Access to accurate, real-time data and analytics is critical for mid-market financial services companies to operate and grow their business. However, the industry is suffering from information overload which makes extracting, consolidating and analysing the terabytes of data pouring in from a multitude of disparate sources challenging.
But things are changing. Business intelligence (BI) tools such as Microsoft Power BI (Power BI), Tableau and Qlik are delivering powerful analytical and visual reporting capabilities and transforming the way financial services firms manage and access their data.
According to Gartner, Microsoft Power BI is ahead of the pack when it comes to BI solutions and has been moving further and further away from its closest competitors over the past few years. This is mainly due to its flexibility – namely its ability to connect multiple data sources together and automatically share reports via the Microsoft (Azure) cloud or on-premise servers – for easy access to those who need it. Not forgetting, there are no license fees to get started with the desktop version!
Here we dig deeper into the capabilities of Power BI that are capturing the attention of mid-market financial services firms.
1. Consolidate multiple data sources to create meaningful reports
Power BI is enabling businesses to quite literally transform millions of rows of data across multiple data sources, access data from virtually anywhere (database tables, flat files, folders, cloud services, etc.) and create fully automated data shaping. It can handle a variety of data sources, from a simple Excel file to an API connection to a specific platform (e.g. Yahoo Finance or Bloomberg). Not surprisingly, Power BI also integrates seamlessly with the Microsoft Product suite such as MS Teams and PowerApps.
2. “Live” real-time dashboard refresh
Power BI has the ability to schedule automated data refreshes as regularly as needed and publish it to dashboards with ease. This ensures the user is accessing the latest data at any given point in time (a timestamp confirms the time the last refresh was completed) while maintaining the ability to export hard copies to their desktop via PDF or excel if required.
3. Access reports from anywhere
Power BI enables companies to access a single view of their most critical data via the Microsoft (Azure) cloud or on-premise servers. It allows them to monitor the health of their business using a live dashboard, create rich interactive reports (with Power BI Desktop) and access data on the go with the native Power BI Mobile apps. When compared to Excel or other BI tools in the market, the Power BI mobile apps offer unparalleled functionality for a superior user experience. In fact, users can access the majority of the desktop features from their mobile devices.
4. One click drill down and easy manipulation of visuals
Power BI enables users to drill down into each visualisation in order to understand how the data is presented and provide a pivot view if required. What’s more, changing the format of visuals – from a bar chart to a scatter chart, or a custom visual from the Microsoft store – is quick and easy to do.
5. Low license and maintenance costs
Microsoft offers three versions of Power BI. The Desktop version enables businesses to get started for free, the Pro version enables data and reports to be published to the Microsoft (Azure) cloud and the Premium version enables data and reports to be published to on-premise servers. For businesses with a SQL Server Enterprise Edition license with Software Assurance, Power BI Premium is included under the guise of Power BI Report Services, however, authors will still need a Pro license to publish reports.
The right business intelligence tool is transforming the value of data for businesses. Find out how Lanware is helping mid-market financial services companies transform their business by implementing Power BI here.