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Microsoft boosts BI tool with Cortana

4/12/2015 by Sharon Shahzad


Microsoft has revealed that it is to boost its business intelligence (BI) offering by integrating Cortana into the system. This means Power BI should be able to continue providing quick insights and informative data to boost business strategies and provide more functionality than ever.

Microsoft spoke about the new updates and features it is adding to its Power BI system at its Convergence conference in Barcelona, Spain this week. Before the conference heads to New Orleans in April 2016, Microsoft showcased new Power Apps and an additional Office 365 E5 tier. The company also unveiled some new information regarding its BI app, namely that Power BI would soon benefit from new integrations with Quick Insights and Cortana.

Cortana brings a number of relevant features to the firm’s Power BI. By using the Cortana Analytics Suite, users can query the data within Power BI and gain instant results; alternatively, Cortana can be used to analyse historic reports.

“By utilising Power BI’s data visualisation capabilities, answers can range from simple numerical values (‘revenue for the last quarter’), charts (‘number of opportunities by team’), maps (‘average customer spending in California by city’), or even complete reports from Power BI, all provided directly from Cortana,” Microsoft said. “Potential answers are either determined by Cortana on the fly directly from the data, or by using reports already created in Power BI that help answer a question. To further explore an answer, users can simply open a result in Power BI.”

To ensure the new integration works well, Power BI will be fitted with a variety of new simple features. Reports can be given alternate names, allowing Cortana to search for reports using a variety of parameters; in addition, the resulting displayed results can be easily digested with the new special report sheet.

In addition to Cortana, Microsoft also revealed Quick Insights − a group of crafted algorithms developed in collaboration with Microsoft Research to search and highlight important insights that might be overlooked and ‘hidden’ within data sets. Examples of insights include time series outliers, category outliers, steady share, seasonality and trends in time series.

Another Microsoft conference will be held in Redmond next March. The Data Insights Summit will provide business analysts with the chance to learn more about best practice and the variety of tools at their disposal for BI purposes. This will be important as Microsoft continues to extend Office 365 with new insights and tools.

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