excel is crucial. Power BI excels at data visualisation and creating interactive reports, while Excel is ideal for complex calculations and data manipulation. Use Power BI for creating visual dashboards and Excel for in-depth data analysis.

  • Data Integration:

Power BI and Excel can work seamlessly together. Import data from Excel into Power BI or vice versa. When combining both tools, ensure data consistency and structure.

  • Power Query Integration:

Power Query is a feature available in both Power BI and Excel. Use it to transform, clean, and shape data before analysis. Building data models in Power BI or Power Pivot in Excel is more efficient when using Power Query for data preparation.

  • Leverage Power BI Visuals in Excel:

You can embed Power BI visuals into Excel using Power BI Publisher for Excel. This allows you to benefit from the advanced visualisations in Power BI within your Excel worksheets.

  • Real-Time Data Updates:

Power BI offers real-time data capabilities. Utilise this feature to import real-time data into Excel. This is especially useful for financial modelling, stock tracking, or any scenario requiring up-to-the-minute data.

  • Advanced DataModelling:

Power BI offers a robust data modelling environment. When working in Excel, you can import Power BI datasets to leverage this modelling capability for more complex calculations and analysis.

  • Collaboration and Sharing:

Leverage the Power BI Service for collaboration and sharing within your organization. Publish Power BI reports to the service and share them with colleagues, making it easier for others to access and interact with the data.

  • Security and Governance:

Maintain data security and governance practices when sharing data between Power BI and Excel. Ensure that sensitive data is protected according to your organisation’s guidelines.

  • Training and skill development:

Invest in training and skill development for both Power BI and Excel. Ensure that your team has the necessary knowledge to harness the full potential of both tools. Microsoft offers various training resources and certification programmes.

  • Stay Informed:

Both Power BI and Excel are continually evolving. Stay informed about updates and new features in both tools to adapt your workflow and take advantage of the latest capabilities.

  • Seek expert guidance:

For complex data integration projects or when leveraging the full power of both tools, consider seeking expert guidance or consulting services. We can help you streamline your processes and maximise the benefits of their integration.

The unsaid brotherhood between Power BI and Excel offers a powerful combination for data analysis and reporting. By understanding the strengths of each tool and how they can work together, businesses and professionals can harness their full potential and derive deeper insights from their data.


We have also held an insightful webinar where we discussed this integration at length, and here is the full video.


When you go through the webinar video, you will gather great insights on Row-level security & Power BI services as well.

Whether you are a seasoned Excel user or exploring the capabilities of Power BI, this alliance can take your data analysis to the next level.


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