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Fast Growth of Data Spurs Development of BI Tools for SMBs

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It’s no surprise that in today’s world, data grows by leaps and bounds daily. In fact, IDC and EMC report that global data will increase “by 50 times by 2020.” With the use of mobile devices, social networks and cloud applications, all businesses, large and small, can benefit from capturing and analyzing consumer and business data. Several companies have come forward with BI solutions for such businesses in recent months.

Most recently, Quatrro Business Support Services has created a leading-edge new business intelligence (BI) and financial analytics tool to help small to midsize businesses (SMBs) gather unstructured data and use it to make informed business decisions.

The BI Tool features financial dashboards, reporting templates and alerts to assist SMBs in making sense of the mounds of unstructured data they collect. According to PCWorld, SMBs will benefit from the BI Tool’s analysis and planning features to set up benchmarking and unit comparisons when attempting to identify trends in a market. It can also help with budgeting, forecasting and predictive analysis, which can give SMBs the ability to grow and expand.

Other benefits provided by the BI Tool include providing inventory and expense management to help bring about possible cost reductions, profitability and revenue management; cash-flow and balance sheet management; and financial governance, risk management and compliance assistance.

Later this month, Microsoft will offer its Power BI solution for SMBs. The preview of this platform was released in December 2014, so it’s taken about 7 months for Microsoft to finally get the software ready for business. The original Power BI will be available for free (that’s exactly what SMBs like to hear), with Power BI Pro available at a cost of $9.99 per user, per month. The Pro version provides additional collaboration tools, 10GB per user of data capacity and the capability for live data refreshes.

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Power BI provides drag-and-drop data exploration with visualization charts; formatting with color; and support for Zendesk, Intuit, Quickbooks Online, AppFigures, GitHub, Twilio and SweetIQ. It also allows for direct connection with SQL Server Analysis Services tabular models. It also “provides pre-built solutions that allow a subscriber to a supported service to quickly connect to that service from Power BI and see their data through pre-built live dashboards and interactive reports,” through content packs. These packs are available for 16 services such as Quickbooks Online, Salesforce.com and Marketo.

Power BI will also soon support Apache Spark for Big Data via dashboards that query data live from the Spark open source framework. Power BI will also offer access via an Android-based mobile app. Power BI will become available on July 24.

Kim Mays has been editing and writing about IT since 1999. She currently tackles the topics of small to midsize business technology and introducing new tools for IT. Follow Kim on Google+ or Twitter.

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