Times have changed. Business Intelligence (BI) are no longer exclusive to the expertise of hard-core IT professionals – Data Analyst, Report Designer or BI Specialist. Today the Accounting people, the Finance guys or an IT Admin staff with exposure to generation reports can design and develop BI-oriented reports. Thanks to the new generation of BI tools today, that BI is ‘bought down to the masses’ and no longer restricted to the IT elite with high degree of qualification. Not long ago before the rise of the millennials, the processing of data to produce BI reports are limited to the CPUs of mainframes and AS400s.
What are the catalysts of change? The vastly improved computing power of PCs and the ‘user-ability’ (user-friendly) of BI tools.
What are these software that can run BI in your own PC?
First, there is MS-Excel. Even as de facto spreadsheet with millions of users, Excel added BI flavor in its engine to extend its powers way beyond the bounds of spreadsheet computing Excel leaps into BI class with three essentials to complete the new arsenal – Power Pivot, Data Modeling and Power Query. Data Model is the data-modeling tool while Power Pivot is the resulting slice and dice computation derived from table relationship defined in Data Model, and Power Query is the data transformation and integration service.
And there is WEKA in our midst. WEKA, Waikato Environment for Knowledge Analysis, a data-mining tool that implements machine-learning algorithms. WEKA, developed by University of Waikato in New Zealand, is popularly used by universities New Zealand and Australia. Here is piece of software no different from sophisticatedly expensive BI tools in the market today and yet it is just floating in the NET awaiting your download! WEKA is distributed under GNU General Public License, simple means a freeware!
Another gatecrasher to break into BI world in microcomputer platform is PowerOLAP. PowerOLAP’s interface with Excel stands out among all the other PC-based BI solution. Most BI software today are adorned intricately with dashing dashboard and fancy colorful graphics. However, at the end of the day decisions are made through the lens of an Excel. Bluntly said, Senior Management readily sees the benefits of an investment in the sheet of figures in an Excel-like environment.
Microsoft’s new entry to BI market made the most pivotal impact. Bill Gates’ disciples (faithful Microsoft users) and the PC world are roused with surprise when Microsoft introduced its own BI tool. Anchoring on extend and embrace philosophy, Microsoft’s new software will reign supreme by targeting the widest niche – the PC segment of the software market, when it launched Power BI, a BI tool for the PC platform. However, the object of surprise is not the handy BI solution. Considering that Microsoft has the history for monopolizing the market and unreasonably pricy software licenses, the chill surprise is that Microsoft is giving away Power BI free!
Thanks to the emergence of power-bred BI products – PowerOLAP, Excel’s Power BI, Power Query, Power Pivot and Data Modelling, and WEKA sparked the uprising for downsizing that BI computing finally lands on your laptop