Following its January announcement of a free preview of the new version of its online data visualization tool, Power BI, Microsoft recently announced that the free preview version will now be available globally. This announcement will undoubtedly be greeted with cheers from Microsoft users in over 140 markets outside the US who have been waiting patiently to get their first look at the new features offered in this year's Power BI installment.
Users in the US will be most excited to learn about the new CRM integrations Microsoft is making available, greatly expanding the use of Power BI and allowing users to conduct in-depth analysis of all of their marketing activities and lead generation. Of course, Microsoft spent extra time highlighting how Power BI can be integrated with its own tool - Dynamics CRM. But the good news for non-Dynamics users is that Power BI can also be integrated into several third-party CRM services including Salesforce and Marketo. It is important to note that these "canned" connections don't preclude Power BI users from connecting to virtually any data source through the use of API's. It is also worth mentioning that while most CRM's and other production data sources have their own dashboard and reporting functionality, Power BI enables the user to combine and correlate data across sources, giving a more complete and integrated view into your business.
Sanjay Dholakia, chief marketing officer at Marketo, was thrilled with Power BI's new ability to connect to Marketo: "Data is a critical tool for marketers in this digital era... With this solution, users can now unleash the power of this marketing data across all business functions with Power BI in an easy and accessible way. Users at all levels can gain actionable insights faster than ever before."
The marriage of Power BI and CRM tools like Salesforce, Marketo, and Dynamics makes it easy for business users to gain insight into their marketing data simply by asking straight-forward English questions about their data, through Power Query. For example, if a marketing manager asks, "What are my gross margins for products A, B, and C?" or, "How many active leads do I have in the the Northwest region?", Power BI produces relevant answers, based on your data in your CRM software or other sources, in the form of graphs and other visualizations, each of which you can drill down even further into to gain additional insights.
In addition to integrating with CRM solutions like Salesforce, Marketo, GitHub, ZenDesk, and more, Microsoft also announced that it will be rolling out solutions to connect to Google Analytics, Microsoft Dynamics Marketing, Acumatica, Zuora and Twilio. Through each successive expansion and integration solution, Microsoft is seeking to take advantage of the explosive growth of big data, providing business users with tools to gain actionable insights from their data found in a multitude of different sources.
In the keynote address at Microsoft's Convergence Conference in Atlanta this week, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella put it succinctly, "The real breakthrough with Power BI is that we now have made it very simple for any one of you who is a business decision-maker to create your own personalized dashboard."
So keep your eye out for new integration solutions as they are released, and take advantage of the opportunity to preview the newest version of Power BI for free ahead of its official release later this year.
If you have any questions about business intelligence or are curious how BI technology can help your business succeed, contact Jon Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 970-214-1652.
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