The term Business Intelligence (BI) refers to technologies, applications and practices for the collection, integration, analysis, and presentation of business information. The purpose of Business Intelligence is to support better business decision making. Essentially, Business Intelligence systems are data-driven Decision Support Systems (DSS). Business Intelligence is sometimes used interchangeably with briefing books, report and query tools and executive information systems.
What is Power BI?
Power BI is a business analytics service provided by Microsoft. It provides interactive visualisations with self-service business intelligence capabilities, where end users can create reports and dashboards by themselves, without having to depend on any information technology staff or database administrator.
Microsoft describe it as follows: Power BI is a suite of business analytics tools that deliver insights throughout your organisation. Connect to hundreds of data sources, simplify data prep, and drive ad hoc analysis. Produce beautiful reports, then publish them for your organisation to consume on the web and across mobile devices. Everyone can create personalised dashboards with a unique, 360-degree view of their business. And scale across the enterprise, with governance and security built-in.
What can you do with it?
One of the first thing you can do with Power Bi is connect some of the apps that you use.
To sign up to use Power BI go to https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/
Once you are signed in click the get data link in the bottom left corner and browse through the apps you can use.
If your website uses google analytics you can connect it up to Power BI and see some cool analytics. The below map was generated from some google analytics data, you can see that this website has had users across the globe, with UK and USA getting a lot of hits.
Another thing you can do is connect Azure Application Insights. This provides some similar data to google analytics about who is visiting your site.
If your code is hosted in Visual Studio Team Services you can get some cool analytics from your commit history.
There is a huge long list of apps you can connect to power BI so you can start getting all sorts of analysis very easily. I am hopefully going to talk another time about getting custom data into Power BI.