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Get More Intelligent About Your Business

Participating Solution Provider

Get More Intelligent About Your Business


Being smart in business is critical to the success of your business. You are smart but what if you could be smarter? Business Intelligence is a phrase coined in 1865 by Richard Millar Devens in the ‘Cyclopædia of Commercial and Business Anecdotes’ (from <>). Business intelligence or BI is can be defined as:

"a technology-driven process for analyzing data and presenting actionable information to help corporate executives, business managers and other end users make more informed business decisions. BI encompasses a variety of tools, applications and methodologies that enable organizations to collect data from internal systems and external sources, prepare it for analysis, develop and run queries against the data, and create reports, dashboards and data visualizations to make the analytical results available to corporate decision makers as well as operational workers" (from <>).


Being that data is "the new currency" due to the power it can give you and your business, it literally "pays" to have business intelligence.



If you know me, my company, or just read most of my blogs, you know that my company is a Microsoft partner and, as such, I will be writing this article from the angle of Microsoft's Power BI. Just so you know. :smileyface:


Microsoft's Power BI is a business intelligence set of tools, based on the cloud. This business analytics service gives you and your team a single view of all your business data that can be customized into rich visuals. Power BI is a powerful way to get that "one source of truth".



Say you have data in spreadsheet that are flat and not easy to digest quickly. You can take that spreadsheet, import it into Power BI , and create a beautiful and easily consumable report. You can also manipulate the data in different ways and display those different ways on a dashboard. You may be thinking to yourself that you can create visualizations in Excel itself and you can but sharing them easily from one place, especially as things change, can be way easier using Power BI. After you publish the dashboard, people can "go to" the data, without having the send the file around and the data can be refreshed as well.




Also, unlike sharing the Excel files around, Power BI has native apps for iPad, iPhone, and Windows devices and users can receive alerts to important changes in the data as well as have the ability to share and collaborate with colleagues and take action. Users also have the ability to query the data using Natural Query Language.




Better yet, imagine being able to connect to you data from multiple sources, manipulate/combine it, and be able to put that on a dashboard and/or create reports that are also beautifully visual and provide a compelling story of data. Well, you can with Power BI since connects to a variety of data sources across both cloud and on-premises sources!




These sources include:

  • Popular SaaS solutions, such as Dynamics CRM, Zendesk,  Marketo, Salesforce, GitHub, and others,
  • Live connectivity to On-premises databases such as SQL Server Analysis Services, and using a gateway solution, other database solutions.
  • Azure services such as SQL Azure and Stream Analytics (more Azure services will be integrated over time)
  • Excel files 


Even better yet, there are content packs which consist of pre-built dashboards, reports, data models, embedded queries, and metadata for sources such as Zendesk, MailChimp GitHub, etc. that can be used to publish and share data AND organizations can create their own from use across the organization.


What's more, you can use the online version of Power BI and/or download the desktop version. You can also publish and import data between the two.




Data sources via the Power BI Desktop are as follows:







    • Excel
    • CSV
    • XML
    • Text
    • JSON
    • Folder
    • SQL Server Database
    • Access Database
    • SQL Server Analysis Services Database
    • Oracle Database
    • IBM DB2 Database
    • MySQL Database
    • PostgreSQL Database
    • Sybase Database
    • Teradata Database
    • Microsoft Azure SQL Database
    • Microsoft Azure Marketplace
    • Microsoft Azure HDInsight
    • Microsoft Azure Blob Storage
    • Microsoft Azure Table Storage
    • appFigures
    • QuickBooks Online
    • Zendesk
    • GitHub
    • Twilio
    • SweetIQ
    • Web
    • SharePoint List
    • OData Feed
    • Hadoop File (HDFS)
    • Active Directory
    • Microsoft Exchange
    • Dynamics CRM Online
    • Facebook
    • Google Analytics
    • SAP Business Objects BI Universe
    • Salesforce Objects
    • Salesforce Reports
    • ODBC Query
    • ODBC Tables


Have Office 365 for your organization? Nice! You can:

  • Create groups in Power BI service
  • Share dashboards and reports by work group
  • Navigate from Power BI to other Office 365 workloads





You can start by signing up and you can do so for FREE! Go to to get some power for your very own. You can also get the Power BI Desktop version for free as well. As stated in an article by Oliver Rist, Business Editor at PCMag:

"unlike most of the other BI tools in this review roundup, there is a lot that you can do with the free version before you have to pony up any cash. The free version isn't time-limited but you are limited to 1 GB per user of data to analyze. (From <,2817,2494375,00.asp>).





Need MORE power? Go to for more info and pricing.


If you have Office 365 E3 or greater, you already have the power!






Need help or a demo? Need to talk this through more? We understand and are here to help. Reach out to us at and we will happily answer your questions. We can also work with you to bring Microsoft Office 365, Azure, and SharePoint as well as this and other solutions to your organization. To learn more about how we help, please see our website at

Peace and Blessings,
Nikkia T. Carter, MCPS, MS, CTT
CEO/Owner, Carter-McGowan Services, LLC
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