Finding the best Data Source in Power BI – Part V

If you haven’t already, make sure to start with Part I – IV where I explore OneDrive, Live Connect, Dataverse, and SQL Server and set the baseline on how to measure “best” connector type in Power BI.

Part I-

Part II-

Part III –

Part IV –


Let’s start by a definition from Microsoft.

Dataflows are a self-service, cloud-based, data preparation technology. Dataflows enable customers to ingest, transform, and load data into Microsoft Dataverse environments, Power BI workspaces, or your organization’s Azure Data Lake Storage account.

Dataflows are authored by using Power Query, a unified data connectivity and preparation experience already featured in many Microsoft products, including Excel and Power BI. Customers can trigger dataflows to run either on demand or automatically on a schedule; data is always kept up to date.

An overview of dataflows across Microsoft Power Platform and Dynamics 365 products | Microsoft Docs

While the above may sound too techy at first, so let me try to translate that. DataFlow helps us report authors to create reusable tables for reports that are going to use the same data. Think about them as databases that you, a non-IT-professional can create using Power Query.

Makes more sense, right?

Why use DataFlows?

There might be multiple different answers to this question, but in my case – and I know it’s probably the same for others as well – one of the main reasons is reusability.

With DataFlows created and shared with the business people within the organization I can eliminate Data Silos and help business-driven report creation.

As a result of that, there is no need to validate every single report created outside of the Analytics Team, because I can guarantee that ALL users can start from clean, reliable, and available data.

Additionally, I have full control over these DataFlows. I don’t have to wait for IT to create a new view or adjust one. I can set up access to these DataFlows and revoke them at any time.

Therefore, it provides me and the Analytics Team unparalleled flexibility.

Report Refresh

While I cannot guarantee that you will see the same improvements when it comes to reporting refresh speed, I am fairly certain that you will also experience significant enhancement within this field.

To my greatest surprise, getting data from DataFlow can deliver almost the same speed as importing local Excel files from my C drive.

And that is a HUGE thing.

Think about that. It means that a cloud service has the potential to be a challenger of a local source!

Power Query vs Power Query online

As I flagged in the video, DataFlows utilize the power of Power Query online. It also means, that you can copy-paste your Power Query code from Power BI Desktop to DataFlow and it will work.*

*If the same connector is already available in Power Query online

With all of this knowledge, the only thing left is to watch the video below and decide for yourself if using DataFlows is something that you want to explore.


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