The story of Power BI

Tony Zhang - Monday, October 23, 2017
The story of Power BI


The story of Power BI is about the dream, the dream Microsoft had to transform how work is done.

Long ago Microsoft brought great joy and prosperity to the business intelligence world, for it invented Excel and Analysis service. However, over the time people realized the dark side of it, namely, the Excel version control, the complexity of building the multi-dimensional data cube, and the lack of the visualization. So good people came out to save the world. For example, couple years ago Microsoft Dynamics team published the "Dynamics Business Analyzer" in the Microsoft store to be installed on the Windows devices. It presents the financial figures, ratios and KPIs. Users can switch roles and companies, and change the date granularity as well as the visual. This is great.

Yet, we need more to address the business requirements. Driving the business to accomplish it's mission is like driving the car towards its destination. We need the dashboard to tell us the financial positions, the profitability, and the sustainability of the business; we need to focus on customers, to measure things like competitors, leads, opportunities and customer satisfaction; and in turn to measure the internal processes to be productive; and the investment and return on the people and equipment to make sure they grow together with the business. All those information come from all kinds of systems including accounting, Enterprise Resource Planning, Customer Relationship Management, Line of Business applications, Human Resource and Asset Management. It becomes clear we need a platform that is easy to start, powerful to extend to consolidate all those information to provide the holistic view of the business. Again, good people set out to save the world. What we see here is the blossom of hundred flowers in the business intelligence world as of 2017.


Measured by the completeness of vision and the ability to execute, Microsoft is a leader in in the magic quadrant for business intelligence and analytics platforms. However, If you look back five years, it was not the case. Why, there are many reasons and the important one is the lack of the leadership. For such a huge business challenge we need great leadership to orchestrate the resources from teams like Office, SQL and Cloud to build the world class infrastructure, platform and the features. Microsoft did not forget the dream, the dream to transform how work is done. With the dream and the determination, in 2017, Microsoft gets to the place it deserves.

If you are looking for the business intelligence platform, search no more. Power BI is the one. If you are looking for a partner and a strategy to implement the Power BI, I suggest to start with the modeling of the accounting, or the ERP system. And here is the example of the consolidated financials for the Dynamics NAV. It is named the "Dynamics Business Analyzer" to honor the dashboard we mentioned earlier, and it includes similar measures, KPIs and visualizations. And, there is more. For example, on the dashboard, you can ask question like customer balance by salespeople, list of vendors in the state of Texas. In the report, the visuals cross filter each other. And, links right back to the Dynamics NAV. This data model covers the General Ledger, Account Receivable, Account Payable and Bank, by dimensions. For Excel lovers, the Power BI data model provide the single version of the truth and the role based data security for you to create analytical reports using Excel pivot table, as well as the financial reports using the standard Excel cube functions.

Now, it is time for you to take the leadership to transform the data culture at your organization, and to start the new chapter of your own story.