Home SharePoint Microsoft Self-Service BI in the Cloud

With the recent announcement of the General Availability of Power BI for Office 365, Microsoft’s Self-Service Business Intelligence (BI) offering in the cloud, we thought a new series on the topic was in order. In this post, we’ll look at the concept of Self-Service BI, as well as Microsoft’s vision of enabling the information worker.

Self-Service BI
The resources and tools commonly used to provide analytical data for decision makers are typically owned and maintained by IT. These tools can be difficult to manage, and time-consuming to produce actionable reports, even for the simplest of BI requests. Self-Service BI aims to strike a balance between the needs of the business (rapid access to information) and that of IT (governance and control of data).

Gartner defines Self-Service BI as “end users designing and deploying their own reports and analyses within an approved and supported architecture and tools portfolio.” The key here is to provide the managedMicrosoft Self-Service BI infrastructure that empowers Information Workers, IT Pros and Data Stewards in order to quickly:

  • Discover data from internal and external sources using familiar processes
  • Transform and Mash up the data with other sources to create meaningful, action-provoking reports
  • Analyze data in various dimensions to Visualize hidden insights out of chunks of data
  • Allow them to easily Share insights with others

Gartner asserts that “by 2015, organizations integrating high-value, diverse, new information types and sources into a coherent information management infrastructure will outperform their industry peers financially by more than 20%.” McKinsey agrees, confirming that organizations that use data and business analytics to drive decision-making are more productive and deliver higher return on equity than those who don’t.

Power BI for Office 365
Microsoft Power BI for Office 365 is a self-service business intelligence (BI) solution, delivered through Excel and Office 365, providing information workers with data analysis and visualization capabilities to identify deeper business insights on-premises or within a trusted cloud environment. With Power BI for Office 365, customers can connect to data in the cloud, or extend their existing on-premises data sources and systems to quickly build and deploy self-service BI solutions hosted in Microsoft’s enterprise cloud.

Self-Service BI

But what is it really? Power BI isn’t a single feature, but an array of Excel 2013 capabilities combined with the power of Office 365 applications. On the Excel 2013 client side, Power BI is surfaced through the Power Query, Power Pivot, Power View, and Power Map capabilities. Within the Office 365 cloud, Power BI components are extended via Power BI Sites. Together, Microsoft has created a self-service experience that the end-user can quickly leverage to get the insights they need.

Want to experience Power BI for yourself? Microsoft is offering a free trial of Power BI on Office 365. Check out this link to sign up and to get additional information. Stay tuned for future posts, where we’ll look at the individual capabilities provided within Excel 2013 and Power BI Sites on Office 365.

When it comes to SharePoint Architecture and Administration, Matt is the go-to guy for creating the large enterprise SharePoint farms that power collaboration tools. As Tahoe's team lead at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, he supports more than 40,000 users across the country; as a live music fan, he has attended at least that many festivals and concerts. (Not really, but close.)
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