Microsoft is to launch an updated version of its Power BI (business intelligence) on 24th July, enabling business users to gain more benefits from analytics and BI without the need for skilled and expensive data scientists and tech staff. The new tools will replace the current system and the release will be combined with Power BI Desktop, which is a re-imaging of Power BI Designer.
There are a number of new features and enhancements with Power BI Desktop, including the ability to gain more source support for AppFigures, Quickbooks Online, Intuit and Zendesk. Better visualisations and visualisation formatting are included and a direct connection to tabular models on SQL Server Analysis Services will also be available, making data exploration easier.
James Phillips, the corporate vice-president of Microsoft’s Business Intelligence Products Group, said: “We believe Power BI is, by a very wide margin, the most powerful business analytics SaaS service. And yet, even the most non-technical of business users can sign up in five seconds, and gain insights from their business data in less than five minutes with no assistance, from anyone.”
The newly-upgraded Power BI will be available from Microsoft in two levels, the first of which is free. The second option costs $9.99 (£6.40) per month per user subscription and will offer better collaboration capabilities and more frequent data refreshing. Ulrik Pederson, chief technology officer of Targit, the business analytics software developer, explained that before deciding which tier to use, businesses should identify how their current BI is optimised and define the objectives for data analysis. “With Power BI, we have to keep in mind that it is built as a cloud-only solution, so if all the data are stored on premise [not in the cloud], the Power BI user would require large investments in reorganising the infrastructure,” he said. Mr Pederson added that companies and departments wanting to use simple data structure on an easy-to-use dashboard solution could be best suited to Power BI.
The upgrade comes after Microsoft previously released a tool connecting on-premises SQL Server Analysis Services instances with Power BI Analysis Services. This beta tool offers interactive reports once it is installed. Data can also be left within data centres by users for later use with Power BI. Various front ends – Apache Spark, for example – can be added to the information. Since being offered six months ago, 45,000 companies across 180 nations have signed up to beta test the tool.
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