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Power BI for Mobile: Take Your Data on the Road

One area where the Power BI software stack really shines is the mobile space. The Power BI product line includes three apps: one for iOS, Windows Phone and Android. These apps allow you to take anything you can generate in Power BI and make it readily available to any stakeholder with a mobile phone or tablet. With a couple swipes, users can quickly interact with all your analysis. Power BI allows you to bring together the advantages of mobile devices, big data systems and compelling visualizations in a way that permits everyone involved to make better decisions.

The Power of the Dashboard

It’s one thing to produce an informative chart, but it’s quite another to deploy a fully interactive dashboard that can fetch real-time updates. Power BI permits you to tie together data from a variety of sources, including numerous non-Microsoft products. For the end user, the guy in marketing who just needs to see today’s report, the component that makes it all accessible is the dashboard.

Power BI dashboards allow you to publish any type of common infographic, geospatial information or visualization. If you need a bubble chart that displays the YTD performance of your company’s retail outlets, there’s an out-of-the-box solution for that with Power BI. It also allows you to create maps and overlay existing information onto those maps. Instead of just seeing that Store #325 is performing well, an app user can pull up the dashboard and see on the map whether that’s a one-off phenomenon or a regional trend.

Making Information Accessible

In the world of data analytics, a lot of work goes into empowering decision makers who may not have strong technical background. It’s extremely beneficial to give those people an app that allows them to quickly sort through the available data in a clear format. If your buyers can quickly bounce between multiple years’ worth of data and make comparisons, they can make important decisions faster.

Power BI also allows you to determine how the dashboard accesses the available information. Rather than simply presenting users a static set of reports, you can configure queries that allow them to sift through in a self-guided fashion. If someone needs access to a real-time inventory report, your dashboard can be configured to fetch that information from the company’s SQL Server installations. This allows members of your organization who might not be data scientists to rapidly develop insights that can guide their choices. 

Cross-Platform Compatibility

Keeping everyone in your business on the same page can be a challenge. Microsoft has gone to great lengths to ensure that the Power BI apps display information faithfully on every platform and function in a similar fashion. Our hypothetical data scientists in our example will have no trouble grabbing an art department iPhone and finding everything they need.

Data Sources

Any data source that can be access inside Office or Power BI can be presented within the app’s dashboard. If you need to present data from an Excel sheet in an appealing manner to someone on the other side of the planet, the app can make that happen. It also allows you to connect to commonly used data sources, such as SQL Server Reports, and outside sources, such as Google Analytics, Salesforce or MailChimp. You can even mix and match functionality, for example, overlaying Salesforce data on Google Maps.

Conclusion

Business intelligence is about putting the right information in the rights hands and in a format that makes a visually compelling case. Your company will likely invest a lot of effort in the coming years into producing analysis and generating insights. With Power BI’s mobile app, you can ensure that the people who need those insights have access to them with the touch of a finger. The app allows you to pass along analysis to stakeholders in a secure environment that makes interacting with the data easy. In short, it makes all your data analytics faster, more appealing and more accessible.

If you have questions about getting started with Power BI or want to push the toolset further, give us a call. We’re always happy to answer any questions.

 

 

Power BI vs QlikView

In the world of business intelligence, putting the right tools in the hands of the right people is critical to success. Two of the most popular tools in the industry today are Microsoft Power BI and QlikView. Both provide modeling capabilities and allow you to generate visualizations and dashboards, but there are key differences between the two products. Our BI experts at Optimus have conducted a side-by-side comparison.

Power BI Benefits

As tends to be the case with the majority of Microsoft products, the greatest strength of Power BI is its level of integration with other Microsoft products. If you’re already using Office 365 and SQL Server, you have a good chunk of the most common data sources for using Power BI already in place. It’s a fairly quick jump from entering data into an Excel spreadsheet to producing a visualization in Power BI.

Microsoft’s current commitment to cloud-based computing extends a lot of the advantages of Power BI further. For example, the Power BI mobile app can be fully connected to the rest of the software stack. If you want a sales person in the field to have access to real-time information that’s being updated on your SQL Server installation, the dashboards you create in the mobile app can stream that information live to a phone or tablet.

QlikView Benefits

QlikView is widely regarded as the more mature and robust of the two BI solutions. It’s built especially well for analytic purposes, and anyone who comes from a programming or data science background is likely to find it less limiting. QlikView allows you to get into the guts of its scripting system and tinker around with any models you create, and that can be very beneficial if you need low-level access. You can also produce a wider range of visualizations and presentations using QlikView.

One area where QlikView really excels is in raw speed. By keeping its analytics capabilities in-memory, it allows anyone with sufficient processing resources to crunch a ton of data and develop insights fast. The ability to use QlikView on locally based computers is also important to managed organizations that have strict requirements regarding the availability and storage of sensitive information.

Power BI Disadvantages

Data science people will find Power BI’s interface limiting. The cube system makes it very hard to get into low-level elements of models to make minor tweaks. This can be a net benefit for users who don’t want to tear through the weeds, but it renders Power BI the more disadvantaged of the two when it comes to raw processing power and the ability to generate unique insights.

Power BI, like almost the entire modern Microsoft software stack, is very dependent upon cloud-computing resources. While this increases availability, it also imposes regulatory and legal limitations on its use. If you work in an industry that has strict requirements for data storage, using Power BI may simply not be an acceptable choice. Many companies also just prefer to house their storage and processing capabilities on-site.

QlikView Disadvantages

The features that make QlikView powerful also make it difficult. QlikView comes with a very steep learning curve. The situation can be worse for people who don’t have a data science background. For some users, QlikView is simply too complex and difficult to acquire.

QlikView also struggles with a lack of specific purpose. This is another case where it’s somewhat freeform approach to being an analytics platform is a double-edged sword. Its functionality can be a bit of a sprawl, and some companies simply don’t have the time or people required to make the most of all that power.

The Right Tools for You

The choice between Power BI and QlikView doesn’t lead to a decision where one is clearly better than the other. You need to be serious about evaluating your people and your organization before you adopt either one. If your company is already married to the Microsoft stack and doesn’t require advanced analytics and modeling capabilities, the Power BI is the choice for you. If you find the available capabilities in programs like Excel to be too limiting, you should take a long look at QlikView. Power BI excels in ease-of-use and deployment, while QlikView benefits immensely from allowing data-centric people to get into the weeds. The critical thing is to balance the pros and cons of each package against the demands of running your operation on a daily basis.

If you’re looking to switch BI stacks or add to your current roster, speak with our BI experts. We can help you determine the best tools for your needs and your organization.