Power BI for the Enterprise

All data projects come down to consumption. How do you get your historical, predictive, and prescriptive analytic solutions in the hands of your users? I have worked on a wide variety of projects where we have infused intelligence into applications, automated systems, and reporting. Many organizations require an internal analytics strategy that is centered around reporting, therefore, I would like the focus of this blog to address the number reason why enterprise reporting roll outs fail.

Report creators fail to provide a consumption layer that fits the desired use of the report. As an Azure consultant we will focus on Power BI rollouts and how it is important to understand the four types of Power BI users: The Developer, The Power User, The Data Query, and The Quick Answer. Please note that these types of users are not exclusive, as a single individual can fall into any number of these categories.

The Power BI Developer

This individual creates, manages, and provides knowledge transfer on the report. The developer will love drilling into and cross filtering the report to find new information because they know how to push Power BI to its limits and will include as much functionality in the report as possible by default. However, this individual is not necessarily the intended business owner or end user of the report.

A Power BI developer knows the product extremely well, and their main responsibility is to create and manage reports for business users to support the organization. These employees are not necessarily easy to find, as the analytical skillset is uncommon in the marketplace, making their time valuable. Therefore, the report developer must understand the type of end user they are delivering the report to. There is nothing more frustrating than a developer creating a report that is too complex for the user to use, and they simply discard the report after a few uses. End users discarding reports due to complexity is the biggest blocker when it comes to implementing an organizational analytics solution, and it can be avoided by the Power BI Developers.

The Power User

A Power User is someone who uses a report to make strategic decisions for the organization. They understand the product well enough to create a few simple reports if the data model is provided, and is able to understand the cross filter and drill down capabilities so that they can use the tool to answer new questions and discover insights.

From experience, these users are desired in an organization but are rarely found. It is difficult to find an individual how knows Power BI well enough to use all of its capabilities, but is not Power BI Developer. Therefore, most of the people who fall into this category are the ones who are actually creating the report as well.

As a developer, if you have a Power User consuming the report then include as many dynamic visualizations and capabilities as possible. The Power User loves finding insights and will spend great lengths of time understanding the data you provide.

The Data Query

The most common user of Power BI is the Excel user who says they want to learn Power BI but doesn’t put the effort in to understanding it. Therefore, they use Power BI as a query interface to export data into excel for them to do their own analysis. This is extremely common and is a great way to utilize Power BI. Organizations typically shake their head at an individual who uses Power BI as a data acquisition tool but I believe that getting data into the hands of users is the number one goal of an analytics strategy and this is a great way to provide specific data to users.

As a developer, if you have an individual simply querying for data then you should focus on providing simple data visualizations and lots of data tables. The visualizations will give them a quick look at trends but the tables will provide them all the information they need to complete their analysis.

The Quick Answer

Another common use of Power BI is to get the quick and high-level answers about a dataset. This individuals want to spend as little time as possible to get the information they want so that they can make intelligent decisions.

As a developer, you will need to know the exact questions this individual wants answered and create simple visuals that answer those questions. The visuals can be dynamic like bar charts and maps, but typically summary numbers are sufficient. These reports are typically provided in a dashboard using the Power BI Service.

Conclusion

Understanding your business users capabilities and needs for data consumption determines how successful your analytics deployment is. All the users described above are present in every organization and are crucial to the day to day business. Creating consumable data interfaces rests on the developer, so understand what people need and good luck!

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