Great news!!! Today, at the Worldwide Partner Conference, Microsoft announced a new offering – Power BI for Office 365. Quoted from Microsoft – “Power BI for Office 365 is a cloud-based business intelligence (BI) solution that enables our customers to easily gain insights from their data, working within Excel to analyze and visualize the data in a self-service way. It works with Office 365 to help customers share insights, find answers and stay connected to their data from their favorite mobile devices.”
For those of you who have the time, I would recommend going through the links that I have collected below. And for those who don’t have the time, let me do a very quick summary:-
1) Discover, analyze, and visualize with Power BI for Office 365, which includes Power Query (formerly known as Data Explorer), Power Map (formerly known as GeoFlow), Power Pivot (formerly known as PowerPivot - notice the space between the words) and Power View (for a change, I like that the names are standardized with a space after Power).
2) Create Power BI Sites to share live interactive reports. Power BI Sites are dedicated collaborative BI workspaces in Office 365 for sharing data and insights with colleagues.
3) Ask questions and get back instant answers with the new Q&A feature that uses natural language query technology to provide you with immediate answers in the form of interactive charts and graphs based on the questions you type into the speech bubble.
4) Browse Excel and Power View reports with HTML 5. Stay connected with the touch-optimized Power BI mobile app. BI users can access and receive live updates on their reports through their browser with HTML5 or through a mobile application designed for their tablet or touch-enabled device, either Microsoft Power BI for Windows or Microsoft Power BI for iPad.
5) Refresh your data on demand or define a schedule. The Data Management Gateway allows your IT department to enable data refresh from Office 365 to your favourite on-premises data sources.
6) No announcement on pricing or preview date (except for "later this summer").
The natural language feature looks pretty impressing even though I doubt whether the experience is going to be as seamless as shown in the demo. Also, the bubble chart shown in the demo (also shown in the image below) looked extremely jazzy but may end up just being eye-candy in real life. I would love to finally see the Mobile (and ofcourse iPad) solution come through with Power BI, although I am a tad bit disappointed that this feature is not there for the SharePoint version.
There are a couple of official posts on this offering and I have collated them below:-
You can also read some of the initial reactions to Power BI below:-
1) Some Thoughts About Power BI - Chris Webb
2) Microsoft Office 365 Cloud Power BI - Jen Underwood
3) Microsoft Announces Power BI for Office 365 – Andrew Brust
4) Power Business Intelligence for Office365 - Jen Stirrup
Exciting times indeed for Microsoft BI and Self Service BI in general. I can’t wait to get my hands on the preview.