Unleash the Power of Data Modeling with Power BI

We’ve all seen how data analytics, especially BI, has taken a big part of the production process in so many companies, and with its many tools, services, and models have seen light.

Power BI is one of the most used tools for the matter, as it gives the user hundreds of services to help them with their data modeling among others while making sure everything is simple and easy to use. This will be the focus of this article today.

What is a Power BI Data Model?

To understand Data Modeling, let’s imagine a scenario. Now, imagine we have a lot of data sources where a large load of data is coming all the time. When you will need to use that data, it could be to analyze, extract or just organize, the task will be close to impossible.

Data Modeling comes as a solution for that, as it is the process of analyzing and connecting that multitude of data sources in relationships, so the categorization becomes much easier.

This is the best way to be able to define the different data you collect, while also giving a visual representation of it to make it easier to read and use.

Power BI offers so many guided tools and solutions for you to use to model your data and make it easier to visualize and analyze, which has been great for so many big companies.

Why is Power BI Data Models Important?

Many companies have stated how they found Power BI Data Models so important to their business, and how they used it to get insights and general ideas on how the public views them and their products.

The main problem that Power BI Data Models has solved, is the bugs created by data coming from different data sources. Many have found their data got mixed up, or their algorithms stopped working.

So, they made it their goal to facilitate the data processing, while also allowing receiving, collecting, and using it based on their needs and goals. This was the key to development in so many companies, and also to upgrading their management tools and the decision-making progress.

Power BI also opened up so many opportunities to businesses and individuals, by getting the exposure they need and showing them new ways to do what they know. Many employees have been promoted or got better job opportunities by using and excelling with Power BI.

What are the key features of Power BI Data Models?

Data modeling is considered one of Power BI’s key features, as it allows users to create their data models based on what they collected from data.

With that being said, you should know that data modeling has a very tight relation to other Power BI key features like:

  1. 1

    Relationships are very important for data modeling, as they allow users to create relationships between tables, which makes it easy to manipulate and model.

  2. 2

    To stay on the same note, when creating relationships, you can also create hierarchical structures to make the organization of the data easier, and also support the relationship aspect between the tables.

  3. 3

    You can also make good use of Power BI's Data Analysis Expressions (DAX) language, which is a very important and powerful feature of Power BI that allows the users to do calculations and aggregations.

  4. 4

    The aggregations talked about mean summary tables that help improve query performance, which is also considered a great feature in Power BI.

  5. 5

    Also, time management is a great feature in Power BI, which might confuse you, but to make it simple, it’s sort of a filter to help you sort your data, and also to calculate year-to-date or month-over-month changes.

  6. 6

    There are two main key modes supported by Power BI: Import and DirectQuery modes. Import mode means loading data into Power BI's in-memory engine, and DirectQuery mode helps users to query data directly from the data source.

Most common examples of Power BI Data Model in practice

Power BI has been widely used in a lot of companies in many industries, so it’s normal for it to have so many common practices. For example:

  • In the sales department, companies have seen how implementing Power BI into their organization has made them capable of analyzing sales data more efficiently, especially the ones coming from different resources.

  • In the HR department, implementing Power BI Data Models analyzed their employees' data more easily, especially when checking the payroll system and performance management.

  • In the logistics department, which is the key point for big companies, They use Power BI Data models to manage transportation, warehouses, orders, etc.

  • The other use of it can be also seen when analyzing supply chain performances using the aggregations and DirectQuery features of Power BI, which helps in supervising order cycle time, inventory turnover, and on-time delivery rate.

How to create a Power BI Data Model?

When Power BI added the Data Modeling features, they thought of the many ways to make creating these models easy and fast. So, they came up with two different ways, one implicit and one explicit, which means manual.

Implicitly creating a Power BI Data Model

Power BI has a great hidden feature, that detects relationships between different data tables, and based on that it creates the data models.

You can easily enable this feature in the following location on your Power BI dashboard:

File -> Options and settings -> Options -> Current File -> Data load

I will give you a small tutorial on how to implicitly create a data model with Power BI, but first, try downloading the following .zip, which contains 4 files (links.csv, movies.csv, ratings.csv, and tags.csv.) that we will use as dataset samples:

Now, the next step consists of uploading the data into the Power BI dashboard. That can be done by clicking on “Get Data” in the top menu and then selecting “Text/CSV”, which is important to specify the document’s type.

If everything is done successfully, you will be able to view the tables generated from the data.

Now for the main part, you will find the “Model” icon in the left menu bar on the Reports views, where the columns of the tables are shown. By clicking on it, the Power BI Data Model will be generated and displayed.

It’s that easy, and now you can view and use all the interesting features I talked about before.

Explicitly creating a Power BI Data Model

As I said, there is another way to create a Power BI Data Model, and this method is especially for when the tables are not related in any way. Because the implicit method relies on the relationships to create the models.

This exception happens mostly when all the data is contained in one single flat file, contrary to the previous example. So, to try it out, let’s download the following CSV file, and see how to generate the Power BI Data Model explicitly:

You should now import it the same way we did in the previous method, but here we won’t be able to use the “Model” icon. For now, click on the “Transform Data” button.

You should first separate the important columns into different tables manually, and that’s where the explicit part comes in. For example, for the CSV given, you can make tables for countries and provinces, depending on the way you will handle the data.

After doing that successfully, You can continue like for the implicit one, and click on the “Model” icon to finish the creation of data models.

What are the main benefits of using the Power BI Data Model?

You can see from what I said before that the Power BI Data Model is close to a necessity at this point, especially for companies that rely a lot on the data collected to make decisions.

So, I dedicated this part to showing you the many advantages you can benefit from, by using Power BI Data Models:

  • First, of course, I should start with the data analytics side of the tool. When a load of data is large, analyzing the data becomes so difficult, so when you let Power BI make your data models, they give a better idea of the data, and also give many other features, like calculations and aggregations.

  • There is also the time consumption side, as it was shown that Power BI Data Models have made companies save a lot of time, and also it gave them good estimations on some time-related aspects of the data.

  • Companies who work with real-time data and not in batches have so many difficulties dealing with the big load, and also get analytics in real-time, but Power BI Data Models work fine with instant data.

  • We see how companies now started working in collaborations, so you find some team members in different continents and also companies even. Power BI Data Models are great for this case, as they allow access to other users while making sure everything is secured and protected.

  • Power BI also has so many features allowing developers to clean, transform, and shape data before analysis, or any uses at all. This is a great method to reduce errors and also inconsistencies in the data.

These are just some of the many features and benefits that you can gain from using Power BI Data Models in your business, and you can even find others of course, as it all relies on the way you use it.

Tips for maximizing your usage of the Power BI Data Model

Now that you are aware of the many benefits of Power BI Data Models and how to use them, let me give you some tips on how to maximize your usage:

  • You should have a very broad understanding of your data sources because Power BI relies on that to create the relationships between your tables, and that will also help you to get more accurate insights reflecting your business.

  • It would be better to clean and transform your data in the Query Editor before loading it into Power BI because this will help you optimize the process, and avoid any errors or bugs.

  • Before using DAX for the calculations and aggregations in Power BI, try to first learn more about it and understand its syntax, so you can use it effectively because it’s a powerful language that has a lot to give.

    Make good use of the many visualization options Power BI offers, and choosing the right one for your goal will give more clarity and context to your insights.

  • And finally, one of the most important tips is to prioritize security. Power BI has made clear many times that they made so many features and services available for their users to ensure their data, reports, and dashboards are well protected from any attacks or vulnerabilities.


I would like to finish this article by highlighting how Power BI Data Models are important and a necessary addition to any business wanting to get the exposure and opportunities they search for. 

This tool has made data processing and also the decision-making process so much more efficient and fruitful, by using the insights and relationships fetched from the data collected.

Power BI Data Models should be considered the key features to add whenever you are dealing with data.

About the author


Youssef is a Senior Cloud Consultant & Founder of ITCertificate.org

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