The following post is from Quentin Clark, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Data Platform Group. Published on February 10, 2014: Link
On Monday we announced that Power BI for Office 365 – our self-service business intelligence solution designed for everyone – is generally available. Power BI empowers all kinds of business users to find relevant information, pull data from Windows Azure and other sources, and prepare compelling business intelligence models for analysis, visualization, and collaboration.
Modernizing business intelligence
Today business intelligence is only used by a fraction of the people that could derive value from it. What we all need is modernized business intelligence which will help everyone get the information they need to understand their job or personal life better. Not just the type of information gained from an Internet search, but also information from expert sources. Now imagine you could bring together these different information sources, discover relationships between facets of information, create new insights and understand your world better. And that you could get others to see what you see, and enable them to collaborate and build on one another’s ideas. And imagine that available on any scale of data and any kinds of computation you might need. Now imagine it’s not just you – but that anyone can access this kind of data-driven discovery and learning.
Power BI brings together many key aspects of the modernization of business intelligence: a public and corporate catalog of data sets and BI models, a way to search for data, a modern app and a Web-first experience, rich interactive visualizations, collaboration capabilities, tools for IT to govern data and models, and a groundbreaking natural language experience for exploring insights. Together, these capabilities will not just change the kinds of insights we can gain from data, but change the reach of those insights as well.
Bringing big data to a billion users
With Power BI, we have the opportunity to bring these types of data insights to a billion people. Office 365 is broadly adopted and growing – one in four of our enterprise customers now has Office 365. By making our business intelligence features part of Office, we ensure the tools are accessible, and through Office 365, we make the tools easy to adopt – not just the ease of using Web applications, but making things like collaboration, security, data discovery and exploration integrated and turnkey.
I talked earlier about the importance of reach, and one of the ultimate forms of reach we discovered over the course of developing Power BI has been a feature we named Q&A, which allows anyone to type in search terms – just as they would in Bing – and get instantaneous, visual results in the form of interactive charts or graphs.
Realizing value from data
I personally know how significant this all is – as you can imagine, at Microsoft we run our business on our own data platform and on Power BI. In my role as head of our data platform group, I don’t create a lot of models, but I consume a lot of them – everything from the business financials of the SQL Server business and team management to our engineering and services datasets. My mobile business intelligence application for Windows 8 allows me to interact with our daily engineering data. The ability to visualize and interact with data on my large PPI screen allows me and my finance and marketing partners to meet in my office and have a deep conversation about the business. Collaboration through Office 365 and SharePoint Online allows me to share perspective with my peers around the company.
Power BI for Office 365 has empowered me to realize deeper value from data. I’m excited to share this power with everyone.