Embedding Power BI in your company portal

Static, pre-defined reporting is so 2010! Self-service BI is today’s standard. But in an environment with literally thousands of users, even small license fees add up to high costs. Embedding Power BI offers an interesting – and cost-effective – way around this.

Unlimited number of users

Part of a company’s digital strategy is convenience for the customer. A user-friendly app or webpage makes the life of the customer easy. Depending on the company’s business, the app may show all sorts of information, from purchased books to energy usage or data consumption. The information – based on data visualization – reflects the customer’s behavior, which may be of great value for that customer and underlines the company’s unique selling proposition.

Power BI enables this type of visualization at a very low cost and makes it available for an unlimited number of users. For this type of scenario, we, at LACO, choose to embed Power BI in the company’s web portal. Thanks to role-base access, the user can only work with the data he’s allowed to see. But more importantly: the user has access to the navigation functionalities of the tool, to make selections, drill down, and more. And what’s more, we even found a clever way to make multi-language availability of the reports easy. You can read more about such a solution we built for a customer in the HR industry in this blog post.

Power BI dashboard embedded on company portal Contoso - LACO blog

Example of Power BI dashboard embedded in a company portal. Source: Microsoft.com.

Keeping costs under control

But unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Although license costs per user may be low, when there are thousands – or even ten of thousands – of users, the total cost quickly spins out of control. To avoid that, the trick is to define a small number of power users and provide them with full self-service functionalities and capabilities. The reporting they come up with – at a low total license cost – can then be shared to the large audience of ‘visual-only’ customers through the company’s portal. By embedding data visualization in the portal, a lot of the user functionalities with regard to visualization are still usable – such as navigating data, selecting and filtering data, and more – without the need the pay license fees for every one of those end-users.

The only thing the users can’t do, is make new reports. To make that happen, every user would indeed need a Power BI license. Another thing to keep costs under control, is the need to set up Power BI correctly on Azure. We share more about that – and some of the other technicalities, including coping with multi-language reporting – in one of the other posts in our Power BI blog series.

Power BI dashboard embedded on company portal Northwind - LACO blog

Example of Power BI dashboard embedded in a company portal. Source: Microsoft.com.

Enabling the digital strategy

For the Chief Digital Officer, Power BI is an extra tool that helps enable the company’s digital strategy. Making reports available for customers and partners, based only on the data they are allowed to see, used to be quite tricky. With Power BI, that’s no longer the case. But what’s the catch, you might ask? Well, your data is at the core of every report or visual that Power BI produces. Did you get your data platform sorted? Then you can start leveraging the possibilities of Power BI.

Using Power BI in the way we described in this blog post opens up the standard visualization capability of this powerful technology. No need for coding! No hard prioritization of scarce IT time! No weeks of waiting time for a new report and no complexity leading to outrageous costs… By means of embedding Power BI, standard internal functionality is tunneled through the Internet to the company’s customers, without the risks of the past, such as complex programming and cumbersome data preparation. Who would have thought, back in 2010?

Are you ready to unlock the full potential of your data with Power BI?

Sam De Wit, Data Intelligence Consultant at LACO

Sam De Wit

Data Intelligence Consultant at LACO

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