Data is the lifeblood of modern businesses. Yet, with so much amassed every day by organisations across the globe, if companies can’t make sense of the information at their disposal, they can’t use it to make worthwhile improvements to their processes and practices. 

That is where business intelligence software is critical in helping organisations make sense of their data and use it to generate actionable insights for their various operations. Here, we will break down Microsoft’s flagship BI solution, Power BI, and why companies should care about what it can accomplish for them. 

What is Power BI?

Power BI is a powerful data visualisation tool, collated across a range of cloud-based apps and services. It will integrate with almost all data sources, allowing you to employ it to analyse data and run reports almost immediately, without no configuration required. 

Through this, Power BI helps businesses adapt and conform to today’s data-driven culture. It is not only powerful and secure, but also remarkably accessible and easy-to-use. This makes it an ideal choice for those looking to make use of the information they have to hand, and effective whether you are an expert in data science or a complete novice. 

Harness data like never before

Power BI gives you the power to create stunning data visualisations at the click of a button. With it, there is no need to learn old deprecated frameworks, or to spend hours digging into excel reports with Visual Basic. 

Better yet, once you create these stunning visualisations, you can share them across your organisation with ease. This ensures that anyone who needs to see your insights can do so at their convenience. 

What about if you need to analyse the growth percentages between the different units within your business? Power BI has you covered; it provides you with the tools to create powerful Data Analysis Expressions (DAX) queries to generate even the most complex reports with ease. 

Prescise decision-making

Real-time data is key to making important, proactive business decisions; a mere snapshot of historical data doesn’t tell you what you need to know as your company grows and evolves. Access to a continuous, real-time data stream means any business decision is taken using the most relevant and up-to-date data. 

Power BI also provides integrations with many different services. One of these, Azure ML, allows you to easily create and integrate predictive data. This means your business can make key decisions based on future data. 

Meaningful data collaboration

With Power BI, collaborating data from multiple data streams has never been easier. It gives you the tools to combine and match data from various sources, including: 

  • Excel workbooks 
  • MS SQL databases 
  • Azure SQL Data Warehouses 
  • Google Analytics 

These and many more can be imported in just a few clicks. Once the data is imported, it is then straightforward to transform it further by changing column names, changing data types, adding new columns, etc.

You can even manage the relationships between each of your data sets. For example, let’s say you import two data sets – one from an Excel worksheet called “Excel Table”, the other from an MS SQL database called “SQL Table”. You decide that the “Changed ID” column in “Excel Table” has a “many-to-one” relationship to the “Created ID” column in “SQL Table”. This can be easily established in the “Manage relationships” section within Power BI. 

How we use it for Fundipedia

When it comes to Power BI, it was important for us to not only understand what features our customers wanted to see from Fundipedia, but also how they and their users utilise the system. 

Our first step was defining how we want to measure “usage”. The most obvious path was the “Approvals” section, as all changes made to any entity within Fundipedia go through to here. Once this approach was agreed, we next had to collate all necessary data to start building a visual representation.  

The first metrics were “ Entity types by approvals“, “ Records by approvals” and “ Fields by approvals“, which you can see in the screenshot below: 

After these metrics were generated, it only made sense to dig a bit deeper and incorporate some real drill-down reporting into how approvals have been issued throughout the history of Fundipedia. Below is a screenshot of a time-series line chart that allows you to closely examine information on a day-by-day basis. For this, I will show an overview of all the data contained in the report:

The light blue line represents the historical data for all changes made through the Approvals system that have been accepted. The dark blue line is a future forecast of these accepted changes for the next year.

After further investigation, it became apparent that having core insights into field usage within Fundipedia would also be extremely useful. So, our next step was to build up some more visual aids to allow us to see just what users are doing with the fields in Fundipedia. Below, is a screenshot of some interesting insights we picked up on field usage:

The left side contains the 5 most-used and the 5 least-used fields based on the number of approvals that have passed through them. The right side contains the 5 most-used and the 5 least-used data types based on the number of fields linked to each data type.

Whilst this information is useful at a glance, more information was needed – if we know that the AUD Swift field is the least-used, how do we know which entity that field is linked to? This question brought life to a new node-based report, which can be seen below:

Whilst this might look like a blob at first glance, this is a network of every entity and all of their fields.

On closer inspection we can see how an individual field is linked to many entities. Below is a screenshot of the most-used field, “Factsheet risk summary”, which can be found in the above screenshot in the upper-right quarter of the screen.

Master Data in Your Business

Now that you hopefully have a stronger appreciation of the benefits Power BI can offer your business, including how we deploy it here at Fundipedia, you can discover these first-hand by speaking to our team today. We are dedicated to helping asset management firms collate, manage and utilise fund data like never before, adding structure, flexibility and security to immense quantities of information.

If you would like to discuss how we can help you harness Power BI, or are interested in learning more about our comprehensive data management solutions, talk to our team today.

Matt Hope, Software Consultant