Getting to the heart of the driving factors behind your business success isn't always simple or straightforward. Even if you were there from the start and the original moment of insight that eventually turned into a business, there will still be nuances about your product, the market, and your customers that aren't perceptible through traditional modes of thinking.
Instead, insights come in from a wide range of often disparate data sources. They all mean something, but they can seem impossible to synthesize or turn into valuable insights.
That's why talented people who are able to look at data in different ways to gain unique insights are so invaluable. And it's also why investing into tools that gather and analyze the information streaming in from these data sources tends to result in excellent ROI.
It starts with understanding all the data flowing into and through your business. It also means understanding what sources naturally translate into actionable insights that can help you build strategies and plans for a variety of areas.
But pulling from a variety of sources is not a bad thing. Instead, with the right tools, it can actually improve the quality and quantity of insights you gain. In this guide, we'll explain how.
5 Types of Data Sources to Drive Your Business
There are many types of data from which you can pull an insightful Power BI data report, both from internal and external sources. Some of the most common opportunities include:
- File data, especially from file types including MS Excel and spreadsheets, CSV, PDF documents, and SharePoint documents and folders.
- Database sources, such as information from your SQL server and/or Access database, as well as your SQL Server Analysis Services database.
- Power BI platform information, including both datasets and data flows
- Azure data, ranging from your Azure SQL Database to your Synapse Analytics and your Analysis Services database.
- Online sources, from your SharePoint Online List to your Microsoft Exchange Server, Salesforce Objects, Marketo customer information, Zendesk help desk tickets, and more.
Of course, that's only a sampling of available information. It can be structured or unstructured, with especially the latter presenting a struggle for 95% of businesses. And yet, this wide range of data sources can actually be a good thing. Allow me to explain.
The Case For Diverse Data Options
You have a wide range of inputs. You need to turn those inputs into singular insights from a centralized source that can provide comprehensive reports. It's a complex effort, but one that's worth the investment because it improves your data and the resulting insights in a few core ways:
- Improve your data quality. Different information can be used to check against each other, providing an automatic way to ensure quality and remove outliers.
- Create more comprehensive reports. Different types of data, like internal and external or structured and unstructured, should not always be separate. Combining the two can create more comprehensive reports that lead to more actionable insights across different areas.
- Create fallback opportunities. Should one data source unexpectedly be unavailable, you will have others to fall back on without losing the integrity of your reporting or opportunity for insights.
All of these advantages, of course, can only be true if you are able to turn that diverse set of data sources into an actionable reporting process designed to get the outcomes you need to grow and improve your business. That's where Microsoft Power BI enters the equation.
Leveraging Power BI and PBRS to Turn Disparate Data Sources Into a Positive
"The goal is to turn data into information, and information into insight."
—Carly Fiorina, former CEO, Hewlett Packard
Microsoft Power BI was developed with a simple purpose in mind: creating a centralized source that could output actionable reports, designed to make life easier for business analysts, IT administrators, and C-suite executives. The goal: to turn data into insights in a customized fashion designed for business success.
That purpose has only become more important as executives are looking for ways to do more with fewer team members, and lower budgets. The budget crunch felt across industries by COVID-19 is only the recent example that has required both a need for adjustments and the necessity of making these adjustments on shoestring budgets.
Power BI is designed for that situation. Its SQL Server can centralize data sources, drawing information from all the above opportunities and synthesizing it into actionable reports. In the process, it simplifies getting the right data to the right people. It naturally combines hybrid data sources to output comprehensive reports.
That process is simplified even further through the automated delivery system that the Power BI Reports Scheduler (PBRS) provides. Its system simplifies the customization of data reports, distributing precise, customized reports across businesses and individual business units. Rather than involving an entire data science team, its setup and management can be handled by a few members that lead to core benefits across the organization.
The secret to success here is automation. Power BI's ability to take in and analyze disparate data sources combines with the PBRS opportunities for report scheduling to create the system you need to continually and consistently gain actionable insights from your data inputs. That, in turn, results in better decision-making to bring your business forward.
Looking for help in streamlining your data sources and implementing PBRS? Start your free 30-day trial today.