Business Intelligence for Digital Transformation: Opportunity and Challenges
Business Intelligence (BI) offers numerous opportunities through smarter analysis to drive digital transformation for increased growth and profitability. The opportunity lies in the ability to quickly transform data from various sources into actionable insights for more informed business decisions.
The challenge in realizing the value of BI lies in an increasingly complex data environment. Large volumes of data are generated and accumulate over time in multiple silos making management, processing and visualization difficult. This leads to stagnant data that doesn't provide any strategic or real benefit to the organization.
BI, when implemented in a well thought out manner, converts this vast amount of data into actionable insights for enhanced organizational performance, agility, competitiveness, and effectiveness.
There are many toolsets within the BI space. In this blog we will introduce Microsoft's Power BI, illustrate the value it can deliver, provide example pricing, as well as a sample use case to help those who are evaluating toolsets and next steps. As always, it is important to evaluate each tool's functionality, integration capabilities and costs against your specific goals and budget before making an investment.
Introduction to Microsoft's Power BI Suite
Power BI is a cloud-based business analytics solution suite that provides the necessary tools to turn vast volumes of data across silos into accessible information. This data can be analyzed intelligently to understand the trends, draw out patterns and bring new business insights to light. The interactivity of the dashboards offered through Power BI, helps decision-makers filter, conduct queries and explore beyond traditional reporting to extract relevant trends and opportunities previously unknown.
Power BI requires no capex investment or infrastructure support, regardless of the size of business. The modern replication of the tool is free from legacy software restrictions and users don't require specialized training to start using the tool for generating intelligence insights.
Here is a simple example to demonstrate the potential benefit. Let's consider that there are three different data sources. The base data is the same for the three of them. They, however, present particular fields or variables through different naming conventions. These sources send the data to one centralized database. But the challenge is that they are unable to sync up, creating an information gap as they are not aware of each other's internal business scenarios. With Power BI, the data received from these different sources can be bundled together and viewed. All stakeholders can access the reports and see any gaps. The value of each variable element will no longer be different, and the fixed value can be sent to the centralized database.
Power BI Features and Benefits
- Customized dashboards: A prime feature of Power BI is information dashboards which can be personalized to meet an organization's exact needs. BI reports can be easily embedded into dashboards for an elevated user experience. Users can easily combine on-premise and cloud data in a single view, allowing for monitoring of critical enterprise-wide data from all business applications regardless of platform.
- Seamless integration with applications: Power BI integrates quite easily with both legacy as well as modern enterprise applications, for powerful analytics and reporting capabilities; and leverage all available data in a visual manner quite easily.
- Security and robust access control: Power BI offers row-level security which grants the ability to assign access rights at various levels. This provides both data security as well as increases the general usefulness of the reports. A single report created by a master user can be viewed by other users based on access rights. This filtering capability makes creating and maintaining reports much easier and inexpensive.
- Intelligibility and performance balanced: The in-memory assessment technology and DAX (data analysis expressions) scripting language are both perfect examples of a balance between intelligible simplicity and performance.
- Solid product roadmap ahead: Power BI has expansive features that can be added as the organization progresses in their BI journey. With a monthly release cycle, constant enhancements are made available. Microsoft keeps a close watch on feature requests and prioritizes those most widely requested. There are also many Power BI communities available to admins and users which provide suggestions and solutions to a wide array of problems.
Power BI Pricing
Power has 4 pricing plans:
- Power BI Desktop: It is a cloud-based tool that is free to any individual user, and helps the user collect in-depth insights into a wide range of scenarios. Users can build custom visuals, share reports, connect to a different source of data, and gain the benefit of advanced analytics.
- Power BI Pro: The pro-plan costs around $9.99/user/month. It offers data combination, data administration, the ability to build a dashboard with a real-time view, and the capacity to publish reports anywhere. Pro-licensing kicks in when users want to use Microsoft's workspaces. The reports created in Power BI desktop can be deployed and shared with other users, only if those users also have a pro-license to view the report.
- Power BI Embedded: Embedded provides the ability to integrate Power BI visuals, dashboards, and tiles into your own custom applications in a short span of time. There are two scenarios where Power BI Embedded is used - when there is a need to share Power BI reports with users who do not have Power BI accounts or when Power BI reports are to be embedded inside a custom application. With Power BI embedded, ISV's and developers can add flexibility in how intelligence can be embedded within applications using Power BI APIs.
Power BI Embedded Vs Power BI Pro
Power BI Embedded Power BI Pro Pricing Pattern Per User License Depends on the number of renders per hour Editing Reports functionality No Yes Export to PPT No Yes Export to Excel/CSV Yes Yes Sharing Report Rights No Yes
- Power BI Server: Power BI server is same as SSRS server. It can host reports over Microsoft's workspace rather than on a SaaS application. The organization can have a single server where they can only host reports. Power BI Server gives users access to interactive reports as well as the enterprise reporting capabilities of SQL Server Reporting Services.
Power BI Pricing Example
Below is a sample use case to show Power BI pricing options for a real-life scenario.
Need: An organization needs reports published in the Power BI Application (app.powerbi.com) and shared across 1000 users. If users just need the ability to view the reports, it does not make sense to invest $9.99/month/user. Embedding the reports into the portal with a single Power BI Pro License would be a more feasible option. Another aspect to consider is the number of concurrent renders per hour. A page render is counted any time Power BI visuals are loaded on a page. A page refresh also counts as a page render, as does any other user interaction with the reports, like slicing and dicing of data, filtering and more. The plan should be selected based on the total elements on the page and number of expected interactions / renders per page.
Cost: for 1000 users
Option 1: Power BI Pro License Cost - 1,000 * $9.99 = $9,999/month
Option 2: Power BI Embedded Process and Cost
|1 Power BI Pro License||1 License||$9.99|
|Power BI Embedded||A1 - 300 renders per hour||$700|
The Microsoft Power BI suite, with its ever-growing set of tools, has the capability to provide real and actionable insights from data in compelling, interactive dashboard-style reports. If you are looking to get started with BI or want to enhance your current BI capabilities, Contact us.