First unveiled to the public in 2015, Microsoft Power BI provides business analytics to users by allowing them to create interactive visualizations with self-service business intelligence capabilities, resulting in user-generated reports and dashboards.
Power BI connects with hundreds of data sources, from Microsoft Excel to Microsoft Dynamics to Oracle and more. The challenge, however, can be how to easily and quickly get all that data connected the right way for Power BI to access. Out-of-the-box solutions offer some quick-fix options, but using data dumps and canned reports will eventually have you hitting the ceiling of those tools’ capabilities.
What if you could solve almost every reporting challenge you faced with those other tools with one solution?
The Building Blocks
For the non-IT folks, let’s first take a look at some simplified Power BI Architecture. There are two major ways to get your data from the data source(s) to Power BI. First is to point directly from the data source to Power BI. This is a complex arrangement because it requires users to create all the connections between data and Power BI. That can get messy fast, especially if you’re not an IT guru.
Your other option is to build a data warehouse. Sounds simple enough, but the actual nuts and bolts of it can be technically complex, not to mention pricey. Waiting for that data warehouse construction may also throw off your go-live timing. Suddenly what was an easy install of Power BI becomes a month-long (or longer!) very expensive data warehouse build that needs to be completed before you can ever get a chance to create a single report.
Data Construction Zone
If your non-IT eyes glazed over just at that simple explanation, you’re in luck: There’s another way. By connecting your data to Power BI using Atlas for Dynamics AX / 365 in Excel, you suddenly have the ability to pull as much data as you want into Excel to use as a data source for your Power BI. No waiting. No expensive data warehouse build. Not even a need for IT to build connections for you. If you can manipulate a basic Excel spreadsheet, you can use Atlas.
That sounds a lot better to us, too.
Atlas overcomes your data-gathering challenges because it reads all the relationships between your databases, not just your ERP. Connect multiple databases and arrange data in Excel to push into Power BI for dashboards. Best of all, you’re using the same data to then create any Excel-based reports, or even reports in PowerPoint, creating continuity between the various report and dashboard formats you need to submit or present.
Even with Atlas for Dynamics, your organizations may find that it still needs a data warehouse, and that’s normal. Atlas will still facilitate faster reporting with the use of your data warehouse, and since you already have Atlas in place, you can continue formulating reports and dashboards while waiting for data warehouse construction to be complete.
We Can All Work Together
While Atlas and Power BI are both strong platforms in their own right, it’s easy to see how the two programs are complementary and work even better together. While Power BI is excellent for creating charts and graphs, there are times you will still need cells and columns: You wouldn’t use Atlas to plot customers on a map any more than you’d use Power BI to create an income statement with added variance columns.
Atlas’ greatest boon to working in tandem with Power BI, perhaps, is its automation capabilities. Users can dictate that Atlas pull data from Dynamics into a spreadsheet that will build the Power BI dashboard, then schedule the spreadsheet to refresh automatically. The Power BI dashboard is instantly updated without the need for a data warehouse, feeding directly from Dynamics data via Atlas. It’s the easiest table structure you’re likely to find.
All this simply scratches the surface of what Atlas can do with your Dynamics 365 / AX data in concert with Power BI. The trifecta combination of Excel, Atlas, and Power BI gives you the power to solve nearly every reporting challenge you’ve bumped into with other out-of-the-box tools. What are you waiting for? It’s time you put this winning combination to work for your Dynamics data and reporting. Get a FREE demo now.
Global Software, Inc. is the leading provider of Microsoft Excel-based automation & reporting software solutions to enhance the world’s foremost Business Intelligence (BI), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and operational platforms. The Company’s flagship offering, Spreadsheet Server streamlines data analytic processes and bridge the operational gap between Company data and reporting, resulting in timely and cost saving secure financial and operational reporting, budgeting, and automated report delivery.