Power BI’s customizability and integration with SharePoint can add new, untapped levels of speed and accuracy to your processes and deliver highly detailed business intelligence.
Data will forever be the biggest asset for businesses, especially in today’s digital age. However, organizations very often face a challenge in processing existing, unorganized data to find meaningful insights out of it. This is where a powerful data analytics platform can simplify this entire process. Microsoft Power BI, a cloud-based analytics tool that integrates with and collects data from sources such as SharePoint, web services, Azure SQL, and even other non-Microsoft applications.
Power BI does more than just collect and analyze data sets. It also visualizes the data and finally publishes it in the form of a report that breaks down the insights for users through visual representations. The tool’s data visualization capabilities enable users to build interactive dashboards that showcase a variety of information in diverse formats like graphs, pie charts, statistics, timelines, etc. so that it can be easily understood by readers and communicated accurately to peers and senior management. Integrating Power BI with SharePoint takes data analysis to the next level – especially for Microsoft 365 users – by creating a bespoke business intelligence system that is unique to your organizational needs.
In this blog, we’ll take an in-depth look at what business analytics is, the difference between Data Analytics and Data Visualization, and how Power BI with SharePoint can be the ultimate business analytics tool for your leadership team.
Power BI: Real-time insights backed by data analytics and visualization
Data analytics and data visualization are terms that often get their meanings mixed up during communication. While both processes are related to each other, there is a significant difference between them.
Data analytics refers to the process of inspecting, cleansing, transforming, and modeling data to discover useful information, informing conclusions, and supporting decision-making. In this digital age, businesses get bombarded with a large volume of data that needs to be compiled, evaluated, and analyzed to find crucial business insights that tell decision-makers what the organization’s strengths are, where they need to improve on, and where they can innovate to fill in a market gap and overcome competition.
But simply analyzing the data isn’t enough to understand it. The results need to be displayed in a way that can be easily understood by anyone reading it and one can draw meaningful conclusions out of it. This process is called data visualization.
While data analysis happens at the back end of the software, the results of those data analytics are showcased on the dashboard for people to analyze it and draw conclusions accordingly. It is also important to remember that the accuracy of data analytics depends on the initial data input.
Both data analytics and visualization are interlinked processes that provide a comprehensive understanding of the internal and external business environment to senior leaders as well as functional-level decision-makers. A variety of data analytics tools, including Power BI, perform both these activities. But Power BI’s customization and integration features, coupled with highly cognitive data visualization capabilities, make it a particularly powerful tool for modern businesses.
Leverage Power BI integration with SharePoint for process efficiencies
Microsoft’s Power BI and SharePoint are some of the best-in-class software for businesses that seek to continually improve business outcomes through consistent process and workflow enhancements. Let’s take a brief look at each of them to understand their key strengths.
Launched as a collaborative platform for businesses using the Microsoft Office suite, SharePoint was primarily used to store and manage documents. However, thanks to several updates over the years and the ability to use multiple mini software, SharePoint soon became the go-to content and document management system, intranet portal, collaborative work tool with remote access, and even a personal cloud storage system, proving particularly useful for many small and medium businesses.
Power BI, on the other hand, is a data analytics tool that provides interactive visualization and business intelligence reports. It works with multiple data sets from different sources to carefully segregate, classify, perform comparative analysis, and ultimately, build visually represent the insights from this data along with valuable, actionable prescriptions for leaders to take the right business decisions.
With everything mentioned above, it’s quite obvious how impactful the combination of Power BI and SharePoint can be for your business. Not only can you automate real-time report generation, but also share these reports instantly with multiple teams and individuals.
Benefits of integrating Power BI with SharePoint
As mentioned before, integrating Power BI with SharePoint can unlock a plethora of capabilities for businesses to leverage their data for real business impact. From facilitating daily internal processes, sales, and marketing workflows, to securely managing confidential data, Power BI and SharePoint together eliminate the time and cost required to organize and interpret data manually.
With that being said, here are the five key benefits of the Power BI and SharePoint synergy for your business.
1. Cost-effective data management
Managing costs effectively is one of the biggest concerns for any organization. The more the company saves on costs while maximizing revenues, the more profitable it is. Having a third-party data analytics and collaborative workspace software can prove to be a valuable asset for a company. However, if its cost of operation and maintenance makes a significant dent in your budget, it’s not recommended for your business in the long run. This is especially true for small to medium-sized organizations.
Power BI, on the other hand, provides a cost-effective data analytics system with great value for money. As a part of the Office 365 suite for enterprises, both Power BI and SharePoint can be integrated easily along with other Microsoft and non-Microsoft software to support and optimize processes even further. This means that users save on high licensing costs and long setup time as opposed to other third-party data analytics platforms.
2. Scalable and accurate data analysis
A data analytics tool is of no use if it can’t be scaled up or down as per a business’s dynamic needs. As companies grow and expand to new verticals and geographies, your data analytic system must be flexible enough to adapt to those changes without losing the accuracy of data processing at all times.
Power BI is designed with a focus on customizability and scalability as it caters to a variety of business types, understanding the organizational structure, business needs, and context to deliver insights. The data collected can then be visualized and presented using standard templates to make it more interactive and easy to understand.
3. Customizable visualization with numerous formats
As every organization is different, it needs to gather, process, and analyze its business data differently, and so the way to communicate the data also varies from company to company. Power BI provides a wide range of data visualization options to simplify relevant data points about processes, workflows, team productivity, etc., and turn them into easily interpretable reports. Whether you want your data shown in the form of a point graph, line graph, trends, pie chart, predictive chart, or a little bit of everything, Power BI enables you to visualize data in the most comprehensive and coherent way.
You can also customize the dashboard to enable real-time data to display to make the decision-making process even more efficient and precise. Using SharePoint, you can collaboratively work towards improving the quality of data collected, reducing possible errors, and ensuring the right data reaches the right person at the right time.
That brings us to the next benefit.
4. Shortening data analysis and decision-making gap
Shortening the data analysis and decision-making gap can be a key determinant of your company’s success. The more efficiently companies can find meaningful insights from the ocean of data, the quicker they can take steps towards making changes that drive business growth. One of Power BI’s biggest benefits, therefore, is its ability to expedite data analysis, management, and visualization processes so that leadership teams can quickly plan and execute new strategies and initiatives.
5. Enables predictive forecasting
As Power BI is essentially a data analytics and visualization tool, it can be used as a predictive analytics tool as well. Analyzing and predicting what your business can achieve by assessing your past performance and evaluating them against current market trends can give leaders and decision-makers crucial insights on the business’ competitiveness and future profitability.
This can be especially useful for departments where dynamic data is required to be processed quickly and regularly – like sales and revenue figures, for instance. Here, Power BI can be very effective. For example, data generated by the sales force during the previous month can be processed and visualized to find out which products in which regions were the most profitable, which regions are showing promising growth, and which region requires a change of strategy to overcome competition.
Using a collection of functions, Power BI can process this data to crunch out future sales trends in granular detail, predicting potential sales across product categories, regions, consumer segments, and even among specific customers for B2B sales. The relevant departmental heads can then use these forecasts to make necessary changes to existing processes across the sales, marketing, and production functions, etc. to achieve targeted metrics.
Get started with deep data-driven decision making
The combination of SharePoint and Power BI not only ensures that business data and processes are managed efficiently, but also that decision-makers have access to insights behind them which they need to solve real business problems that affect the bottom line. The integration of both these platforms can result in more simplicity, efficiency, and reliability when it comes to processing data and creating a collaborative, digital business environment. Using these tools in conjunction can take business efficiency to new levels with almost limitless customization capabilities.
If you are an existing user of Microsoft enterprise solutions, getting started with SharePoint and Power BI is easier than you imagined. Visit our Microsoft Services page to learn how we help you deploy analytics with Power BI and give your Microsoft 365 suite a brand-new edge.