I’ve been playing with the Power BI Preview package (that is the thing that runs on your online 365 subscription, NOT the Power BI for Excel things), using my company’s E++ 365 plan.
I’m quite impressed. (Now, here’s an understatement)
There’s Power BI online where you can upload or otherwise link to data sources and then create reports and dashboards.
You can also download Power BI Designer and do some preliminary work on your local machine before sending it to the cloud.
The Power BI Designer is like Power Query bundled with Power View, but without the hassle of Excel. Very cool. I can copy/paste M code from my Excel_with_Power_Query files straight into the Power BI Designer and — swoosh — … all my data is available to be used in dashboard visualisations. I don’t have to write them from scratch. Yay. Saves a lot of time.
I can build a report using the point and click options. Tables, charts, combos. Nice.
I can save the whole shebang as a pbix file and then import (connect > upload) that pbix file to the online Power BI site. Verrrry nice. I have many MBs of data in my scenario, but the pbix file is only a few MB tall.
It took me less than 30 minutes to get company proprietary data from a SQL database into the Power BI cloud, showing in an attractive dashboard that can only be accessed by people I personally invite.
That is so totally, awesomely cool, that this line should be printed in 72pt font.
The execs of my company can download the iPhone app for Power BI and connect to the dashboards that I’ve shared with them. They can start with the overview and drill down into the data with a very cool and very intuitive interface.
My CEO can see a dashboard I create on my puny company issue PC minutes after I upload it to our Power BI site. She can use a browser in an internet cafe or her iPhone. She can drill into the data and, on the browser interface, ask questions like “show the total of all sales in the x region for the year z” and the dashboard will add a tile with that data.
Congratulations to the team who designed that.