Microsoft 'Connects' Power BI and Dynamics CRM Online

Users of Microsoft's Excel-based business intelligence tool can now quickly incorporate Dynamics CRM Online data into their insights-gathering efforts.

Microsoft Power BI and Dynamics CRM online

Microsoft is making it easier for Power BI users to glean business insights from Dynamics CRM Online, the company's cloud-based CRM software suite, and unearth potentially business-boosting trends from their organizations' customer interactions.

"This month, we are introducing a new connector for Dynamics CRM Online," announced the Microsoft Excel Team in a blog post. "Until now, you were able to connect to Dynamics CRM Online using the OData feed connector; however, this was not very discoverable for the majority of our users."

Dynamics CRM Online now appears under the "From Other Sources" in Excel Power Query, requiring users to input a valid URL to their account, followed by their credentials. Power Query is an Excel add-on that links to Power BI, the company's Azure -backed business intelligence and analytics solution for Office 365, and enables rank-and-file employees to explore data using the spreadsheet software's familiar interface and toolset.

"Once the user is authenticated, Power Query retrieves the list of tables and entities available in Dynamics CRM," added Microsoft's staffers. "The Navigator task pane displays this list and users can select one or multiple items, edit these items or load them to the workbook—just like with any other data source in Power Query."

Since its debut more than a year ago, Microsoft has been working to expand Power BI's reach and provide organizations with user-friendly methods of deciphering analytical data. In December, the company rolled out a preview of Power BI dashboards, a new feature that consolidates multiple visualizations into a single view. Dashboards can include graphs, charts and other visualizations from a mix of data that resides on-premises and in the cloud.

Users can also expect a more responsive Power Query experience, stated Microsoft.

"Performance of loading queries has improved by about 2x-3x in this release, according to our benchmarks. Queries that used to take ~10 minutes before this update, now only take between 3-4 minutes," claimed the company.

The software giant also worked to reduce latency while connecting to Excel workbooks. "You should see lower times to load previews, which translates into a more responsive experience in the Query Editor," asserted Microsoft.

Power Query data explorers can also now calculate the time it takes between two dates and/or times without resorting to custom formulas, courtesy of some new transformation. New age and subtract operations for data and time columns provide fast answers for the time between occurrences, like the time it took for an order to ship from when it was ordered, according to the company. "These options are now available in the Date and Time menus, under the Transform and Add Column ribbon tabs."

Finally, Microsoft has expanded the option to disable the column name prefix to the Aggregate Columns menu. Previously added to the Expand Columns option, the new functionality allows users to "decide up-front whether to include a name prefix based on the original column name to the Aggregate Columns output," wrote the company's bloggers.

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 network of...