Power BI takes Microsoft’s popular Excel-based self-service BI features to a whole new level by reconnecting these features to enterprise BI/DW data and adding a compelling search and data exploration experience. It’s truly innovative, and will potentially redefine self-service Business Intelligence.

What is Power BI?

The key functionality delivered by Power BI includes a number of integrated components; all stitched together using Office 365:

Power Pivot. Power Pivot provides end-user accessible, in-memory data modeling for large data sets. Power Pivot was introduced as an add-in to Excel 2010, and since has been fully integrated as an out-of-the-box feature in Excel 2013.

Power View. Power View is a complimentary technology to Power Pivot, enabling advanced visualizations for data models created in Power Pivot. Power View delivers interactive visualizations, including animated visuals and maps powered by Bing Maps. Originally Power View was available only as a SharePoint feature, but has since been integrated directly into Excel 2013.

Power Map. Power Map, previously known by the development name GeoFlow, is an add-in to Excel 2013 that provides still more compelling Bing Map powered visualizations, extending Power View’s capabilities with 3D map visualizations.

Mobile BI Viewer. Microsoft announced (but has not fully detailed) native mobile viewing applications for visualizations created in Power View and published to Power BI sites. The mobile components will meet the growing requirement to deliver BI visualizations to tablet devices.

Power Query. Power Query, previously known by the development name Data Explorer, is an add-in to Excel 2013 that provides a more fluid, open data discovery environment than is provided by Power Pivot alone. Despite its unexciting name, we believe Power Query, together with its catalog and on-premises data integration, will do more to enable innovative self-service BI solutions than any end-user technology we’ve seen to-date.

Data Management Gateway. While the publishing and consumption experience for Power BI is in the cloud, Microsoft has recognized that much of the underlying data users will explore will still be on premises. Power BI’s architecture includes a Data Management Gateway facility to allow users to discover, explore and incorporate on premises data within the cloud publishing infrastructure.

How will Power BI change the game?

Through its data catalog and Data Management Gateway, Power BI merges centralized DW/BI strategies with cloud data sources and self-service tools like no other platform has yet been able to do. And as a SaaS solution, all of its functionality packaged so that any organization can easily implement and use it. In short, Power BI has the potential to accelerate the adoption curve and make advanced BI Analytics as common as Excel itself.

Power BI brings game-changing capabilities to all BI system stakeholders:

  • End Users. End-users have long wanted the ability to easily access and analyze data. Q&A’s natural language query and intelligent visualization engine will do more to encourage every employee to use information as a basis for decisions.
  • BI Analysts. Power Pivot gave power users the ability to build efficient data models over large data volumes, but that information needed to “fit” into clean data models. Power Query’s data transformation and flexibility further empower analysts to build their own end-to-end solutions quickly.
  • IT & Data Stewards. Self-service BI has always been a push-pull topic. Everyone wants users to have the tools and information they need to make good decisions. Yet proper governance, security and auditing is often seen as a road-block to progress by power users. The data catalog underlying Power BI is exciting because it promotes self-service and governance simultaneously.

For many organizations, establishing an affordable and robust BI platform has been challenging and cost-prohibitive. Power BI may be the solution that finally makes advanced BI as simple to use as a search engine, and as broadly adopted.

EKI Digital has worked with businesses of all sizes, and in various industries to help them benefit by designing, and deploying Power BI Dashboards as a tool to improve how their businesses make decisions. If you would like to learn more about this service please contact us at Info@eki-digital.com.

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