BI is Not Just for the Enterprise Any More

Written by Derek Nachimow

June 24, 2019

Business Intelligence (BI) is no longer the exclusive domain of large organizations. New BI tools make it easier than ever before for non-specialists to analyze and visualize data. And, the technology is getting more affordable. Microsoft Power BI, for example, is now just $15 per user, per month.

What is BI and Why Would I Want It in My Business?

BI refers to a collection of practices, strategies and technologies that enable businesses to analyze data about their operations and finances. BI can give you, in visual displays, historical, current and predictive views of your operations. The BI toolset usually includes functions for reporting, online analytical processing (OLAP), data analytics, event processing, business performance management and benchmarking and so forth.

Managers have adopted BI as an aid in decision-making. How much should we charge for a new product or service? Let’s look at sales and competitive data for some ideas. Should we invest in new equipment? Let’s run some visualizations of our maintenance cost trends. Often, the value in BI comes from the ability to study seemingly unrelated data sets in a single visual model. For example, charting equipment maintenance costs trends against customer complaint trends might reveal a correlation (possibly a connection) between equipment breakdowns and unhappy customers.

Learn more in our guide: 5 Key Considerations When Implementing a Modern BI

Microsoft Power BI

Power BI is Microsoft’s business analytics suite. It provides interactive visualizations, along with business intelligence capabilities through an intuitive interface. It’s designed for end users, people who are not expected to have any data analytics or coding skills. They can use Power BI to create reports and dashboards from business data.

Power BI is available as a cloud-based service as well as through a desktop application. The software offers data warehouse capabilities. These include features for data preparation and data discovery. The Power BI toolset has been well-received in the industry. Gartner confirmed Microsoft as Leader in the “2019 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platform” due to the strength of the Power BI platform. The company has been a leader in this category for 12 years in a row.

The full Power BI ecosystem is quite extensive. Key elements include:

  • Power BI Desktop – Windows-desktop-based application for PCs
  • Power BI Service – Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)-based online service. This was previously known as Power BI for Office 365.
  • Power BI Mobile Apps – Apps for Android and iOS devices
  • Power BI Gateway – Solution for synching external data to Power BI, e.g. financial market data streams.
  • Power BI Embedded – REST API for building dashboards and reports into other applications
  • Power BI Report Server – On-Premises reporting solution for businesses that don’t want to store data in the cloud.
  • Power BI Visuals Marketplace – Marketplace of custom visuals for Power BI users.

Interested in learning whether Power BI is right for your business? You don’t have to be big to afford it now. It’s easy to use, though there can be some setup and thinking involved in getting it right for your specific needs. At MIBAR, we understand the value of powerful BI software, and know the role it provides in improving your decision making while growing your business. Click here to learn more.

Additional Business Intelligence Resources

Business Intelligence Solutions for the Modern Organization

Getting Proactive with Data Analytics

How to Maximize Your Potential with Big Data

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