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4 Benefits of Power BI for Your Business

Author: Jeff Schodowski | | March 1, 2022


 

Power BI is a powerful and feature-rich suite of Microsoft tools for business intelligence and data visualization. With more than 5 million subscribers at last count, Power BI is one of the most widely used analytics solutions—and for good reason.

 

But what makes Power BI so popular, and what are the advantages of Power BI? Below, we’ll investigate some of the features and functionality that have led so many companies to adopt Power BI.

1. Multiple Integrations for all of your data

Microsoft has been an enterprise technology behemoth for three decades and counting, and now offers nearly every kind of workplace software imaginable. The good news is that Power BI fits cleanly into the Microsoft ecosystem, easily integrating with other products such as Office 365, Dynamics 365, SQL Server, and even Microsoft’s virtual assistant Cortana.

For example, Power BI works seamlessly with your Office 365 software. Excel spreadsheets can be imported into Power BI, and users can even deploy certain Excel skills and commands for data analysis within Power BI. You can also export Power BI data and reports to Excel and PowerPoint, helping key decision-makers get access to the insights they need.

Using Power BI with other Microsoft software has other advantages as well. You can improve data security by enacting restrictions on accessing Power BI files, which persist when you export this data into other Office products. Power BI interactive reports can also be inserted directly into Microsoft Teams for simpler communication and collaboration.

If you’re already using other Microsoft software products, or if you’re in the Microsoft Azure cloud, using Power BI for analytics and visualization is the natural choice. Of course, Power BI wouldn’t be so popular if it only targeted heavy Microsoft customers. The Power BI software makes it easy to pull data from, and push data to, many third-party solutions and systems.

Below is just a quick overview of the potential data sources for Power BI:

  • Files (Excel, text, CSV, XML, JSON, PDF, etc.)
  • Cloud and on-premises databases (SQL Server, Microsoft Access, Oracle, IBM Db2, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Teradata, SAP HANA, Amazon Redshift, Google BigQuery, Snowflake, MariaDB, etc.)
  • SaaS and analytics tools (Salesforce, Google Analytics, Marketo, Twilio, Zendesk, Asana, GitHub, etc.)
  • Other sources (websites, Hadoop, Microsoft Exchange, Active Directory, Python and R scripts, etc.)

 
In addition to traditional Microsoft file formats, like PowerPoint and Excel, Power BI reports can also be exported to other formats such as CSV and PDF.

If you still have data in legacy on-premises databases, Power BI can work with these too—even without migrating this information into the cloud. Power BI gateways are a feature acting as a bridge between your on-premises data and your cloud analytics software.

2. Iterative Feature Deployment

Power BI is far from being dusty, old, abandoned corporate software. Microsoft is committed to releasing new Power BI innovations and developments on a regular basis. As of this writing, Microsoft issues Power BI updates every month, incorporating both bug fixes and new features and functionality.

In December 2021, for example, Microsoft released a new Power BI update that includes a popular feature request: sparklines. These are tiny charts displayed within a table or matrix that offer a quick visual understanding of data over time (e.g. sales figures from month to month). Other new additions include updates to various third-party connectors, better support for mobile devices, and new ways of presenting and visualizing data.

3. Advanced features

For businesses with the right know-how and tech savvy, Power BI includes a number of advanced features to get the most out of your data. With its drag-and-drop visual interface, Power BI makes it simple to construct ad hoc, dynamic reports on the fly. In addition, users can easily drill down or zoom out when analyzing a visualization, offering fine-grained control over the level of analysis.

Dataflows, which are used to organize and persist self-service data, are a valuable yet underrated feature in Power BI. With dataflows, users create an abstraction on top of their data sources—so that you spend more time thinking about what this data means, and less time worrying about its underlying structure and implementation.

Mobile development is a snap with Power BI’s develop once, deploy anywhere philosophy. In fact, there are several features that allow you to develop mobile-optimized solutions. These include a mobile development canvas that allows you to drag and drop directly on to a device optimized frame, and visuals and slicers that are ergonomically designed to work with the native gesturing capabilities of the phone or tablet.

Another advantage of Power BI is that it can draw on the capabilities of the Azure cloud. With no-code capabilities, Power BI unlocks the power of AI and machine learning for businesses large and small. Users can leverage pretrained AI models to extract information from a diverse range of sources, from handwritten documents to social media feeds.

4. Modernization and Total Cost of Ownership

As many organizations move toward Office 365, leveraging Power BI for enterprise analytics has become easier than ever. We understand that many BI initiatives can include a fractured set of tools spread across operational data silos. These same teams tend to be burdened with a report catalog that is inefficient or not largely understood by business stakeholders.

A modernization initiative that includes Power BI can help deliver a concise view of your data and analytics asset, all while reducing annual spend on legacy tools that no longer deliver results for your business.

With a properly built Power BI Center of Excellence (CoE), you can transform the traditional IT role of report developer into a strategic business partner that enables your business community to use standardized reports that leverage high quality data to create powerful insights to help your business understand where opportunities are.

Conclusion

No matter your BI and analytics needs, Power BI can help you achieve them. If you’ve never used Power BI before, however, it’s a smart idea to join forces with a knowledgeable, time-tested Microsoft partner.

Datavail can help. As a Microsoft Gold Partner with more than 15 years of experience, Datavail has helped countless clients get the most from their Microsoft ecosystem, including Power BI. Our list of Power BI services includes:

  • Strategic planning and road mapping
  • Custom dashboard design and development
  • Report generation
  • Center of Excellence (COE) Development
  • Data integration and ETL-related tasks
  • Assessments and recommendations
  • Performance optimizations
  • Ongoing maintenance and 24/7 support

 

Looking for more guidance with Microsoft or Power BI software? Get in touch with our team for a chat about your needs. To learn how one of our recent clients transformed their business with Power BI, download our case study “Legal Services Company Wins Big with Enhanced Data Analytics Platform.”

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