Microsoft has just introduced dataflows to Power BI service which they see as the next step in the self-service revolution Microsoft began with Excel. Dataflows incorporate the necessary ETL steps and allows other people to access and work with the dataflow. Think of dataflows as power query on steroids with the capability of multiple users to take advantage of a centralized ETL operation on data.
Recently I was leading some Power BI sandbox co-development with a client whose business is based on buying and selling commodities with US and Canadian customers. As we explored ways to solve business problems with Power BI, we encountered a situation where their Canadian customers’ financial transactions are in Canadian dollars (CAD), but the client’s reporting was all in US dollars. The client wanted a dynamic currency conversion calculator built into their reporting to show all financials in US dollars. There wasn’t a dynamic currency table in the client’s SQL server. This was a request that I had not fielded before, but I was confident that Power BI could handle it. Below I outline how we solved this particular challenge in a few simple steps:
Millions of users have adopted Microsoft's widespread business analytics platform and are seeing their businesses transformed. Over the past three years, we’ve learned a few tips on how to optimize your teams Power BI training and deployment. Below are 10 Tips for Power BI Training, that will immediately empower your users.
What is Common Data Service?
Common Data Service is a cloud-based data storage and management system that standardizes your data across business applications like Dynamics 365, Office 365, mobile apps, and Power BI.
Your data is stored in standard (or customized) entities, similar to how a table stores data in database. If you use Common Data Service, your suite of business applications feed data predictably to these entities, allowing simple data sharing, data mining, and business intelligence.
This dashboard probably looks very familiar to you. You might have five or six dashboards you’re watching for ebbs and flows, spikes and surges. Maybe you have a very advanced process that involves downloading data into Excel and mashing different channels together. But that doesn’t sound very advanced, does it? Manual data entry? Staring at four online dashboards, commenting on "this one is up, or this is down"? There’s nothing advanced here. It doesn’t tell you how people responded, how their interactions lead to anything. Do you let your marketing data impact future creative decisions? If it's not producing marketing intelligence, your marketing data is completely useless.
"Last night, we had a happy hour to celebrate burning Joe's Excel spreadsheet."
Those were the exact words out of the mouth of the Director of Marketing at a global med-tech company based in Minneapolis. Just a few months earlier, Beyond Impact helped deploy a Marketing Intelligence Solution leveraging Power BI to migrate an Excel spreadsheet that essentially ran the entire Retail Marketing division. This Excel spreadsheet was held together with duct-tape and elbow grease, leading the client to say, "there has to be a better way to work with our marketing reports."
Growing up in a small town near Lake Mille Lacs, a good 90-minutes north of the Twin Cities, much of my learning as a little boy happened in a sandbox. Not the giant plastic turtle you see in Walmart today. Rather, an oversized wood structure filled with sand and a collection of old metal Tonka Trucks. I would spend the summer days building roads, bridges, castles, and rivers. I engineered high-security prisons for frogs I caught. I threw sand at my older brother and occasionally we tangled with a garden hose, much to my mother's displeasure. Every night I'd come in for dinner covered head to toe in dirt. Little did I realize, I spent those long summer days learning physics and engineering in the sandbox. I've always learned by just digging in. My childhood story really has nothing to do with Power BI - it simply points out the fact we can learn so much more when we get our hands dirty.
Up here in the North Country the chill of the fall weather is just starting to set in. Over the next few months we'll hit some bone chilling temperatures and dig out the long-underwear. Nothing warms the heart and soul like a hearty bowl of soup, especially one perfected through the years with a bit of Grandma's love. If Grandma has taught us anything, it's that when you serve her soup you don't use a teaspoon - you use the ladle.
My wife rolls her eyes every time I pull out Microsoft’s Power BI to analyze our personal bank statement data. Perhaps she doesn’t want me to know how much she spends each month on Starbucks Grande Chai Lattes… no whip. The reality is, I utilize Power BI whenever possible. In fact, these days I find it hard to engage in a business intelligence strategy discussion without Power BI being part of the conversation.