Microsoft has used its Partner Conference to show off a new BI tool for Office 365 that will also be available as a standalone product.
A demo of Power BI, which culminated in highly animated timeline view of popular music artists through the years, was highlight of the keynote at the conference. Watch to the end of Amir Netz' presentation to gage the audience reaction!
Power BI is a tool that lets you analyze and interact with big data, working within Excel. It’s based on what was until now called Data Explorer and GeoFlow, now rechristened Power Query and Power Map, and continues Microsoft’s push to provide ‘self-service BI’.
Power Query can be used to search and access public data and a company’s own data from within Excel. Power Map is a 3D data visualization tool for mapping, exploring and interacting with geographic and temporal data. The two will sit alongside PowerPivot for data models and PowerView for interactive charts and graphs.
Taken as a whole, Excel’s BI tools start to look impressive. The Office 365 version of Power BI will also add Power BI sites, described in the Office News blog post as:
“dedicated collaborative BI workspaces in Office 365 for sharing data and insights with colleagues. The Power BI sites also keep customers' data up to date with connectivity and data refresh back to their on premise data sources.“
The post goes on to say the sites will offer new natural language query capabilities that allow customers to ask questions and get answers. They simply type their question into a dialog box and the system interprets and automatically generates interactive charts and graphs based on available data. While the BI tools are being described as user self-service, setting up the data and creating Power BI sites will undoubtedly result in opportunities for developers.
According to the blog post, there will be dedicated native apps for Windows 8, Windows RT and iPad so business users can stay connected with their reports and data wherever they are, alongside HTML5 support for browser based viewing on any device.
There’s a new blog dedicated to Power BI that has a good intro to the new tools.