Today I wanted to write a blog post about one of my favorite and most underutilised applications of the Microsoft Office 365 family, Microsoft PowerBI.
This application pulls out and visualises data from many different sources. So if you have an application that has a heap of data in SQL or Excel, it pulls that data and graphically visualises it, giving you the option to present it in different ways. The data could be presented in a webpage, shared in a group, or shared externally and all of the data is live.
Live, engaging data used to not be possible, the closest option was Excel pie graphs or another form of graphs and charts, but it was very flat, unengaging, and would not update in real-time. Back them, you had to share the Excel file and it remained static; But with PowerBI, the data is now live on a website or mobile app so you’re able to see the most up to date data in the exact moment.
This live data is extremely beneficial if you’re presenting at a meeting so you don’t have to pull and try to visualise the data right before to have the most accurate figures, now it’s done for you automatically. It also gives you the ability to check the data really quickly to see the figures right now as they are, which is great at night if you have a global sales team, for example.
PowerBI is accessible and easy to use
I’m not really an analytics person. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind math and figures but I’m simply not a numbers person, and when the numbers are flat it’s difficult for me to get excited over financial figures. Why I do care about data being visually represented? It’s engaging, and also makes it easier to make decisions on that data.
Here are some of my favorite real-world examples of PowerBI
Agile Analytics – Automotive Dealer Insights:
In a recent Microsoft case study, a leading automotive dealer was struggling with static data. As this industry is very fast-paced, the static data was hindering the salespeople to make “what if” analyses and decisions, and was leading to inaccurate forecasting.
They created a deals dashboard via Microsoft PowerBI. The solution was created “to lift the overall performance of the company’s dealer network. By comparing dealer performance and forecasting end of month results daily, the company could identify trends and issues across the group and act to change the outcome.”
It was also especially helpful that these dashboards were available via mobile, as half the workforce only had access to their mobile devices.
I particularly like this example, as the visuals are very well presented and easy to read. It’s also important to note that these visuals are all customisable.
The sales team were also able to measure performance and customer satisfaction:
Agile Analytics – Healthcare Analytics:
I think this Healthcare Example is also very important. This example shows a number of important data, particularly data in real-time, that occur in a hospital. I’ve attached a screenshot from this case study that visualises data points such as the number of patients currently checked in and the stats around these patients. Doctors and staff can easily allocate resources to certain wings etc. based on the visual information provided.
In addition to overseeing the divisions, Microsoft PowerBI was also used to assess and forecast risk levels of their patients.
Also, to further our healthcare example: Imagine if the government could use statistics such as flu outbreaks and where they are occurring geographically in real-time.
Who knows what governments could do with this data. They could possibly tell students not to go to school for the day because the flu count was too high in a particular area and in-turn would stop the rate of infection. The possibilities of real-time healthcare data are truly endless.
IoT meets PowerBI
This one isn’t a case study, but rather an idea I came up with for how PowerBI could be used for the internet of things.
Imagine a flood area that has sensors monitoring flood levels around towns, villages, cities etc. When a flood level reaches too high an alert is sent to a system that is shows water levels near roads. Governments and councils could quickly send out warnings and divert traffic accordingly. This example is probably a little off topic but it does further explain the power of the systems.
Final thoughts about PowerBI Usage
If you really visualise and dig into your company’s sales data you can scale that and see how busy your month is going to be, use it to forecast for the future so you can best allocate resources.
Of course, PowerBI is good for seeing how many sales a company is doing, but it can be used for so much more. At Calibre One, in addition to sales figures we use it for helpdesk ticket history trending. This helps us categorise what those job/service tickets are, and helps us understand what problems our clients face, and where we might need more expertise training or staffing.
I hope you enjoyed learning about PowerBI and are already excited about all the ways your business could benefit from real-time data visualisation.