Editor’s Note 7/10/2017: Post was updated to clarify Power BI support for the new Visio visual.
Starting today, you can visualize data using Microsoft Visio diagrams from within Microsoft Power BI dashboards and reports. Microsoft solutions work better together—and now, Visio and Power BI work better together than ever before thanks to the new Visio visualization. Any Visio user can sign up for the preview to start using this capability right away. The Visio custom visual is currently only supported in Power BI Service. Support in Power BI desktop and Power BI apps will come soon.
Both Visio and Power BI are highly visual and naturally complementary. With Visio, you can create illustrative diagrams, such as interconnected workflows and real-world layouts, to pursue operational intelligence. On the other hand, Power BI helps you build intuitive dashboards from various visualizations, like charts and maps, to understand complex datasets, measure KPIs and track goals—all to achieve business intelligence. Using Visio and Power BI together, you can illustrate and compare data as both diagrams and traditional Power BI visualizations in one place, driving operational and business intelligence to understand the overall picture.
With this new feature, you can import a Visio diagram from SharePoint or OneDrive for Business into Power BI. The underlying Power BI data is then automatically and intelligently linked to the diagram based on its shape properties, eliminating the need to do this manually. In just a few clicks, and without help from IT, Visio diagrams become yet another interactive Power BI visualization that can help you make informed decisions faster.
Get more out of your data using Visio and Power BI together
Consider this fictitious example: Contoso is a large retailer working to improve its inventory management. Using Power BI, the current inventory per store can be represented in a series of visualizations, including a treemap that shows stock by item (left-side chart in the image below).
The visualizations are perfect for an all-up view of inventory at this store. But what if Contoso needs more nuanced details, like sales and inventory data for specific clothing racks? What if it needs to understand where each rack is located in the store and how they are positioned relative to one another? Using a Visio diagram of the store’s layout, Contoso can overlay the data in Power BI on Visio’s clothing rack drawings. The resulting Power BI dashboard provides an accurate, up-to-date representation of overall store inventory while also giving it the ability to drill into specific items.
In the animated image above, the treemap was replaced with individual item racks, color-coded and labeled based on inventory levels from Power BI data. When Tea Dresses is clicked in the Visio diagram, you quickly see that sales are very strong, which helps explain why inventory is low. Similarly, when Suit Coats is clicked in the Power BI bar chart, you see the item is well below its sales target and inventory is still high. You also can see that the suit coat rack is located in a back corner of the store, making it less accessible to customers. Based on this information, the Contoso team might decide to use more rack space for tea dresses and less for suit coats, or reposition the racks for greater accessibility.
Visio visualizations in Power BI offer detailed insights for nearly any diagram type, including:
- Flow charts for identifying interdependencies.
- Fishbone diagrams for root-cause analysis.
- Organizational charts for assessing the impact of hierarchies on process decisions and people management.
Visio flowchart illustrating a sample home loan approval process for a bank. Using the Power BI charts, the bank sees that actual ticket response times for performing property risk assessments are higher than expected. In the Visio diagram, that process step is highlighted in red and, because it’s so early in the process, could affect other steps in the future if the ticket processing issue isn’t resolved soon.
Fishbone chart showing that poor working conditions—specifically excessive noise and temperature, which are highlighted in red in the Visio diagram—are the root cause of diminished product quality. The diagram relies on the employee ratings of operational categories depicted in the Power BI charts on the right.
Dashboard showing how certain people and departments, illustrated by the Visio hierarchy diagram in the upper left, affect different organizational processes. In this case, the marketing and sales department is over budget on tele sales and tele call efforts, all of which are highlighted in red.
Visio and Power BI are inherently visual tools—each helps you to dissect data in new, meaningful ways. Together, they can uncover even more insights.
Get the preview today and send us your feedback
Sign up today for the Visio visualization in Power BI Preview. Please visit our UserVoice site to submit your suggestions for improving Visio-Power BI connectivity. For questions about this and other features, email us at email@example.com. Lastly, you can follow us on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter for the latest Visio news.
—The Visio team
Frequently asked questions
Q. Can I import a Visio diagram saved on my desktop into Power BI?
A. No. You can only import diagrams saved on SharePoint or OneDrive for Business. Because of this, you will need an Office 365 license to use the new Visio visualization in Power BI.
Q. Do I need both a Visio and Power BI license to use this feature?
A. Not necessarily. If you’re creating a Power BI dashboard or report with a Visio visualization, then you will need a Visio license to create and edit the diagram. If you are only viewing that dashboard or report, you will not need a Visio license. The Visio visualization works with the free version of Power BI, so you do not need a license for Power BI.