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Three BI dashboard best practices you need to know

As companies struggle with BI integration, Microsoft has figured out the magic formula with its Power BI dashboard. Here are the three BI dashboard best practices you should follow.

In a highly competitive market, where companies are looking to technology to help give them the edge to stay ahead...

of their competition, business intelligence has always been the area at which department heads have looked to help them monitor and manage the performance of their teams. BI dashboards that can provide feedback on customer service scores or sales quotas can provide valuable insights and help support business decisions across the company.

Despite the strong need for BI tools, many companies struggle with end-user adoption, and some attribute that to the complexity and cost of the tools in the market place.

Microsoft is looking to do things slightly differently in order to engage more end users across organizations, and its Power BI platform is showing clear signs that things are looking up for both Microsoft and its customers. Power BI is the data visualization platform that Microsoft has been pushing and showcasing as its flagship BI product. The service was released to the general public back in 2015, and it has already earned itself a top spot in the Gartner Magic Quadrant in just two short years.

The Power BI platform offers organizations a complete cloud product that can store and manage data visualizations made from client data that either resides on premises at the client sites or online. Power BI enables both advanced and novice users to build meaningful dashboards that are relevant to them, with little need for advanced training or licensing, though (Power BI does offer free licensing for individuals to use the platform for themselves, with some limitations).

The BI dashboard continues to provide functionality that supports end-user adoption in several different ways. Here are the BI dashboard best practices enterprise users can adopt within the platform.

Standardize data visualization components across multiple products

The BI dashboard comes packaged with many commonly used Microsoft products, including SharePoint, Microsoft CRM, Dynamics and, of course, Office 365. These products all include some level of reporting capabilities, and some of them even include dashboards.

Since the introduction of Power BI, Microsoft has not been shy about rolling out its new BI stack and embedding it in as many products and services as it can. Power BI is slowly becoming a familiar name for many CRM, SharePoint and Office 365 users. This approach by Microsoft is encouraging users of some of its other products to become more comfortable with the platform by seeing it in action across multiple workloads.

Consolidate reporting for quick data retrieval

Companies tend to find themselves dealing with multiple BI and reporting platforms. Different business units have typically adopted what is, in their mind, the appropriate set of reporting tools for them. But, as IT decision-makers begin to realize that platforms such as Power BI can cater to most departmental requirements, leveraging one common BI platform from which all dashboards can be managed and distributed is valuable.

The software-as-a-service product enables all of its users to access their department's dashboards in one central location, and offers the user the ability to create different workspaces in which teams can interact and communicate around different BI findings. End users also have the option to create specific Power BI apps that can act like BI dashboards that deliver specific sets of reports designated for specific roles or individuals within a department.

View insights from within an organization's own apps

Another key feature of Microsoft's BI platform is its ability to integrate with a company's custom applications. This feature helps end users stay within the business application and consume BI dashboards without changing applications.

Large enterprise clients have welcomed some of the recent changes to the licensing model under which they can use the Power BI Premium licensing approach. With this approach, organizations can have a mix of users licensed under the Power BI Pro license, in addition to a general consumption based fee for the general end users who may not be frequent consumers of BI dashboards. This approach helps reduce the costs that were once associated with the need to license every user who touched dashboards, even periodically.

So far, Power BI has risen in the ranks of business intelligence and data visualization tools in a space that has been historically crowded. With the existing market penetration that Microsoft has, and continued investments into the features and capabilities of Power BI that create stickiness with business users, Microsoft will continue to see an increase in the number of users, especially if organizations use these BI dashboard best practices. 

Next Steps

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This was last published in June 2017

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