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What is Microsoft Power BI, and How Can it Support Business Goals?

Locknet Managed IT
4 min read
August 04, 2021

Microsoft Power BI

Nearly every business leader is constantly looking for ways to optimize, improve processes and give a boost to profit margins. It turns out you likely already have access to a tool that can give you the intel you need to do all this, and more: Microsoft Power BI. The experts at Locknet® Managed IT have the first-hand experience with the muscle this business intelligence platform delivers. The potential is so profound, they can't help but talk about it—even though it isn't part of the slate of products and services they provide.

What is Microsoft Power BI?

To better understand Microsoft Power BI, let's first explore what exactly it can do.

"Power BI is a business intelligence tool that allows organizations to combine data from different software into visually stunning, interactive, and easily digestible information," explains Peter Durnil–Locknet Director of Operations. "Not only can Power BI integrate with Microsoft 365 applications, but you can also pull data from almost any source to provide you with business intelligence."

Mike Criste, Manager of the Business Analytics Team at Locknet® says Microsoft Power BI addresses a fundamental, modern-day business problem: everyone needs data, and there's more of it than ever, but the complexity and diversity of sources can be problematic and cumbersome. " Power BI essentially automates the scraping of this information. So, you don't have to spend time inputting the data, you can spend the time digesting it instead."

A glut of data exists at most organizations, whether you're using tools to track transactions, sales, project management, and more. Microsoft Power BI integrates and streamlines the organization of that data so the people who need the information can access it quickly and in a meaningful way. "There's a common data culture, a common data reality," Criste explains about Power BI. "If you have a common data culture, everyone is singing from the same songbook, they're just looking at the data from different levels of granularity."

And as most businesses operate within the Microsoft ecosystem, they are likely to already have access to Microsoft Power BI (a license is required), without realizing the true benefits of having a business intelligence tool that can scrape, organize, and present data in a way that empowers critical decision-making. Think extremely interactive dashboards for presenting data in ways that are at once consistent, yet agile.

"You've got to tell stories with your data," Criste says. "This tool empowers users and leaders to do that on their own, given their level of technological capability. It's flexible, it's customizable, different levels of expertise can use it any way and it's updating all the time, which is why it's so powerful."

Durnil explains that Power BI can help leaders better understand their business. "Need to understand in-depth where your revenue is going? Power BI can show you. Do you feel like a current process in your business is costing you money? Power BI can show you. This tool helps you identify and resolve irregularities, it shows decision-makers where you are weak and where you strong."

Power BI informs Locknet® Managed IT

At Locknet® Managed IT, Microsoft Power BI has become a critical tool over the past year.

"Locknet utilizes Power BI to identify and track all aspects of our business," explains Durnil. "From sales, technical teams, resource utilization, and profitability, Power BI provides us insight on how to move forward with strategic initiatives and tactical decision making."

One of the many ways Locknet uses Power BI is to better understand the support center operations, delays, or other issues that might occur while helping clients. "With Power BI we have a set of metrics that tie into what they do, so they can look at it and say how many times has someone had to escalate a ticket to a higher level of expertise. It provides a root cause analysis for what's happening in the support center," Criste explains. The data informs decision-making when it comes to pricing strategy.

Simply put, the business intelligence capability of Power BI can allow businesses to improve their processes, boost profitability, and identify opportunities for improvement as well.

Barriers to adoption of Microsoft Power BI

As with all technologies, there are barriers to entry for some businesses. Among them, says Durnil, are the initial configurations. "This tool is not for the faint of heart, but those challenges can easily be overcome by determination," he explains. "We have found that attempting to implement Power BI as an 'add-on' job responsibility is almost an insurmountable task for any employee." In addition, he says, those tasked with this challenge must have a full understanding of your existing business applications, including if, and how, they interact.

To overcome those barriers, Locknet has dedicated resources focused on business intelligence—an option that admittedly may not be available to all organizations. "You can overcome these obstacles by dedicating time for employees to learn and understand the software," Durnil explains. Both free video tutorials and paid classes are available. "Once you get started and begin to realize the potential of this software you can begin to automate reports, identify inefficiencies, and free up employees’ time for more productive tasks."

Another barrier is simply a lack of knowledge about what Microsoft Power BI can do for an organization. For some, if a spreadsheet has sufficed to this point, there may be no apparent reason to shift to this business intelligence tool. More, explains Criste, Power BI requires an organization to have business analytics and process flow functions in place. You simply need to be able to map the business need and find the data so you can target the sweet spot.

With the barriers that exist, and the knowledge required, it may sound challenging to embrace Microsoft Power BI. But the potential return, from a competitive standpoint, is great.

"Competition keeps getting more and more intense," Criste says. "This can give anyone an edge."

Do you want to achieve powerful results? Power BI is already included in Microsoft 365 E5 license packages and it’s also available as a separate package.  If your business is ready to adopt and integrate this application into your business workflow, or you’d simply like to learn more, we can help! Contact us to find out how we can support your business.

 

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