Why Your Business Central Reporting Tool Needs Power BI Integration

February 6, 2023
8 min read
General

Why Your Business Central Reporting Tool Needs Power BI Integration

In today’s hyper-competitive business world, data remains king. It is (or should be) the driving force behind decision-making, process improvement, productivity, innovation, and growth in every single company, regardless of industry or size. How are you leveraging your business data to capitalize on market opportunities, steer operational efficiency, and provide more value to your customers? 

When Microsoft launched Power BI in 2015, every small to enterprise-sized organization thought it was the answer to getting insightful, visually stunning dashboards that could help steer business decisions. While Power BI certainly is an incredible business analytics tool that allows you to connect to and visualize data, it also has its’ challenges and limitations.  

As experienced Microsoft Dynamics reporting and business intelligence (BI) veterans, we’ve seen firsthand the value Power BI can bring to an organization and support its growth when all conditions are perfect. It’s a highly effective visualization tool when you have optimized data and a few minor inconveniences are resolved.  

Here we are revealing how to overcome common and pervasive obstacles when using Power BI with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central so your users can start seeing the benefits of Power BI almost immediately.

What is Power BI?

According to Microsoft, Power BI is a unified, scalable platform for self-service and enterprise business intelligence (BI). It’s used by tens of thousands of businesses across the globe to process complex data sets and to explore, collaborate, and share insights. Many companies experience significant lifts from leveraging the meaningful view of data that Power BI delivers, like revenue increases, cost savings, and productivity improvements. But not everyone.  

At Cosmos, we have had numerous conversations about Power BI with Business Central users that typically end with, “We tried using it but didn’t get very far” or “We have a license but don’t have the technical expertise to set it up properly.” 

The problem is not the tool itself; it is a highly useful solution for data analysis and decision-making– the challenge is with people and data. There’s a great quote we came across in a recent Forbes article that relates to this concept. In the article, the President and CEO of Tableau discusses the value of data literacy and says, “Not everyone can speak the language of data, so you need to make data speak the language of everyone else. Putting data in context is the key to making it accessible.”

4 Limitations of Power BI

Although there are a ton of reporting and BI solutions to choose from today, Power BI is considered one of the fastest-growing analytics and data visualization platforms on the market. When a business runs on the Microsoft technology stack, it’s a natural fit to maintain productivity, collaboration, and visibility across your operations. But it’s also a highly sophisticated analytics tool, and difficulties with effectively using Power BI often arise in these four areas:  

  1. Complex Native Data Modeling  
    Power BI allows you to connect to all your data, but it’s useless to everyday users if that data is not organized or formatted correctly for use in Power BI. It’s unrealistic to expect an average business user to link tables and fields and denormalize a dataset – a task that requires SQL code and DAX language knowledge – which lends directly to the next challenge with native Power BI… 
  1. Not Business User Friendly   
    You need clean, organized data to create a Power BI dashboard and use its self-service data visualizations. We’ve already established that data cleanup is not included in Power BI and is outside the average business user’s skillset. As a result, they have no autonomy and must rely on technical experts whenever they want to create or modify a dashboard.    
  1. Limited Sharing  
    One often overlooked fact is that Power BI reports and dashboards can only be shared with users with the same email domains and Power BI licenses. While this might be fine for some companies, sharing and collaborating with external parties is difficult.   
  1. Slow Performance Issues  
    It has been reported that Power BI experiences query issues when processing massive rows (20,000+). This not only slows down your ability to run daily, weekly, or monthly reports, but it also interferes with other programs (like Excel) that are subsequently running in the background. It’s also worth noting that Power BI’s speed on any data is directly impacted by how the data modeling (see point 1) is done, which introduces as many performance factors as there are technical resources to perform these tasks.   

The good news is that there are data management and reporting solutions available specifically designed to remove these obstacles and make Power BI usable for everyone. With over 35 years in the Microsoft Channel, we know these limitations far too well. That’s why we created a Power BI Integration API for Cosmos, the first cloud reporting solution built for Business Central.

How to Make Power BI More Usable with Business Central: Introducing Cosmos Power BI Integration API

The Microsoft Channel has been frustrated with the lack of adoption around Power BI for years. While creating dashboards in Power BI is as easy as it gets, wrangling the required data is a whole different story. That’s why we created the Cosmos Power BI Integration API.  

Our new two-way integration with Power BI provides all the functionality Business Central users need to access governed data securely, effortlessly build and share dashboards from anywhere, and create a truly data-driven culture.   

On one side of the integration, Cosmos uses a powerful data engine to cleanse and organize your data – preparing it for Power BI and dashboard creation. We built an OData layer with a custom API for Power BI that allows you to hook Power BI up directly to your Cosmos data model, providing fully optimized and instantly accessible data without technical expertise.  

On the other side, this feature also directly integrates into Cosmos. That means you can access all your Power BI reports, workspaces, and dashboards directly inside Cosmos, right next to your Excel-based financial and operational reports. And it’s not just inside Cosmos. You can also have Cosmos-fueled Power BI dashboards inside Teams, CRM, Business Central, and more.  

Remember the four limitations of Power BI that we listed above? Well, here’s exactly how the Cosmos Power BI Integration feature can help you instantly resolve those issues:

  • Remove the Complexities of Power BI Deployment  
    Cosmos was designed to simplify the process of importing, cleaning, and organizing your Business Central data with just a few clicks. That means your users can start easily creating accurate reports based on pre-optimized data immediately out-of-the-box – without worrying about the underlying data structure. 
  • Become Truly Self-Sufficient with Power BI 
    With Cosmos’ new Power BI integration, your users don’t need to learn SQL or wait for a data expert to build or modify a dashboard. Every user in your company can access the data they need from one unified interface with one login. With clean data at their fingertips, they can take advantage of Power BI’s user-friendly platform and instantly create accurate dashboards from day one.  
  • Quickly Visualize Your Data Inside of Cosmos and Power BI   
    Our two-way integration with Power BI offers the best of both worlds. Your users can now leverage pre-optimized Cosmos data from within Power BI to quickly create dashboards and instantly access them in the Cosmos Portal (along with all of your other pertinent reports) with the push of a button.   
  • Run Unlimited Simultaneous Dashboards  
    Cosmos is a cloud reporting application accessible from anywhere, on any device. Thanks to the unified platform and computing power of Microsoft Azure, you can run Cosmos reports and dashboards 48 times faster than other Excel-based reporting solutions. That means your Power BI dashboards run at lightning speed and refresh simultaneously without locking up Excel or slowing down your performance.

Get the Most Out of Your Power BI Investment with Cosmos

As you can see, Cosmos is the fastest way to achieve your analytics goals with Power BI. As the only cloud reporting and analytics solution built for Business Central, Cosmos was designed to effortlessly integrate into the Microsoft stack and leverage its familiar tools and innovative technology.   

Now, we’re sure you have a ton of questions about our seamless Power BI integration. But before we set up a time to discuss, why don’t you see how it works in the quick 30-minute video below? We recently hosted a webinar for customers and partners to demonstrate how easy it is to start using Power BI with Cosmos.  

Watch this webinar to learn:  

  • How to connect Power BI to your Cosmos data 
  • How to create stunning dashboards inside of Power BI in seconds 
  • How to publish dashboards into your Power BI workspaces 
  • How to access Power BI dashboards from directly within your Cosmos Portal 

WATCH THE COSMOS POWER BI INTEGRATION IN ACTION

For more information on Cosmos’ Power BI Integration, you can access detailed documentation in our Cosmos Knowledgebase or book a tailored demo!  

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