Skip to main content

Microsoft updates Office 365 BI for easier business data tracking

Microsoft has revealed an update to its business intelligence (BI) service within Office 365, which is intended to help customers more easily track down data about their businesses.

Power BI for Office 365, unveiled in July, is currently in preview, but lets businesses drill down for easy-to-consume information about their operations.

The main component of Power BI is Excel, and this week's update provides users with colour-coded 3D mapping capabilities that will likely jazz up any presentation. The Power Map feature, previously known as GeoFlow, allows for region-based visualisation tools that colour-code geo-political areas including ZIP codes, counties, states, countries, and regions.

Rather than a flat pie or bar chart, Power Map lets you plot data points with Bing Maps to bring them to life.

"Power Map now enables customers to create videos that can be optimized for a number of devices and shared through social media, PowerPoint slides, and Office 365," a Microsoft spokeswoman said.

See it in action in the video above.

In addition, Microsoft talked up improvements to search that allows for natural language queries. "With this feature, users can type Business Intelligence related questions into a dialog box. The system will understand the semantics of what is being typed, and return interactive charts and visualizations representing answers from the data to the user," Microsoft said.

Power Query also now includes an expanded number of available datasets, like, the Windows Azure Marketplace, and Wikipedia.