Microsoft Power BI

Microsoft has made another significant step in pulling SharePoint Online deeper into the wider Office 365 productivity suite.  

In a little remarked-upon announcement on the Power BI blog last week, Senior Program Manager Lukasz Pawlowski announced the availability of the Power BI report web part for SharePoint Online. SharePoint Online enterprises will now be able to take Power BI content and pull it up directly in SharePoint.

Sharing Office 365 Data

Power BI is a business analytics service that offers interactive visualization and self-service business intelligence capabilities, enabling users create reports and dashboards about all kinds of things without having to go to IT. It is also capable of unifying an organizations data whether that data is in the cloud or on-premises.

So by using Power BI gateways that connect to SQL Server databases, Analysis Services models and other data sources, SharePoint Online users should be able to use the new web part to access new kinds of data.

Easier SharePoint?

What’s more, according to Pawlowski, it can be done in five easy steps. In the blog post about the release, he pointed out that the new web enables SharePoint authors to embed Power BI reports directly in SharePoint Online pages without having to code anything.

This continues Microsoft’s efforts to make the SharePoint experience easier to manage — especially the online edition — in face of criticism that it is hard to use and manage.

The reports are also secure but are not automatically available to everyone, which will be reassuring to security administrators since Power BI reports can contain information on everything from business and sales reports to app performance and other sets of sensitive enterprise data.

It is worth remembering that Power BI is a feature-rich data mashup and report authoring tool that combines data from disparate databases, files and web services. This means that just about any information at all can turn up in Power BI reports.

Since last October, it enables IT administrators assess the use of applications in its productivity suite by combining the intelligence of the usage reports in the new Office 365 admin center with the interactive reporting capabilities of Power BI.

Power BI History

Microsoft unveiled Power BI in 2014 as the successor to Excel-based plugins like Power Query, Power Pivot and Power View. It was made available to the public in July 2015.

While it includes analytics and data warehousing as well dashboards for visualizing data, it also has connections to other data silos like Dynamics, Excel or SQL

Data imports for non-Microsoft systems are also available including imports from: Google Analytics, Salesforce, Oracle, Hadoop and SAP can all be integrated.

By offering Power BI reports in SharePoint Online Microsoft is giving users insights into the data contained in these systems through SharePoint — where they can be used, communicated, disseminated and collaborated upon.