One of the biggest benefits of operating on Microsoft Dynamics NAV is that you capture an enormous amount of transactional data that can be used to gain incredible insight into your business. I often get asked from customers, “where can I find a report that will show sales by customers’ geography and items?” Although Dynamics NAV has some reports that are available out-of-box, it’s usually not enough. That’s where Power BI comes in…
Power BI simplifies the process of extracting and presenting data in dynamic and interactive data visualizations, all through easy drag-and-drop functionality. Below is a clip of how I was able to connect to my NAV database, and then build and publish a Sales Dashboard.
As you can see, in 10 minutes, I was able to generate an interactive Sales Dashboard that tells me immediately what my total sales are by customer and their geography and products sold. This is just the tip of the iceberg, as there are many more benefits that I’d like to share.
1. Minimal upfront costs
Power BI is a subscription based service that does not require buying licenses, support, etc. In fact, NAV customers have access to the free version where they can subscribe and build their own dashboards as I had just demonstrated. To get started, you can subscribe and instantly start creating your own dashboards. If you’d like to collaborate with your colleagues, you’ll need to upgrade to the Pro version.
Go to the Microsoft site for further info on the subscription pricing and what’s included.
2. View Power BI reports across multiple platforms and devices
Whether you’re a salesperson on the road meeting with clients, or you’re a CEO vacationing and would like to get a quick update on sales, Power BI brings the reports to your laptop or mobile device.
Native apps are built and available for iOS (iPhone and iPad), Android and Windows devices. Wherever you have access to the internet, you’ll be able to view your reports instantly. You can see a screenshot of the Power BI dashboard I built from my Android phone.
3. Consolidate multiple data sources through Power BI
Power BI is not exclusive to Microsoft systems. It is compatible and will extract data from all other sources. Below snapshot of just some of the data sources that you can connect to:
Once you’ve connected to all of your data sources, you can then consolidate it into a Dataset, and begin building your reports.
4. Instantly share dashboards
In the Power BI Pro version, you can then share your data visualizations with other colleagues in your organization.
You can see that I emailed the link to the Power BI dashboard to myself.
When I click the link, I’m able to access the Sales Dashboard through my Office 365 account.
5. Drag-and-drop functionality
End-users will be able to create their own ad-hoc reports in minutes as I did, through familiar drag-and-drop functionality.
As you can see, I clicked and dragged the Amount field into the Value column.
Next, I added the Customers list into the Y-Axis, and immediately I have the list of Customers by Sales Amount.
6. Drill-down functionality
If something stands out, I can immediately drill into the visualization and look at the data that comprises it.
I’d like to drill into my top customer and see what we’ve sold to them.
I can then click on the bar chart and it will drill into the sales records for that customer; where I can review what the company has sold to them.
7. Schedule Data Refresh
Again, with the Power BI Pro version, you can schedule your data refresh to be daily or even hourly.
8. Embed Power BI Dashboards in Dynamics NAV 2017 Role Center
Power BI can be embedded in any system that allows an iFrame.
Please follow this link below for a quick overview of how you can embed your dashboards into the NAV 2017 Role Center.
9. Write simple sentences to run report queries
Rather than learning complicated query language, you can type simple sentences to get a quick analysis. As you can see below, I asked what my total sales amount is.
Or, I can ask what the total sales are by country, and it will automatically generate a visualization for me.
10. Growing Power BI online community
Power BI has over 5 million subscribers and is used by over 200,000 organizations. The online community has also grown significantly over the past couple of years, where they all share ideas on building dashboards.
Also, developers can customize their own visual reports using the Power BI API, and make them available on GitHub. One of the most creative ones that I’ve come across is the Power BI Aquarium, where the swimming fish represent active customers.
This was designed by Enlighten Designs, a Microsoft Partner based in New Zealand.
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