Thursday, July 11, 2013

Office 365 Power BI Announcement


There was a really exciting new announcements made this week by Microsoft for Office 365. This week they announced Power BI for Office 365. This is a huge leap forward to self-service BI. This is something I talk with a lot of people about. Organizations know Excel, and with Excel Service you can create powerful dynamic reports and dashboards in the same tools that organizations have expertise in.

The Office 365 BI Power tools

If you know SharePoint Online, you know there is Excel Services which provide a powerful BI capability today. Additionally today you may know about Power Pivot and Power View. New additions are Power Query and Power Map.

  • Power Query – is a new capability which allows people to easily search and access data that may reside publically or within their organization with Excel.


  • Power Map – is a new visualization tool that good for mapping, exploring and interacting with data.


  • Power Pivot – is a solution in Excel to build complex data models. This supports the ability to in-memory analytics and modeling against large volumes of data.


  • Power View – is a powerful solution in Excel to build interactive charts, graphs, KPIs, etc.


Together these tools can be brought together build a BI experience right in Office 365.

But there is more…

Wait, there is more exciting stuff here.

  • New Refreshing you data – This is long been a discussion topic I have had with organizations reviewing Office 365. Up to this point, Excel Services in SharePoint Online work great but it only has the ability to work with data in the Excel spreadsheet itself. There were some creative solutions out there to fresh your Excel spreadsheets with data in SharePoint Online ( Now there will be a new capability that will use the Data Management Gateway which allows you to refresh data. This is super EXCITING! Now you can have Excel Services running in the cloud that securely access your line of business data repositories.


  • New BI Sites – There have been dashboard and reporting site templates around for a while now. With this new release of Power BI, there will be a new site template available to support these activities. The really cool thing this does is allows you to centrally manage your reports and data connections. You can then re-use these data connections across reports. Remember you can still add in other SharePoint capabilities to create dashboard that incorporate social, content and business processes.


  • New Natural Language Query capability – There is a new natural language capability is available that will allow every data end users to enter statements and then query the reports, without having to use a bunch of fields and controls. This is really interesting as it will allow end users to go in and discover data without having to engage a developer.


  • Easy to Access – Additionally these new Power BI solutions will be available through apps and browser to allow users access to the reports regardless of the device they are using.


Commitment to the Evergreen Service

This is yet again another example of how Office 365 makes good on its commitment to being an Evergreen Service. I speak with organizations about this all the time. You do not have to wait for a major release to get new features and capabilities. With the Office 365 cloud, organizations can get new capabilities quickly and start seeing immediate returns on their cloud investment.


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