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In its simplest form, business intelligence (BI) is a set of tools and technologies that can take a source of operational data and turn it into something meaningful and actionable for users.
Becoming an ever-growing technology leveraged by businesses around the world, BI services are widely diversified and are helping companies make powerful decisions that contribute significantly to their success.
Power BI is a cloud-based business intelligence service provided by Microsoft. It is an interactive data visualisation and analytics tool. That can be used to clean and completely transform data from a wide range of systems into meaningful insights.
Users of Power BI can create dashboards that track the metrics they care about the most. Or drill in and (literally) ask questions about their data. The tool also allows them to create rich reports or embed dashboards and reports into reporting portals you already use.
Thanks to Power BI, Microsoft has been recognised by Gartner for the 13th year in a row as a leader in the Gartner 2020 Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms.
Power BI is transforming how businesses work in more ways than one. Here are some of the ways it could change yours.
Thanks to its huge choice of content packs, templates and integrations, Power BI can be used to visualise data from a whole heap of products, apps and services you already use in your business.
Whether you use Xero for accounting, K2 Cloud to build business processes, or Salesforce, Mailchimp, Google Analytics or GitHub, Power BI allows you to visualise the data you have in those services, create reports against them and collate them in a custom dashboard.
This superior compatibility also includes unparalleled Excel integration. Quickly connect Excel queries, data models, and reports to Power BI dashboards in order to analyse, publish and share business data in new ways.
Additionally, businesses can set up the on-premises gateway to explore data sets on their own servers. This enables them to create reports, visualisations, perform calculations (called calculated measures) and set access levels for individual users and data sources to control who can view more sensitive information.
Power BI gives you insight into powerful real-time analytics – from factory sensors to social media sources. This places them firmly on the cusp of emerging trends, ready to act (or react) accordingly.
It’s one thing to gain insight into the here and now, but what about into the future? Power BI enables you to compare different scenarios by dragging a slider bar to show potential changes.
For example, if you add a calculated measure for a figure such as revenue, you can use the New Parameter button in Power BI Desktop to add parameters that change in your What-if scenario – setting the data type, minimum, maximum and increments.
This enables businesses to think outside of the immediate circumstances and make well-planned, strategic decisions to match pre-empted outcomes.
Information is powerful…but in some cases, it can also be overwhelming. Power BI’s Power KPI custom visualisation combines multiple report types into a single tile, enabling users to condense lots of metrics and complex visualisations into a clearer, more simplistic view.
For example, if executives happened to be tracking 20 or 30 metrics, possibly for multiple regions around the world, it’s better to present this at a glance to stakeholders without them becoming overwhelmed with too many charts and figures. It also makes it easy for the user to look up information quickly in meetings. This means not just faster access, but also more transparency and understanding all around.
It’s not just business users who have large amounts of information they need to distil down for insights.
IT can also benefit from visualising data for IT monitoring tools, which is provided by the Power BI solution template for Azure Activity Logs. There are templates for a range of other tools too, and IT users can build their own dashboards and reports for other tools as long as they can get the data into a SQL Server or Azure SQL database.
Without access to company-wide BI software, the IT department can also become an overburdened and over-relied team to provide valuable company data, dashboards and reports. Constant requests to IT to change reports can quickly lead to bottlenecks and decreased productivity, which only leads to slowing down business output elsewhere.
A robust BI solution, on the other hand, empowers business users with self-service analysis, reporting, and dashboarding. This helps to place the power of data back into the users’ hands, who actually benefit from analysing data to meet business goals.
While spreadsheets, reports, and charts are crucial to operations, the overall purpose of Power BI is to offer a global health picture of what’s driving your business.
Without a clear picture telling you what’s impacting your top line and bottom KPIs, your business won’t be able to make truly informed decisions. The real value of business analytics is to deliver clear and actionable data that will have a significant positive impact on your business – exactly what Power BI aims to provide.
Bespoke can help your business get started with Power BI and see you on your way to data-driven success. Contact us for a demo today.
In the meantime, be sure to download our free guide on introducing your company to the Power Platform, including sharing its powerful benefits with decision-makers and stakeholders.