Rolled out last July at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference in Houston, Power BI for
Office 365 was met with a great deal of excitement. Released in August Power BI brings together a number of data modeling and visualization capabilities available via Excel.
All of this was aimed at providing users of Microsoft’s cloud-based services with a more robust “self-service” model to augment on-premise BI implementations when using them “off-premise”.
Below is a breakdown of the initial key components that Power BI brings to Office 365:
In November MS provided a significant upgrade to further strengthen Power BI’s self-services features:
The newest updates to the system were announced in mid-December and further improve several of the self-service features. Power Query can now connect to the Windows Azure Table storage service and adds the ability to use SQL queries to perform relational data imports. Q&A now supports adding Excel workbooks to your Power BI site.
Although the the final product has yet to be rolled out the currently deployed preview version has been on a steady streak of updates since September. Microsoft remains quiet about an expected final release date and making the improved platform available, it will add considerably to the value of the service both on-premise and off.
As you prepare for the new year and begin to evaluate your business intelligence options, outside expertise may be useful in determining your best options. Many development firms who focus on supporting the vast number of business intelligence platforms are an excellent choice for supplementing your own expertise.
These firms can evaluate your current systems, your current business needs and provide input on how to get the biggest bang for your budget dollars. The very fact that most of them have been working with cloud BI and on-premise applications gives them a long track record on adapting these to fully take advantage of new features available in this robust platform.
Whether Office 365 is your answer or if a more robust solution is a better fit, using the current set of BI tools now available more effectively may mean the difference between business success or failure. Truly “knowledge is king”, and at some point your business will need to employ sophisticated business intelligence tools to keep up with your competition.