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Bringing it All Together: Integrated Reporting

Digital transformation is all about people, processes and tools. With the evolution of your business, you’ve embraced agile and lean business models, built a customer-centric workforce and culture, and worked diligently to aggregate and integrate all of your business applications. The next step to driving business forward and transforming your business is through the power of data.

With or without integrated technologies, you need access to integrated reporting that gives you on-demand insights into the health of your business, investments and infrastructure.

Utilizing technology like Power BI enables your business to analyze multiple sets of data and spot trends and areas where your business needs to shift focus. It allows you to tell a story of the data where others may only see numbers and letters in a table. The goal is to develop actionable intelligence which progresses your business forward in the right direction. Don’t think you know what the problem is, know for certain! This is where integrated business intelligence and statistical analysis comes in.

Business Health: Finance

Traditionally, at the end of each quarter, Finance has to wait for reports from Sales Managers and build a forecast based on that data. The data would be pulled from some SQL database or CRM reporting tool and aggregated into an Excel file. This of course required an analyst or team to build the relationships within the information and typically would not be updated for ongoing changes or updates to the sales reports. PowerBI, however, connects to multiple data sources (either via streaming or direct query) and pushes data whenever a change is made in CRM. This offers a live stream of data for Finance and Leadership – when Sales enter their opportunities into CRM, PowerBI automatically calculates projections, shifting budgeting and forecasting from reactive (and quarterly!) to proactive, real-time and on-demand. Sales Managers and Leadership can now drill down into the forecasts, spotting trends, and drilling into months, weeks, and days, filtered by geography, department or team. This goes far beyond your standard Excel forecast and can be implemented within hours, not days or weeks.

Investment Health: Office 365

When you make an investment into a new solution, you want to make sure you’re getting the absolute best ROI. Oftentimes, we see companies who have deployed Office 365 but only utilize Exchange and OneDrive for Business and forget about the rest of the applications and features available. Since PowerBI is connected to the rest of your Office 365 experience, you can explore usage monitoring, which allows you to monitor the user consumption of all the Office 365 applications in your tenant. This is particularly handy when IT is inundated with complaints about missing files and attachments – when you can see that users aren’t utilizing OneDrive, you can quickly rectify the situation by offering training and guidance on the tools available and how to use them. Using PowerBI, you can pin point where your organization needs help, increase productivity and collaboration across teams and departments, and maximize your ROI.

Infrastructure Health: Azure

By connecting PowerBI to Azure, you gain visibility into consumption and spend by organization, department, product, etc. – whatever you can imagine – to gain greater insights of your infrastructure. Let’s say you decide to tag all of your products (virtual machine, SQL database, etc.) to monetize your spending per product or resource. If you have multiple tags for each project, you won’t be able to see consumption for each product within the project individually, at least until you deploy PowerBI. With a connection to your Azure EA, you can pull tag reports, break out each one individually, run a query and see how much you’re spending for each project and what products are being utilized under each one. Now you have on-demand access to which departments are consuming the most and which products consume the most over time. You can also build in historical data and what you can expect to spend over the next 90 days, allowing you to prepare for consumption spikes.

Having this capability allows you to see spikes in spending and know why and where they came from. If there is a spike in December, you can drill down to the exact

Before you get started

You’re right – PowerBI does sound awesome! But before you get started there are some things you need to consider:

  • PowerBI offers excellent reports and visuals for you to share across the organization, but data can very easily be misinterpreted. We see this a lot during election season – you turn on your television to check the polls and one candidate seems to have a huge lead over the other, just by looking at a plain bar chart. Suddenly they turn on the actual figures and you realize they’ve exaggerated the size difference as there’s only a two percent difference between the two. Make sure your data is shown as it should be, without bias or predjudice. One decimal out of place or one missing number creates an entirely different view. While PowerBI provides a world of customizable data, we strongly recommend working with a data analyst to build accurate reports with connections to the right data.
  • Correlation does not always mean causation! Just because there’s a dip in gross profit and sales in the same period does not mean your Sales team is slacking. It’s an opportunity to review historical data of the same period to understand if it’s a momentary dip or reoccurring seasonality.
  • There’s so much data out there – especially with the proliferation of SaaS apps – and you need to be careful of how you analyze it. If you simply take a ton of data and throw it in a report, you’re just looking at a ton of data. You need to turn it into actionable insights, like with the example of increasing ROI through Office 365 monitoring. Make sure that the data you collect and display is going to answer the questions you want to ask it, otherwise it’s just noise.

PowerBI is a great big world of data, but great big worlds can be hard to navigate. If you’re ready to get started and want to lean on the experts, fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch soon.


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