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You probably know that your data is the most valuable asset of your business, but like most business owners, you likely struggle with what exactly to do with all that data. You may be sitting on top of a gold mine, but if you don’t have a way to dig it out and use it, it is worthless.

Fortunately, Microsoft has some powerful and easy to use tools that can help you mine your data and gain valuable insights. Best of all, these tools integrate and work together to give you the best possible result.


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What are Dynamics 365 and Power BI?

Dynamics 365 is a powerhouse when it comes to CRM and ERP software. It offers a set of business applications designed to work together to help you run your business efficiently. Dynamics 365 includes applications for sales, marketing, service, operations, and commerce that can help you run your business more efficiently and gain valuable insights along the way.

Power BI is a business analytics tool. It can take data from hundreds of different sources and pull everything together in an easily understood format. It will generate reports and dashboards that allow you to quickly see everything that is going on within your organization.

Power BI can also help you generate charts and other visual reports to get instant feedback. These reports can be shared and discussed among you and your colleagues, giving you valuable insight to make better business decisions.


How to connect Power BI and Dynamics 365?

To use these powerful tools together, you must first get everything set up and connected. When doing this, you have two options – Power BI Service and Power BI Desktop.

Power BI Service is what most users prefer. It is online-based, simple to use, and will give you access to powerful analysis and reporting. Power BI Desktop is for more technical users, often those who are setting up Power BI Service for other users. We will explore the differences in the systems and how to set each up.


Power BI Desktop

Power BI Desktop is installed on your PC like any other Windows application. Once installed, you will need to connect it to Dynamics 365.

First, you’ll want to get the Dynamics 365 URL to plug into Power BI Desktop. To do this, log into Dynamics 365 and look under Settings → Customizations → Developer Resources → Instance Web API, and copy that link.

Then, log onto Power BI Desktop and select “Get Data”. Find “Dynamics CRM Online” in the search box, and enter the URL you just copied. Sign in and connect, then choose which columns and points of data you would like integrated into the system.

You can now build and publish reports that your Power BI Service users can use!


Power BI Service

Most users will never see the Power BI Desktop integrated with Dynamics 365; they may not even be aware of exactly how the system is working on the back end. For these users, their first experience with Power BI will typically come from logging onto with their work credentials.

Once they are logged on, they will see several customization options and tools to use. The Power BI lingo can be confusing to new users, so let’s review the five basic building blocks of Power BI: visualizations, dashboards, reports, apps, and datasets.



Visualizations are tools to help you better interpret data insights discovered by Power BI. These visualizations can come in many forms, including waterfall, ribbon, treemap, pie, funnel, card, scatter, and gauge charts.

There are also opportunities for the Power BI community to create custom visuals that you may find useful. If you end up viewing one of these custom visuals, you can always contact the designer with any questions you have.



Designers build dashboards to show subsets of datasets and reveal insights. Their main purpose is to help key personnel make important decisions. They can look similar to visualizations but have a key difference.

A visualization is just one visual about one data set. Dashboards can contain multiple visuals from multiple data sets and are designed to give an overall picture of how something is doing, not just a snapshot of one piece of data.

For example, if you wanted to see how all your marketing campaigns were doing stacked against each other, you could view a dashboard that incorporated all the campaign datasets.



A report, on the other hand, incorporates multiple dashboards and multiple visualizations but from only one dataset. It can be one or more pages. Reports are also created by designers.

For example, if you wanted to understand a single marketing campaign, you would be able to view multiple visualizations and dashboards about that one dataset.



Apps bring everything together, organizing related reports and dashboards about related content into a single, easy to access package. They can then be shared with individuals, groups, or the entire organization so that everyone is working off the same set of information.



Datasets, as the name indicates, are sets of data. They can be taken from many different sources, but in this case, they would be extracted from the Dynamics 365 connection we set up earlier.


Useful Features

Users will see all five of these building blocks in action, but will rarely be given access to specific data sets – that’s something you and your team will control. However, your users will be able to favorite reports and dashboards, personalize their homepage, find recently viewed items, search content, and much more.

In this way, all your users will get the benefit of viewing your data without you having to compromise your data, a win-win. Who knows how many valuable insights they can help you uncover!

As you can see, having Dynamics 365 and Power BI connected is a useful tool that can help your entire company work together to make better, more informed decisions. It’s simple and easy to set up, so everyone can benefit. To learn more about how to make this work for your company, reach out to your Sherweb representative today!

Written by The Sherweb Team Collaborators @ Sherweb