These days, just about any object can be connected to the Internet and, as a result, become a source of data. In fact, researchers are attempting to install Internet-connected sensors inside an active volcano in Nicaragua. The goal is to monitor the volcano’s activities in real time, gather environmental data, predict eruptions and create an early warning system.
Granted, a connected volcano is a unique Internet of Things (IoT) use case, but it serves as an example of how real-time data can be leveraged to achieve a specific objective. In a business setting, organizations are adopting analytics and business intelligence tools to mine mountains of data from a wide variety of sources. Rather than simply analyzing historical data, companies can use real-time data to predict future trends, uncover growth opportunities and create competitive advantages.
Microsoft Power BI is a cloud-based analytics service that allows organizations to quickly and easily analyze a broad range of data types, using interactive dashboards, reports and data visualization tools. As we discussed in a previous post, Power BI dashboards can be created and customized to suit your specific business needs and data analytics requirements. Your dashboard provides a consolidated view of all relevant data sets, regardless of where they reside, while metrics are displayed as tiles. Users can update, share, edit, add and remove dashboards as needed.
Microsoft has been releasing monthly updates to Power BI, each with new enhancements and features to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of data analytics. The August update to Power BI is headlined by a new, real-time dashboard tile feature that simplifies the process of bringing real-time data onto a dashboard.
A Power BI real-time dashboard tile can be created in minutes without the need for technical savvy or IT involvement. This enables users to make faster decisions based upon time-sensitive data and identify trends as they happen. Tiles can be as simple or complex as the user desires.
Data can be ingested from PubNub, a cloud-based service and API that enables real-time data streams from IoT devices. PubNub Data Streams are fed into Power BI REST APIs so data can then be visualized and converted into insights. REST APIs have also been enhanced in the August release to work seamlessly with new, real-time functionality.
These capabilities are extremely beneficial for a number of use cases, especially as the IoT continues to expand. For example, warehouses, manufacturing plants, transportation companies and utilities can monitor the health of their equipment in real time and schedule proactive maintenance to avoid downtime. Retailers can monitor and respond to customer behavior in real time to boost sales. Marketing firms can “listen” to and engage with social media followers in real time, share relevant content or promotional offers, and maximize social ROI.
While Microsoft Power BI is one of many analytics applications available, Power BI has differentiated itself by making it easier to stream, analyze, visualize and gain insights from real-time data on a user-friendly interface. Look for updates on future Power BI releases in upcoming blog posts.
Written and composed by our Senior Microsoft SharePoint Architect, Jim Eagleton