We’re all familiar with Excel. It’s safe to say that it’s a great tool for tracking data. But what if there was a way to keep track of information from not only Excel, but a multitude of frequently used applications and services? And what if you could find this information by typing a simple phrase such as, “sales for [new product name here] 2014”? Microsoft has made this possibility a reality. And not only may it help save your business time, but it’s also free.
What is Power BI?
Power BI is a Cloud service which mainly functions as a self-service data analysis tool. What makes it unique is its use of advanced visualization options (graphs, charts, etc.) and the ability to find data by using natural language to ask questions and get answers. For example, you can simply type, “which department had the lowest sales profits last month?” and then get a chart that will visually display the sales from the different departments.
Another distinct characteristic of Power BI is its ability to collect and analyze data from various applications and services. These include Salesforce.com, Marketo, Excel, Zendesk and more.
And lastly, being a Cloud based service, the data is easily shareable, and employees can access it whether they’re in the office or on another continent.
Do I really need data analysis for my business?
It’s easier to get ahead of the competition if you know where you’ve been. With knowledge of your past failings or successes, you’ll know what methods and strategies are working and which ones aren’t. Then you can make appropriate business decisions based on facts and not assumptions.
For some, Excel may give you the ability to track all the Business Intelligence you desire – if the data you need is relatively simple and is kept all in one place. But if you have large amounts of data over various applications, then a product like Power BI can be a huge time saver since you won’t have to waste hours finding and organizing it.
If Power BI is so awesome, why is it free?
Power BI comes in two versions: the free one and a pro version for $9.99 a month. The pro version will feature more support for streaming data, quicker scheduled data refresh, and more storage. But light to medium data analysis users will still gain much from the free version.
Likely the real reason for the free version of Power BI is to capture market share from Tableau software, which currently dominates the self-service analytics market. Microsoft appears to be trying to create a simpler data analytic system that will be less complex than Tableau and more appealing to non-tech users.
And once they get sign-ups, Microsoft can then use this as a gateway to sell other Microsoft business products.
Want to discover how Microsoft’s Power BI or other Business Intelligence products can give your business an edge? Contact us today to see how we can help.