What does the Microsoft SharePoint Platform and shark attacks have in common? Well if you were at the session I hosted at SharePoint Saturday (SPS) last week at the Imperial College in London you would have found out. For those unfamiliar with SPS Events, these are community run events that enable SharePoint users, vendors and consultants to get together to share knowledge and experiences with the platform. In recent years these events have now extended to the wider Office 365 suite of products, but SharePoint and collaboration is still at the heart of it.
At this year’s London event, with over 200 people in attendance, I was lucky to have been invited to deliver an interactive Power BI session. Power BI is a cloud-based Microsoft business intelligence service, which enables businesses to connect to data from anywhere, create data models and intuitively build reports and dashboards which are instantly mobile ready. Businesses like Power BI for several reasons:
- It has a free licence for the basic package and a low cost professional licence, making it a very affordable choice
- It’s easily accessible via the cloud with hybrid and now full on-premises offerings
- It takes the complexity out of reporting
- It’s quick to learn and use
- It’s actually pretty fun – not something that has been said regularly about other reporting tools.
Once I had updated my group about how great Power BI was, I had to prove it, so the rest of my session was collaborative and practical.
After setting up a live demo on Office 365 and connecting 25 people from the audience with user accounts, I trained them to build charts and reports in Power BI and created a joint workspace. And that’s where the sharks come in.
To demonstrate how easy Power BI was to apply I provided them with some raw data on shark attacks from around the world since 1900 and asked them three questions with a prize for the quickest response
- What species of shark was involved in the most attacks since the beginning of the data?
- What is the largest known age group of people to be attacked in the 90’s?
- What was shark attack victim Bill Whitman doing when he got his arm bitten by a shark in 1947?
It took them about five minutes to produce reports that answered all of these questions, however I demonstrated that the quickest approach was simply to type the question into the natural language search engine! Ultimately what the participants learned was that Power BI is easy to access, easy to use and super-fast. They also learned that attempting to ride a shark (like Bill Whitman) was an incredibly bad idea.
And they took data that looked like this…
And turned it into this in five minutes flat…
If you would like to learn equally valuable lessons, and more importantly, to understand a little more about how Power BI could benefit your business, I will be running the same shark session at the Digital Jersey Hub over the next few weeks. Please just email me if you would like to receive more information about this.
A link to my slides from the session can also be found here.