The PASS Business Analytics Conference -- the event where big data meets business analytics – kicked off today in San Jose. Microsoft Technical Fellow Amir Netz and Microsoft Partner Director Kamal Hathi delivered the opening keynote, where they highlighted our customer momentum, showcased business analytics capabilities including a new feature update to Power BI for Office 365 and spoke more broadly on what it takes to build a data culture.

To realize the greatest value from their data, businesses need familiar tools that empower all their employees to make decisions informed by data. By delivering powerful analytics capabilities in Excel and deploying business intelligence solutions in the cloud through Office 365, we are reducing the barriers for companies to analyze, share and gain insight from data. Our customers have been responding to this approach through rapid adoption of our business analytics solutions -- millions of users are utilizing our BI capabilities in Excel and thousands of companies have activated Power BI for Office 365 tenants.

One example of how our customers are using our business analytics tools is MediaCom, a global advertising agency which is using our technology to optimize performance and “spend” across their media campaigns utilizing data from third party vendors. With Power BI for Office 365, the company now has a unified dashboard for real-time data analysis, can share reports, and can ask natural-language questions that instantly return answers in the form of charts and graphs. MediaCom now anticipates analyses in days versus weeks and productivity gains that can add millions of dollars in value per campaign.

One of the reasons we’re experiencing strong customer adoption is because of our increased pace of delivery and regular service updates. Earlier this week we released updates for the Power Query add-in for Excel and today we are announcing the availability of forecasting capabilities in Power BI for Office 365. With forecasting users can predict their data series forward in interactive charts and reports. With these new Power BI capabilities, users can explore the forecasted results, adjust for seasonality and outliers, view result ranges at different confidence levels, and hindcast to view how the model would have predicted recent results.  

In the keynote we also discussed how we will continue to innovate to enable better user experiences through touch-optimized capabilities for data exploration. We are also working with our customers to make their existing on-premises investments “cloud-ready”, including the ability for customers to run their SQL Server Reporting Services and SQL Server Analysis Services reports and cubes in the cloud against on-premises data. For cross-platform mobile access across all devices we will add new features to make HTML5 the default experience for Power View.

To learn more about the new forecasting capabilities in Power BI for O365, go here. If you’re attending the PASS Business Analytics Conference this week, be sure to stop by the Microsoft booth to see our impressive Power BI demos and attend some of the exciting sessions we’re presenting at the event.