5 October 2022

Power BI and ROI: how to get more value from your data

Power BI and ROI: how to get more value from your data

Traditional business intelligence (BI) systems have long been the cornerstone of data-driven enterprises. However, new tools such as self-service analytics and data discovery platforms are penetrating the market fast.

These newer technologies are helping organisations like yours get more value from their data and accelerate insights. And Power BI is one of the most widely adopted self-service BI tools in the market right now.

Data mining for all

Power BI is Microsoft’s cloud-based business intelligence tool for analysing and visualising raw data to share insights in actionable formats. It combines business analytics and data visualisation tools to let your users create dashboards, visualise data, create reports, and export insights across your organisation.

Giving your users self-service analytics or a data discovery tool makes sense if you want more value from your data.

And Power BI is one of the market’s most widely adopted self-service BI tools. After connecting to your data sources, these self-service features make it easy for your users to explore datasets and generate the reports you need to make informed decisions.

Gartner has confirmed Microsoft as a “Leader” in the 2022 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platform, purely due to the completeness of vision and the capability of the technology of the Power BI platform.

There are many reasons why organisations are moving away from ad-hoc BI solutions and some of the more rigid and costly platforms.

First, workarounds are rarely as efficient as purpose-built solutions. Exporting database entries into a spreadsheet to make a table that gets turned into a chart that gets exported into a slideshow presentation isn’t just a long sentence – it’s a long process. It uses no less than three programs (which your teams have to know how to use) and takes a fair amount of time. Contrasting this with a setup that automates data discovery, visualisation, and publishing, there’s no real contest. And this isn’t even to mention the various informational and security concerns related to using organisational data across multiple systems.

Second, there’s the question of return on investment. Informational insights are only valuable if the processes used to uncover them deliver more resources than they use. And it’s not just the capital cost of the platform – it’s also the time taken by your users that needs to be factored into the equation.

Third, at the time of writing, there is a free option of Power BI available that offers limited connectors and updates. While not as complete as the full versions, this option lets organisations like yours play around with Power BI’s capabilities before committing to an ongoing paid subscription. Also, if your organisation is currently paying for the Microsoft 365 “E5” license, then you may already have access to Power BI without needing any additional licensing.

Why use Power BI?
  • Data democratisation – Power BI is an enterprise-wide solution that lets users share insights across your organisation, enabling better transparency. It allows all employees to get value from their data and create custom reports. This opportunity makes it easier for all teams to make data-driven decisions and drive value from their insights.
  • Eliminate silos – Another key benefit of using Power BI is that it helps eliminate silos and improves collaboration across your organisation. You can connect to a wide range of data sources with Power BI. These include popular tools such as Google Analytics, Salesforce, Oracle, Excel, Azure SQL Database and more. This benefit makes it easier for teams to collaborate and get value from their data.
  • Get insights faster – Power BI helps organisations get insights faster. Users can easily create visuals and dashboards, speeding up the decision-making process. This outcome stems from the self-service functionality, making it easier for everyone in the company to get value from their data.
  • Access Power BI reports on any device, anywhere – With remote work becoming more widespread, it’s important that decision-makers can securely access the information they need from anywhere using any device. Power BI lets you do this – all you need is an internet connection to view finished reports on your laptop, tablet, or mobile devices.
  • Enable real-time insights – With the right licensing and setup, Power BI can display dashboards populated with business data drawn directly from internal sources. You can set up these dashboards to refresh information as frequently as required. This eliminates the need for ad-hoc systems which may require the manual manipulation of spreadsheet data, slowing down the time to display.
How to get value from Power BI?

Now that you know what Power BI is and why you should use it, let’s explore how to get value from it in more detail.

  • Help users get familiar with Power BI features – Before you can get value out of Power BI, you need to get acquainted with the different components. This step is essential if your users are new to this tool, as it leans heavily towards self-service functionality. The sample data sets are of great use in this step, allowing users to understand the activities involved and checking their results against a known outcome. Helping users understand and appreciate how it operates will enable them to explore data freely, driving adoption and efficiency.
  • Connect to your data sources – Once your users are comfortable with the features, it’s time to connect to your data sources. This step is where you’ll start generating value from Power BI. You can link to many different sources such as Google Analytics, Salesforce, Oracle, Excel, Azure SQL Database and more. Once you connect to these data sources, users can start exploring and visualising the data.
  • Start sharing insights – There’s little point in delivering a new BI system if your users cannot collaborate and share the results. With Power BI, the heavy lifting is taken care of, with intuitive production, branding, logos, and sharing capabilities baked straight into the platform. Insights can be shared directly through shared dashboards or published through a wide range of file formats.
Limitations of Power BI

While Power BI is an excellent tool, it does have its limitations.

The first is that it’s a cloud-based solution and requires internet connectivity to work. If your organisation has limited or poor internet connectivity, you won’t be able to use Power BI. You may want to consult with a networking professional to understand the current state of your IT environment before rolling out any BI solution.

The second limitation is that Power BI is a self-service analytics tool. While this makes it easier for everyone in the company to get value from their data, it also brings challenges. Different teams could potentially use the same data in different ways, creating potentially conflicting reports. To avoid this issue, you must put the proper governance and security measures in place. This step will ensure that your data is used consistently across your organisation.

Lastly, Power BI is a SaaS solution, meaning that it has ongoing costs. While these costs are usually considered operational expenses that reduce a capital outlay, the ongoing nature of the expense needs to be factored into any budgeting considerations concerning business intelligence planning.

It’s all about the data

Power BI offers a flexible self-service cloud solution when it comes to generating a return on your business’ data. With its low CapEx outlay and streamlined discovery and collaboration features, Power BI makes an excellent alternative to many traditional and ad-hoc business intelligence processes.

But finding a way to get value from your data starts with what your organisation already has on hand. In short, it all comes down to the company’s data. Everyone loves the idea of Power BI enabling insights and streamlining the decision-making processes. Still, the fact remains that there is potentially a lot of work involved in making sure that the data going into the platform is relevant, clean, and accurate.