Microsoft Launches Self-Service BI
Microsoft Launches Self-Service BI
Written by Kay Ewbank   
Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Power BI for Office 365, Microsoft’s self-service business intelligence solution designed “for everyone” is now generally available.

Power BI, which we first encountered when it was demoed at the Microsoft Pertner Conference in July 2013,  is aimed at business users, and offers the ability to create BI models based on data from Windows Azure and other sources.

Users get a public and corporate catalog of data sets and BI models, along with search mechanisms, ways to collaborate, strong graphing options, and support for natural language queries.

This two-minute promo video gives you a quick overview:




One in four of Microsoft’s enterprise customers now has Office 365, making this a large potential market for the new product. While the system is aimed at business users, its adoption would create many opportunities for developers creating the underlying data and BI models (and making the queries work when the business users admit defeat).

Power BI for Office 365 is being offered at the promotional price of $20 per user/month to new or existing Office 365 Enterprise E3 or E4 customers. A free 30-day trial is also available.

Discussing the new product on the Official Microsoft Blog, Quentin Clark, Corporate Vice President, Data Platform Group, says:

“In my role as head of our data platform group, I don’t create a lot of models, but I consume a lot of them.”

He points out that currently intelligence is only used by a fraction of the people that could derive value from it, saying

“What we all need is modernized business intelligence which will help everyone get the information they need to understand their job or personal life better.”

On the its blog, the Power BI team said that the new cloud-based environment lets business users create collaborative BI sites. Reports can be kept up to date with scheduled data refresh, and teams can share not only Excel workbooks but also the data queries created in Power Query for Excel. Mobile access to reports is provided via HTML5 support and a Power BI windows app.

The line up of tools and technologies in Power BI for Office 365 includes:

  • Power Query
  • Power Pivot
  • Power View Power Map
  • Power BI sites
  • Data Management
  • Power BI Admin center
  • Power BI for mobile
  • Power BI Q&A


This hour-long demonstration shows how they all work together:



The Q&A features looks like one of the more interesting additions. Users can type the questions they want to know the answers to about the data using natural language and the system will interpret the question and present answers in the form of interactive visualizations.



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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 19 February 2014 )

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