Today we are pleased to announce a new offering that builds on our cloud-first data platform -- Power BI for Office 365. Unveiled this morning by Satya Nadella, President of the Server and Tools Business, during his keynote at our annual Worldwide Partner Conference, Power BI for Office 365 is a new self-service business intelligence (BI) solution delivered through Excel and Office 365 which provides information workers with data analysis and visualization capabilities to identify deeper business insights from their on-premises and cloud data.

Businesses today are feeling the impact of some important trends that are converging in the enterprise: the growth of cloud services, a marked increase in data volume and processing needs, and employee demand for more simplified, intuitive connections with that data. In response to these trends, we’ve created Power BI for Office 365, a solution which dramatically reduces the barriers for businesses of all sizes to use and deploy self-service BI tools.

Bringing Big Data to a billion users

Power BI for Office 365 brings self-service BI solutions to everyday business users through the familiar tool they already use – Excel. By betting on Excel, we can bring the power of big data insights to the people who are closest to the business – not a specialist with an expensive, specialized tool -- but everyone in the organization can find deeper insights that will help them make better decisions. By delivering this service from Office 365, we can reach thousands of organizations who already trust Microsoft as a cloud service provider – one in four of our enterprise customers now has Office 365 – with a cloud service that deploys in minutes.

A few years ago we delivered powerful data modeling and visualization capabilities with Power Pivot and Power View. These tools can create flexible models, process hundreds of millions of rows of data in split second times, and help business users discover and share new insights with colleagues through interactive charts and graphs. To complement these existing Excel capabilities we’re introducing Power Query (formerly Project codename “Data Explorer”) and Power Map (formerly Project codename “GeoFlow”).

Power Query helps customers easily discover, access, and combine their data while Power Map allows users to create rich 3D geospatial visualizations in Excel. This comprehensive set of capabilities in Excel gives the over one billion Office users the ability to do more with their data through quick, easy-to-use, familiar tools. Business users can now search for new data sets both inside and outside their company that can be combined and analyzed within Excel. These new tools not only make it easy to connect to traditional structured data, but also allows business users to easily connect to a Hadoop cluster in a company’s data center or to Windows Azure HDInsight in the cloud.

Power Map

Power Map

Combining the familiarity of self-service BI capabilities in Excel with the ability to host interactive workbooks and data views in Office 365, Power BI for Office 365 includes critical functionality that enables customers to easily connect to their data inside and outside their organizations. Additionally, customers can share updates with their colleagues in real time and on mobile devices, interact with their data in new ways to gain faster insights and manage their work more effectively. New capabilities include:

  • A Data Management Gateway which enables IT to build connections to on-premise data sources and schedule refreshes. Business users always have the most up to date reports, whether on their desktop or over their device.
  • BI Sites, dedicated workspaces optimized for BI projects, which allow business users to quickly find and share data and reports with colleagues and collaborate over BI results.
  • Real-time access to BI Sites and data no matter where a user is located via mobile devices. Customers can access their data through the browser in HTML5 or through touch-optimized mobile applications for Windows 8, Windows RT, Surface and iPad devices.
  • A natural language query experienced called Q&A which allows users to ask questions of their data and receive immediate answers in the form of an interactive table, chart or graph.

Q&A in Power BI for Office 365

Q&A in Power BI for Office 365

  • New capabilities which allow more active users or data stewards to manage and monitor the data views created for their individual and team’s analysis.

The public preview of Power BI for Office 365 will be available this summer. You can sign up now at www.office.com/powerbi to be notified when the preview is available. To learn more about Power BI, see the Microsoft Office News blog “Announcing Power BI for Office 365” and the Office 365 Tech blog “What Powers PowerBI in Office 365”. You can also visit the new Power BI blog here. For more information about today’s announcements at WPC, read Satya Nadella’s blog, “Partners in the Cloud for Modern Business”. And you can keep up to date will the news and action from WPC by following #wpc2013.

Eron Kelly
General Manager
SQL Server