How “Connectors” Work in Power BI (+The Most Popular)
Written by co-founder Kasper Langmann, Microsoft Office Specialist.
Because of Power BI connectors, you’re able to connect and get data from online services you’re using.
This connector extensibility in Power BI goes a long way than just the existing connectors and generic data sources.
How do these connectors work? What are the most popular connectors being used? What if you would like to connect with a service that Power BI doesn’t have a connector yet?
In this article, you’ll learn about Power BI connectors. We’ll also show you how you can enable custom connectors in Power BI Desktop.
Let’s get into it! 🔌
*This tutorial is for Power BI Online (also called "Power BI Service").
Table of Content
Introduction to Power BI Connectors
As a business intelligence tool, Power BI reads a data set, analyzes it, and then come up with insights that would help you make better business decisions.
The first thing you do with Power BI is connect with different data sets and turn them into data models, insights, and visuals.
This is where Power BI connectors come in. They help you connect with apps, services, and data in the cloud.
Microsoft defines a connector as a:
“…proxy or a wrapper around an API that allows the underlying service to talk to Microsoft Flow, PowerApps and Logic Apps.”
There are lots of operations happening under the hood. Suffice to say, a connector makes it possible for you to take your data from another app or service and bring it to Power BI where you can analyze it.
Using Power BI Connectors
The question now is:
How to get data from online apps or services online?
To start, click ‘Get data’ or its icon on the lower-left corner of Power BI Service:
Here, you’ll find the various ways you can get data.
To connect with online apps and services, click the ‘Services’ box:
Power BI will then show you the apps you can connect to.
If you’re in a rush, you can use the search bar to find your app faster.
If you can’t find the app you’re looking for, try finding more apps at Microsoft’s AppSource.
There are two methods you can use to go to the AppSource without leaving Power BI:
- Clicking the ‘Find more apps and consulting services at AppSource’
- Or by clicking ‘Other apps’ above the list and then ‘All apps’
Your default browser will take you to the AppSource:
The AppSource, more or less, has the apps you need to connect to. Feel free to use filters as well as the search function to save time.
The problem is:
What if Microsoft hasn’t built or released a connector for the online app or service you’re using?
Some connectors are distributed solely by the vendor. That’s why the first thing you should do is contact the app or service provider and ask about the connector.
However, you can only use custom connectors with Power BI Desktop.
Once they give you the connector, save it on ‘[Documents]\Power BI Desktop\Custom Connectors‘ folder and change the security settings to allow custom connectors.
To change the security settings in Power BI, click ‘File’ from the tab list:
Then, hover your mouse over ‘Options and settings’:
Then, go to ‘Security’ and select ‘Allow any extension to load without validations or warning’ under ‘Data Extensions’:
Be careful when using third-party connectors. Your data could be at risk since the connector can ignore privacy levels.
The Most Popular Power BI Connectors
As promised, we’ll be listing out the most popular Power BI connectors out there.
Remember that you can search the AppSource for any connectors you might need. Depending on the app or service you would like to connect, you may find lots of add-ins from different publishers.
1. tyGraph Teams Analytics for Office 365
The first among highly-rated tyGraph Power BI add-ins. This is made for businesses using Microsoft Teams to have rich and meaningful reporting and analytics. All data from Teams can be taken and augmented with signals from HRIS like role, region, and organization structure.
2. Dynamics 365 Business Central – Sales
This add-in would connect to your Dynamics 365 Business Central and provide sales information in an easy-to-understand visual format. In addition, you can view and manage your report and dashboard straight from your Business Central cloud solution.
3. Sales analytics by ZAP
This is a flexible and quick way to connect if your data sources include SAP Business One, Microsoft Dynamics, SYSPRO, or Sage. Because of its tailored data connectors, pre-built Unified Data Models, and Power BI, lots of businesses consider this as one of the best Power BI add-ins.
4. MAT Vision Analytics for Secondary Schools
If you’re a MAT customer, you’ll find this add-in extremely useful. You don’t have to manually go after schools for data and store the information on a spreadsheet. With these, you can now analyze attendance, student demographics, and exclusions easily.
5. Intune Compliance (Data Warehouse)
If you’re using Intune Data Warehouse, this add-in is a great way for you to access your data and edit, view, or share them on Power BI. To make matters easier, you can filter your data by enrollment date, OS, OS version, and others.
Power BI connectors help save time and effort since you don’t have to manually re-enter your data to Excel and import them to Power BI. Plus, Microsoft offers a lot of connectors for different apps and services.
And if ever your app or service doesn’t have a connector yet, you can always contact your provider. You can also ask your provider to share and submit their connector for Microsoft certification.