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Is Power BI the ‘Must Have’ Feature Organizations need to Hasten their Pace of Signing Up for SharePoint Online, Office 365 Computing?

Microsoft’s promotional materials for Office 365 include the phrase ‘self service business intelligence’. This phrase was actually coined by Forrester Research, for The Forrester Wave: Self-Service Business Intelligence Platforms, Q2 2012. To provide a summary of this concept, one result of the consumerization of IT and the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomena of the last few years, for business computing, is a burning need for business intelligence solutions within the technical reach of Line of Business (LoB) groups. The rationale for these solutions is simple. Enterprise IT can no longer be looked to provide all of the business intelligence gathering computing power required to support a computing environment of a diverse set of hardware devices and O/Ss.

In the two years since the publication of Forrester’s study on this topic, Microsoft® has debuted Office 365, its biggest single product of all time. A suite of business intelligence-gathering tools is now included in an Office 365 Midsize Business, E3, or E4 plan. The unique Power Bi tool set, built for Excel, is only available with one of these SharePoint Online plans, and maybe one more feature SMBs need to drive them to add Office 365 to their computing options.

Anyone looking to collect information about Power Bi, in particular, should visit an MSDN blog set up, specifically, to provide lots of information about Power BI. But why does it make sense to take a set of tools designed for anyone working with data stored in MS Excel, and to refer to them as a “self service” tool set?

Perhaps the name makes sense based on not only the mass market interest in MS Excel, and adoption of this spreadsheet program, but, even further, because of its accessibility to small and medium sized businesses (SMBs). Better yet, the same Office 365 plans including this suite of tools also include free-of-charge maintenance of MS Excel, as one component of the Office suite of applications, for the duration of a subscription.

SharePoint-Videos offers a set of video training on the topic of opportunities to use SharePoint 2013 for business intelligence gathering purposes, SharePoint 2013: Business Intelligence, which is led by a widely acknowledged industry expert on these topics, Jason Himmelstein. But this set only includes a glimpse at Power BI, since it pre dated the release of this new feature of Office 365, SharePoint Online.

Ira Michael Blonder

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