We all use Excel for one thing or another in business (and sometimes personal projects too). There’s no doubting how useful Excel’s functions are and it’s a brilliant upgrade from scribbled notes and calculations on paper. But as we head into 2019 it’s worth looking at even better upgrades. Microsoft BI is a powerful upgrade, and if you haven’t used it before, the world is about to become your oyster.
What is Power BI?
Power BI is a useful cloud-based tool for working with data. Provided by Microsoft, the BI stands for Business Intelligence. The software helps you to analyse your data and understand your business performance at a glance, through interactive, insightful visualisations. Reports and dashboards can be created easily without any help from IT or database administrators.
Originally based on the Microsoft Excel add-ins “Power Query”, “Power Pivot”, “Power View” and more, Power BI was released to the general public in mid 2015. As the name suggests, Power BI is a powerful business intelligence tool that will make it easy to manage data as your business grows. Analysing your company data effectively will help you to make informed business decisions, guided by real information rather than assumptions. To help you understand just how much Power BI can help your business, here are the top 5 benefits of Power BI.
1 - It integrates easily, making your data more accessible
Microsoft has created industry leading office software since the launch of Microsoft Office in 1990. So it’s not surprising that Power BI is built to integrate seamlessly with other Microsoft products, such as Excel, SharePoint and SQL Server. But it also connects to hundreds of other common software solutions, including Google analytics, Mailchimp, Salesforce, Oracle and SAP products. Data can be extracted easily from cloud-based or desktop systems to feed into a central dashboard so you can digest and view all your data effortlessly.
2 - Your data is secure & compliant
While your data is more accessible, it’s also secure and safe. While an office break-in is never fun, if your data is all in the cloud, it can’t get stolen alongside your computer hardware. One of Microsoft’s strengths is their excellent security, so there’s no need to worry about hackers breaking in and accessing your data.
Since GDPR came into action we’re all more aware of compliance. Rather than making different reports for each department or team member, you can control which team members have access to data without giving them access to the full database. They can see charts and graphs, but won’t be able to manipulate raw data. This avoids costly mistakes as it protects your data from human error, but also makes Power BI compliant as a system, as the data is encrypted. So if you have a large report, of course you can ensure the Managing Director has full access to it, while Barbara in Sales would only be shown rows of information relevant to her role.
With filtering like this, everyone has the relevant info they need but nothing more. There’s less confusion, less time involved and much less hassle. You’ll certainly save money by not having to create and maintain reports for every team member.
3 - Customised dashboards make it easy to understand your data
Every business is unique and your dashboard, reports and data should reflect this. Power BI enables you to create customised information dashboards that combine your important data into a single view. These dashboards can be easily embedded into your applications so everyone in your company will be on the same page.
Possibly the most exciting feature of Power BI is that it can transform detailed and overwhelming data into rich visuals that are much easier to understand, especially at a glance. Decision making is made much easier, creating reports is far more rewarding, and viewing analytics has never been so satisfying.
4 - It’s familiar and easy to implement and use
You may be used to relying on engineering or IT support when it comes to using new software. But Power BI is surprisingly easy to implement, requiring little to no engineering at all. Simply create an API key to plug into the software, and you’re you’re ready to rock and roll.
Microsoft systems are familiar to most people, and it’s more than likely that your organisation is using Office 365 already. If so, using Power BI will feel natural and easy. The user interface elements will be familiar, the integration with your other systems is effortless, and you’ll be able to easily export data to your other systems.
As well as a simple learning curve, Power BI also contains a handy Q&A feature. Asking questions is usually the fastest way to get a straightforward answer. Here at Go.Courses we’re big believers in using natural language and the Q&A feature allows you to use plain English and get answers from your data quickly and easily.
5 - It’s always improving & helps your business to improve too
As with Office 365, Power BI is updated almost every month with new features and functions. Because Power BI is cloud based, your data is quickly retrievable and you won’t have to worry about memory or speed constraints.
The extra insight that Power BI will give your business is invaluable. You’ll be able to analyse the most recent market data and make informed decisions based on which markets are growing and which are underperforming. The data belongs to your business and the analysis can be done internally, saving you money.
How to get training for Power BI
Now you’re aware of the top 5 benefits of using Power BI in your business, you may be wondering what to do next. While it’s not compulsory or essential, it could be useful to invest in some staff training to get started with Power BI Desktop. This 3 day course will teach you everything you need to get to grips with connecting Power BI Desktop to data, creating visualizations, querying the data and publishing reports.
For more advanced training, try the Analysing Data with Power BI course. Both of these training options can be taken at a choice of dates or locations, delivered live online or in-house at your own office.
Drop us a message to find out more about Power BI and training course options to suit your business.