What is Power BI and how can I use it?

Power BI is a business analytics solution from Microsoft that comes bundled with the E5 enterprise license for Microsoft 365 or is available on a standalone basis. It can be considered as part of the 365 universe and provides powerful opportunities to present data in attractive dashboards from Office 365 tools and services, and beyond.

Power BI can be extremely effective for any digital workplace and we often advise clients on how they may be able to take advantage of its capabilities. It has also been an integral component of some of the solutions we have delivered.

To give clients an overview of Power BI and its possibilities, weve written this article to explain exactly what Power BI is and how you can use it in your business. This is part of our occasional blog series on the fundamentals of the individual parts of the Microsoft 365 universe. You may also be interested in our posts on Microsoft TeamsMicrosoft Graph, PowerApps and Flow (being rebranded as Power Automate).  Please note that events move pretty fast in the Microsoft world these days the details in this article were correct at the time of writing, as far as were aware.

What is Power BI?

Microsoft itself describes Power BI as  a business analytics solution that lets you visualise your data and share insights across your organisation, or embed them in your app or website.  It is positioned as one of the three main tools of the Power Platform, emphasising the advantages of integrating capabilities with apps (via Power Apps) and workflow / automation (via Power Automate).

Power BI helps organisations:

  • Create dashboards of data from multiple sources
  • Publish related reports
  • Share these across your organisation to support operations, decision-making and more
  • Access this information from either desktop or mobile devices.

There are currently two levels of licensing Power BI Pro, a simpler, self-service platform and Power BI Premium, an enterprise-level service covering more advanced delivery and analytics, as well as extras like the ability to tap into some of Microsoft AI and machine learning frameworks.  The Pro  level comes bundled with the E5 level of Office 365 subscription, while the latters pricing is calculated on a by case basis. The levels of licensing really determine what youre able to do so its worth investigating this fully before you go and sign up to anything.


PowerBI comes with a strong set of capabilities to  deliver dashboards and reporting, that can really help disseminate the way you visualise data and business intelligence around your organisation and make it actionable. In fact, Power BI is an excellent way to democratise your data.  Features include:

  • The ability to create an array of dashboards, reports and other data visualisations.
  • Access to a library of visual elements, wider visualisations and themes, as well as a kit to create custom visuals.
  • A library of data connectors for other data sources, both in the cloud and on-premises.
  • Tools to help you prepare the data (potentially from multiple sources) for visualisation and reporting.
  • Robust reporting and export capabilities including print and excel options, as well as the ability to embed content in SharePoint, Teams and other systems.
  • The ability to interact with and personalise BI content.
  • Access to the Power BI mobile app.
  • Report subscriptions and notifications.
  • AI-powered data modelling (Premium only).

How can my organisation use PowerBI?

Power BI allows you to create data visualisations and reports that can be applied to a variety of use cases.  More or less anything that requires regular, real-time reporting and needs to display data from a variety of systems and applications (from the Microsoft stack and beyond) is perfect for Power BI.  This arms organisations with the ability to actually track processes and monitor data that was previously very difficult to do and can genuinely transform decision-making in your organisation.

Successful data visualisation can also help to galvanise action and get people to use data more comprehensively in the way they work; a well-thought out dashboard can be considerably more powerful than rows and rows of numbers presented in a spreadsheet.

Data visualisation can be targeted at the individual, team and even organisational level. Personalisation and interrogation options within Power BI help to ensure this can happen. For example:

  • Individually an employee may want to have a dashboard of all my personal HR and KPI data, covering everything from how many days of annual leave I have left to my time utilisation on projects.
  • At the team level particular functions may need data to perform key roles and processes, for example IT monitoring or displaying data for management teams.
  • At the enterprise level you may want to use Power BI to display key organisational KPIs such as annual sales or health & safety statistics on your intranet homepage, using data to promote and underpin organisational priorities.

Even more use cases

Our popular article 19 business processes you can automate using Office 365 and Wizdom, includes several use cases that incorporates use of Power BI:

  • IT and facilities performance monitoring to keep on top of anything from load times on different web channels and services to the temperature in different parts of your office.
  • The ability to report on Office 365 adoption, helping your digital workplace team roll out the suite of tools in a more targeted and efficient way.
  • Financial reporting and monitoring supporting decision-making for senior management.
  • Tracking and managing IT assets including devices, equipment, software licenses and more, and visualising the appropriate data.
  • Visualising the Know Your Client due diligence process to on-board new clients, suppliers and vendors, and minimise risks involved.
  • Dashboards for resource planning, for example to view information from a variety of different sources including your HR or ERP system, your timecard system and project planning software.
  • Creating project management dashboards to report project information and progress, incorporating data from different systems.

Its also worth noting that you can also use Power BI to present information externally, for example to customers on your website.

How weve helped clients


We regularly use Power BI to deliver solutions to our clients. Were particularly proud of the award-winning work we carried out for Moving Made Easy, a property company that uses a custom-built Office 365 digital workplace to manage the end-to-end property selling process. Within this Power BI is used to  provide management and customers with a real time view of important data including the number of close deals in the week and contact reports showing the details of all property valuations and viewings.



At Xcaptial, a UK-based private equity house, we built a custom Office 365 and Teams based solution to track the process for identifying and assessing acquisitions.  Using Power BI. we delivered new attractive reporting capabilities meaning managers now get an overview of the entire opportunity pipeline.

Future capabilities

Microsoft continues to invest in Power BI with regular improvements on the roadmap and announcements on the blog.  For example, in the past few weeks there have been releases or announcements relating to:

  • improvements to the interface
  • greater integration across the Power Platform
  • new data connectors to the system
  • major new data protection and information management capabilities
  • new models to help manage large datasets
  • and more!

If youre investing in Power BI you can be very confident that Microsoft will continue to invest in the product and increase what it can do.  For example, the future ability to build AI into even more intelligent dashboards is genuinely exciting.

Should you use Power BI?

Yes! As we all generate more and more data, organisations need to be in a position to leverage it to seize the competitive advantage. Power BIs flexibility and strong data visualisation means almost all organisations will be able to find multiple ways to build dashboards and present data in ways that will really make a difference.

If youd like to discuss with us how you can use Power BI to help your business then get in touch!

Why an Office 365 intranet portal must be a key milestone on your Office 365 roadmap

Many organisations are embarking on their own Office 365 journey, a significant investment that can result in major business change and even digital transformation. Office 365 implementation is usually a multi-year programme of work with a number of different projects and milestones. Along the way new tools will be adopted, processes will be completely reimagined, and new opportunities will emerge.

A common milestone in an Office 365 roadmap is the introduction of new Office 365 intranet, based on SharePoint Online. If this isnt on your roadmap then youre likely missing a trick. An Office 365 intranet offers an excellent opportunity to drive value and can also complement the other milestones in your overall 365 roadmap in several ways.

In this article were going to explore the reasons why an Office 365 intranet really should be a key milestone in your Office 365 plans.

1Its a great opportunity to deliver an excellent intranet

Office 365 and more specifically SharePoint Online is an excellent base technology for an intranet for multiple reasons. We recently posted an article detailing ten reasons why SharePoint and SharePoint Online really is the best choice for an intranet. This includes elements such as its flexibility, scalability, variety of options, ability to support both publishing and collaboration, and the easy integration with the rest of the Office 365 suite, a theme we explore in more detail below. If your current intranet is less than great, youre missing out on an opportunity to deliver an excellent new intranet and fully leverage your investment in Office 365.

2An intranet is part of digital transformation

Office 365 programmes are often positioned as an enabler of digital transformation or as a strategic change programme. Although IT may be leading the roll-out, the wider change is likely to be endorsed by the CEO or other members of the C-suite. If this is the case it would be strange to leave the intranet, a major channel for internal communication and change management, out of scope of such a high-profile initiative. An intranet helps communicate change and should be part of the change itself.

3You may be aligning and simplifying your technology stack

With a move to Office 365 its very likely that you may be moving many of your applications to the cloud, and generally rationalising your technology stack. The introduction of Office 365 can effectively render some of your existing applications as legacy systems. In the world of intranets, you may indeed have an old CMS, as well as a myriad of local intranet solutions, perhaps some of them on-premises. There may also be a number of make-shift applications which act as a place to store content. A new Office 365 intranet may well be an opportunity to simplify your technology stack and rationalise a lot of old CMS and intranet solutions, ultimately cutting costs, making the environment more manageable and probably reducing risk too.

4It helps bring Office 365 into the daily flow of work

One of the key advantages of an Office 365 intranet is that you can easily integrate Office 365 tools like Yammer and MS Teams into it. This turns your Office 365 intranet into more of a digital workplace, bringing Office 365 tools into the daily flow of peoples work, for example by providing a feed of aggregated updates across different groups and workspaces into one place.

Its also possible to bring automation, workflow and reporting using the wider suite of Office 365 tools right into the intranet experience, again bringing the power of these tools to employees, while also making for a more essential and relevant intranet.

5It supports governance

Office 365 and its constituent tools provide a fantastic opportunity for organisations and teams to improve the way they work. However, in the rush to drive adoption you can run into governance issues that may can leave you with operational issues further down the line. For example, when first launched, Teams can go viral which is great, but can soon lead to a platform with duplicated, unused and hard to find spaces.

An Office 365 intranet can actually help support your governance in multiple ways, for example WIzdom comes with a collaboration hub that allows you to put approval workflow in place for the creation of new sites. Your intranet can also encourage the use of approved Office 365 tools rather than shadow IT.

6It supports adoption and change

Implementing Office 365 involves a large change management effort in order to help drive adoption. A SharePoint Online intranet can help with this effort not only in including communications, but also in helping to feature particular tools, removing barriers to their use and aggregating notifications. Here the tight potential integration between intranet and Office 365 can be useful.

When rolling out Office 365 It can also help to present the overall range of communication and collaboration options available in an intranet together with the other options across Office 365, so an employee has a complete picture of the tools available to them.

7It supports findability across Office 365

Achieving reasonable levels of findability across the digital workplace can be a challenge.  One of the key roles of an intranet is to help users find what they need – employees may now expect an intranet search to perform at  least some kind of enterprise search. Implementing an Office 365 intranet with SharePoint or Microsoft search is going to be more effective than a non-SharePoint intranet in displaying results from across SharePoint sites and other Office 365 tools like Teams.

8It supports future exploitation of Office 365

Microsoft continue to invest heavily in Office 365 and its suite of tools, including out-of-the-box intranet capabilities, new features and more. Having an Office 365 intranet helps you to more fully leverage the Office 365 future roadmap. For example, there are improvements coming to both Yammer and to the Power Platform providing an opportunity to improve collaboration and introduce more sophisticated automation right into the intranet experience.

9Seize the opportunity to fund your new intranet

A new intranet is not always the top priority for senior management and can be regarded as hygiene rather than a strategic investment. This means internal communications functions and intranet teams sometimes have to wait longer than they should do for investment to get a new or improved platform

In our experience, Office 365 programme are usually well-funded, so ensuring that an Office 365 intranet is in scope within the programme, is usually an excellent (bur rare) opportunity to properly fund a new intranet. If your company is going down the Office 365 route, then its time to make your business case!

Get in touch!

If youre launching Office 365 and want to know more about your intranet options, or are about to refresh your intranet on Office 365 and think you may need help then get in touch! Wed love to hear from you.

Webinar: How to bring your intranet into MS Teams

Webinar details

Date: 11th December 2019
Time: 2:00pm to 2:30pm UK time
Presented by: Nico de Jong, Innovation and Experience Lead, Wizdom & LiveTiles

Creating the ONE corporate dashboard in MS Teams to navigate the digital workplace

Simplicity is a basic principle in UX, which is why weve created the one corporate dashboard in MS Teams, that enables you to navigate your digital workplace with ease. Application overload is becoming more prevalent within todays digital landscape. Keeping ahead of the curve is becoming increasingly difficult. By having one dashboard where you access all your applications, we are alleviating major company pains in the area of application overload.

A recent study showed that:

  • The average worker flips between apps as frequently as 10 times per hour.
  • Among 2,000 workers from the US, UK, and Australia 69% reported wasting as much as 32 days a year navigating between apps.

As a hub for teamwork in Office 365, MS Teams is Microsofts solution for bringing the stack of productivity tools together to users in a single application. What we do is help bring your intranet into MS Teams.

In this webinar we will show how you can set up MS Teams to support this goal.

Learn how to:

  • Prevent employees from working in silos in individual teams within MS Teams.
  • Reach employees with corporate news and messaging in the MS Teams application.
  • Give users the possibility to handle work tasks requested by third party line-of-business applications inside of the MS Teams application.
  • Bring together notifications from different applications and present them intelligently to users in MS Teams.
  • Help users intuitively create content, news, and workspaces that comply to company standards.

Register today!

Wizdom Intelligent Intranet by LiveTiles leads the way in the Clearbox Sharepoint Intranet 2020 report

When it comes to authoritative reviews for intranets one name that stands out is the annual ClearBox report. The 2020 edition is hot off the press and we are pleased to announce that the Wizdom Intelligent Intranet by LiveTiles has emerged as the market leader, scoring consistently well across all assessment criteria.

We are the highest ranked overall from the 50+ options included in the report and performed especially well in features such as employee directories and out-of-the-box apps to support critical services including HR onboarding and policy management.

The importance of accurate and current employee profile data

Our AI-powered employee profile manager, complete with Modern SharePoint enabled user profile, directory and organization chart web parts were highly praised. These come standard and take the pain out of employee data management by automating the collection and ensuring the accuracy and currency of data in core systems of record including Active Directories and Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS). With current and accurate data in place, organizations can unlock enormous value as it relates to an intranet, including:

  • Accurate and complete people and skills directories, allowing people to easily find the right person for the right job
  • Targeting role-based content at employees based on properties of their profile, cutting out the noise and promoting adoption through the enhanced experience of the intranet being relevant to me.
  • Automated organization chart maintenance, negating the need for time-consuming manual maintenance.
  • Effective business process automation (BPA) dependant on accurate definitions of data including department and manager.

Intranet must-haves: 5 essential features where LiveTiles scored highly

  1. News and internal communications publishing: ClearBox particularly liked how closely the custom Wizdom features work alongside the native SharePoint ones.
  2. User experience: Power Panel, a feature that unifies content and functionality from disparate applications into the intranet, was cited by ClearBox is a good example of how we improve UX.
  3. Collaboration, knowledge management and social: According to ClearBox our People Finder solution is well-rounded and focuses on doing one job well: finding people.
  4. Digital workplace integration: In our quest to completely unify the digital workplace it was great to see how ClearBox praised our ability to render both forms and alerts from other systems as certainly valuable.
  5. Employee services: ClearBox is a big fan of our learning and training app which allows management and filtering of online courses and resources.

Other LiveTiles features that got the ClearBox Big Love:

  • Power Panel and its ability to inject content and functionality from disparate applications into the intranet experience, from sources inside Office 365 or external line-of-business systems like HRIS, CRM and ITSM (IT Service Management).
  • Extending Microsoft Teams with provisioning and governance capabilities and allowing intranet content to be published in Teams, empowering communicators to reach people where they are working.
  • Sophisticated content targeting and amazing UX for news publishing.
  • Automated employee directories regarded as a must-have feature and commended for its excellent UI (user interface).
  • Governance features including the ability to generate GDPR-compliant reports.
  • Page Designer allows the Modern SharePoint UI to be easily customized to deliver the type of consumer-grade UX that is critical to high adoption and ROI.

We are extremely proud of our best-in-class ranking in this years ClearBox SharePoint Intranets in-a-box report. But still, we are so much more than an in-the-box solutions. Our intelligent intranet platform is also about solving information and application overload and delivering intranet solutions to companies of all sizes, including many key customers with more 100000 users. We are extremely focused on the critical requirement for better intranet governance, especially across Microsoft Teams. Additionally, we are passionate about supporting manual and front-line workers and creating a truly unified digital workplace. This is underscored by our recent acquisition of CYCL (another high performer in the ClearBox report) which further enables LiveTiles to service organizations with large deskless workforces. CYCLs low-touch mobile pocket-intranet, Condense, is purpose-built to serve the information needs of first-line employees.

To learn more about our world-class intelligent intranet solutions and how it can improve your organization, please visit our Wizdom by LiveTiles intranet page.


The original article was published here

Webinar video: 3 classic mistakes to avoid when deploying MS Teams

With more than 19 million weekly users just two years after launch, MS Teams has taken the world by storm. As an intuitive tool for teamwork and collaboration its not hard to understand that the application is adored by users.

Deploying MS Teams in your organisation, however, requires careful planning and consideration. As teams in MS Teams per default can be created by any user, policies must be in place to avoid:

  • An enormous number of MS Teams and Office 365 workloads created.
  • Lack of control in what is being shared externally from MS Teams.
  • Clutter of inactive teams resulting in low findability and discoverability.
  • More teams created for same purposes.
  • Users working in silos in different teams.

Have you already deployed MS Teams and are experiencing some of the issues above? Dont despair! We will also cover how you can gain control over your Office 365 self-service environment even long after a MS Teams rollout.

In this webinar we have covered how to establish automated processes for governance to ensure MS Teams is rolled out to make the workday better for each employee in your organisation.

Learn how:

  • to define fixed standards for teams creation and provisioning,
  • to maintain and keep your Office 365 self-service environment tidy,
  • to establish a healthy teams lifecycle.
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