BUSINESS INSIGHTS

Feb 12, 2014

Power of Business Intelligence Unlocked in Microsoft Office 365

Matthew Mace Posted by Matthew Mace

New functionality, knowledge of Excel allow employees to finally leverage BI

Your head of marketing desperately needs access to your CRM, your finances and all the customer service information she can get her hands on so she can make her department more relevant and deliver sales qualified leads to your salesforce. Only all the data from those systems is hard to get because much of it is locked in silos she can't access.brands 3D tour video thumb

Your sales team has the same problem – they want access to critical company information that they can't access from the field, or even their desktop. Every department head knows that the company has data they could use to make proactive decisions, data that when analyzed would move the company incrementally ahead of the competition.

“By 2015 businesses that build a modern information management system will outperform their peers financially by 20 percent,” according to Gartner. During a time of increased competition, that's a large margin. But for many business users, driving the company forward based upon insights into their own customers is nothing but a dream, and a frustration.  Many realize they can't access the data they need, let alone analyze it to generate significant insights.

This lack of data access isn't just a problem at enterprise companies. Small and medium sized companies also need to make proactive decisions based upon customer wants and needs. Companies need to make it simple for all departments —not just IT or the data analytics team—to analyze, visualize, and understand shifts in customer behavior and gain industry insights to drive the business forward. And they should get the data without having to learn new skills or software.

Many business intelligence installations have failed, and most because IT did not provide easy-to-use tools for business users. They've built systems no one wants to use because they are too complicated and don't deliver the reports they need.

Introducing Power BI, part of Microsoft Excel 2013, Office 365

But now, with new functionality in Microsoft Excel 2013 and Office 365, you have a complete platform for BI solutions and services, a platform that your employees are familiar with and know well.

Power BI finally lets companies open the floodgates of data to every corner of the organization, allowing them to manipulate and study a variety of data points, gain actionable insights, and share their insights.

PowerPivot, Power View, Power Query, Power Map and Power BI Sites let users analyze and make decisions using structured and unstructured data. Employees can use data residing on-premise in the data center or from cloud-based servers so they don't have to download mountains of data to their desktops and tie up bandwidth.

Leverage Power BI Using a Tool You Already Have 

 The Power BI capabilities built into Excel gives business users the power to work with data in ways they couldn't before.  They can now share and certify Power BI queries, which are extremely important functions.

Shared queries save self-service BI users a lot of time and allow users to work with accurate data, both of which drive success of the Power BI platform in a company.  In addition, the management, data governance, and data stewardship capabilities bridge the gap between Self-Service and Corporate BI.

Power BI Finally Democratizes the Big Data Paradigm

For several years, technology partners have focused on helping clients create centralized, IT-led Business Intelligence solutions at corporate, department and team levels. 

Today the market is shifting.  Companies not only want to dive into their own customer and financial data but they also want to analyze and incorporate non-traditional unstructured sources from the web, social media, email, documents, and mobile devices.

Now, clients use Big Data analytics to address a variety of business challenges, including optimizing digital marketing, detecting and preventing fraud, and analyzing social networking relationships. Companies are adding rapidly growing amounts of data that they want to analyze in real-time. They can't wait weeks or months for IT to deliver reports. They want to act quickly, and need to do so based upon new insights.

We now help clients implement a Modern Data Platform that supports self-service reporting and analytics.  We help clients leverage data of all kinds, no matter where it is located, while giving departments and teams the freedom they demand for self-service exploration and creativity. In real-time, we help build systems that put meaningful data into employee's hands.

The New Role of the Cloud in Big Data

 We help departments and teams get up and running with rich data visualization tools like Power View and Power Maps within the Power BI platform, on top of self-service data preparation, data cleansing, and modeling with Power Pivot and Power Query. What does that look like?

A financial service marketing team was trying to analyze website traffic and social media interactions with a manual process that wasted a lot of their time. We used Power BI tools, including Power Pivot and Power View, to build a cloud-based data solution that automated many of the collection processes, and then cleanses, models and visualizes the data.

The marketing team receives analytics scores for customer sentiment data along with website traffic, which helps them determine the success or failure of their marketing programs.  The marketers also can compare marketing results to a customer points program to understand how different marketing programs affect customer spending with these loyalty programs.  With this information, the marketers are more productive and are able to increase marketing ROI.

With the new Power BI functionality included in Excel and Office 365, companies can finally give all employees access to the data they've been clamoring for over the past several years. As a result, not only will companies see increased revenues based upon new insights employees uncover, but the IT department will have time to focus on strategic issues, not running reports or troubleshooting data discrepancies.

Is your organization deploying Microsoft Power BI?

BlueGranite offers hands-on, instructor-led training at your facility to help both business and IT teams adopt Microsoft Power BI for self-service business intelligence and analytics. Up to ten attendees will receive expert-led guidance through a complete set of hands-on labs and training modules. After the training, attendees will be able to acquire data, build data models, and create visualizations quickly and easily with Microsoft Power BI.  Click here to learn more.

 

[1] Gartner Report: Market Insight: Technology Opens Up Opportunities in SMB Vertical Markets September 6, 2012 by Christine Arcaris, Jeffrey Roster.

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Matthew Mace

About The Author

Matthew Mace

Matt is the CEO of BlueGranite. He has nearly two decades of experience helping clients create competitive advantages through sophisticated business analytics. A Top 40 Business Leader Under 40 for West Michigan, Matt is a graduate of Western Michigan University and earned his MBA from the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.

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