Microsoft’s Business Intelligence Service Gets a Power Boost

An updated version of MicrosoftEUs Power BI service will be released July 24, the company announced Friday. The goal of the updated service is to enable business users to benefit from business intelligence and analytics without requiring sophisticated help from analysts, data scientists, or other tech staff.

The new set of business-intelligence tools will replace Microsoft's current Power BI for Office 365 service. Also available on July 24 will be Power BI Desktop -- formerly known as Power BI Designer.

Enhancements to the Power BI Desktop include new visualizations; visualization formatting; more source support to include Zendesk, Intuit Quickbooks Online and AppFigures, among others; and direct connection to SQL Server Analysis Services tabular models for data exploration.

"We believe Power BI is, by a very wide margin, the most powerful business analytics SaaS service," said James Phillips, corporate VP for Microsoft's Business Intelligence Products Group. "And yet, even the most non-technical of business users can sign up in five seconds, and gain insights from their business data in less than five minutes with no assistance, from anyone."

Two Levels

Microsoft offers two levels of the upgraded Power BI service: a free version and another thatEUs $9.99 per month/per user. The differences between the two tiers have mostly to do with data-refresh rates and collaboration capabilities.

Should business owners upgrade? We reached out to Ulrik Pederson, CTO/COO of business analytics software maker Targit, who told us that itEUs key to first define the objectives and how BI is currently being used in an organization.

"With Power BI, we have to keep in mind that it is built as a cloud-only solution, so if all the data are stored on premise [not in the cloud], the Power BI user would require large investments in reorganizing the infrastructure," said Pederson.

Pederson added that departments or businesses looking for...

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