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Next-gen Power BI brings analytics to business users

Picture: Microsoft PowerBI Blog

On 24 July Microsoft’s new version of its Power BI cloud-hosted self-service business intelligence and analytics offering becomes generally available. Business users can now explore data, set up dashboards and publish reports in a few minutes without needing the help of analysts, IT or other middlemen to set up or model the data.

The standalone Power BI product, formerly an Office 365 tool, comes with Power BI Desktop (formerly Power BI Designer) to pool and process data from different sources. There’s a free version and a pro option that costs about R125 ($9.99) per user per month.

The most significant advantages of this new version include easier sharing and collaboration across multiple devices. e-magination’s top 3 features are:

  1. The local connectors to Excel workbooks that easily pulls on-site data into the cloud to create dashboards and interactive reports, without you first having to upload any data. This is incredible because you don’t have to manage a complicated process anymore to get data online.
  2. An added benefit is the ability to share documents and dashboards with everyone else and invite them onto the platform to collaborate.
  3. The other big advantage is the availability of new native Power BI Mobile Apps for iPhone, iPad, Android and Windows that make it possible to share insights and collaborate on any mobile device so staff can immediately act on data.

If you have a very slow network or branch offices that don’t share infrastructure, helps sync data to an online platform supported by massive data centres. With a basic 3G connection you can filter, slice and dice data and only view the updated portion. When you’re out on the road you can access the latest information via mobile.

Power BI has removed a lot of barriers to data analytics. The cloud augmentations now also makes it virtually free for a business to deploy data online. As your needs mature, Microsoft’s various platforms offer scalable technology for every stage of your data lifecycle.

So launch a pilot project today with scaled-down, simple data to build your skills. Just sign up at, upload an Excel workbook and start building dashboards – it’s no harder than using Excel. Microsoft also has some great guides and resources to get you up running.

Explore the product and see how easy it is. If you do encounter a difficult problem, give us a call and we can engage.