Power BI enjoys great popularity and has grown to become one of the stars in the Microsoft cosmos alongside the familiar applications from Microsoft Office such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. In July of this year, the software solution celebrated its fifth anniversary and Microsoft was named a leading provider for the 13th time in a row in the Gartner 2020 Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms.

We spoke with Lutz Jannausch, Head of Business Applications at Microsoft Germany, about developments in business intelligence, data visualization and integrated planning solutions.

Mr. Jannausch, please introduce yourself.

My name is Lutz Jannausch and I am responsible at Microsoft for building new business solutions for business applications. My team of solution architects develops growth strategies with customers, consulting firms and system integrators and implements these new business models on Microsoft’s Business Platform – which also includes Power BI.

Spreadsheets – a blessing or a curse?

Many companies still use the spreadsheet solution Excel for their planning. Users appreciate the versatility of Excel and its intuitive operation, because almost every Office user is already familiar with Excel. Nevertheless, for many planning scenarios, the use of dedicated planning software makes sense, which often brings advantages such as automating the tasks of data provision and data aggregation. Our customers give us the feedback that the interaction of Excel, the planning software from Jedox and Power BI for reporting brings the greatest level of added value.

Why are BI tools irreplaceable today?

For every medium and large company that has not completely missed out on digitization, the following applies: there are not just mountains, but entire mountain ranges of data from different departments available. Those who do without the preparation and further use of this data also leave a lot of potential value for their own organization in the dust. Further processing via Excel is possible, but once a certain amount of data is available, it is simply no longer practical. The man-hours that would flow into such a project would be difficult to justify. This is where BI tools come into play. They provide the tools to easily prepare data and make it accessible at a glance through visualizations even for users who aren’t numbers-nerds. This saves an enormous amount of time and allows a quick overview of the complex relationships for all parties involved.

Where does the sharp increase in demand for data visualization come from?

The more data is available, the more confusing it gets. In visualizations, an infinite amount of data can be meaningfully summarized. By means of visualizations such as bar or pie charts, the lost overview is regained and recommendations for action can be derived from the visually presented data information. In addition, visualizations are suitable for compact and visually appealing presentation of facts, especially for reports and presentations. This applies equally to both inside and outside of organizations.

Why is it useful to combine planning software with Power BI?

Power BI is particularly suitable for the preparation, analysis, and visualization of data. Its extensive capabilities for creating interactive dashboards to make data visually accessible in real time are second to none.  The planning software keeps the focus on the planning functionalities, for example for budgets and forecasts. There is an enormous need here to make planning data accessible to a large number of stakeholders in the company in an understandable way. The closer different solutions can be combined, the better.

Why is close integration so important?

Of course, you can use different software solutions separately. However, this raises a fundamental question: How can the common data basis always be kept up-to-date and used simultaneously in several systems for the various tasks in departments? The follow-up questions and the pitfalls that arise from them cause headaches. A seamlessly integrated solution saves you the challenge of data silos. With Microsoft Azure and the Microsoft Power Platform, we have created an ideal system environment in which software solutions interact seamlessly. This was recognized early on at Jedox. Users work in their familiar environment and don’t have to worry about the surroundings.

What exactly is behind the Microsoft Power Platform?

The Microsoft Power Platform is more than the sum of its parts. It’s about connecting applications and simplifying data exchange – with Office 365, Dynamics 365, Azure and hundreds of other applications. The result is end-to-end business solutions that accelerate agile development through a low-code approach and enterprise adoption. At the same time, they give virtually every user in the enterprise the ability to automate workflows and create integrated solutions with instant data connectivity that drive business. Out-of-the-box applications and automation give your teams more time to focus on strategic activities. This platform can also be used to modernize legacy systems and processes with intelligence and ease, helping you to quickly adapt to new business requirements at any time. This way you can create customized workflows and processes that motivate your employees and increase your agility as an entire company.

What will the future bring in terms of Business Intelligence?

There is a strong trend to make Business Intelligence accessible to everyone in the organization. This will enable everyone in your organization to make compelling decisions based on up-to-the-minute analysis. Furthermore, Business Intelligence will lead to better decisions or predictions by integrating intelligent tools such as Artificial Intelligence. Last but not least, the topic of Customer Data Platform (CDP) should be mentioned here. A customer data platform is the solution to the problem of unconnected customer data systems and is widely regarded as the next step in marketing technology to finally make the 360° customer view a reality. A customer data platform is essential to ensure the right offer is delivered to the right person at the right time. In addition, you can customize every customer contact, from marketing to sales to service.

We would like to thank Lutz Jannausch for joining us for this Q&A. To learn more about planning in Power BI, watch our on-demand webinar. Together with Microsoft, we show how you can seamlessly combine Jedox & Power BI to get the best of both worlds.