Microsoft released new custom data visualization tools for Power BI. Learn how your business can gain actionable insight with Power BI.

Data Visualization

Microsoft has done it again. In March they introduced a new product to their office store called Power BI custom visuals. If you haven’t seen it yet, these are a set of powerful visual tools that will help you create actionable insight from even the most incomprehensible data. These new tools are free to Power BI users.

The beauty of Microsoft is that they are determined to make their software accessible to even the smallest business. Traditional business analytics and intelligence tools used to be available to enterprise organizations that could afford the hefty upfront costs of on-premise installations.

But the cloud has been the great equalizer, allowing the small to mid-size business access to the same business analytics software as big industry players. Today you can download tools like Power BI custom visuals to add impact to your reports. Let’s look at the potential impact of the release of Power BI custom visuals on your business.

Customized Visualizations Add Business Intelligence

If you haven’t started using Power BI, you’re missing something special. BI stands for business intelligence – and that is exactly what this suite of products aims to provide. Power BI was designed by Microsoft to give you data analytics tools to change the way you make business decisions. Power BI launches from a customizable dashboard that gives you a 360-view of the metrics that are important to your business. Because this product is cloud-based, you’ll see a real-time snapshot of data.

You can access this dashboard from anywhere you have a digital connection. This feature-rich software allows you to not only capture and analyze relevant data, it allows the creation of custom reports that collate data from multiple disparate databases.

But it’s the power of how you visualize and present this data that is particularly important. In your business model, you probably have a variety of internal and external stakeholders that could benefit from the visual presentation of important metrics on company performance. All the data in the world will mean nothing if you don’t create and communicate insight from the patterns it produces. That’s the “intelligence” in BI – and Power BI custom visuals helps you discern meaning from the data and then apply it to your daily business decisions.

Here are some of our favorite examples of the custom visuals Power BI offers:

  • Correlation Plot can help you spot the interconnections between multiple data points. Instead of slicing and dicing multiple data points to figure out correlations, you can visually plot data and look for clues. Bubble charts are helpful in showing relationships between numerical values. This could be useful in spotting market trends across demographic segments.
  • SandDance was created to let users see both the forest – and the trees. It takes data and displays it as points on a map. You can take many individualized records and then organize them in groups to create insight. You can even display this data in 3-D. These are touch-based displays; you can drag and drop data at the touch of your fingers. It’s easy to use and visually very interesting, with smooth transitions between views to keep your presentation cohesive.
  • Word Cloud looks for frequent words in text or spreadsheets and turns them into a clever graphical image. With Word Cloud, you can forget tediously digging through big amounts of text to highlight the most frequently used words. This software does it for you, finding the themes behind the data. You can also change the appearance of the word cloud by making it larger or smaller, adding rotation, along with other fun features.

It’s important to note that Microsoft customers and the company itself created these tools. This goes to the heart of the open source movement; the source codes from these tools are available and able to be modified. This allows users to make changes to fit their business or simply to improve upon the product. This accessibility benefits everyone – including your business.

These tools can help your business in so many ways. You can:

  • Use data to tell your story
  • Build evidence-based cases or theories
  • Test ideas and hypotheses
  • Go beyond surface explanations to actually understand the “why” behind the data
  • Support purchase decisions
  • Spot customer or market trends
  • Look for correlations or causes
  • Carve out specific data subsets
  • Give broader context to data pockets
  • Create actionable insight

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