How to share reports beyond the borders of your organisation
All the benefits of Power BI’s flexibility and user-friendliness for data visualization, but without the investment in thousands of software licenses. That’s the million dollar question – maybe not literally, but still quite close – that LACO answered for Connecting-Expertise (CE). How we did it? We embedded Power BI into CE’s customer web portal.
Power BI is the way to go for data visualization. Not just for internal use, as we wrote in this blog in our Power BI series, but also to share reports beyond the borders of the organization, with customers and partners. That’s exactly what Connecting-Expertise’s customer was after. CE builds software solutions that help companies optimize and facilitate sourcing, contracting and managing their contingent workforce. Operational since 2007, CE is a pioneer in the Belgian market with a leading solution for contingent labor supply contracts.
Until recently, CE provided data to some of its clients, allowing them to build reports on their own. However, as each data file was client-specific, the preparation of these files took quite some time. To further extend its service, CE was looking for a more efficient way to offer clients a set of standard reports and dashboards, based on client-specific data. LACO suggested embedding Power BI as a reporting environment in CE’s web-based software platform, to unlock the full potential of the data and provide new insights to the clients.
Sturdy, cost-efficient architecture
We designed the data architecture and set up an Azure environment for the Power BI embedded service. We chose to set up the sturdiest possible technical architecture, by hosting a VM with MySQL, avoiding the need to migrate local MySQL data to an Azure data warehouse. In doing so, we kept a strong focus on the usage of Azure resources. Even today, we are still able to host all reports using the lowest – and cheapest – tier for the Power BI embedded service on Azure.
To build the right reports, we assisted CE with defining the KPIs that would offer most added value to the clients. Extra attention was given to security. It is of utmost importance that clients using the dashboards and reports only have access to only their own data. To get that right, we implemented the complicated Row Level Security CE offers to its clients. Row Level Security provides access on various levels – on personal or division level – and for various types of data. As an interesting side effect, we used Row Level Security as an easy solution for offering and maintaining multi-language reports . How? We unravel that in this blog for you!
Embedded reports and dashboards
As a final step in the project, we assisted CE with embedding the reports in their customer portal. Since this was the first implementation of this type in Belgium, Microsoft lent us an helping hand as well. As a result, Power BI reports and dashboards are now available as an embedded service on the CE customer portal. Only clients with a CE portal login have access to the reports and dashboards, which are solely based on their own data. Furthermore, data is filtered on row level, based on the client’s permissions. For CE, the availability of the Power BI reports and dashboards strengthens the status of its leading solution for contingent labor supply contracts.