Microsoft Power BI is one of the company’s biggest bets, helping people make sense of their tremendous and ever-growing storehouses of data.
Power BI was the first product Microsoft released after CEO Satya Nadella took the reins last year, and he’s repeatedly pointed to data management and analysis as a major focus area for the company.
Today, that focus accelerates with the announcement of a new feature that lets customers embed Power BI reports into websites, almost like a YouTube video, putting powerful and interactive reports right out in front of customers and users.
The goal, says the team’s leader, James Phillips, is to put the capabilities of Power BI in front of as many people as possible, even if they themselves aren’t Power BI customers.
“Our goal is not to print billions of dollars with Power BI, it’s to connect billions and billions of users,” says Phillips.
Even within Microsoft, Power BI is widely used, only losing to maybe Word or Excel, says Phillips. In fact, Nadella uses Microsoft Power BI to run Microsoft itself, he says.
“He uses the service constantly,” Phillips says.
And Nadella’s executive staff? “They use the service constantly,” too.
The big picture
The big picture here, says Phillips, is that making sense of data means making smarter decisions and more productivity — which ties right into Nadella’s corporate mission for productivity.
Since the Power BI service became generally available in July 2015, as part of the popular Office 365 suite for businesses, it’s seen tremendous uptake, Phillips says. Microsoft has a goal of getting 1 billion users on board with Power BI, and he says that the service is well on its way. He claims it’s seeing faster growth than Microsoft’s rivals in the space, which include Salesforce and SAP.
That’s where these embeddable reports come in.
Here’s a sample embedded Power BI report, taken from the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation:
Take your Power BI report, embed it in a website, and show it off — either internally, to colleagues, or externally, to clients and customers. They can play with the data, slice it up like they were using the “real” Power BI, and generally mess around with it.
It’s a much more powerful tool than just printing out a PDF of results and posting it somewhere, and lets people draw their own conclusions and get their own answers from the data. There’s no shortage of available data, especially in a corporate environment, Phillips says — the real value comes in helping people make sense of it.
And, of course, if those people see an embedded Power BI report and decide they want to buy the tech for themselves, well…”We wouldn’t have a problem with that,” says Phillips.
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