Power BI: What is it and why is it amazing for you?

Making a business decision is a daily act for most of us. You would potentially make scores of these decisions every day, each of varying importance. But, how do we make informed decisions? How do we weigh up the pros and cons and, maybe, predict the outcome? Simple, we base our decisions on the data we have in front of us. Not data from a years ago, or last week – but the most up to date information we can gather. This is referred to as ‘Business Intelligence’ (BI) or Management Information (MI). The concept is old, but the Business Intelligence landscape is ever changing with innovative ways of interrogating and visualising information. There are many software vendors out there – SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, QlikView – so how do you select the right one? What do you base your decision on?

Understanding your needs is a good start:

  • Think about what exactly you need from a BI system. What are your must-haves, your nice-to-haves and your will-not-use criteria? Think about your business headaches and what you need from a BI system/tool to alleviate them.
  • Where do you fit in the market? Do companies like yours heavily rely on vast amounts of data analytics?
  • How does your budget and your requirements line up? Do you need to make any compromises?
  • Is visualisation important to you when presenting data?

Before Power BI there was SSRS (otherwise known as SQL Server Reporting Services). This was run on older technology and was perfect for operational reporting. Power BI takes that one step further. It’s perfect for data analysis, which, in an increasingly digital world, is now incredibly insightful for businesses of any size.

Here are some top pointers for what Power BI is and how it can be used to inform your working life

Power BI is customisable

The customisation around Power BI is almost infinite. You can tailor your reports just how you like them to make them look perfect for you. From creating personalised infographics to flow charts to simple pie graphs, Power BI has many customisable design features to make your data stand out from all the rest.

Monitor your data

A beautiful thing about Power BI is the ability to have data at your fingertips being updated in real time. No longer do you have to wait 24 hours for a decent report; you can see there and then how your data’s looking. Functions such as this mean you can make better informed decisions a lot quicker.

Shareable data on various devices

The data within Power BI is incredible shareable. Not only can you send it to those who need to be in the know, but you can have access to Power BI on multiple devices. If you’re on the way to a meeting across town and need an instant update on your data dashboard, Power BI can be there waiting for you on your device, whenever and wherever you need it. It’s a real beauty of cloud-based software. You can also easily set suitable permissions within Power BI – so everyone knows exactly what they need to know.

If you’re not tech-savvy, it doesn’t matter

When you type ‘Microsoft Power BI’ into Google, you may get inundated with graphs and buzzwords about data and dashboards. It can be pretty confusing, and if you’re not very tech-savvy with software then it can be easy to say to yourself: “I don’t know what this is, I don’t think I’ll bother using it”. Power BI is laid out very simply and you don’t have to tailor-make everything to your exact specifications if you don’t need to. There are templates that simply ‘come out of the box’ with Power BI and if you’re not clued up on data then it doesn’t mean you can’t use the software.


You can ask Power BI questions about your data

If you’re looking for a specific chunk of data and you’re not sure what obscure keywords you need to access it, Power BI is built to recognise ‘real language’ style questions. Rather than typing a formula, simply ask the question using the Q&A function. For example, ‘which salesperson had the highest sales in Kensington’ can give you some intelligent results (if of course the term ‘salesperson’ in injected into your data somehow).

This is only scratching the surface for Microsoft Power BI. Here are a few examples of the analytics you can plug into it:

  • Facebook
  • Google Analytics
  • Zendesk
  • Salesforce
  • Excel
  • MySQL
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM
  • SharePoint Lists
  • MailChimp
  • Xero
  • Oracle

…Plus many more!

If you’d like to know more about how you can incorporate Power BI into your business, just give us a call on +44 (0)1462 476160 or email us at info@business-agility.com.