How Microsoft Power BI can help Organisations Leverage Data
Read time 5 mins
Microsoft’s Power Platform is designed to empower your employees. It offers an intuitive, collaborative, and extensible platform of low-code and no-code tools that make it easy to create efficient and flexible solutions to all kinds of day-to-day processes.
However, despite plenty of organisations utilising Microsoft software, many of them are simply not aware of just how much power and simplification sits right at their fingertips. In this blog, we’ll be focusing on one example, Power BI (which stands for ‘business intelligence’), however, there are four products in total under the Microsoft Power Platform:
Power BI – Analyse, interrogate, and leverage data from different data sources inside your organisation.
Power Apps – Easily develop mobile and web apps for any business need—even if you have no technical or development experience.
Power Automate – Design automated workflows between various apps and services to reduce all kinds of manual tasks (read more here).
Power Virtual Agents – Develop flexible chatbots that can respond rapidly to your customer and employee needs.
Power BI is a cloud-based business analytics solution. It is designed to help organisations bridge the gap between one of their most important assets, data, and their decision making.
After all, data, or ‘business intelligence’, is a key component in any organisations’ ability to remain agile, strategic, and competitive. Data is what allows organisations to monitor performance, adjust accordingly, and continue to innovate.
However, it can sometimes be the case that – especially as businesses grow – they find it more difficult to manage and interrogate data meaningfully. Unfortunately, whilst most organisations have a lot of data available to them, and may capture a lot of metrics, many simply aren’t using data enough (i.e., daily rather than in annual planning meetings), or they aren’t using it proactively, to find new opportunities and think about business from a new perspective.
The good news is, Power BI is a phenomenal tool for users and/or businesses looking to increase their business intelligence efforts. Using it, employees can connect to, model, visualise, and securely share data, turning insights into intelligent, evidence-driven actions.
And the really good news? Power BI requires no expenditure or infrastructure support whatsoever (if using the desktop version), regardless of the size of your organisation. Available on mobile and desktop, users do not need any special training to use Power BI and – much like the rest of the Microsoft Power suite – Power BI easily integrates with both Microsoft products (e.g., Exchange, Office 365, Excel, Cortana, and Teams) and third-party platforms (e.g., Salesforce, Google Analytics, social platforms, Marketo, and more).
Common uses for Microsoft Power BI
Although Power BI is an incredibly flexible and highly customisable tool that’s useful for many departments, it’s often most popular with users in finance, marketing, sales, human resources, IT, and operations.
This is because one of Power BI’s most popular uses is data visualisation. In other words, users can bring data to life and tell stories to others through engaging visualisations – think column charts, pie charts, heat maps, bubble maps, scatter graphs, and so on. Thus, Power BI helps us to uncover real business insights and add context to them at a glance.
What’s more, the product is also capable of utilising machine learning to bring patterns in data to light, quickly generating informed predictions about various ‘what if’ forecasts and predictions and allowing organisations to prepare for likely scenarios (or else change the course of their decision making).
Below are just a few examples of how organisations might use Microsoft Power BI:
Tracking performance of sales teams over time
Tracking lead generation for marketers
Tracking the performance of certain products over time or in different jurisdictions
Tracking the performance of teams and/or comparing teams over time
Insights into accounts payable and receivable
Demand and supply tracking
Analysing pricing strategy and profitability
Fraud and risk management
Tracking client life-time value, buying behaviours, and churn.
Why use Microsoft Power BI?
Combined with the fact Power BI undergoes constant improvement since Microsoft continues to invest research and money into the tool, adding new features and tweaking existing ones, Power BI brings various valued components to the table.
Some of these we have already covered above, however – if you’re considering utilising Power BI for enhanced business intelligence at your organisation – also remember that:
Power BI empowers everyone
Power BI currently has two versions: Power BI Desktop and the Power BI service. Power BI Desktop is free, so anyone in the organisation can download it and start using it immediately. Whereas Power BI service requires a pro-license. Of course, by making Power BI so accessible, Microsoft facilitates all organisations, no matter their size, to be empowered through data and create data-driven cultures.
In data-driven cultures, decisions are made based on evidence and facts, rather than personal feelings or gut instinct. By putting business intelligence assets into the hands of everyone, Power BI helps make data-driven decisions egalitarian; giving everyone the ability to analyse and back-up their findings with reports and rich visualisations – all of which can be published and shared as dashboards with anyone.
Power BI is secure
Power BI has robust encryption for both data at rest and data in transit, enabling users to protect sensitive information and meet various security and compliance standards.
In fact, Power BI uses the same security stack that earned Azure the right to serve and protect the world’s most sensitive data. Indeed, according to Microsoft, ‘Power BI was built to provide industry-leading complete and hermetic protection for data. The product has earned the highest security classifications available in the industry, and today many national security agencies, financial institutions, and health care providers entrust it with their most sensitive information.’
Furthermore, Power BI’s sensitivity labels feature makes it easy for administrators to alert users and consumers as to what data or information in particular is sensitive and therefore should be handled differently, according to data protection or company regulations.
Developers can also take advantage of Power BI’s row-level security (RLS) capabilities to create and establish different roles for different users. This security feature is especially useful at organisations storing data that should only be seen by certain users.
Power BI has great functionality
There’s no use having data at your fingertips, unless it can provide useful business insights and share narratives that help decision-makers make better, evidence-based decisions. Thankfully, this is exactly where Power BI comes into its own.
It’s easy for users to connect their data to Power BI quickly and choose from a variety of pre-templated visualisations to both gain and share insights. What’s more, implementation of these visualisations is easy, and Power BI’s functionality makes it simple to drag, drop, and reposition visuals to create insightful, clean, and well-organised reports and dashboards.
Furthermore, these visualisations are interactive, so users can filter reports in seconds – say, to test certain suggestions or questions in a live meeting, and to, overall, gain a more rounded, holistic view of what their data is telling them.
To find out more about Microsoft’s Power Suite, or how Littlefish can help your business boost productivity through effective implementation of technology, please get in touch.