How the market sees Power BI?
Microsoft describes PowerBI as a suite of business analytics tools that enables customers to analyse data, gain insight by monitoring business data and transforming that data into rich dashboards, available on any device and ready to be collected and organised in whatever way required. The recent report from MSDynamicsWorld stated that only 13.5% of customers reported using PowerBI; however of key significance is that nearly 45% report that they are investigating it or plan to in the future.
Personally, over and above recent functional improvements, PowerBI has a key strength, it is Microsoft. So now customers can have a solution that is built on SQL server and utilise Power BI, sold in conjunction with the Microsoft ERP and be a 100% Microsoft solution, end-to-end. This offers a real threat to those report writers and dashboards that are not Microsoft through and through.
The same MSDynamicsWorld report stated that now 70% of partners would work with PowerBI and since the report also ranked the importance of reporting and analytics as the number one issue facing ERP projects, I believe the steam train is on the track and rolling.
So what’s new?
The changes to PowerBI over the last 6 months have made it a very real contender and frankly should be considered as an integral component in any BI project. Firstly it now supports cubes so customers can apply security criteria to the exchange and use of any data that sits within an organisation’s on premise solution. Also the changes have a focus on accessibility and an improved UI to make it more user-friendly to build reports and custom charts and in fact it now closely resembles Excel which improves its usability and acceptability to accountants.
Looking at PowerBI in the light of your BI project it forms a valuable component in streamlining the analysis and reporting so that information can be portrayed as actionable intelligence, not just data.
So where does the “data warehouse” fit?
Also built with Microsoft at the core is the PrecisionPoint data warehouse which is still essential in this scenario to enable access to the historical and legacy data. How else will customers be able to perform “year on year” comparisons or trend analysis? Without a data warehouse customers are limited to reporting on current operational information alone which offers a real barrier to decision-making without the incorporation and management of historical transactional data. Power BI will only report on what is held within the ERP and so a data warehouse is essential to spot trends and do real analysis, be that for sales, marketing, finance, inventory management, customer service, or other areas. Is Power BI enough?
And how a partner feels about this?
John Horner from Armanino said: “We provide a buyer’s guide for ERP customers who incorporates a fully integrated, packaged BI solution called Dynamic Insights. This includes a data warehouse for pooling the data and Power BI for releasing that data in the form of analytics and insight – so an integrated solution for Microsoft Dynamics.”
John continued; “Dynamics customers will often meet limitations in reporting with “out-of-the-box” ERP capabilities as invariably they need to incorporate legacy data for Year on Year comparative reports or integrate CRM data to give a 360 view of sales. We offer our customers a Dynamic Insights solution that removes these restrictions and we include our solution from the start as part of the initial ERP strategy, so our customers have a modern data and analytics strategy from the outset.”