March 4, 2014

Microsoft Power BI Makes Business Intelligence Easy

Microsoft’s New Business Intelligence Application Adds Data Analytics to Excel

Microsoft recently announced the launch of Power BI, a platform that equips employees with intuitive tools for finding, sorting, sharing, and ultimately understanding business intelligence.

According to a 2013 SAP survey of businesses in the US and UK, 75% of enterprises report their staff doesn’t have the necessary skills to adequately leverage the data their company produces. It looks like Microsoft was paying attention.

By working through the Excel interface, Power BI cleverly builds on a program users are already familiar with. This might help address the big data disparity between enterprises and small and medium businesses. Rather than investing in a data analysis expert, smaller organizations could use Power BI instead.

Power BI’s integration with SAP BusinessObjectives provides additional reach for its Power Query function. By connecting employees to data at different locations, Power BI helps users consolidate business data, eliminating the redundancy of copy-and-pasting information from disparate spreadsheets. Power BI’s SAP integration also gives users access to public data sets, in order to expand their sample sizes, and improve their analysis.

Once users find the data they’re looking for, Power BI they can visualize it with the Power Pivot tool, which renders data into aesthetically pleasing models. Further visual functionality includes Power View and Power Map, the latter of which represents data based on geographic parameters.

Power BI is available as an add-on to Microsoft Office or as a standalone product. Mobile access is currently available through an app for Windows Mobile, with more platforms to follow.

Microsoft’s move to simplify business intelligence analytics looks like a smart one. Though the number wasn’t as high as SAP’s survey, InformationWeek’s Business Intelligence survey reported that 47% of businesses cited lack of expertise as a primary big data concern. 67% of respondents reported being interested in using advanced data analytics.

Will Power BI make Excel the new data analytics hub? Share some knowledge in the comments.

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