In 2014, Satya Nadella (Microsoft CEO) talked about the importance of data culture for any organisation. He said “insights can come from anyone, anywhere, at any time. When that happens, organisations develop what we describe as a “data culture.” However, a data culture isn’t just about deploying technology alone, it’s about changing the culture so that every organisation, every team and every individual is empowered to do great things because of the data at their fingertips. Everyone benefits when more people can ask questions and get answers.
Since then Microsoft Power BI has been released, becoming the market leader according to Gartner (Figure 1), been adopted by 150,000 organisations including 97% of the Fortune 500, has a community of over 1,000,000 members and all of that in less than 5 years. Microsoft is focussing on 3 key areas to help drive this data culture.
Figure 1: Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms | Image Source
Every Single Individual – Instantly familiar experiences and AI-infused insights
Everyone knows the explosion of data generation that is constantly occurring and increasing. IoT sensors and telemetry readings are becoming more mainstream along with traditional transaction systems. Organisations that can gather, store, then extract intelligence from business data will outperform those that cannot.
One of the core features of Power BI is the data experiences that are AI powered (Figure 2). These are particularly powerful for Business users and allow for fantastic ad-hoc analysis. Another great feature just announced is the Personalised views option (Figure 3) where end users can adjust a visual on the fly to suit their unique needs.
Figure 2: AI Powered Analytics in Power BI | Image Source
Figure 3: Personalised View Options | Source
All the individuals – Scale to 100,000s of users, meeting the most demanding enterprise needs
Judging by the adoption rate of Fortune 500 companies, Power BI comes with many features that help organisations of all sizes to scale up and standardise their data needs.
- Shared and certified datasets help end users to build reports based on trustworthy, authoritative data through discovery and reuse enterprise-wide semantic models. (Figure 4)
Figure 4: Shared and Certified Datasets | Image Source
- Enterprise reports can include paginated reports with full parameter support for the really detailed, standardised requirements of some users
- The impact of changing an element of Power BI can be visualised to determine the upstream/downstream dependencies. This allows users to be notified that changes will occur and brings a greater element of accountability around the management of reports/datasets.
Insights where decisions are made – BI woven into the fabric of the organisation
This is the area of innovation that customers value the most, where BI is woven deep into the fabric of the organisation. The upsurge by users in recent months using Microsoft Teams makes this a nice place where BI can be integrated as part of their everyday routine (Figure 5), and as the technology is all part of the Microsoft stack this is a straightforward task.
We at Allsop have adopted Teams as our primary communication tool and have embedded Power BI and other elements of the Power Platform (Power Apps and Power Automate) into our Teams environments. BI can also be embedded into customers on web portals for a truly customised and seamless experience. A future feature will allow Excel users to connect directly to the shared datasets mentioned above from within Excel, which again will mean that everyone is working off the same dataset (Figure 6)
Figure 5: Power BI embedded into Microsoft Teams | Image Source
Figure 6: Use of Shared and Certified Datasets from within Excel | Image Source