If you’re a data analyst or BI consultant, you’ve probably heard of Microsoft’s latest self-service business intelligence offering, Power BI.
You may know that Power BI is a cloud service that allows users to access data in a secure environment. You might also know that its advanced visualisation tools and natural language query capabilities differentiate it from other self-service products.
But how familiar are you with Power BI’s other features? Here are four things about Power BI that you might not already know.
For those completely unfamiliar with Power BI, it might be a good idea to start with our ultimate cheat sheet to understanding Microsoft Power BI.
1. Build dashboards and reports without Excel
Until recently, Microsoft Power BI users could only build dashboards and reports in Excel (using Power Query, Power Map and Power View add-ons) before uploading them into Microsoft Power BI.
Not anymore. In the current version of Power BI, business users can build dashboards using the purpose-built Power BI Designer. This Windows application contains all the components needed to build and publish dashboards and reports – without upgrading your organisation’s Microsoft Office suite. While users can still use Excel to build dashboards and reports, this is no longer a prerequisite.
2. New data visualisations
Microsoft Power BI makes it easy to monitor key performance indicators by combining multiple data visualisations into a single dashboard. The most recent version of Power BI also includes new visualisations including:
- Combo charts – combine a line chart and a column chart to quickly compare data
- Filled maps – show spatial relationships and display quantitative information on a map
- Tree maps – display large amounts of hierarchical data as a set of nested rectangles
- Funnel charts – visualise a linear process with sequential connected stages (i.e. a sales funnel)
3. More out of the box data connectors
As more organisations embrace cloud technologies, enterprise-level BI products need to be able to connect and pull data both from traditional sources (such as databases) and cloud services (such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online).
Microsoft has responded by expanding its range of out of the box connectors. Power BI now includes a range of connectors that tap into popular SaaS services including Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, GitHub, Marketo, Salesforce, SendGrid and Zendesk.
Power BI also has live connectivity to SQL Server Analysis Services. This means organisations can access the cloud-based Power BI service without moving data from Microsoft SQL Server instances into the cloud.
4. Access and receive live updates via mobile
With Power BI applications for Windows, iPad and iPhone, Microsoft has made it easy to stay up to date with the latest reports, anywhere, anytime. Power BI users can access and receive live report updates both on a browser or via a mobile application.
What else would you like to know about Microsoft Power BI?
Learn more about Microsoft Power BI at out Office 365 Up Close and Personal session and speak with our experts.
You can read more about Professional Advantage and Microsoft Power BI here.
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