Power BI for Office 365

Power BI for Office 365

Here is a quick update from an announcement made at the Microsoft WPC (Worldwide Partner Conference). Power BI for Office 365 is a self-service business intelligence (BI) solution delivered through Excel and Office 365. Power BI users have data analysis and visualization capabilities to identify business insights from their on-premises and cloud data. One of the most exciting new features of Power BI is Q&A, a natural language based experience for interacting with data.

Microsoft still has not really made clear exactly what Power BI is, e.g. is it a new product, a re-branding, a new service? From what I can tell it looks like a little bit of rebranding of Power Pivot with some new features thrown in. Hopefully soon Microsoft will provide more details on exactly what this is, what are the costs, how is it configured and all those other fun questions. In the meantime, a little more about the Q&A feature.

Q&A builds upon allows the use of natural language to find, understand, and report on your data. Here are a few examples:

“Show London clients”

Power BI - Show London Accounts

In this example, an Excel workbook with data about customers and their locations has been saved to Office 365. Q&A is interpreting the search query and displaying corresponding information from the workbook to create a list of customers that are based in London.

“Show number of products”

Power BI Show Product Counts

Similarly, “show number of products” is being interpreted to count the number of products found in the data source.

“Number of songs per year”

Power BI Show Songs per Year

Further, Q&A automatically chooses a suitable visualization based on what is requested.

Total number of employees for finance, HR, marketing in Europe by employee country

Power Bi - Show Total Employees by Country

In this example, Q&A automatically chose to display three maps, one for each division. It opted to display maps because the country column is marked as a geography data column.

“Show our sales pipeline with opportunity size greater than $20,000”


So what will you need to get Power BI Q&A to work with your organization’s dataset? An Excel spreadsheet with a Power Pivot model saved to a Power BI site in Office 365. So, if you are using Excel and Power Pivot today, you are on the right track to use Q&A over your own data once it is available.

Microsoft will be posting more about the features included in Power BI so stay tuned here for more updates. In the meantime head over to http://www.powerbi.com and check out more details.

Posted in Life Sciences
One comment on “Power BI for Office 365
  1. Very nice article, I used some of your useful concepts to write my own article: Self-Service Business Intelligence and Natural Language Reporting. I’d love to get your feedback. Don’t you think that Natural Language Business Intelligence is the next step of Business Intelligence’s evolution?

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