An Introduction to Power BI Mapping for Beginners

More than ever, businesses now rely on business intelligence tools and services to analyze and visualize data, with Microsoft Power BI leading the course. However, among its many features, Power BI Mapping stands out, offering a dynamic view of geographical data.

From sales regions to local performance analysis, Power BI Maps plots and visualizes data on interactive maps, providing distinctive data context and insight.

In this article, I will explore the limitless potential of Power BI Mapping, discuss its benefits, and explore how it can transform your data analysis and visualization process.

So, let’s get started!

Understanding Power BI Mapping

Power BI Mapping is a geographical visualization tool that allows users to create interactive maps to represent their data effectively. With this, you can visualize sales performance across regions, customer distribution, etc.

A Power BI Map showing the Sum of Profit by State - monocroft
A Power BI Map showing the Sum of Profit by State

This helps to identify trends and patterns and uncover hidden insights. For example, if you’re analyzing a retail chain with multiple stores, Power BI Maps can help identify struggling outlets, improve the distribution network, and better allocate resources.

However, Power BI Mapping is not limited to traditional business applications. It can as well be utilized in fields such as healthcare, logistics, urban and regional planning, etc.

Benefits of using Maps in Power BI

For effective data visualization, Power BI Maps provides serves different benefits over more conventional tools like charts and graphs. Power BI Maps allows you to better understand your data, and to also help uncover hidden trends, patterns, and outliers.

The following are some common benefits of Power BI mapping:

1. Visual Impact

Maps are a powerful way to communicate data. Through maps, users can easily understand spatial relationships, which leads to a better understanding of the geographic distribution of data.

2. Location Intelligence

Typically, Power BI Mapping allows for location-based analytics and provides businesses with a competitive edge through easy identification of untapped, high-performing, and regions that require attention.

3. Enhanced Data Exploration

With BI Mapping, users can analyze detailed data on specific regions or territories through drill-down functionality. This data exploration technique allows to uncover hidden insights and aids the decision-making process.

4. Interactivity

Finally, interactive maps help to engage the audience and improve communication. With the ability to click on data points and access relevant data or filter data dynamically, users can have a personalized experience.

In conclusion, with Power BI Maps, anyone can generate engaging and interactive visuals, and better communicate their data findings — thanks to its user-friendly interface and seamless integration with other features.

Getting Started with Power BI Maps – Installation and Setup

The following are steps to get started (installation and setup) with maps in Power BI:

Step 1: Create a Power BI Account

  • To create a Power BI account, go to the Power BI website, and sign up for an account
  • Enter the necessary details, and follow the instructions to set up your account.

Step 2: Download and Install Power BI Desktop

  • After setting up your Power BI account, navigate to the Power BI Downloads page and download the Power BI Desktop app suitable for your operating system (Windows or macOS).
  • Install the setup and follow the on-screen guide to complete the installation.

Step 3: Enable Power BI Maps Visual Plugin

Now that you have downloaded and installed the Power BI Desktop.

  • To enable Power BI Maps Visual Plugin, open the Power BI Desktop and go to the “File” menu and select “Options and settings,” then select “Options.”
  • Then click on “Preview features” in the Options window. Then click on “Shape map visual”
  • Finally, click “OK” to apply the settings, and restart Power BI Desktop if prompted.

However, if you get an error message showing “Map and filled map visuals aren’t enabled for your org. Contact your tenet admin to fix this.”

  • To fix this, go to the Power BI Admin Portal.
  • Proceed to Tenant settings on the left-hand navigation pane.
  • Scroll down to the “Enable Microsoft Teams integration” section. Expand it, and enable the “Map and filled map visuals.”
  • Finally, click on “apply” to save the settings. Then restart your Power BI Desktop to be effective.

Step 4: Import Data into Power BI Desktop

Now that you have installed your Power BI Desktop, and set up Map visuals, you can now go on to import your data and create a Map visualization.

  • To start with, import the data by clicking on the “Home” tab, and selecting “Get Data” to choose any data source of your choice (Excel, SQL Server, SharePoint, etc).
  • Choose your desired data source, and follow the prompts to import the data. However for Power BI Maps to work correctly, make sure your data contain location-related details like Country, State, City, Region, etc.

NB: If your data does not contain geospatial properties (location-related), you can add the using the Power Query Editor through an online geocoding service.

Step 5: Create a Power BI Map Visualization

  • Now that you have imported your data, you can navigate to the Power BI Desktop “Report” view and select the “Map”, “Filled Map” or “Shape Map” icon in the “Visualization” pane to add a map visual to the canvas.
  • Now, you can drag and drop the geospatial data fields (e.g., country, region, state, city, etc) into the “Location” field.
  • You can further drag relevant data fields you want to visualize (e.g., profit, discount, sales, etc) into the “Values” field.

Step 7: Customize Your Power BI Map

  • Finally, you can customize your Power BI Map by exploring the formatting options available in the “Visualizations” pane.
  • Here, you can change colors, data point shapes, sizes, map layers, etc., to suit your specific needs.
  • You can also use filters, slicers, and other drill-down functions to interact with the map in order to gain more insights.

Best Practices for Power BI Mapping

While there is no one-size-fits-all model for creating Power BI maps, there are some best practices you can follow to create stunning and engaging Power BI Maps.

1. Choose the Right Map Projection

Always choose the right map projection to illustrate the data you are visualizing. There are different map projections (“Map”, “Filled Map” or “Shape Map”), and they all have their strengths and drawbacks. Hence, choose wisely based on your data and objectives.

2. Simplicity is Key

Also, don’t forget to keep your map visuals as simple as possible. Make use of colors, labels, and legends judiciously, and ensure they add value to the visual without confusing the audience.

3. Consider Data Granularity

Furthermore, consider the granularity of your data when plotting on the map. Depending on the data, you may need to calculate measures to ensure accurate visualizations.

4. Add Context and Annotations

To augment your map visuals, consider adding layers, boundaries, or annotations to provide more context and insights. This will help users to understand geographic connections and can as well help make informed decisions.

5. Test and Iterate

Finally, always test and iterate on your visuals, and ask for feedback from users, exploring different perspectives. This will help you make necessary modifications and ensure your visuals effectively communicate your insights.

Conclusion

Power BI Maps affords you offers the opportunity to enhance your data visualization skills, unlock valuable insights, and make informed decisions.

In this article, I have explored the various benefits of Power BI mapping, and a step-by-step guide on how to get started, exploring the process of importing and best practices for designing effective geospatial visualizations

So, get started today and let your data tell its story like never before. With Power BI Maps, the possibilities are endless, and the rewards are boundless!

If you enjoyed reading this article, you can also read the tips for creating an engaging and interactive visualization in Tableau.

Happy visualizing!