Business Intelligence (BI) has fundamentally changed over the last 3 years. Microsoft’s recent investments and development have created a tool set with some big improvements over the systems of the past.
These tools are enterprise ready and SMB flexible. In opposition to traditional business intelligence, revolutionized BI is:
- Live – BI tools now connect directly to databases to provide up-to-the-minute accuracy.
- Self-service – Non-technical users can now create or edit BI reports without SQL knowledge or IT assistance.
- Graphical – BI tools now use graphical interfaces to make complex data easier to digest.
- Collaborative – Discover BI reports created by other users in the organization.
Power BI is Microsoft’s newest tool. Power BI is delivered as a software as a service subscription, though the design happens offline with a desktop tool.
Power BI reports can draw data from a wide variety of sources, including other SaaS services like Google Analytics, Salesforce, and QuickBooks Online. Users can easily merge data from multiple sources into a single dashboard with charts, graphs, and gauges. These graphic representations make complex data more transparent.
Microsoft has also developed PowerPivot, Power Query, Power View, and Power Map in a familiar tool, Excel 2013. With these improvements, data from a variety of sources can be integrated into dashboards, and these dashboards can be published to a SharePoint site.
Depending on the version of Excel and whether it was purchased through an O365 subscription, separate add-ins may need to be installed to access these tools.
Getting started with Business Intelligence
Many clients complain of a data rich, information poor environment. They know they have customer transaction data, marketing data, and data on key performance indicators, but the size and complexity of this data hides the trends, anomalies, and red flags the business needs to see.
Address this problem with a business intelligence discovery initiative. This project identifies what opportunities for BI exist, how BI would impact the company, and what tool should be considered.
- What data is available?
- Is there inaccurate or duplicate data?
- What are the key performance indicators?
- What questions does the business have about the data?
- What level of access and timeliness is required?
- And finally, which tool meets these requirements?