Microsoft Power BI Visualizes Dynamics 365 Business Processes

A Power BI content pack allows Dynamics 365 customers to gain new insights into their business processes.

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Microsoft wants to help demystify the business processes of its Dynamics 365 customers.

Power BI, Microsoft's cloud-based business intelligence (BI) and data visualization platform, is typically used to create interactive visualizations that unearth insights using a wide variety of business data. Now, joint Power BI and Dynamics 365 users have tool that can help them get a better grasp of what makes their businesses tick.

The software giant announced the release of a new Power BI Process Analyzer Content Pack for customers using Dynamics 365 (version 8.2 and up), a cloud-enabled business application platform that integrates Microsoft's customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software along with a bevy of intelligent applications. The pack is available in the AppSource marketplace from Microsoft.

The Power BI content pack, authored by Microsoft staffers Christian Abeln, a senior program manager, and Karl Maybach, a senior content developer at the software maker, links directly to the Dynamics 365 database and generates interactive charts and other visualizations that represent business process flows. According to the company, users can then track and explore several of their organizations' performance indicators.

A step-by-step guide on setting up the content pack and creating custom business process reports is available in this blog post.

Also this week, Microsoft released a preview of Power BI Report Server, which enables customers of the new Power BI Premium licensing option to store and manage reports on-premises. "With this first release, you connect directly to an Analysis Services data model, which in turn can connect to a variety of other data sources, including SQL Server, Oracle, Teradata, and more," stated Riccardo Muti, a group program manager at Microsoft Power BI in a separate post. "We aim to extend direct connectivity to the other Power BI Desktop data sources, targeting later this year."

Power BI Report Server will be generally available alongside Power BI Premium later this quarter, added Muti.

For developers wishing to create their own Power BI connectors, Microsoft recently released a preview version of the Data Connector SDK (software development kit) during the company's Build developer conference last week in Seattle.

Currently, the "Get Data" feature in Power BI can gather data from files and connect to a wide variety of databases, including Oracle, MySQL, and of course, the company's own SQL Server. Connectors are also available for a number of SaaS (software-as-a-service) applications and online services from Microsoft and third-party providers, including Microsoft Exchange, Salesforce Reports, Google Analytics and Facebook, to name a few.

With the new Data Connector SDK, developers can turn their own applications into a data source for Power BI, announced Adam Saxton, another senior content developer at Microsoft, on May 10. Data Connectors are created using the Power Query M formula language, noted Saxton. Support is also limited to Power BI Desktop, the client software used to create reports on the platform.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of...