BUSINESS IMPACT

Dec 10, 2019

Insights For All with Azure Synapse Analytics: DW and Power BI

Sawyer Nyquist Posted by Sawyer Nyquist

The key to building a data driven culture: Timely insights

As digital transformation in business continues, data storage and analytics are becoming increasingly critical to growth in any industry. A data-driven culture, one which enables data-driven transformation, starts with considering how to unlock data trapped in divisional and system data silos, how to ensure data privacy and security, and how to deliver insights cost-effectively and with ease. At BlueGranite we believe that kind of data storage and analytics should be available to all, and digital transformation should be within reach for any company willing to invest in its data. Microsoft's newly announced Azure Synapse Analytics offers limitless analytics through integrating data warehousing, data storage, data engineering, data transformation, Machine Learning modeling, and business intelligence solutions. There is too much in Azure Synapse to explore in one blog post, so today let's just focus on dynamic duo of Data Warehousing and Power BI. Power BI gives users the ability to deliver insights, by creating interactive visualizations from the data gathered, sorted, and stored in a data warehouse. Having these two capabilities under one roof in Azure Synapse give you potential to transform your business through data.

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“The biggest barriers aren’t related to technology; they’re all the other issues surrounding the transformation, from being a traditional legacy business to becoming a data-driven organization,”
-Randy Bean, CEO at NewVantage Partners.

Microsoft's Azure Synapse Analytics wide-ranging services leads to fewer bottlenecks and better business outcomes over time. According to a Harvard Business Review Analytics Services pulse analytics strategies survey, 91% of global executives say effective data and analytics tactics are essential for business transformation; 55% of organizations say data silos and data management difficulties are the biggest challenges to these strategies; and 51% of executives rank self-service analytics for business users at the top of their investment priorities.

Here’s why you should consider Power BI and data warehousing in Azure Synapse Analytics to drive transformative change.

Improved Analytics Deliver Tangible Business Benefits

Better, more timely analysis allows for stronger decision-making and improved outcomes. Data warehousing and Power BI drive data analysis leading to increased revenues, decreased operations and supply chain costs, and faster entry into new markets. These tools also allow both IT staff and business users to be more productive, by spending less time wrangling data and more time analyzing it and planning accordingly.

"The average time savings is 1.75 hours per week. The total risk-adjusted cost savings in effort over three years is $4.9 million." -Forrester Consulting’s Total Economic Impact of Microsoft Analytics study, commissioned by Microsoft.

Cost Effective Solutions

On-premise infrastructure has a high cost in terms of both money and effort. In the past, data analytics solutions have often cost companies more than they were willing to invest for implementation and maintenance. Azure Synapse Analytics with Power BI has both a lower risk and lower monetary cost for implementation, deployment, and maintenance. By moving to Azure for warehousing, storage and compute, an applications manager in the retail pharmacy industry said the "TCO (total cost of ownership) has been cut in half and our performance is three times faster. That comes out to six times improvement in performance per dollar."

Empower Users

A move to Azure Synapse Analytics with its BI and data warehousing offerings, puts data in the hands of more users, giving them the ability to create their own analyses and valuable reports, increasing the speed of change, and business outcomes. Power BI’s dynamic capabilities empower users to share data – to which they have secure, organized access – in a rich and meaningful way.

In the survey referenced above, Forrester Consulting interviewed four Microsoft customers who use Azure Analytics and Power BI solutions, as well as 364 companies currently using a mix of Microsoft Azure and Power BI. Every company interviewed reported improved analytics since moving to Microsoft, and all were pleased with the ease of integrating data sources and the increase in performance. Surveyed companies also saw improved data democratization (the process of making data available to those who need it, rather than just analysts) and results that led to meaningful improvements in overall company performance.  

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Increased Flexibility 

The wide array of capabilities across Azure Synapse Analytics often lead to added business benefits outside those that drove the initial adoption. Once these solutions are in place, organizations find it easy to add additional data sources or initiate new analytics projects. As new Azure features are released they can be incorporated into the ever-advancing tool set, increasing capabilities as technology progresses. Leveraging Azure for analytics also enables  artificial intelligence and machine learning opportunities!

Security and Privacy 

Azure is known for being the most secure cloud for analytics. Donald Farmer, a well-respected thought leader in the data industry, said the Azure platform "offers by far the most comprehensive set of compliance and security capabilities of any cloud data warehouse provider." Microsoft has also recently added Dynamic Data Masking, which limits sensitive data exposure by masking it to non-privileged users, and Data Discovery and Classification, which classifies, labels, and further protects data, to automatically help protect sensitive data, further enhancing data security and privacy. 

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Taken together, Azure Synapse with Power BI provides a best-in-class platform for all aspects of the Modern Data Warehouse:
  • The security and flexibility of Azure data warehousing automatically scales up and down to meet your needs with the best cost/performance measurement on the market
  • Enterprise-grade Spark and SQL engines give you powerful processing solutions across a full range of use cases
  • Power BI’s visually rich business analytics capabilities securely deliver custom insights to the right audience, in the right format, on any data

Insight from BlueGranite's COO:

Erik RollErik RollThese days, a lot of attention is being paid to data growth, and rightly so. By 2025, IDC predicts we will have more than quadrupled the amount of data in existence from 33 ZBs to 175 ZB since 2018! And technology has broadly risen to the challenge with scalable cloud solutions like Azure that put price, performance, and scale into an attractive and manageable service. However, an area that I increasingly like to focus upon is highlighted by playing on the words "data growth". Sure data growth is impressive, but the growth of data as an asset, in terms of who pays attention to it and leverages it, may be just as significant.

Looking back over my own career in data and analytics, the shift in awareness and understanding of the domain has been flat out amazing. Even as data sources and types evolve and grow, the number of jobs, roles, and activities that incorporate data to drive better performance has exploded as well. That same IDC report states: "By 2025, 75% of the world’s population will have at least one data interaction every 18 seconds". That's amazing. These days, jobs in almost every corner of every sector are collecting and analyzing data in order to be more productive, more competitive, and more efficient. The benefits of pairing scalable data storage & management technology with an intuitive and user-friendly interface for all data consumers simply cannot be overstated.


Azure Synapse Analytics with Power BI unlock performance advancements, security, and insights for businesses, and help to develop a data-driven culture that will propel an organization forward and foster transformational growth.  For more information on Azure, Power BI, or advancing the digital transformation of your company, contact BlueGranite today. 

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Sawyer Nyquist

About The Author

Sawyer Nyquist

Sawyer is a Solution Consultant at BlueGranite. He has over 5 years of experience in data reporting development and experience building and implementing business intelligence solutions. Sawyer holds a Bachelors of Arts from Moody Bible College as well as a Masters of Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. He has extensive experience in financial forecasting, small business consulting, Power BI and Oracle SQL.

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