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What is Microsoft Power BI and why should you be using it?

In this episode, Lancom's Technical Director, Imran Sadiq, answers the most pressing questions about Power BI covering the basics and the befits it provides to businesses and individuals. Hit play!



Transcription:


Priscila

Hi guys, welcome back to Lancom TV. I'm sitting here with Imran. Hi Imran!

Imran

Hello

Priscila

Imran is a well-known Lancom TV guest.

Imran

Because of Priscila

Priscila

Yeah, I keep inviting him to come back. So today, we're going to talk about Power BI. Why does your business need it? How does it help your business? What's the path to get going? So without any further ado, because we don't need introductions for Imran, first question is, so what's Power BI in the first place, I guess, just to kind of clear the bases?

Imran

So, it is a business analytics tool. I think the good thing about Power BI is you can think of, if I've got to the very basics, would be Excel on steroids, and having a lot of visuals, and dashboarding, and charting in there. A good thing about Power BI is that it's not only getting data from your normal Excel files and CSVs, but it can actually ingest data from a lot of different sources.

Priscila

So I'm assuming it has API connections, that it can connect to other different sources, is that what… yeah?

Imran

The list of sources which Power BI can connect or they have something called "Power BI Connector" is endless, so you have access to all of your main line of business applications. Even if you don't have a Power BI Connector, you can always connect that using API or even over the web with an HTTP import. And at the core of it, the basic things that we normally get all of our data exported into like CSV and Excel files, all those things are built in and can be ingested directly into Power BI.

Priscila

Fantastic, so that clears the basics for us. So, I guess, there has been a shift in businesses, right, Imran, where we're going from, "I don't want to know about what happened yesterday, or today. I don't want to know about what happened last month, the month after. I want to kind of get that information on the fly as I am talking to customers, as I'm getting, you know, my team to kind of produce that information for me. I kind of want to be flagged as the events happen."

Imran

Yeah.

Priscila

And obviously that gives away one of the use cases of Power BI. So my next question is around, how is Power BI helping businesses to kind of transition from what once has been mainly Excel-based reporting, and potentially other sources as well, into this new, beautiful visualization, kind of, tool?

Imran

As you put nicely, it's about now what you're doing in the business now, not what happened yesterday, and also what's going to happen in the next few days as well. So the predictability and that field intelligence and the machine learning as well, that's another part of Power BI. So, just to answer your question in terms of what you can ingest now, that's a good thing about Power BI. It's live dashboarding, it's a live business analytics tool.

 

Priscila

Yes

Imran

It can not only get data that you would have exported from last night into it, but it can actually connect live link to your databases and also allows you to stream content into Power BI as well. So you could potentially host it in a web version and connect it to your on-premise SQL database. It can pick up live transactions that are happening in the database and pull it and show it to you in a very nice visual dashboarding which is interactive as well. It's not just about looking at the figures, it's more about you can drill down to it, you can filter it.

Priscila

So you can really understand the pattern of what's happening, right, rather than just looking at a static, kind of, number?

Imran

Exactly

Priscila

Which is, I guess, a traditional Excel sort of style of reporting. Interesting.

Imran

It is very interactive and relative as well, so if you have five or different dashboards, or five or different graphs setup on your Power BI, if you're selecting one value on one of them, everything else would change accordingly. So you have a really in-depth view of what's happening with not just the data you're looking at or not just the graph that you're looking at, but the rest of the components which relate to it as well, and that's something that is very, very powerful.

Priscila

Is it hard to get going? How does it, you know, work to get a Power BI dashboard working for an organization?

Imran

Look, I mean, if you have an existing reporting and data that you're doing, it's really straightforward to convert that into Power BI. As I mentioned, it has tons of connectors, and it can ingest data from a lot of places, so anything that you had that you're exporting data from, your line of business applications where you're getting data from...

Priscila

Your accounting packages...

Imran

…or your vendor, anywhere, you just throw it in there, and it takes like 5, 10 minutes for you to show the data in Power BI. It has some really built-in guides for you to actually go through and create your first dashboard itself.

Priscila

Or you can get experts to help create that logic as well.

Imran

Exactly

Priscila

Lastly, are there any sort of common scenarios where you are seeing business really after taking Power BI and transitioning from what they were potentially using in the past and adopting that model?

Imran

For all the reporting that normally used to happen, for example, everything which is built into, for example, Excel files, as we see traditional people who would be actually creating graphs or very complex Excel reporting, that is where Power BI, we see, is thriving because that can now not only be done in a live manner, but it can actually be shared across your department and your organization as well. So you're not passing the actual Excel file or the graphs around the company, you have one central location where anyone can just log in and see that.

Priscila

People can just log in and see it. So the likes of management reports, the likes of your sale reports, marketing reports, HR reports, I guess any report that you once produced using different sources, or you were collecting data from different sources to be able to compile that report, it can pretty much talk to a number of different sources, is that right?

Imran

Yeah, exactly, and, look, I mean, different markets who will require access to those reports not only just inside the office...

Priscila

Yeah, customers...

Imran

… but outside the office as well. Yeah. That's a good thing about Power BI, it is very compatible with not only on your computer, but it is available on web-based as well as mobile. We have a mobile app that you can use while you are on the move, have, you know, an iPad and iOS applications as well that you can access it remotely and see what's going on so you don't have to actually come back to see in the office, to see what your customer is asking for is there. So while you're at the customer site, you can get that information straight away.

Priscila

And the beauty of it is it interacts with your Office 365 package and, I guess, it doesn't cost you an arm and a leg to get going. I'm inspired, I'm going to go and give Power BI a try. Thank you so much for joining us today, Imran, and see you next time, guys.

Imran

See you guys, Bye.

Priscila

Bye-bye

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