Microsoft announced this week a cloud-based business intelligence (BI) program for its cloud suite Office 365. Power BI for Office 365 analysed data from Excel and used it to create interactive charts, graphs, data models and other visual representations.
Users could type “natural language” questions into a dialog box and the program automatically generated charts and graphs from the available data.
“Customers now have the ability to easily search, discover and access data inside and outside of their organisation and, with just a few clicks, shape and transform that data,” a Microsoft spokesperson wrote in a blog post.
“They can also analyse and create stunning interactive visualisations that uncover hidden insights to share and collaborate from virtually anywhere, on nearly any device.”
Power BI could combine data from public websites such as share prices and plot it in a graph against internal data, for example.
Excel already had business intelligence tools such as Power Pivot, for creating flexible data models, and Power View, which made interactive charts and graphs. Power BI for Office 365 included these tools and added Power Map, a 3D visualisation tool for mapping, exploring and interacting with geographic and temporal data, and Power Query, a search tool in Excel that mined business’ data and public data simultaneously.
The “self service” business intelligence tool could create dedicated websites which refreshed their data from online and on-premise data sources.
Microsoft had created native apps for Windows 8, Windows RT and Apple iPad and HTML5 support for Power BI for Office 365.