Microsoft's Power BI Draws Financial Insights From QuickBooks Online

By Pedro Hernandez  |  Posted 2015-05-31 Print this article Print
business intelligence

Small businesses can now link Microsoft's business intelligence tool to Intuit's cloud accounting software to gain new insights into their financial health.

Microsoft has released a preview version of the QuickBooks Online content pack for Power BI, providing small businesses with new insights into their financial health.

Power BI is a cloud-based business intelligence offering that integrates with Microsoft's Office 365 productivity suite. Launched in early 2014, the product's aim is to bring the power of big data analytics to the desktops and mobile devices of rank-and-file business users, not just data scientists. The tool generates interactive visualizations, allowing users to explore data, spot trends and report their findings.

Since then, Microsoft has been steady building on Power BI's capabilities and data sources.

In March, the company added Dynamics CRM Online, Microsoft's cloud-based customer relationship management software platform, to Power BI's list of data connectors. Last month, the company announced support for Temboo's Internet of things (IoT) data streaming technology.

Next on Microsoft's radar are small businesses.

"Power BI offers an out-of–the-box content pack that connects to your QuickBooks Online account and brings in a variety of important data for you to track your key business metrics," announced the company on Thursday. QuickBooks Online is the software-as-a-service (SaaS) edition of Intuit's popular small business accounting software.

To successfully import data, the content pack requires that users have admin rights to QuickBooks Online and that they sign in with those credentials. Once the services are linked, "you see your cash flow, profitability, customers, and vendors all in one place. If you want them presented in a different way, just drag and drop to resize or re-organize them," noted Microsoft's Power BI Team in a May 28 blog post.

Data is automatically refreshed once a day and displayed on charts, graphs and maps using a tiled interface. Users can drill down into their data and generate reports with the click of a mouse. "Just clicking a tile takes you to your balance sheet, where you can further slice by your Report Basis and Fiscal Year right on the report," the group said. "The Filter pane on the right also gives you more switches and knobs to show your data with additional perspectives."

Clicking on some tiles will bring up a 10-page interactive report of a business's financial health in Power BI. "Use the navigation at the bottom to browse the other pages of the report, including Profit and Loss trend, Cash Flow, Customer Center, Vendor center, Prior Year Profit and Loss Comparison, Actual to Budget, and more," noted Microsoft.

Users can further customize the experience by selecting the Edit Report option, which appears in the upper left corner. "The view will switch to show you the field list, allowing you to access any of the values and calculations included in this out-of-the-box dataset—additional information about expenses, income, and customized calculations such as current ratio, gross profit, cost of goods sold, etc.," revealed the company.

Power BI's natural language support also extends to QuickBooks Online data. Phrasing questions like "revenue by month" will generate the appropriate chart, which users can pin to their dashboards.


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