Microsoft is currently previewing a new tool to help you more easily view and analyze your ever growing store of business data – it is called Power BI.
I can hear you already, “been there done that and don’t want the t-shirt!” It seems there has been a never ending stream of “User Reporting Tools” for you buy and learn. While many have their strengths, they tend to not live up to their lofty marketing hype. Most fail to deliver for the same reasons, they are limited to specific usage scenarios by the platforms to which they were designed with no ability to adapt to new environments without extensive customizations and a high learning curve. These limitations make it hard if not impossible for the traditional solutions to grow and morph as your business grows and changes over time leaving you with incomplete information and inevitably falling back to manual “spreadsheet jockeying” to fill-in the gaps.
Some may have heard of Power BI for Office 365, this was the first incarnation of the service and still exists, however, Microsoft is expanding its capabilities with the “power” of its Azure Cloud services and now offering a new experience located at PowerBI.com. The new experience brings a new tool called the Power BI Designer that leverages Microsoft’s strides in Machine Learning to ease the pain and learning curve usually associated with utilizing a new reporting tool. Best of all, the new tools are currently in a public preview and are free to learn and use.
Even in its current, preview state, Power BI already has connectors that know how to connect to a wide range of data, they are Excel Workbook, Power BI Designer Files, SQL Server Analysis Services, Google Analytics, Dynamics CRM, Salesforce and others, including the ability to add your own. From a get up and running quickly perspective with data that you are already dealing with albeit in a manual fashion, the ability to upload and easily use Excel spreadsheet data is by far the most exicting. You can leverage all the data you have already figured out how to extract from your back office systems, load it into to the Power BI Designer and in minutes begin creating meaningful dashboards. Additionally, if the Excel spreadsheet is hosted in a OneDrive account the data it contains can be automatically refreshed into Power BI so it becomes easy to maintain current data in published reports.
We encourage you take a look and run through the very well documented Excel sample data tutorial. What you have to lose but your old tired manual processes?!
Get started today at http://powerbi.microsoft.com