Microsoft recently rolled out a really great product in the field of self service business intelligence, PowerBi for Office365. In February and March I went through Microsoft’s Partner training for Planning& Designing SharePoint Business Critical Solutions – Power BI. It was really cool to be one of the first people to go through the training and see what Power BI was and all it has to offer potential clients. This is the first in a series of planned posts to take a deep dive into what Power BI has to offer and demonstrate its capabilities and value.
Below is a short description of what Power BI for Office 365 is:
Power BI for Office 365, a self-service business intelligence (BI) solution delivered through Excel and Office 365 which provides information workers with data analysis and visualization capabilities to identify deeper business insights either on-premise or within a trusted cloud environment. With Power BI for Office 365, customers can connect to data in the cloud or extend their existing on premise data sources and systems to quickly build and deploy self-service BI solutions hosted in Microsoft’s enterprise cloud.
Power BI for Office 365 enables customers to do more with their data:
- Discover and connect to data sources spread within and beyond the geographical boundaries of an organization.
- Analyze and present insights from data in compelling visual formats either on premises or in the cloud from Excel.
- Share reports and data sets online with data that is always kept up to date.
- Ask questions of your data using natural language search and get immediate answers through interactive tables, charts and graphs.
- Access and stay connected to data and reports from your mobile devices wherever you are.
Power BI works hand-in-hand with Excel 2013 and Excel Services, specifically taking advantage of Power Query, Power Pivot, Power View and Power Map:
Power Query for Excel enhances self-service business intelligence (BI) for Excel with an intuitive and consistent experience for discovering, combining, and refining data across a wide variety of sources including relational, structured and semi-structured, OData, Web, Hadoop, Azure Marketplace, and more. Power Query also provides you with the ability to search for public data from sources such as Wikipedia
Power Pivot is an Excel 2013 add-in you can use to perform powerful data analysis and create sophisticated data models. With Power Pivot, you can mash up large volumes of data from various sources, perform information analysis rapidly, and share insights easily.
Power View is an interactive data exploration, visualization, and presentation experience that encourages intuitive ad-hoc reporting. Power View is a feature of Microsoft Excel 2013, and of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 and 2013 as part of the SQL Server 2012 Service Pack 1 Reporting Services Add-in for Microsoft SharePoint Server Enterprise Edition.
Power Map for Excel 2013 is a three-dimensional (3-D) data visualization tool that lets you look at information in new ways. You can discover insights that you might not see in traditional two-dimensional (2-D) tables and charts. With Power Map, you can plot geographic and temporal data on a 3-D globe, show it over time, and create visual tours you can share with other people.
Using these great new tools for accessing and manipulating data, you can create some awesome reports and dashboards in Excel and share them with your Power BI for Office 365 site. One of the great feature in PowerBI is Q&A. Q&A is a tool that allows you to drill down on data with simple English Queries. For Example if you have a report on GDP by country by year, your user can just type: “Show me USA and UK GDP for 2008 through 2013″ and the report will filter as you type. Your end-users will be able to do their own analysis and be able to gain insights without always having to involve SQL resources.
While Power BI is a great step forward toward Self-Service BI, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done by the IT professionals with regard to setting up and governing the resources, administering the Power BI sites, and training. I look forward to seeing how Power BI grows as a product offering and how businesses are able to utilize it to gain new insights in to their data and processes.