Power BI: 5 Facts to Share for 2018
Today data swirls about a company from many different sources at a faster rate and volume than ever before. Transforming this data into information that has meaning and relevance is key and keeps businesses ahead of the game in reporting and operations. To put it simply; data and information is important, and will be a key player for all businesses in the year ahead.
Last April, I wrote about how you can connect Power BI to your Dynamics 365 environment and start analysing your core information of accounts, contacts, leads, opportunities and cases. I briefly explained how the self-service features and flexible interactive visualisations has positioned Power BI as one of the top business intelligence technologies out there.
This is the tool to revolutionise how your company analyses, uses and benefits from data. With that in mind, here are 5 simple key facts that I think you should know about Power BI - and why it will kick start your data revolution:
1. If you know Excel, then you will know get to know Power BI
The learning curve from Excel to Power BI is small. If you have a good handle of Excel functions and pivot tables and charts, then you will soon realise how easy it is to build a Power BI data model and its corresponding visualisations. In fact, Power BI has been built on the Power Pivot technology that was initially introduced as an Excel add on. Care has also been made for the language within Power BI (called DAX) to be very like Excel formulas.
2. It can be a central store for all your reports
With so much important data coming from many sources, reports can become scattered and information lost. For example, we all have created reports in Excel and stored it locally on our desktop. But how do you know someone else within the business might be looking for something similar or maybe somebody has already created a comparable report?
In this scenario you can create your Power BI report from scratch based on your standalone Excel report and publish and share within your organisation. Remember, Power BI can tap in to virtually any data source, be it on-premise or cloud. This increases the possibility of holding and organising many of your top reports and dashboards.
3. You can become the expert
In the past, the word business intelligence struck fear in to the heart of organisations. Straight away this meant consuming resources within the business or employing extra people to build back end data stores and then develop further expertise on designing reports and dashboards.
The whole idea and beauty of Power BI is that it is self-service. This should mean minimal intervention from IT to build your data model and reports. There will be times of course when an IT provider may need to get involved, but only as far as delivering appropriate access to the backend data or providing some sort of a schema. After that, the power is in your hands to connect, build, deploy and share.
4. It can be relatively inexpensive
Starting your initial journey with Power BI is free. Just by downloading the desktop tool, you can straight away start building your reports locally. Even publishing to the Power BI service/cloud is free. You can build your reports from certain data sources, publish it on your Power BI account and then display this in regular meetings/appointments, opening up a new way of working for you and your colleagues at virtually no cost.
Of course, nothing in life is totally free. Pro user licences are required for further work, such as sharing these reports to other users or if your data is housed in an on-premise database. However, with this, this will cost you a small price of $9.99 per user/month. This works out at €1200 per year for 10 users – compare this with the alternative of paying for extra employees and resources and the benefits can be seen immediately.
5. It is continually updated
Every month, Microsoft releases new updates for the Power BI service, desktop tool and mobile apps. Each update contains a wide range of fresh features, eliminating the yearly wait for new innovations to be announced. Quite a number of these features stem from ideas posted to the Power BI site, meaning if they gain traction and support from other users then they are more than likely to be implemented. Add to that extra Microsoft approved visualisations that are created by Power BI community members and you have even more impressive charts and KPIs to showcase.
Power BI has taken over data analytics and solved headaches for businesses all over the world. From its constant improvements to its drive and development from Microsoft, it’s here to stay. As data comes to the front and centre for all business decision makers, it’s clear that this is the tool needed not only to keep organisations relevant, but to gain competitive advantage too.